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Grave Threats To Non-Proliferation Treaty

This satellite image shows the Yongbyon Nuclear Center, located north of Pyongyang, North Korea. (file)

“The President’s agenda is rooted in the interest almost all of us share in preserving the treaty as a basis for global cooperation."

This summer marks the 45th anniversary of the signing of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the NPT. The treaty’s goal of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons remains as relevant today as it did when the treaty was first signed, said U.S. Assistant Secretary for International Security and Nonproliferation Thomas Countryman, during a conference in Geneva to review progress in implementing the NPT.

Grave Threats To Non-Proliferation Treaty
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In a message to the NPT Preparatory Committee meeting, Secretary of State John Kerry noted that in 2009 President Barack Obama re-affirmed U.S. support for the treaty “and called on all countries to join us in working to secure the peace and security of a world free of the threat of nuclear catastrophe.”

Assistant Secretary Countryman said, “The President’s agenda is rooted in the interest almost all of us share in preserving the treaty as a basis for global cooperation. We will continue to do our part by taking action to reduce the number of nuclear weapons, their roles, and the likelihood of their use. At the same time, we will work to strengthen safeguards and encourage peaceful uses of nuclear energy by states that meet their obligations.”

Mr. Countryman added, “In response to those who abuse the treaty, we will continue to insist that violations be confronted with the urgency they require.”

At a news briefing, he said “the actions of Iran and North Korea should concern every member of this conference.” North Korea, which announced its withdrawal from the NPT ten years ago and which conducted its third nuclear test in February, presents a “dangerous challenge to regional peace.”

Iran, he noted, has a “long history” of deceiving the International Atomic Energy Agency and has an enrichment program that far exceeds what is needed for civilian use. The prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, Mr. Countryman said, presents “a threat to the entire region and an impetus for greater proliferation, lateral proliferation of weapons, than we have ever seen.”

Assistant Secretary Countryman emphasized that the United States remains “committed to seeking a diplomatic solution with the Iranians for as long as that remains possible . . . in order to show the Iranians that the world is united in its demand that they come back into compliance with their obligations.

“States must be held accountable for their violations of the Treaty or for abusing the withdrawal provision,” Assistant Secretary Countryman said. And action is required by “all NPT Parties, who collectively share a responsibility to support the nonproliferation regime and ensure its rules are robust and fully respected.”