Remarks at a UN Security Council Briefing on the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction

Ambassador Jonathan Cohen
Acting Permanent Representative
U.S. Mission to the United Nations
New York City
March 19, 2019


Thank you, Madam President. And thank you, Ambassador Djani, for your briefing.

As we’ve been reminded too many times sitting in this Council, proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery, including to terrorists and other non-state actors, remains a real and current threat. Today’s briefing reminds us of the critical importance of fully and effectively implementing Security Council Resolution 1540.

We welcome the renewed energy that the Indonesian Chairmanship brings to the 1540 Committee. We also applaud the efforts of the 1540 Group of Experts, UNODA, and the Department of Political Affairs, for their steadfast efforts to support effective implementation of this resolution. The United States has provided more than $4 million toward the 1540 Trust Fund, and hundreds of millions of dollars in nonproliferation assistance to partner countries. We’ll continue to provide support for this effort, and we encourage our international partners to do the same.

Madam President, Resolution 1540 is the only legally binding instrument requiring UN Member States to adopt controls to prevent WMD proliferation. We encourage countries to engage the resources of the 1540 Committee. We call on the Committee to expand its outreach efforts so that countries are better equipped to identify WMD, non-state actor vulnerabilities and effectively address them.

Looking forward, the Security Council is required to complete its Comprehensive Review of implementation of Resolution 1540 by 2020. As we prepare for this effort, we encourage all states who have not yet submitted their initial reports to do so without delay. For those states who have submitted their initial reports, we encourage you to provide additional information on further steps taken to implement the resolution since your initial report.

Madam President, we call upon UN Member States who have not done so to appoint a national 1540 Coordinator or point of contact, and to provide contact information for these designees to the 1540 Committee. This will allow for a direct communication network to be established among the 1540 Committee and the community of relevant policy makers throughout the governments of UN Member States.

We also encourage states in need of 1540-related assistance to submit their requests to the Committee, and to remain in touch with the Committee as to the status of those requests.

As we look forward to the renewal of the 1540 mandate in 2021, we urge our fellow Council members to adapt to evolving proliferation threats which fall within 1540’s remit. In particular, we should be mindful of emerging technologies such as unmanned aerial vehicles, which could be used as a means of WMD delivery, and synthetic biology, which is already reconfiguring the way life scientists conduct their research.

The next two years will demonstrate the effectiveness of Resolution 1540. We should seize this opportunity to add renewed momentum to our implementation of the resolution. We call upon the Secretariat to ensure that the Committee, and particularly the Group of Experts, have the resources they need to recruit and retain the most talented, capable personnel available in pursuit of implementation of Resolution 1540.

Madam President, I encourage my fellow members of this Council to join us in making Resolution 1540 as effective as possible. The stakes are too high for us to do otherwise.

I thank you.