Warsaw, 16 November 2010 - DEFENCE, DETERRENCE AND DECOMMISSIONING ALL HAVE THEIR PLACE IN MODERN NUCLEAR POLICY, US OFFICIAL SAYS
It is not only possible but essential to work towards reducing global nuclear weapons without letting down one's own guard, or that of one's allies, a senior US diplomat told the NATO Parliamentary Assembly on Tuesday 16 November.
While pursuing “the long-term goal of a world without nuclear weapons,” the US “will continue to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent for ourselves and our allies so long as these weapons exist,” said Ambassador Marcie B Ries, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nuclear and Strategic Policy.
Speaking on the last day of the Assembly's 56th annual session in Warsaw, Ambassador Ries reminded the delegates that “today's most pressing threats come from terrorists and additional countries seeking nuclear weapons, not from the risk of large-scale nuclear attacks as we thought during the Cold War.”
Improved relations with Moscow also made now, the time to “seek Russian agreement to increase transparency on non-strategic nuclear weapons in Europe and to relocate these weapons away from the territory of NATO members,” she said.
The Assembly's Defence and Security Committee had earlier discussed the possibility of a declaration by NATO revealing the numbers and maybe even the locations of US nuclear weapons in Europe. The idea had been warmly received in the Committee, even if some members had questioned whether such a unilateral gesture of goodwill would be a sound diplomatic investment in practice.
The Ambassador also stressed the importance of reinforcing existing frameworks and agreements. “We need to work together to establish effective, internationally-supported mechanisms for addressing non-compliance,” she told the parliamentarians.
She welcomed the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START, signed by US President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitri Medvedev in April, adding that the White House was seeking to have the deal approved by the Senate “before the end of the year”. “When the New START Treaty is fully implemented, it will result in the lowest number of deployed nuclear warheads since the 1950s” she said.
Future agreements should be broadened to cover non-deployed warheads, as well as other aspects of the nuclear sector, she said. These should include a “treaty to end the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons”, and a “new framework for civil nuclear cooperation, including an international fuel bank”, she said.