Ambassador Burk on New Disarmament Center

BRIEF INTRODUCTORY STATEMENT
AMBASSADOR SUSAN BURK
VIENNA CENTER FOR DISARMAMENT AND NONPROLIFERATION
OPENING CEREMONY PRESS PANEL

Friday, February 25, 2011

Good afternoon.   I’d like to first thank the Austrian Foreign Ministry for hosting today’s events, and second, I’d like to congratulate both the Ministry and the Monterey Institute for International Studies for their joining forces to make this new center a reality.

By bringing together government representatives, leading academics and an energized community of nongovernmental organizations, the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Nonproliferation will provide another platform for addressing the global nonproliferation and disarmament agenda.

That agenda got an important boost last year when the Parties to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT, convened at the United Nations for the eighth Review Conference.

U.S. NPT diplomacy was guided by the priorities and the agenda that President Obama outlined in Prague in 2009 and both remain at the core of our efforts going forward.

In his speech, the President reaffirmed the basic bargain of the NPT and declared it “sound.”   He emphasized the U.S. commitment to achieve a world without nuclear weapons and laid out a bold U.S. agenda on nuclear disarmament.

On the issue of nonproliferation, President Obama drew attention to the challenges of noncompliance and its corrosive effect on the nonproliferation regime and regional security and stability.  He underscored the importance of equipping the IAEA with the tools and resources necessary to carry out its responsibilities.

And on peaceful uses of nuclear energy, President Obama stressed the legitimacy of the global nuclear renaissance while supporting multilateral solutions, such as a fuel bank, to mitigate the risk of proliferation.

Achieving these and related objectives requires that the momentum gained at the Review Conference be carried forward, and that Parties continue working together to implement the recommendations of the Action Plan adopted by the Parties by consensus last Spring.  We are making progress – the New START treaty is now in force and the United States is committed to seeking deeper nuclear reductions, including in non-deployed and non-strategic weapons, with Russia.  The Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council will meet in Paris in a few months as pledged at the Review Conference to continue their discussions on verification, transparency and confidence building measures, essential to further progress on disarmament.

We are working with IAEA partners to strengthen the IAEA safeguards system and to assist states in implementing the IAEA Additional Protocol.  The United States will soon submit the protocols of the African and South Pacific nuclear weapon free zone treaties to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.

And we are in discussions with the IAEA and other states to implement the IAEA Peaceful Uses Initiative.  Over $6 million in projects have been funded since the Initiative was announced at the Review Conference.

Overall, solid and measureable progress is being made and will continue to be made with the active participation of all nations, and with the support and partnership provided by civil society, the vibrant network of nongovernmental organizations dedicated to furthering these important issues.  This new center is a brick and mortar representation of that partnership.  Thank you.