The non-nuclear weapon states also have a responsibility to work to prevent further proliferation. That responsibility does not end with their decision to forgo their own weapons ambitions and accept safeguards to demonstrate the sincerity of that decision. It must continue with active participation in resolute efforts to impede additional countries from crossing the nuclear threshold, because their own security and well-being are profoundly affected by the outcome of such efforts.
All states with nuclear materials or technology have a responsibility to protect them against theft or illicit transfer. Now if all countries step up to these responsibilities, as we are doing, we can revitalize the nonproliferation regime for decades to come. The cornerstone of that regime, the NPT, remains sound and need not be altered. But as we have done for 40 years, we must build on that essential foundation by supplementing the treaty and updating the overall regime with measures designed to confront emerging challenges.
The Administration’s blueprint for our efforts is based on the hard, day-to-day work of active diplomacy — confronting proliferators, strengthening the capabilities of the IAEA and ensuring that all nations abide by the rights and obligations of the nonproliferation regime, negotiating a new treaty with Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenal, seeking ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and prompt negotiation of a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, undertaking a review of the role of nuclear weapons in the United States’s defense strategy, and supporting budgetary priorities that guarantee the safety and effectiveness of our deterrent.
Now, I am well aware of the difficult road ahead to uphold the NPT, restore the international nonproliferation consensus, and reinvigorate the global nonproliferation regime. Progress will not be easy. At times, our achievements may [seem] incomplete and unsatisfying, but we are committed to seeing this through, and we believe the world is depending on our success. The reality is that the nuclear threat cannot be checked by us acting alone. Whether we seek to prevent the smuggling of dangerous nuclear materials, establish a new international framework for civil nuclear energy cooperation, increase the IAEA’s budget, or persuade governments with nuclear weapons ambitions to abandon their quest, we can only achieve our goals through cooperation with others. In recent years, however, polarization within the international community on proliferation issues between states with nuclear weapons and those without have created obstacles to the cooperation that is needed.
Overcoming these obstacles must start from the premise that the nuclear threat is a danger that all nations face together, and that preventing the spread of nuclear weapons is not just in the interests of the existing nuclear weapon states, as it is sometimes asserted. Indeed, the non-nuclear weapon states have as much or more to lose if these weapons spread or are ever used again. The same logic applies to our work to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism. A nuclear terrorist bomb detonated anywhere in the world would have vast economic, political, ecological and social consequences everywhere in the world.