Journalism in the service of society

America’s role in reducing global danger – Ambassador Jenkins

Between August 1 and 3, 2022, the United States unveiled its priorities at the beginning of the 10th Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, Ambassador Bonnie D. Jenkins, participated in NPT review conference meetings at the United Nations. In this interview with members of the Foreign Press Center, Ambassador Jenkins showcased the Nonproliferation Treaty’s enduring role in reducing global dangers through arms control, safeguarding peaceful nuclear activities and deterring violations. Excerpts: 

U.S. planning to reduce its nuclear stockpile

Just want to start out by saying that the U.S. has already destroyed about 80 percent of our nuclear stockpile. And so I want to make sure that everyone understands that the U.S. remains committed to all of its obligations under the NPT including Article VI. And so we have already in the past, and working with Russia, destroying a lot of our nuclear stockpile. So I just want to make sure that that’s very clear.   

And on the TPNW specifically, I just want to also say that we agree with the overall goal of the TPNW parties to reduce and – ideas for disarmament. We agree with that. It’s an obligation we have under the [NPT] treaty. The concerns that we have have to do with the process of what’s in the treaty, some of our concerns about the fact that we have to look at the environment – the security environment that exists as we talk about disarmament. So we have been disarming and we continue to be obligated to do so. We are living up to our obligation in the treaty. We share the goals of the NPT – of the TPNW parties about reduction of nuclear weapons. But we just have some concerns about the [TPNW] treaty itself and also about – not just about the concerns about looking at the security environment, but also some issues about the verification regime as well, which it doesn’t really have one. 

So – but one of the things that we do want to do in the next four weeks is work with all parties to the NPT. We want to find ways in which we can work with everyone. We want to listen to what everyone has to say and find ways that we can have an agreed document at the end, working through some of the things that we – some of the differences of opinions that we have with countries. We want to be very productive.  

The threshold countries 

 Well, the NPT – the TPNW is – applies to countries who are a party to that, so I can’t really speak specifically about Iran and the TPNW. What I can say is we, of course, are still very committed to the JCPOA and to the – having a JCPOA and being able to find a diplomatic solution to the situation in terms of JCPOA and working with all parties to the JCPOA. But in terms of how Iran views the TPNW or another threshold state works with the TPNW, I’m not quite sure. So they would have to speak to that because I can’t really – I don’t really – I can’t really say anything about their perspectives on that or how they relate to TPNW. 

 Successful outcome out of this Review Conference

So in terms of what a successful outcome, I think what we all would like to see is a consensus document. I think that if you ask most countries – and what we’ve been hearing in statements that have been made by countries is – everyone seeks a consensus document. But there’s also a recognition that there are challenges right now in the NPT, and so one of the keys in the next four weeks is to find exactly how we can have that consensus document when we know that there are challenges. I think the most important thing is that countries come to the table in the next four weeks ready to find ways to be pragmatic, to work together to find ways that we can get to that successful outcome. So that is how we would define it. 

However, I think what’s also important is what happens in these four weeks. So, of course, the final document is what gets the most light, but these are four weeks, which is – provides an opportunity for countries to talk to each other and share ideas and thoughts about their approaches, discuss where there are differences of opinion. Hopefully people will – countries will come to the table ready to do that.   

So what is success? Success is a document that’s a consensus. However, we do want to find ways that we can work with countries in the next few weeks. There’s joint statements that we can do, other joint documents, so I really see that these four weeks are a way to really celebrate, reaffirm the NPT 50 years anniversary, look at the challenges, be honest about the challenges, be upfront about the challenges, and then find a way that we can work together to see how we go to the next 50 years. 

 Russia has been using Ukrainian power plant as a nuclear shield

I think what’s important to understand in this situation is that this is a very fluid situation right now with the nuclear power plant, especially Zaporizhzhia. And a thing to really focus on is the fact that right now we don’t – the IAEA does not have access to that site. There’s concerns about safety and also safeguards. Getting an understanding of what’s happening at that site is really the most important thing, and that situation remains right now. So the real focus and the real question really should be how do we get access to that, because that is fundamental to all of this is making sure that we can understand what’s going on at the site, to make sure that there’s safety and there’s safeguards that we are actually implementing there.  

 Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant and the nuclear threat

 I think what’s going to happen is for the next four weeks, as I said, an outcome document, consensus outcome document, is important. I think in the – we will be clear about Russia’s unprovoked invasion of Ukraine, very clear about how their nuclear saber-rattling is certainly creating problems in the NPT in terms of some of the overall goals that we’re trying to achieve with the NPT. And then it will include discussions as well on nuclear power plants and the need to ensure the safety and security of nuclear power plants. So whether that will be in the final document, I can’t say because that’s going to be negotiated in the next four weeks. But it’s surely in everyone’s attention span right now. Particularly, we’re worried about the safety and the safeguards there.  

Nonproliferation challenge around the Korean Peninsula

I guess the issue is – I mean, I just want to say just – the U.S. remains very committed to deterrence and extended deterrence for South Korea. So maybe – I don’t know if we need to say it in a different way, if we need to say it in a different form. But I just want to make sure you are aware and your colleagues and everyone in South Korea is aware that we are seriously committed to extended deterrence. And that has not changed at all.  

So I’m not sure – I mean, there may be other ways that we can reaffirm that to make sure that the South Korean – South Koreans are confident that that is what we are doing. But we do want to reiterate that we are committed to our extended deterrence and to that commitment to South Korea. And also want to mention that, as you probably know, the administration has been very clear that we are open to talking to North Korea. And basically, anywhere, anytime that they want to engage with us to talk about these issues, we are ready to do so, and of course working closely with you, your government, and Japan as well in such an effort.   

Unfortunately, as you know, they have not come back to us ready to have any kind of discussions, but we remain open for that as well. So we are still committed to South Korea for deterrence. We are open to dialogue with North Korea on a way forward, and we very closely want to work with our allies in the region as well. 

Comments are closed.

Naija Times