Later this month, the international community will gather in New York to review the workings of the now-45-year-old Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Since its entry into force in 1970, the NPT has become the cornerstone of the nuclear nonproliferation regime to which nearly every country in the world has subscribed.
A Strong NPT Treaty is our best hope for a “World without Nuclear Weapons” The NPT remains an essential foundation for international efforts to confront nuclear dangers and seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, the vision President Obama laid out in his 2009 Prague speech.
Together, the United Nations and the Nobel-Prize winning Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) are credited with achieving one of the few breakthroughs in containing the ongoing crisis in Syria. There is still a treat that proliferation sensitive activities might trigger a regional war with extremely unpredictable and potentially devastating consequences. There is a heightened risk of instability, in particular in a region like the Middle East, where there are many contested issues between states.
One of the greatest concerns arising out of the exposure of the more sensitive aspects of the Iranian nuclear programme is the uranium-enrichment facility that an extensive, internationalized network of traffickers was actively supplying the materials and equipment on which the programme depended. Chemical terrorism is growing threat, ignoring borders.
In Iran, where the EU has invested the greatest energy and resources in seeking a solution, the incremental development of the most sensitive and worrying aspects of the nuclear programme have continued. Furthermore, the Iranian missile programme has crosse a number of technical thresholds during the decade of engagement with U.S and European counterparts.
A major point of contention in the recent negotiations with Iran has been the actions Iran can take to assure the others (primarily the United States) that its “breakout capability” — or ability to create a deliverable nuclear weapon — is limited.
In the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) regarding the Islamic Republic of Iran’s nuclear program that were decided in Lausanne, Switzerland, Iran will go from having about 19,000 installed today to 6,104 installed under the deal, with only 5,060 of these enriching uranium for 10 years.
As noted in JCPOA: U.S. and E.U. nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps. “If at any time Iran fails to fulfill its commitments, these sanctions will snap back into place”. In this way the negotiations with Iran provide the best diplomatic path forward for Iran to return to full compliance with the NPT.
We all share the responsibility to confront nuclear proliferation and ensure nuclear weapons do not end up in the hands of terrorists; we all benefit from positive movement toward disarmament; and we all gain from the peaceful uses of nuclear technologies.
At the Review Conference in New York, diplomacy will take center stage. The United States is committed to strengthening the nonproliferation regime and the authority of the International Atomic Energy Agency to implement nuclear safeguards — a set of measures to verify that nuclear materials are used for peaceful purposes.
All countries have a vested interest in strengthening the treaty’s three interrelated and mutually reinforcing pillars: (1) Advancing Nonproliferation. (2) Progress on Disarmament. (3) Providing benefits to peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
A notable tendency in the development of technology has been the emergence of a range new technology that could open the way to the developing countries, who need both the energy resources and tools to support growing economies and healthy people, and nuclear techniques provide real solutions.
The United States has civil nuclear agreements that permit peaceful nuclear cooperation with 46 countries, Taiwan, as well as the IAEA and is pursuing agreements with additional partners.In addition, the United States has provided nearly $60 million in support to the IAEA’s Nuclear Security Fund since 2010 to help ensure the physical protection of nuclear material, as well as $16 million to support IAEA efforts to promote nuclear safety.
The U.S. efforts advancing international efforts to promote both nuclear nonproliferation and that nuclear technologies can be used safely and securely, without increasing the risk of proliferation are equally essential to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.
On the second annual Justice Stephen Breyer International Law Lecture April 9, 2015, which addresses critical issues of international law and policy, the Foreign Policy program at Brookings and The Hague Institute for Global Justice hosted OPCW Director General Ambassador Ahmet Üzümcü for a discussion about the process of dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons stockpile and implications for peace, security, and accountability.