28 june / 2018

Opening Remarks by Ambassador Anatoly Antonov at the NPT Depositary Conference

Opening Remarks by Ambassador Anatoly Antonov at the NPT Depositary Conference on the 50th Anniversary of the Opening Signature of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, U.S. Department of State, June 28, 2018

Ladies and gentlemen!

On July 1st we celebrate the golden jubilee of the opening for signature of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (the NPT).

Over these years the Treaty has proven its importance as the core element of global and regional stability and security, providing a reliable barrier against nuclear proliferation on the planet. Apart fr om its
non-proliferation task, the NPT is a unique instrument that promotes nuclear disarmament, as well as international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The golden jubilee of the NPT is a great occasion to turn back to history. Our country stood at the foundation of the Treaty and was actively involved in drafting it. The conclusion of the Treaty was made possible as the world powers came to realize the fact that a nuclear war could lead to catastrophic consequences for all humanity, and it was crucial to develop a reliable barrier against future proliferation of nuclear weapons. The negotiations were difficult, but a compromise was reached. An adjusted balance of interests, which was the essence of the NPT, became an assurance of its effective implementation lasting fifty years, and it remains a safeguard of stable functioning of the Treaty in the future.

The NPT was initially signed for 25 years. Such deal was struck at the insistence of a number of countries, which back then did not wish to abandon the right to possess nuclear weapons forever. The decision on indefinite extension of the Treaty, made during the 1995 Review Conference, was tough to make, as it was an outcome of a whole series of compromises achieved between different groups of countries.
As a result, the joint work on nuclear non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy gained additional momentum. Predictability and stability of the NPT functioning was sealed, as it gained additional protection from the sways of political pendulum. Moreover, broad horizons were opened for future strengthening of the Treaty.
According to expert estimates, if it was not for the NPT, up to fifty countries might have eventually acquired nuclear weapons by now. Effective functioning of the non-proliferation regime is one of the primary tasks for reaching the common objective of achieving a world without nuclear weapons as set forth in the NPT.

According to Article III of the Treaty, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system is the key element for providing assurances of the fulfillment of the NPT obligations by non-nuclear-weapon States. It is an important premise for cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy, consolidating trust between states.

Today the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the only international organization that possesses a unique technical expertise in verifying the fulfillment of the States obligations under the NPT. It is necessary to further consistently strengthen the IAEA control mechanism, to rely on the Agency’s authority and technical competence in issues of implementing its safeguards. In this task it is important to increase the number of states that signed the Additional Protocol to the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the IAEA, the process of which remains strictly voluntary for every State Party to the NPT, as well as future development of these instruments into a standard for verification of obligations fulfillment under the Treaty.

Ladies and gentlemen!
Russia consistently stands for broad access of the NPT States to the benefits of the peaceful use of nuclear energy. This issue requires a balance between peaceful uses of nuclear energy, strengthening of nuclear non-proliferation regime and the IAEA safeguards system.
The Russian Federation supplies nuclear power equipment, nuclear or other materials. We help our partners develop their entire nuclear industries that involve science, nuclear and related physical safety, as well as personnel training programs. We attach significant importance to international projects.

I would like to confirm that Russia further intends to build nuclear power plants - the most modern and most failsafe in terms of security. For example, the Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation - Rosatom Worldwide - is currently pursuing projects of constructing thirty-three nuclear power generating units abroad.

Russia is firmly committed to a close cooperation with the NPT State Parties in creating a genuinely modern system of cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. Therefore, our country contributes to practical implementation of Article IV of the NPT.

Ladies and gentlemen!
Over half a century an unprecedented progress has been achieved in nuclear disarmament. Statements that efforts in this area are insufficient or even lagging have nothing to do with reality. In accordance with bilateral agreements with the U.S. and unilaterally Russia has made a significant contribution to nuclear disarmament through reducing its nuclear arsenal by 85 percent. We have also cut the number of non-strategic nuclear weapons by 75 percent and moved them into the non-deployed category, keeping them at the central storage facilities within the national borders.
Russia will continue to pursue the goal of achieving general and complete nuclear disarmament - we have been confirming this statement at the highest level. We are confident, that future progress in nuclear disarmament can be possible only if all interested parties make necessary efforts to it. The only plausible scenario seems to rely on a balanced step-by-step approach based on a consensus, which would imply a gradual creation of appropriate conditions to further nuclear disarmament efforts. It is important that the steps in this area would promote strengthening of international stability and security, that they would be based on the principle of enhanced security for all.

Attempts to achieve this goal without involving nuclear states and in defiance of their lawful security interests may throw the current U.N. disarmament mechanisms off balance and weaken the NPT regime.

Ladies and gentlemen!
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) plays an exceptionally important role in the efforts to lim it and reduce nuclear weapons, a treaty that was designed to create a firm barrier against proliferation and qualitative improvements of nuclear weapons. Since the CTBT was opened for signature, the world has been patiently waiting for it to come into force for over 20 years now. From this rostrum we would like to call upon the countries, primarily upon those on which the entry into force of the Treaty depends, to sign and/or ratify the CTBT without delay. Therefore, these counties will make an important contribution to strengthening the NPT regime.

We can confirm the importance and relevance of establishing a Middle East WMD-free zone (WMDFZ). This issue will obviously become one of the main highlights at the 2020 Review Conference. Russia, as a co-author of the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East, is committed to unconditional fulfillment of its obligation under the Resolution and stands ready to work will all parties interested in convening a Conference on the WMDFZ.

Ladies and gentlemen!
Despite its considerable age and constant stress-tests, the NPT has not lost its ability to adequately respond to modern challenges and threats to nuclear non-proliferation. Even today it fully corresponds to the tasks of the days it was signed. Even the toughest non-proliferation problems can and must be solved while relying precisely on the NPT and with strict adherence to the norms of international law and consideration of lawful security and development interests of all states.

We consider the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on resolving the situation around Iran’s nuclear program to be an example of such decision. Today, however, the JCPOA struggles through a difficult situation. The future of the Plan of Action raises our concerns. We call upon all states to clearly and unambiguously fulfill their commitments under the document. It is especially important to us that the JCPOA, despite current turbulence, continues to function. We believe that the measures stipulated by the JCPOA, including verification and control, as well as mechanisms of information exchange, are unprecedented and give reliable assurance that Iran uses its nuclear program for peaceful purposes only.

We welcome the establishment of the U.S-North Korea and Inter-Korean dialogue, as well as the agreements reached on resolving tensions of the Korean Peninsula, including the nuclear issue. These positive developments go within the course of the Russian-Chinese “roadmap”, developed over a year ago, that stipulates a multi-format approach to conflict resolution, phased and synchronized actions of the parties involved. With that, we stick to our understanding that the situation requires a common lessening of military and political tensions, as well as readiness of all countries to jointly seek ways to resolve current issues using only political and diplomatic measures.

Ladies and gentlemen,
The current state of affairs in non-proliferation and disarmament insistently requires a common search for ways to overcome emerging differences while taking delicate care of the NPT, which has proven its effectiveness.
The NPT 2020 Review Conference provides a unique opportunity to strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime and fulfill the NPT goals in all its three pillars - disarmament, non-proliferation and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

As we see it, the main goal of the preparatory process is for the global community to consolidate its efforts in order to provide effectiveness and stable functioning of the NPT regime, its further strengthening and universalization.

Ladies and gentlemen!
In my brief speech I have not covered a series of urgent tasks to consolidate the nuclear non-proliferation regime. Among them - universalization of the NPT, full implementation of current agreements on establishing nuclear-weapon-free zones, provision to the non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the Treaty of legally binding security assurances against the use or threat of use of nuclear weapons, etc. These are important and priority issues, and we stand ready with other states to look for mutually acceptable solutions.

I would like to emphasize that it would be difficult to create premises for further nuclear disarmament without adequate responses of the global community to new non-proliferation challenges and search for ways to tackle hardened issues (dating way back to the creation of the NPT).
The question “Which is more important: disarmament or non-proliferation?” - remains open. Each group of countries has a different answer. Although, in any case, if we wish to create favorable conditions for further nuclear disarmament, we have to take a serious approach to specific tasks of strengthening nuclear non-proliferation.

Ladies and gentlemen!
The NPT regime is our common asset. This treaty makes the world more stable, secure and predictable. That is why its preservation and strengthening is of our mutual benefit. The future of the NPT is a collective responsibility of all its State Parties. We call to find common grounds in our approaches to different issues of the NPT’s functioning, while avoiding political bias towards the document, as well as any “radical” initiatives that may “undermine” the Treaty.

Russia stands ready for a candid, open, equal and mutually respectful work with everyone who has honest interest in further sustained functioning and strengthening of the NPT.

Thank you for your attention.