The 23rd United Nations Conference on Disarmament Issues: "Urgent and United Action Toward a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World"
Ambassador Susan F. Burk
Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation
Session II: Implementing the 2010 NPT Review Conference Action Plan
July 27, 2011
It is a pleasure to be here today and to participate in this important conference. Before I begin, let me offer
congratulations to the extraordinary Japanese women’s soccer team that won the gold medal at the Women’s World Cup a
week ago. Although I confess I was rooting for the “home team,” it was a fantastic game and I would like to add my voice
to the many others who have congratulated Japan on this great achievement.
We are now a year removed from the 2010 RevCon, a year that has been productive for many of us. As we begin to lay the
groundwork for the start of formal preparations for the 2015 NPT Review Conference this is a good opportunity to take
stock of what we accomplished last year, as well as how we are doing, individually and collectively, in fulfilling the
commitments we made at that time.
The Success of the 2010 NPT Review Conference
I do not need to dwell on the challenges faced by the NPT as we headed into the 2010 NPT RevCon. Noncompliance by
certain NPT parties; concerns that nuclear disarmament was not proceeding quickly enough, even as the international
community failed to deal adequately with emerging nuclear states; and the dramatic increase in the number of states
interested in pursuing the peaceful uses of nuclear energy for power generation, which raised the issue of how to expand
the peaceful uses of nuclear energy in a way that does not increase the risk of nuclear proliferation. Cross-cutting
these challenges to the three pillars was the Middle East issue and widespread interest in seeing steps taken to
implement the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East. Finally, coloring the perceptions of many participants and observers
was the concern, misplaced or not, that the credibility of the Treaty and the larger nonproliferation regime could not
withstand a repeat of the 2005 RevCon when Parties could not agree on an agenda, much less a consensus final outcome.
Fortunately, NPT Parties roses to the challenge and defied the skeptics. They engaged constructively and worked across
geographic and political lines to find common ground. The result was a comprehensive, balanced and forward-looking
Action Plan to support the objectives of the NPT’s three pillars. The Parties’ willingness to translate their support
for a “balanced” review into agreement on steps to advance each of the Treaty’s pillars was essential to the result.
Also important to the success of the Conference was the decision to convene a conference to begin addressing the issues
involved in establishing a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East.
We worked together to make progress where we could, and accepted, albeit reluctantly at times, that on some issues
progress was not yet possible. Our efforts demonstrated the contribution that responsible multilateral diplomacy can
make to addressing international interests and concerns.
The Action Plan’s Significance
The NPT Action Plan’s 64 actions and its decision on the Middle East represent a set of follow-on actions whose
implementation promises to strengthen the Treaty. It is a plan that reflects the balance between the NPT pillars that
Parties’ agreed should be pursued, as well as broad acceptance of the principle of “mutual responsibility,” a principle
that is critical to the continued vitality of the NPT regime.
The Plan’s nonproliferation goals include resolving all cases of noncompliance, promoting universality, concluding
comprehensive safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols, adhering to export control guidelines, preventing illicit
trafficking, and maintaining the highest standards of security and physical protection of nuclear materials and
On disarmament, all Parties committed to pursue policies necessary to establish conditions for a nuclear-weapon-free
world and to apply the principles of irreversibility, verifiability and transparency. They underlined the importance of
achieving the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and maintaining testing moratoria pending
that outcome. They called for the immediate start of negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty. Most
groundbreaking among the Plan’s disarmament actions is the P-5 commitment to progress on specific steps leading to
Of equal importance, the Action Plan recognizes that the right to the peaceful use of nuclear energy, recognized by the
NPT, must be exercised consistent with nonproliferation obligations. Specifically, it acknowledges that the use of
nuclear energy must be accompanied by safeguards, safety and security measures. It encourages further discussion of
multilateral approaches to the nuclear fuel cycle, both front and back end, as well as further minimization of highly
enriched uranium in civilian use, among other things. And it encourages states to contribute to the IAEA’s Peaceful Uses
Initiative, announced at the Review Conference by Secretary of State Clinton and designed to raise $100 million over
five years for projects in areas such as food security, water resources, human health, and nuclear power infrastructure.
The Action Plan’s Implementation
The real test of the RevCon’s success, however, will be how seriously all the Parties are implementing the
recommendations they supported there.
The U.S. began to organize its efforts to implement the Action Plan soon after the Review Conference last year. We are
engaged in an active program of work that reflects the benchmarks laid out in the NPT document.
On nonproliferation, in line with the Action Plan’s strong support for the IAEA safeguards system, the United States,
other Member States, and the IAEA Secretariat are actively considering ways to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system.
These include working with partners to help states meet their NPT comprehensive safeguards obligations, and to bring the
Additional Protocol into force in their countries. We remain committed to ensuring the Agency has the resources and
political support it needs to meet its growing responsibilities, not just in safeguards, safety and security, but also
in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Therefore we are pleased with the modest budget increase that was approved in
June. The Agency also needs political support to make effective use of its existing authorities in its on-going
compliance-related investigations. This authority was bolstered by the decision at the most recent meeting of the IAEA
Board of Governors which found Syria in noncompliance with its international safeguards obligations.
Also in line with the Action Plan, the Obama Administration has submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent, the
protocols of the African and South Pacific nuclear-weapon free zones treaties. And we are in discussions with parties to
the Southeast Asian and Central nuclear weapon free zones in an effort to reach agreement that would allow us to sign
the Protocols to those Treaties, as well.
On disarmament, the New START Treaty has entered into force and implementation is well underway. The U.S. is committed
to continuing a step-by-step process to reduce the overall numbers of nuclear weapons, which would include the pursuit
of a future agreement with Russia for broad reductions in all nuclear weapons – strategic, non-strategic, deployed and
The P5 met in Paris 30 June- 1 July to work together in pursuit of their shared goal of nuclear disarmament, including
engagement on the steps outlined in Action 5, as well as reporting and other efforts called for in the Action Plan. This
was a continuation of discussions begun in London in 2009 on the issues of transparency and mutual confidence, including
nuclear doctrine and capabilities, and of verification, recognizing such measures are important for establishing a firm
foundation for further disarmament efforts. In order to ensure that these conferences evolve into a regular process of
P5 dialogue, we agreed to hold a third conference in 2012.
The U.S. remains committed to securing ratification of the CTBT, and we are engaging the U.S. Senate and the American
public on the merits of that treaty. We also are continuing to work with our partners to move forward on FMCT
In support of the peaceful uses agenda, in December 2010 the IAEA Board of Governors approved a proposal authorizing the
Agency’s Director General to establish an IAEA administered and controlled low-enriched uranium bank as a fuel assurance
for Member States in the event of disruption of the fuel supply to their peaceful programs. The United States also has
been working closely with the IAEA to implement the Peaceful Uses Initiative, towards which we will contribute $50
million before the 2015 NPT Review Conference. We already have funded more than $9 million in projects with involvement
from more than 80 countries. We are delighted that Japan and South Korea have agreed to contribute to the Initiative and
we are actively seeking other partners.
Finally, for months we have been meeting regularly with the other co-sponsors of the 1995 resolution on the Middle East
and the UN to determine the best way to fulfill our responsibilities laid out in the decision on the Middle East in a
way that will best ensure a successful conference. We are fully committed to this effort. A first step is naming a
conference host state and facilitator, which we aim to do in the very near future. Together with the United Kingdom and
Russia, the United States has held extensive consultations with states in the region on how we can ensure a successful
conference in 2012. However, the success of the conference and similar efforts cannot be imposed from outside. It will
depend on the willingness of the regional states to help build an atmosphere conducive to constructive dialogue on all
We are only one year out from the 2010 RevCon and already there is a good story to tell. But we are not complacent and
understand that the success of our collective efforts last year will only be as good as our common, sustained commitment
to live up to the agreement we reached at that time. The United States is committed to that agreement and to doing its
part to sustain the momentum that was generated in getting to that outcome.
But as President Obama has said on several occasions, we cannot do it alone. The challenges to the NPT and to the global
regime remain serious, but we have agreed on an agenda that can help us deal with these challenges. We must continue to
nurture and sustain the working relationships we developed – engagement that transcended traditional political blocs and
regional groups – for that is the only way we will be able to consolidate our achievements and pave the way for a future
free from nuclear insecurity.