Hello, it is a pleasure to speak with you.
Today I’d like to focus on the tenth Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, which will be one of our most important opportunities to foster collective international security in the new year.
The Biden-Harris Administration is deeply committed to restoring U.S. leadership on arms control and nonproliferation and to working closely with our partners and allies to address 21st Century challenges. At the NPT RevCon, the United States will do just that.
We will work with all NPT Parties to achieve a positive outcome, one in which we reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty, recognize its enduring benefits, and recommit to preserving and strengthening the nuclear nonproliferation regime for future generations. No nation can afford to remain silent on the threats posed by nuclear weapons proliferation, nor ignore the vast potential of peaceful uses of nuclear energy, science, and technology to combat climate change, address the UN Sustainable Development Goals, and build a better world.
A successful outcome will require each of us to be flexible. We are very grateful for the flexibility already shown by NPT Parties in agreeing to hold the RevCon this January, after pandemic-related delays and accommodations for health and safety. We should maintain this spirit of flexibility throughout the RevCon, even as we discuss challenging issues. This will be critical, especially if we are to achieve progress on each of the three pillars upon which the NPT is built.
These three pillars are nonproliferation, disarmament, and peaceful uses. I’d like to begin by discussing nonproliferation.
The United States will use the RevCon to highlight the need to reinforce the International Atomic Energy Agency’s authority under the NPT-required global nuclear verification regime. We will continue to promote the combination of an IAEA Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement and an Additional Protocol, with a modified Small Quantities Protocol when applicable. This is the de facto international standard for safeguards, and is key to achieving our NPT safeguards goals and for assuring that NPT obligations are met.
The United States will not hesitate to raise some of our world’s most pressing proliferation challenges, including those from the DPRK, Syria, and Iran. No RevCon can be considered serious if it fails to acknowledge these challenges, and we must work together to make the nonproliferation regime more resilient against them. We can do this by focusing on the importance of NPT compliance and the most effective responses to non-compliance with NPT obligations, as well as the critical need to discourage any Party’s withdrawal from the Treaty.
Let me now move on to the second pillar, disarmament.
The United States has already made substantial progress on disarmament, in line with our commitments under NPT Article VI. We have reduced our nuclear weapons stockpile by more than 88 percent from its maximum in 1967, and we continue to seek ways to reduce the role of U.S. nuclear weapons, while ensuring that our strategic deterrent remains safe, secure, and effective.
We are actively engaged in efforts to reduce strategic risk and enable progress on nuclear disarmament, including the extension of New START, the U.S.-Russia Strategic Stability Dialogue, and continue our efforts to engage in meaningful conversations with the People’s Republic of China.
At the RevCon the United States, along with our partners, will further elaborate on what we have done to promote nuclear disarmament verification. We will highlight our work on the Creating an Environment for Nuclear Disarmament initiative, also known as CEND. And we will outline the viable strategic risk reduction measures we have identified through the P5 process. Finally, we look forward to substantive engagement on the recommendations put forward by members of the Stockholm Initiative and the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative after a great deal of hard work.
Lastly, I’d like to address the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, science, and technology.
The tenth Review Conference will be an opportunity to celebrate the great success the NPT has had in facilitating cooperation on peaceful uses over the past 50-plus years. The IAEA in particular plays a critical role in helping countries use nuclear technology to meet their development needs safely and securely. At the RevCon, we will highlight its Technical Cooperation Program, and the Peaceful Uses Initiative, and how these IAEA efforts help fulfill the NPT’s promise to promote access to peaceful uses around the world.
The Review Conference will also be a chance to discuss how we can overcome lingering challenges that stand in the way of access to the benefits of peaceful uses, especially by those nations most in need.
In the leadup to the RevCon, we have already begun this important discussion. Over the past two years, the United States, along with other NPT Parties, has supported multiple regional and topical workshops. These have highlighted many peaceful uses success stories, and identified new opportunities to promote peaceful uses assistance and cooperation.
At this January’s Review Conference, the United States plans to announce a new effort to promote continued global dialogue on peaceful uses, focusing on how we can enable greater access to these benefits, particularly for developing countries. This effort will be carried out in close coordination with the IAEA. It will seek to convene a diverse range of technical and policy experts, including from industry and the development community, to identify new opportunities to enhance the already critical role the IAEA plays in helping address development needs through peaceful uses.
These are just a few of our priorities for the tenth NPT Review Conference. However, we are cognizant that NPT Parties will not always agree. We remain cognizant of the issues that could pose challenges to consensus at this year’s RevCon, notably the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, and the Middle East Zone Free of Weapons of Mass Destruction. We will not impugn the motives of those who take approaches different from ours on these topics. We understand the genuine concerns that have led many to take such approaches, and we continue to engage with those whose differ from ours. We hope and expect that, through respectful dialogue now and at the RevCon, we can achieve a positive outcome, even as we continue to maintain our different points of view.
One such positive outcome will be working collaboratively to produce a final RevCon document, or documents. Of course, none of us will get everything we want in such a product – but that must not hinder us from finding common ground on critical issues. The United States will engage constructively with other NPT Parties on all reasonable proposals, and will support the efforts of the RevCon President, Ambassador Gustavo Zlauvinen of Argentina, to guide us to a positive outcome.
Each NPT Party owes it to the communities, stakeholders, and individuals we represent to achieve as much as possible with this RevCon. In the end, what will be most important is not consensus on a final, specific product – though we will make our best efforts to achieve that end – but that we collectively undertake a comprehensive and honest review of the operation of the NPT. That means recognizing the shared peace and prosperity the Treaty has fostered, acknowledging the challenges that remain to its implementation, and reaffirming our commitment to work together to uphold and strengthen it for future generations. We cannot afford to do any less.
Thank you for hearing my thoughts. And now, I look forward to hearing yours, and to taking your questions