Statement by Paula A. DeSutter, Assistant Secretary for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation,
on Compliance with Nonproliferation, Arms Control, and Disarmament Agreements,
in the First Committee, October 17, 2005
Thank you, Mr. Chairman. As the U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Verification, Compliance, and Implementation, I am grateful for the
opportunity to address this body on a subject of great professional interest
to me. As some may recall, I spoke on this matter last year, and I believe
that it is critical that we continue our dialogue in light of progress made
and challenges remaining since that time.
Mr. Chairman, the United States this year is sponsoring a resolution
entitled "Compliance with nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament
agreements." This is not the first time that we have introduced such a
resolution. We hope, however, that delegations will view our resolution as
an opportunity for the international community to reflect upon the changing
face of the global arms control and nonproliferation challenge we all face.
The resolution is intended not only to bring the issue of compliance to the
attention of the international community, but also to emphasize that
compliance with international treaties and obligations is critical to
international peace and security, and to exhort governments to seek common
cause in pursuit of diplomatic means to bring intentional violators back
Just this past August, Secretary Rice, on behalf of President Bush,
submitted to the U.S. Congress the most recent noncompliance report prepared
by my Bureau in full coordination with all the relevant departments and
agencies of the United States Government. This report, the unclassified
version of which is available to all interested persons on the State
Department’s website, lays out the findings of the United States regarding
questions of noncompliance by other nations. It provides, in as much detail
as possible in an unclassified document, the evidence and the reasoning
behind our compliance judgments. The Noncompliance Report, which I believe
is the only document of its type produced in the world, seeks to alert the
Executive and Legislative Branches of the U.S. Government and the public, to
both existing noncompliance and potentially emerging violations.
Mr. Chairman, the United States and most of the other nations represented
here today, have sought to supplement our national efforts at strengthening
security with multilateral tools. These tools have included arms control,
nonproliferation, and disarmament agreements. The United States, however,
generally does not join regimes or sign international agreements that
constrain the freedom to exercise our national right to pursue our security
when U.S. compliance is not going to be reciprocated. This is just common
sense. Few of you sitting here today would be likely to enter into any
agreement- be it multilateral or bilateral - if you believed that other
parties were unlikely to comply with its terms.
Therefore, when the United States adheres to a treaty, we want to know
whether the other parties also are complying, and we want to discover
noncompliance early enough to be able to deny violators any benefit from
such noncompliance. Thus, the United States views verification, compliance
and compliance enforcement as critically interrelated. For example,
verification has two purposes: detection and deterrence. If detection has
no consequences for the violator, then verification has no meaning, and
deterrence is unachievable.
Mr. Chairman, the cases of North Korea and Iran illustrate vividly the
importance of two concepts that are inherently part of compliance:
compliance assessment and compliance enforcement. The U.S. process of
reaching noncompliance judgments is defined in U.S. law, based in
international obligations. Our Congress has established specific
institutions—my Bureau, most notably—to ensure that the compliance
assessment process is rigorous, systematic and objective. While the U.S.
experience is in many ways unique, the methods we use are available to all.
While all nations have sources of valid or corroborating information for
reaching their own noncompliance judgments, some states have expressed
concern that they lack the technical capabilities that commonly have been
associated with verification—satellites, for example, to watch the
activities of their treaty partners. The United States believes that the
means by which states parties can acquire relevant information for reaching
noncompliance judgments are far more extensive than has been generally
acknowledged or that was true in the past. The old verification
concept—national technical means of verification—fails to capture the
totality of resources available to states parties. The modern concept of
National Means and Methods recognizes that every state has access to
information that can be relevant to reaching compliance judgments—whether
from its international diplomats overseas, reports from dissident groups
that reveal the noncompliance of their governments, reports from
international inspectorates, commercial satellites, or other means.
While all information, whatever its source, warrants evaluation,
information that can be independently confirmed is considered to be the most
reliable, especially when it can be confirmed from multiple sources. When
the information available to us suggests that there may be a compliance
question, one of the first steps we take is to study the international
agreement or other commitment in question to see what States Parties are
obligated to do.
Mr. Chairman, it is always important—and sometimes decisive— to establish
clearly what the precise obligation is in the case under review. While the
review of obligations and commitments is underway, we seek all possible
additional information regarding the activities of concern. Multiple sources
of information are especially important when the matter is grave.
In cases where the information is troubling, but insufficient to reach a
firm finding of violation, we will "caveat" it by noting explicitly
uncertainties or ambiguities in the evidence. Whenever we can, we
distinguish between inadvertent and deliberate violations, because this
distinction can have an important bearing on what action will need to be
taken in order to address the problem. We also endeavor to communicate the
degree of seriousness of a violation, and to identify the steps that might
be needed to bring the party back into compliance, or to respond in other
ways that rectify the concern.
Let me underscore, Mr. Chairman, that making a determination as to whether
another state is in violation with its international obligations is not a
simple matter. The process is time-consuming, rigorous and systematic.
However, as a State Party to arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament
agreements and commitments, we rest our safety and security in part upon
other countries’ compliance with those agreements and commitments.
Therefore, the compliance assessment process is, for us, a key component of
our national security and a necessary early warning call to action.
Along with compliance assessments and compliance enforcement, Mr. Chairman,
we consider verification as the essential part of what we call the
"compliance process." It is impossible to consider any of these three
elements except as part of a whole.
I am often asked if the U.S. demands "perfect" verification. Let me be
clear, there is no such thing as perfect verification. The term "effectively
verifiable" does not mean, and should not be taken to mean, that there is,
or can ever be, certainty that every violation will be detected. This phrase
indicates the aspiration to achieve reasonable confidence that, under the
circumstances, detection of noncompliance will occur in sufficient time for
appropriate remedial responses to be undertaken.
The U.S. considers an arrangement or treaty to be effectively verifiable if
the degree of verifiability is judged sufficient, given the compliance
history of the parties involved, the risks associated with noncompliance,
the difficulty of response to deny violators the benefits of their
violations, the language and measures incorporated into the agreement and
our own national means and methods of verification. The degree of
verifiability must be high enough to enable the United States to detect
noncompliance in sufficient time to reduce the threat presented by the
violation and deny the violator the benefits of his wrongdoing.
It is a common misperception, Mr. Chairman, that a combination of
international data declarations, international cooperative measures
(including technical measures) and on-site inspection regimes by themselves
will be sufficient for detecting noncompliance. In fact, data declarations,
cooperative measures and on-site inspections can provide useful and often
invaluable information. They are useful tools for investigating indications
of non-compliance—as we’ve seen the IAEA do in Iran, for example—and for
detecting inadvertent violations. However, inspections provide information
according to the agreed access and collection capabilities negotiated by the
parties, and only provide such information as is available at the specific
time and place of the inspection. They provide, at best, a snap-shot in
time. Even cooperative measures, such as remote cameras and seals for
continuous monitoring—while quite powerful — are limited to the locations
where they are employed.
The degree of verifiability is not judged solely on the basis of whether or
not the agreement contains detailed provisions for data exchanges, on-site
inspections or other types of cooperative arrangements. Such measures are
tools that may help to increase our confidence that other states are
complying but may or may not facilitate detection of noncompliance—but
their efficacy is limited. Verifiability assessments are also informed by a
much broader array of factors. These include, but are not limited to, the
proven reliability of our negotiating partners in adhering to agreements,
the incentives given parties may have to cheat on a given agreement, and the
relative significance of cheating pursuant to the obligations.
The United States considered all these factors, for example, when we
conducted our verification assessment of the proposed Fissile Material
Cutoff Treaty. After two years of concerted effort studying the problem, we
concluded that a quote "internationally and effectively verifiable Treaty"
unquote, was not achievable, even with a highly intrusive inspection regime.
Having come to such a conclusion, we believe that attempts to negotiate
"good enough" verification, as some have suggested, are not only futile, but
also harmful, delaying completion of the treaty. Furthermore, an ineffective
regime could lull the international community into a false sense of
confidence that obligations were being adhered to.
It is for this reason, Mr. Chairman, that the United States urges our
colleagues at the Conference on Disarmament to join us in concluding a
normative FMCT that relies on each state using its own resources to verify
compliance. Pending the conclusion of such a Treaty, we call on all nuclear
weapon states and states not party to the NPT to make a public commitment to
not produce fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive
devices. Four of the five nuclear weapons states, including of course, the
United States, have made such a commitment.
Why do I mention FMCT in a discussion of compliance? Simply to make the
point that there is a need for international acceptance of the fact that not
all agreements need to take the form of the arms control, disarmament and
nonproliferation agreements of the 20th century. For example, the Moscow
Treaty model and our experiences with Libya, which reflect less detailed and
extensive negotiated regimes, offer other models for consideration in
situations in which the relationship is one of partnership and/or where
there is a genuine, accepted strategic commitment.
Mr. Chairman, the international community is facing significant
proliferation challenges, none more dangerous than noncompliance with
nuclear nonproliferation obligations. It is well known that the DPRK has a
nuclear weapons program and concealed it while a party to the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty. I would note that the Board of Governors of the
International Atomic Energy Agency did its duty in reporting the DPRK’s
noncompliance with its nuclear safeguards agreement to the UN Security
Council on several occasions. The Agreed Framework signed in 1994 froze
plutonium production; however, the DPRK by then had embarked on a covert
uranium enrichment program. The DPRK then expelled the IAEA inspectors in
late December 2002.
Reinforced by the concern of the international community, the last round of
the Six Party Talks concluded with a public commitment by the DPRK to give
up all its nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programs and return to
the NPT and its nuclear safeguards agreement. Obviously there is much work
yet to be done, and again obviously given the DPRK’s past record of
disregard for its international commitments, the international community
will expect sufficiently strong verification measures to ensure that North
Korea is meeting its obligations. As Ambassador Hill stated in Beijing
following the adoption of the Joint Statement, the DPRK must promptly
eliminate all nuclear weapons and all nuclear programs, and this must be
verified to the satisfaction of all parties by credible international means,
including the IAEA.
Mr. Chairman, Iran’s nuclear program marks another area of concern. Last
month the Board of Governors of the IAEA formally declared what many of us
have known for some time, that is, that Iran’s breaches and failures of its
obligations to comply with its Safeguards Agreement constituted
noncompliance in the context of Art 12c of the IAEA Statute. As you know, by
a simple reading of the IAEA Statute, such a finding requires a report to
the United Nations Security Council. The Board will discuss the timing and
content of that report at its next session. In that regard, it is important
to note that such a report in and of itself will not resolve the Iranian
nuclear issue. Resolution requires Iran’s rulers to make the strategic
decision to comply with their international obligations, not flaunt them.
In both of these cases, parties to international agreements undertook
actions over years and even decades to cheat. Their noncompliance isn’t
what is sometimes called "technical." These weren’t accidents or
oversights. If they were, it would be reasonable to expect that expressions
of concern would result in timely resolution. We have seen this work
numerous times, including cases described in the U.S. noncompliance report I
referred to earlier. In Iran and the DPRK we are dealing with cases of
intentional noncompliance. North Korea and Iran made strategic decisions to
pursue programs and undertake activities that they knew full well violated
their obligations. They invested vast national resources to pursue these
covert programs - resources their people may well have wished were being
invested in other ways. These programs were pursued covertly. These
regimes took advantage of the period before discovery to reap benefits, such
as technical cooperation and assistance, which flowed from being parties to
the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
There is some good news in this regard, however. The international
community in various fora is addressing the problem of proliferation and
abuse of "peaceful cooperation." For example, the Nuclear Suppliers Group
has developed new guidelines that support suspension of transfers of trigger
list items to states, which have been found in noncompliance of their
safeguards obligations. In these circumstances, a special plenary of the
NSG would be called to review the situation and consider an appropriate
response. In Iran’s case, we look forward to participating in the
extraordinary NSG Plenary to be held October 19th in Vienna.
What is to be done now, Mr. Chairman? How can the international community
use its collective diplomatic resources to bring these countries back into
compliance? How can we address these cases and others that may still be
undiscovered in a way that strengthens deterrence of future and further
noncompliance? If these countries benefit from their noncompliance, what
lessons will other nations learn, and which of our other regimes will come
under assault next? We cannot allow the violators to benefit from their
violations. Doing so undermines the regime, our faith in the regime, and
reduces security for us all.
Mr. Chairman, in conclusion, I believe that each of our countries will need
to consider these questions. The challenge posed by noncompliance is great.
There are no easy answers. The question is, are we up to the challenge?
The United States believes that we are. Thank you, Mr. Chairman.