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START CTBT and FMCT- Go USA!

Posted by Jill Marie Parillo on May 5, 2009

It is really a great sign that the Obama Administration gave our new Assistant Secretary, Rose Gottemoeller, the authority to speak so positively on disarmament May 5 at the NPT PrepCom. Secretary Gottemoeller explained how the United States would work on steps towards the U.S.'s NPT Article VI commitment. Article VI states:

Each of the Parties to the Treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a Treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.

Secretary Gottemoeller elaborated on the concrete steps toward disarmament the United States would take in her statement today. She reiterated that "the United States and Russia will negotiate a new agreement to replace the strategic arms reduction treaty, which expires in just six month from now."

Recalling that President Obama said in Prague April 5 that: "We will seek a new agreement by the end of the year that is legally binding and sufficiently bold.... This set the stage for further cuts, and we will seek to include all nuclear weapon states in this endeavor." President Obama and Russian President Medvedev have instructed that the new agreement achieve reductions lower than those in existing arms control agreements.

Assistant Secretary Gottemoeller pledged today her "best efforts and those of other American negotiators to meet the follow-on START goals set by Presidents Obama and Medvedev." To start, she said she would meet with her Russian negotiators in Moscow after this NPT PrepCom. She also said that "the new agreement should include effective verification measures drawn from our experience in implementing START" and talks would "begin immediately....and report, by July, on their progress in working out a new agreement."

Gottemoeller confirmed that "the United States will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)" and "launch a diplomatic effort to bring on board the other states whose ratifications are required for the treaty to enter into force."

If that was not enough of a positive tone from the United States today, Ms. Gottemoeller also said "that the United States will seek a new treaty that verifiably ends production of fissile materials intended for use in nuclear weapons — a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty." She said such a treaty "would not only help fulfill our NPT Article VI commitments, but also could help avoid destabilizing arms races in South Asia and, by limiting the amount of fissile material worldwide, could facilitate the task of securing such weapons-usable materials against theft or seizure by terrorist groups."

"Pending the successful negotiation and entry into force of an FMCT, the United States reaffirms our decades-long unilateral moratorium on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons....Similarly, until CTBT enters into force, the United States will continue our nearly two-decade long moratorium on nuclear explosive testing. We call on all other governments publicly to declare or reaffirm their intention not to test," said the US Assistant Secretary.

So far, the United States is setting the stage for a lot of positive action. In their opening general statements (which will end today), NPT member states are continually reporting their gratitude for the U.S.'s new priorities, but in the same statements, they are also asking to see action.

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