Washington — The Obama administration has dedicated “unprecedented financial, political and technical resources to prevent proliferation” and is making progress in moving toward a world without nuclear weapons, says Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher.
“We have achieved the entry into force of the New START agreement, adopted a nuclear posture review that promotes nonproliferation and reduces the role of nuclear weapons in our national security policy, and we helped to achieve a consensus action plan at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review,” Tauscher said May 10 at the Arms Control Association’s annual meeting in Washington.
Other administration efforts include convening the successful 2010 Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, helping to secure and relocate vulnerable nuclear materials, and increasing effective multilateral sanctions against Iran and North Korea for illegal nuclear activity, Tauscher added.
Tauscher praised in particular the February entry into force of the New START treaty, a U.S.-Russia agreement that will reduce each nation’s nuclear arsenals to their lowest levels in more than a half century.
Tom Collina, research director at the Arms Control Association, said the treaty has worldwide benefits, including building a “global movement to stop other nations from getting nuclear weapons” and thus decrease the international threat of nuclear terrorism.
To further eliminate that threat, Tauscher said, the Obama administration is preparing for the next steps in nuclear arms reduction, including “reductions in strategic, nonstrategic and nondeployed weapons.”
The New START treaty “opened the door” for passage of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which Tauscher said the United States has taken a leading role to support. She said the international treaty, which prohibits nuclear explosions in all environments for military or civilian purposes, will enhance U.S. security.
The United States has signed the treaty, but the U.S. Senate has not yet ratified it. Tauscher said the Obama administration is preparing to engage the Senate and the American public in an educational campaign expected to lead to ratification. She said the United States no longer needs to conduct nuclear explosive tests.
The United States has observed a moratorium on nuclear testing since 1992, and U.S. officials say the country has no plans to resume. Tauscher added that for 15 years the secretaries of defense and energy and directors of nuclear weapons laboratories have certified the U.S. arsenal is “safe, secure and effective.”
“Each year, we have affirmed that we do not need to conduct explosive nuclear tests,” Tauscher said.
She said the treaty, if entered into force, would “obligate other states not to test and provide disincentives for states” that do continue to test.
The global community has a “robust verification regime” to catch those who would try to cheat the treaty, and would be prepared to levy “significant costs” to those countries, including international sanctions, she said.
Looking ahead, Tauscher said ratifying the treaty could help enhance international cooperation, strengthen U.S. leverage with the international community in pressuring defiant regimes that engage in illegal nuclear activity, and allow for greater U.S. credibility when encouraging other states to pursue nonproliferation objectives.