MEDIA ADVISORY: Arms Control Experts Applaud Security Council Resolution Toward a "World Without Nuclear Weapons"

For Immediate Release: Sept. 24, 2009

Media Contacts: Peter Crail, Nonproliferation Analyst in Washington (202-463-8270 x102); Daryl G. Kimball, Director, at the UN, (ext. 107); or Tom Z. Collina, Research Director, at the UN (ext. 104).

(New York, N.Y.) Experts from the independent Arms Control Association (ACA) characterized today's unanimous adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on nonproliferation and disarmament as "an important step toward rebuilding international consensus around a balanced action plan to reduce and eliminate the nuclear weapons threat."

"Today's Security Council session could be the critical mass that energizes long-overdue action to strengthen the beleaguered global nonproliferation system," said Daryl G. Kimball, ACA's executive director.

"Obama's call to action to reduce the roles and number of nuclear weapons, to end nuclear testing, and toughen nuclear safeguards, are common sense steps that are in U.S. and international security interests. Whether this meeting and the council's resolution are a turning point away from a more dangerous 21st century depends on the steps taken from here on out," Kimball said.

"The cynics and supporters of the nuclear status quo believe action toward a nuclear weapons-free world is an exercise in wishful thinking. They're wrong. The real fantasy is to expect nuclear restraint and greater commitment to nonproliferation from other states in the absence of bold action on disarmament," he added.

The resolution outlines key steps to advance and strengthen the global nonproliferation and disarmament regime and seeks to address post-Cold War threats stemming from nuclear terrorism and unsecured nuclear material. It was adopted at a special meeting presided over by President Barack Obama, which was the highest level discussion of nuclear security issues in more than a decade.

"The U.S.-sponsored resolution builds on Obama's powerful April 5 address outlining steps toward a 'world without nuclear weapons' and gets international backing for those efforts," said Peter Crail, Nonproliferation Analyst with ACA.

"In sponsoring the resolution, the United States reaffirmed U.S. support for key commitments that the Bush administration had backed away from, including negative nuclear security assurances and ratification of the CTBT," Crail noted.

In addition to addressing nuclear disarmament, the resolution incorporates a number of efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, such as calling on states to adopt more thorough inspections under the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) additional protocol.

"The resolution also reinforces the understanding that, while NPT members have a right to peaceful nuclear energy, that right is conditioned on a commitment not to develop nuclear weapons, and to adhere to IAEA safeguards which provide assurance that commitment is being followed," Crail said.

"This helps to increase the pressure on states such as Iran that have flouted those rules but still seek to benefit from rights under the treaty," he added.

Paving the way for additional progress, the resolution "Calls upon all States Parties to the NPT to cooperate so that the 2010 NPT Review Conference can successfully strengthen the Treaty and set realistic and achievable goals in all the Treaty's three pillars: non-proliferation, the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and disarmament."

"The Obama administration's leadership at the UN this week should help build support among UN and NPT member states--especially non-nuclear weapon states--around a set of balanced responsibilities to reduce nuclear dangers ahead of the pivotal May 2010 NPT Review Conference," Crail said.

Also today, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressed the biennial meeting of states parties to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty at the UN.

"President Barack Obama's call for the CTBT before the UN General Assembly and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's participation in this week's CTBT conference are promising signs of the administration's serious commitment to securing U.S. ratification of the treaty," said Kimball, who is attending the CTBT Conference as an NGO observer.

"Since the United States is already observing a test moratorium, Washington has all the responsibilities of a ratifying state without all of the benefits. It is past time for the United States to ratify. There is no military or technical reason for the United States to resume testing and we should be doing everything we can to increase our ability to detect and deter other states from conducting nuclear tests, which could help them perfect new and more powerful warheads," Kimball said.

"U.S. ratification is an essential but not sufficient step toward securing the approval of the other states needed for the Test Ban Treaty's entry into force," Kimball added.