Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing by the Chair of the 1540 Committee

Ambassador Richard Mills
U.S. Deputy Representative to the United Nations
New York, New York
March 30, 2021


Let me start by thanking Ambassador de la Fuente, as others have done, for his briefing and for Mexico’s leadership of the 1540 Committee.

The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, including to terrorists and other non-state actors, remains among the most serious threats facing the international community. Our collective efforts to address this threat are as important now as they have ever been.

The 1540 Committee continued to undertake important work this past year, despite the unprecedented challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The United States very much appreciates the engagement of the Committee’s Group of Experts with other international organizations. These include: The International Atomic Energy Agency, INTERPOL, the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs, the UN Office on Drugs and Crime, and the UN Office of Counterterrorism.

Similarly, the Committee’s regional collaboration with the OAS, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, and the Caribbean Community have also helped promote implementation of Resolution 1540. We appreciate their efforts with the regional offices of the UN Office of Disarmament Affairs over the past year.

These are important instances of the cooperation and outreach undertaken by the Committee and its Group of Experts. Their work protects us from the worst consequences: non-state actors acquiring and using weapons of mass destruction. Their actions save lives.

While the COVID-19 pandemic prevented the scheduled Comprehensive Review from taking place in 2020, we, like others, look forward to a technical extension of the 1540 mandate for a period of one year, through April 2022. A technical extension should leave sufficient time for the Security Council to benefit from the robust discussions of the Comprehensive Review before undertaking a substantive update to the Committee’s mandate.

On the Comprehensive Review’s content, we need to further focus and streamline the 1540 Committee’s engagement with Member States. States must have access to the Committee’s information and its resources. And they must have the opportunity to collaborate with the Committee to best formulate their national assistance requests. The Committee, in turn, will then be better able to identify appropriate assistance providers.

The Committee must also adapt to evolving proliferation threats. That includes making all states aware of emerging technologies, like synthetic biology or unmanned aerial vehicles, which could be used to deliver weapons of mass destruction.

We also must fully empower the Group of Experts to independently promote the Committee’s work to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction to non-state actors. This includes Panel engagement with Member States, regional and sub-regional organizations, 1540 Regional Coordinators, and civil society.

In the meantime, Member States can take forward steps even before the Comprehensive Review to help promote implementation of Resolution 1540. One simple step would be to appoint national 1540 Points of Contact. National Points of Contact are an important resource for enhancing states’ interactions with the Committee, and for promoting effective coordination within Member States as they seek to implement the resolution. We encourage all Member States to identify their 1540 Points of Contact for the Committee to aid in these efforts.

We look forward to working with the Chair, the members of this Council, and all UN Member States, to ensure a successful Comprehensive Review. This is one of the few established, authoritative international measures in place to address the threat of weapons of mass destruction being acquired and used by terrorists or non-state actors.

The Comprehensive Review and the 1540 mandate renewal can have a defining role in our efforts to address the threat. We ask the members of this Council to be united in ensuring that we are successful. The stakes could not be higher.

Thank you.