President Obama Making Good on Nuclear Weapons Promises

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 24, 2009
CONTACT: Travis Sharp

Washington, D.C. — In response to President Barack Obama's appearance today before the United Nations General Assembly, the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation released the statement below.

"In his historic April 2009 speech in Prague, President Barack Obama outlined a number of concrete steps the United States would take to address the nuclear weapons threat head-on. The President is now taking these steps and leading by example in order to move the world closer to reducing the danger posed by nuclear weapons.

The United States plans to introduce a resolution on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament during a special meeting of the United Nations Security Council to be chaired by Obama on September 24. In addition, Obama designated Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to lead the U.S. delegation this week at the conference on facilitating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. The White House also intends to host a global nuclear security summit in Washington in April 2010.

Obama's September 24 UN appearance will mark the first time that a U.S. president has presided over a special session of the Security Council. This sends a clear and powerful signal that the United States will reestablish its leadership position on arms control. Obama's draft resolution reaffirms U.S. support for key commitments that the Bush administration shunned, including ratification of the Test Ban Treaty and a pledge not to target non-nuclear weapons states with nuclear weapons (known as negative security assurances).

If agreed to, the resolution will be only the second Security Council resolution in history to call on all states to join the Test Ban Treaty. It could pave the way for the nuclear- and non-nuclear weapon states to take steps to reduce nuclear dangers at the May 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. Such steps might include relaunching negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty to ban the production of nuclear fissile material for weapons purposes (known as a fissile material cutoff treaty).

Clinton's appearance at the Test Ban conference this week is a change from the previous administration, which failed to send a delegation to the last four meetings of the conference. Ratification of the Test Ban Treaty is clearly in the U.S. national interest. Since the United States does not conduct nuclear tests and has no plans or need to do so, the United States should take advantage of the security and political benefits it would gain from ratification. A permanent Test Ban Treaty would strengthen efforts to stop the spread of nuclear weapons and materials by making acquisition harder and more politically costly. The Test Ban Treaty's provision for a global network of monitoring stations and on-site inspections would greatly enhance the international community's ability to deter and detect potential cheaters.

Finally, Obama will also host a global nuclear security summit in Washington in April 2010. First announced in the Prague speech, the summit will work towards raising the global standard for effective nuclear security. The President noted that the world should not wait for a terrorist attack to address this looming threat.

These steps to address the world's gravest threats are laudable. Obama has taken an aggressive stance on preventing nuclear weapons proliferation and demanding that nations adhere to their international treaty obligations. An endeavor of this magnitude will take the leadership of the United States in concert with the other states."