In a recent speech on nuclear nonproliferation at the University of Louisville, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said America's priority is to protect itself and its allies from nuclear terrorism and nuclear proliferation. There are three main elements to the strategy.
The first is the support for the basic framework of the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, or NPT. The global nuclear nonproliferation regime is based on a three-sided bargain: countries without nuclear weapons agree not to acquire them; countries with nuclear weapons work toward disarmament; and every nation is afforded the right to access peaceful nuclear energy under appropriate safeguards.
"Unfortunately," said Secretary Clinton, "this bargain has been under assault. North Korea began developing nuclear weapons as a NPT party before announcing its withdrawal from the treaty. And Iran is flouting the rules, seeking to develop a nuclear weapons capability under the guise of a peaceful enrichment program. We have an urgent interest," said Secretary Clinton, "in bolstering the world's nuclear nonproliferation framework and enforcement and verification mechanism." The upcoming Review Conference for the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will help advance that goal.
The second major element of U.S. strategy is to secure vulnerable nuclear material and enhance nuclear security. Nuclear terrorism has been called the world's most preventable catastrophe said Secretary Clinton. "But to prevent it, the world needs to act." That's why President Barack Obama hosted an international nuclear summit in an effort to lock down the world's vulnerable materials within four years and reduce the possibility that these materials will find their way into the hands of terrorists.
The final component of America's strategy must be to maintain its own safe, secure, and effective nuclear deterrent for as long as nuclear weapons exist, while we continue to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons. The New START Treaty and the Nuclear Posture Review are concrete, practical steps in that direction. As Secretary Clinton noted:
"We are committed to reducing the role and number of our nuclear weapons. But at the same time, we are investing to ensure that the weapons we retain in our stockpile are safe, secure, and effective."
"The fact that we are maintaining this arsenal does not mean that we intend to use it," said Secretary Clinton. "We are determined to see that nuclear weapons are never used again."