Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on Non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction

Amy Tachco
Political Coordinator
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
June 28, 2017


Thank you, Mr. President, and thanks very much to our distinguished briefers today for their presentations.

In the context of the evolving threats posed by proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, today’s debate reminds us of the importance of fully implementation of Security Council Resolution 1540. The United States is committed to assisting states and international organizations in their efforts to prevent non-state actors from developing and acquiring nuclear, chemical, or biological weapons and their delivery systems. We also align ourselves today with the statement to be made by Spain on behalf of the Group of Friends of Resolution 1540.

Despite progress made over the past 13 years, significant gaps remain in the implementation of the resolution’s obligations, particularly in the areas of chemical and biological security and controlling means of delivery. We must work smarter as we move forward. The report last year of the 1540 Comprehensive Review and UN Security Council Resolution 2325 adopted in December provided guidance on how to achieve future progress. Today I am going to touch on a few of these challenges and discuss ways we might overcome them.

Recently, we have seen the horror of chemical weapons attacks by states and non-state actors in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. Even more shocking is the confirmed use of the deadly nerve agent VX in Malaysia. These trends are unsettling and alarming, which is why the Committee must work to hold states more accountable for preventing the use and spread of chemical weapons and ensuring effective control over such materials.

As part of our commitment to stopping chemical weapons use, we need to work together to help states in promoting best practices in chemical security to detect and prevent the misuse of chemicals. Moreover, the Comprehensive Review and Resolution 2325 called for increased assistance through matchmaking and dialogue. The exchange of expertise and assistance is extremely valuable to states, the Committee and the global nonproliferation regime.

While 1540 is aimed at deterring non-state actors, its obligations are binding on Member States. Therefore, it is troubling that the Syrian regime has continued to use chemical weapons. We call on all Member States who oppose the use of chemical weapons to urge Bashar al-Assad to cooperate with the OPCW and cease using chemicals as weapons. President Trump was clear on this this week. Moreover, Syria’s continued use of chemical weapons will only increase the risk that elements of their CW program could fall into the wrong hands.

The Committee must also continue to work towards strengthening the global nuclear security architecture and increase cooperation among international organizations, such as the IAEA and INTERPOL. We must help states build their capacity to secure nuclear and other radioactive materials, convert research reactors from highly enriched uranium to low enriched uranium, and address critical gaps to counter the smuggling of nuclear and other radioactive materials.

The Comprehensive Review and 2325 also highlighted the need for states to establish effective control over materials that could be used for weapons of mass destruction, including through development of national control lists to monitor production and movement of such materials.

To prevent illicit trade in weapons of mass destruction-related materials, the United States is providing training and technical assistance, as well as detection, inspection, and interdiction equipment, to border and customs authorities around the world.

Last year’s report and Resolution 2325 also recommended that the Committee give stronger consideration to the evolving nature of the risk of proliferation and the rapid advances in science and technology. Such developments could lower the barriers to development of weapons of mass destruction making mitigation of these risks even more complex and challenging.

The United States is eager to work with others ensure that we strengthen key obligations under Resolution 1540. The 1540 Committee and Resolution 2325 are key tools in stemming the spread of weapons of mass destruction and helping to maintain international peace and security.

I thank you.