Read more: U.S. Closing Statement at the 2010 NPT Review ConferenceAbout the Author: Ambassador Susan Burk is the President's Special Representative for Nuclear Non-Proliferation. She was the working head of the U.S. delegation to the Eighth NPT Review Conference.
The eighth Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty Review Conference concluded successfully last Friday, May 28, as 189 nations adopted an action plan to strengthen measures to prevent nuclear proliferation. Since the opening of the Conference on May 3, the U.S. delegation and representatives of nearly 190 other member states worked hard to strengthen the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the cornerstone of the international nonproliferation regime.
It was a long month. Until the final day, it was uncertain whether 189 nations would reach agreement on a final document. To get agreement, we had to have consensus, and under any circumstances finding agreement among so many parties is a difficult task. Delegations had focused intensively in the last week on the forward looking action plans for disarmament, nonproliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The relative brevity of these plans facilitated agreement. The Conference President's decision to issue under his name the Main Committee reports covering the review of the NPT permitted this body of work to be incorporated in the final report with the Parties "taking note."
The United States entered this Review Conference having already accomplished a great deal in a short amount of time. Since President Obama set forth a bold vision of a world without nuclear weapons in a speech in Prague last year, the Obama administration has concluded a forward-leaning Nuclear Posture Review that reduces the number and importance of nuclear weapons in our security policy; negotiated and signed the New START Treaty with the Russian Federation; and hosted the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, DC, in which 47 countries committed to take steps to stop nuclear terrorism and secure fissile material throughout the world.
The U.S. delegation's main task was to work with other countries' delegations, but there were also a lot of NGOs that came as observers and the U.S. delegation was in touch with them almost constantly over the four weeks of the conference. Our senior officials briefed NGOs on what the United States had been doing across the board, particularly in the disarmament field, and we listened to and considered what the NGOs cared about and wanted to see accomplished here. We saw an impressive level of expertise in our exchanges with NGO and academic experts -- they will continue to be important contributors to our own thinking as we pursue further advances in disarmament and nonproliferation.
This RevCon ended with a consensus final document for the first time in 10 years, only the fourth of eight review conference to do so. At the conference opening, the United States took unilateral steps that made our country safer and stronger, while also setting the state for this successful outcome. For the first time, we made public the number of weapons in our nuclear arsenal (the United Kingdom followed suit during the RevCon), we announced our intention to ratify protocols to two nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties, and we pledged $50 million to a new campaign to increase funding at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including applications related to food, water, medicine, and power.
The delegation was pleased by the inclusion in this final document of stronger language that:
Urges States Parties to comply fully with their obligations under the Treaty,
- Supports the President's vision of working toward a world without nuclear weapons,
- Encourages parties to join the United States in negotiating a fissile material cutoff treaty,
- Calls for fully developing the verification regime for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty,
- Encourages all States Parties to conclude and bring into force additional protocol safeguards agreements with the IAEA,
- Recommends strengthening the IAEA so that it can meet its safeguard responsibilities,
- Encourages stronger export controls for nuclear technology, and
- Calls on other States Parties to contribute to the Peaceful Uses Initiative that Secretary Clinton announced in her opening statement to the RevCon.
We worked well with our NPT partners. We share with them a strong commitment to the Treaty and its nonproliferation and disarmament objectives. The Conference President, Ambassador Libran Cabactulan of the Philippines, faced a number of challenges, but he led us effectively. We also want to recognize the important work of the Main Committee Chairpersons and the Chairs of their Subsidiary Bodies, where much of the detailed policy debate was conducted; and the representatives of the many member states who served as vice-chairs and advisors to the Review Conference President.
I know I speak for the rest of our delegation in expressing appreciation for the many constructive discussions we have had at this Conference. This RevCon, and the debate we have had during this past month, created the blueprint for the follow on work in the three pillars for the months and years to come. Multi-lateral nonproliferation diplomacy is complex and hard, but it's a gratifying responsibility as we work to build a safer and better world for generations to come.
Want to learn more?Watch Secretary Clinton's Opening Review Conference StatementPresident Obama's Statement on the start of the Review ConferenceVisit our NPT HomepageVisit the UN's Review Conference WebsiteRead more about the New START TreatyUnder Secretary of State Tauscher's closing RevCon statement