USA — More Nuke Treaties Remain on Agenda, Official Says

WASHINGTON, Jan. 20, 2011 — With one major arms reduc­tion treaty near­ly to the enforce­ment stage, more work lies ahead to advance the nation’s nuclear secu­ri­ty, a senior State Depart­ment offi­cial said yes­ter­day.

Rose Gote­moeller, the State Department’s assis­tant sec­re­tary for the Bureau of Arms Con­trol, Ver­i­fi­ca­tion and Com­pli­ance, spoke about that work at the Nation­al Acad­e­my of Sci­ences and U.S. Insti­tute of Peace Sym­po­sium.

The Sen­ate rat­i­fied the New Strate­gic Arms Reduc­tion Treaty on Dec. 20, and the treaty will be in force after the Russ­ian Duma and Fed­er­a­tion Coun­cil approve the treaty and the two nations for­mal­ly exchange instru­ments of rat­i­fi­ca­tion.

“New START is the most sig­nif­i­cant nuclear arms con­trol agree­ment in near­ly two decades,” Gote­moeller said.

The treaty lim­its the num­ber of strate­gic nuclear weapons and launch­ers that the Unit­ed States and Rus­sia can deploy, she said, while main­tain­ing the effec­tive­ness of the U.S. nuclear deter­rent.

After New START comes into force, Gote­moeller said, an ini­tial exchange of data on mis­siles, launch­ers, heavy bombers and war­heads sub­ject to the treaty is required with­in 45 days. The right to con­duct on-site inspec­tions begins after 60 days.

The new treaty sets the stage for progress in oth­er crit­i­cal areas on the nuclear arms con­trol agen­da, she said: fur­ther nuclear weapons reduc­tions, the Fis­sile Mate­r­i­al Cut­off Treaty, and the Com­pre­hen­sive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The Sen­ate passed a res­o­lu­tion of advice and con­sent in rat­i­fy­ing New START that calls for the Unit­ed States to ini­ti­ate nego­ti­a­tions with Rus­sia on non­strate­gic nuclear weapons with­in the treaty’s first year, she said. Work to pre­pare for that dia­logue is under way and inten­si­fy­ing, she added.

More progress occurred last week, Gote­moeller said, when John R. Beyr­le, U.S. ambas­sador to the Russ­ian Fed­er­a­tion, and Russ­ian Deputy For­eign Min­is­ter Sergey Ryabkov exchanged diplo­mat­ic notes to for­mal­ize the so-called “123 Agree­ment.”

“This is an agree­ment for nuclear coop­er­a­tion which both sides have been intent on bring­ing into force for some time,” she said. The agree­ment, for­mal­ly called the Agree­ment for Coop­er­a­tion in the Field of Peace­ful Uses of Nuclear Ener­gy, enhances coop­er­a­tion on glob­al non­pro­lif­er­a­tion goals, Gote­moeller said.

“The 123 Agree­ment will cre­ate the con­di­tions for improved coop­er­a­tion on joint tech­nol­o­gy devel­op­ment to sup­port arms con­trol and non­pro­lif­er­a­tion activ­i­ties,” she said. Gote­moeller said the agree­ment will advance joint efforts to con­vert research reac­tors from high­ly-enriched ura­ni­um to low enriched ura­ni­um fuel; aid coop­er­a­tion on foren­sic analy­sis, allow­ing bet­ter iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of nuclear mate­r­i­al and pre­vent­ing that mate­r­i­al from reach­ing ter­ror­ists; and set the stage for expand­ed joint tech­ni­cal coop­er­a­tion on next-gen­er­a­tion inter­na­tion­al safe­guards.

There are two oth­er crit­i­cal ele­ments to Pres­i­dent Barack Obama’s arms con­trol agen­da, she said: the Fis­sile Mate­r­i­al Cut­off Treaty and the Com­pre­hen­sive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton has empha­sized, Gote­moeller said, that the Unit­ed States stands ready to begin mul­ti­lat­er­al nego­ti­a­tions imme­di­ate­ly on a fis­sile mate­r­i­al treaty at the Con­fer­ence on Dis­ar­ma­ment in Gene­va.

Such a treaty would pro­hib­it pro­duc­tion of fis­sile mate­r­i­al for use in nuclear weapons.

“This set of treaty nego­ti­a­tions is long over­due, and it is an impor­tant step on the inter­na­tion­al arms con­trol agen­da,” Gote­moeller said. “The Unit­ed States is deeply dis­ap­point­ed over the Con­fer­ence on Disarmament’s fail­ure to begin nego­ti­a­tions.”

The conference’s next ses­sion will start this month, she said, and she and oth­er U.S. rep­re­sen­ta­tives will work with oth­er inter­est­ed states on ways to move the fis­sile mate­ri­als treaty agen­da for­ward.

Final­ly, the test-ban treaty remains an impor­tant ele­ment of the president’s strat­e­gy to strength­en the nuclear non­pro­lif­er­a­tion regime and cre­ate the con­di­tions for a nuclear free world, she said.

The Sen­ate declined to rat­i­fy the test-ban treaty in 1999, based on con­cerns about its ver­i­fi­a­bil­i­ty and the reli­a­bil­i­ty of America’s nuclear deter­rent with­out nuclear test­ing, Gote­moeller said. Over the last decade, the U.S. has made strides in meet­ing both con­cerns, she added.

“The Inter­na­tion­al Mon­i­tor­ing Sys­tem is now more than 80 per­cent com­plete. At the time of the ini­tial Sen­ate vote on the Treaty in 1999, none of the IMS sta­tions had been cer­ti­fied as meet­ing approved tech­ni­cal spec­i­fi­ca­tions and oper­a­tional require­ments,” she said.

The nation can also now ensure the reli­a­bil­i­ty of its nuclear weapons with­out resort­ing to explo­sive test­ing, Gote­moeller said.

“After an absence of eight years, U.S. experts are ful­ly engaged in prepara­to­ry work to estab­lish the on-site inspec­tion ele­ment of the ver­i­fi­ca­tion regime, as part of the U.S. con­tri­bu­tion to the work of the Com­pre­hen­sive Test Ban Treaty Orga­ni­za­tion,” she said.

“These actions demon­strate the com­mit­ment of the Unit­ed States to pre­pare for the entry into force of this treaty,” she con­tin­ued. “We will con­tin­ue to take addi­tion­al steps to rein­force the norm against nuclear test­ing in the months ahead.”

The nuclear arms con­trol agenda’s “mon­i­tor­ing, trans­paren­cy, and ver­i­fi­ca­tion chal­lenges alone are daunt­ing,” she acknowl­edged.

“We have tal­ent avail­able to address those chal­lenges that is also quite for­mi­da­ble,” Gote­moeller said, “and a wel­come part­ner­ship with the sci­en­tif­ic com­mu­ni­ty in the U.S., Rus­sia and else­where to tack­le these chal­lenges.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)

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