Washington -- The United States has been
a leader in promoting gradual nuclear disarmament and garnering
broad support for international efforts to destroy dangerous
stockpiles of small arms and light artillery.
U.S. Ambassador Christina Rocca addresses solid U.S. record of arms control achievements.
On the nuclear side, the United States long
has supported multilateral solutions to the challenges posed
by Iranian and North Korean nuclear weapons development.
At the same time, U.S. officials have emphasized their commitment
to working with international partners to find diplomatic
solutions to these twin challenges.
During a recent speech to United Nations
delegates in New York, U.S. Ambassador Christina Rocca pointed
to sustained engagement in developing policies and systems
seeking "to reduce the risk of proliferation or to
stop proliferation when it is happening."
U.N. Security Council Resolution 1540, which
calls for collective action to stem the spread of nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons, is at the forefront of
U.S. multilateral support. Full implementation offers many
benefits from the U.S. perspective. "Not only is international
security enhanced," according to Rocca, "but capacities
applicable to other national priorities are built [ranging]
from augmenting trade and export controls through demonstrated
‘good practices’ and improving the capacity
to mitigate threats to public health and security."
Implementation of the resolution offers
opportunities for open actions and regional cooperation.
It is also relevant for multilateral forums -- such as the
International Atomic Energy Agency in Austria and the Netherlands-based
Organization Prohibiting Chemical Weapons -- dealing with
the challenges of these weapons.
Within the context of the Swiss-based Conference
on Disarmament where Rocca represents her government, the
United States has worked hard to promote a ban on the production
of fissile materials needed to produce nuclear weapons and
related explosive devices. She addressed this issue during
the general debate of the U.N. First Committee on Disarmament
"The United States calls upon all nations
to halt the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons
and other explosive devises, as the United States has done,"
Rocca said, adding that it is irresponsible to delay negotiations
for a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty given the international
community’s expressed desire for one.
The United States has sought negotiations
for a treaty that is not linked to any other security issue.
It will continue making its case in the coming year and
advocating that it is in the national security interests
of conference members to renounce the production of fissile
materials for nuclear weapons. "Rather than bemoan
the false issue of political will," Rocca said, "we
should redouble our efforts to convince all members of the
Conference that no state’s security would be harmed
by such a production ban."
The United States also has provided leadership
and support to two successful multilateral initiatives --
the 2006 Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and
the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI)-- to prevent
terrorists from gaining access to nuclear materials or weapons
of mass destruction. The first effort now encompasses 60
participating nations, while the second one now has almost
90 supporting nations. (See PSI
text (PDF, 275 KB))
The United States has a solid record of
achievement on nuclear disarmament as evidenced by a shrinking
nuclear stockpile. By 2012, its stockpile will have been
reduced to nearly a quarter of the size it was at the end
of the Cold War. Additionally, operationally deployed U.S.
strategic nuclear warheads will decline to about one third
of 2001 levels.
Other important statistics include the U.S.
elimination of more than 1,000 strategic missiles and bomber
aircraft and 450 strategic missile silos under the terms
of the 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START).
The 1991 Presidential Nuclear Initiative
also has been fulfilled with the destruction of the last
of 3,000 U.S. tactical nuclear warheads.
In the past year, the United States and
Russia have been engaged in an effort to devise a relevant
arms control framework that will be in place before START
expires in 2009. U.S. negotiators are looking for ways to
carry forward useful pre-existing START concepts while developing
new ones that Rocca described as "more in tune with
our new strategic relationship."
The United States posits that complete disarmament,
as called for in the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
(NPT), cannot be carried out without regard to the existing
international security environment. Rocca summed it up this
"Nuclear weapons continue to have relevance
in today’s world, and that relevance is clearly not
incompatible with the NPT. Indeed, until the countries of
the world can create the environment necessary for nuclear
weapons to be entirely eliminated ... we submit that the
protection which the United States extends to its allies
has actually slowed nuclear proliferation and helped make
it less likely that new nuclear arms races will emerge."
text of Rocca's October 9 speech in New York is available
on the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in Geneva Web
The full texts of the 2006
Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and other
related to nuclear disarmament are available on the
State Department Web site.
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
USINFO Staff Writer