Rose Gottemoeller, Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, said that the Obama Administration has made significant progress with the agenda that President Obama laid out in Prague just three years ago at the Arms Control Association's annual meeting on June 4, 2012.
In 2012, the Administration has begun laying the ground work to make further nuclear weapons reductions beyond New START, prohibit the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, launch new negotiations on conventional armaments in Europe, and other initiatives.
The Acting Under Secretary highlighted progress on implementation of the New START Treaty. In fact, the Russians arrived in the United States last weekend for another inspection of the Treaty at Malstrom Air Force Base, and there is an intensive pace of activity under New START. Each side may do up to 18 on-site inspections annually. She emphasized that the Treaty's verification regime works, giving both sides confidence that the other party is living up to its Treaty commitments.
She stated in her remarks, “The implementation of New START is going very well…Our experience during the first year of treaty implementation demonstrates that the Treaty's verification regime works, and is providing the predictability and mutual confidence that it promised. Mutual trust and confidence will be crucial to any future nuclear reduction plans.” The New START Treaty is the most comprehensive arms control agreement in nearly 20 years. And when we're done, we will have cut American and Russian deployed nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s. When fully implemented, the New START Treaty will limit American and Russian deployed strategic nuclear warheads to their lowest levels since the 1950s.
Ensuring European security also is an essential responsibility of the United States and its allies and partners, as well as an important aspect of our relationship with Russia. The Acting Under Secretary pointed out, “We are also spending a lot of time focused on conventional arms control and its role in enhancing European security.”
There are three conventional regimes that play key roles in European security: the Open Skies Treaty, the Vienna Document (2011), and the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty. Each regime is important and contributes to security and stability in a unique way.
Acting Under Secretary Gottemoeller added, “We must modernize conventional arms control to take account of current security concerns. I have been meeting with my European counterparts, soliciting their views on key objectives and basic principles for the way ahead, with the goal of informing our own review of these issues in Washington. Moving forward together, we can arrive at solutions that best serve the security interests of the United States and our NATO Allies, and indeed of all the countries of Europe.”
In other areas, she pointed to our ongoing efforts to launch the negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). “Such a treaty is considered to be, by the majority of the international community, the next step in the process of multilateral nuclear disarmament. We have worked closely with a number of countries to achieve the start of FMCT negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD),” she said. She called on certain countries to engage substantively, constructively, and frequently on FMCT, in order to overcome the current diplomatic stasis in negotiations. The United States also is continuing to consult among the other P5 members (China, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom) and with other key stakeholders on advancing an FMCT.
Acting Under Secretary Gottemoeller stressed that, “The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) remains a top priority for the Administration and a key element of the President's Prague agenda. As we continue laying the groundwork for U.S. ratification, we remain optimistic about the prospects for the CTBT's entry into force, albeit mindful that achieving that worthy goal will require considerable effort.”
She pointed out that an effectively verified CTBT is central to leading toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons and reduced nuclear competition. She stated, “This is a time we need to get the word out there on what the CTBT can do for us, what it will do to enhance our national security, we need to take a serious look and listen…We want to have a very serious and intensive debate on the merits of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.”
Concluding her remarks Acting Under Secretary Gottemoeller said, “We have no easy task ahead of us. We must press on with patience, persistence and a lot of hard work.”