C. The Way Ahead
We are committed to keeping the world’s most dangerous weapons out of the hands of the world’s most dangerous people.
1. Nuclear Proliferation
The proliferation of nuclear weapons poses the greatest threat to our national security. Nuclear weapons are unique in their capacity to inflict instant loss of life on a massive scale. For this reason, nuclear weapons hold special appeal to rogue states and terrorists.
The best way to block aspiring nuclear states or nuclear terrorists is to deny them access to the essential ingredient of fissile material. It is much harder to deny states or terrorists other key components, for nuclear weapons represent a 60-year old technology and the knowledge is widespread. Therefore, our strategy focuses on controlling fissile material with two priority objectives: first, to keep states from acquiring the capability to produce fissile material suitable for making nuclear weapons; and second, to deter, interdict, or prevent any transfer of that material from states that have this capability to rogue states or to terrorists.
The first objective requires closing a loophole in the Non-Proliferation Treaty that permits regimes to produce fissile material that can be used to make nuclear weapons under cover of a civilian nuclear power program. To close this loophole, we have proposed that the world’s leading nuclear exporters create a safe, orderly system that spreads nuclear energy without spreading nuclear weapons. Under this system, all states would have reliable access at reasonable cost to fuel for civilian nuclear power reactors. In return, those states would remain transparent and renounce the enrichment and reprocessing capabilities that can produce fissile material for nuclear weapons. In this way, enrichment and reprocessing will not be necessary for nations seeking to harness nuclear energy for strictly peaceful purposes.
The Administration has worked with the international community in confronting nuclear proliferation.
We may face no greater challenge from a single country than from Iran. For almost 20 years, the Iranian regime hid many of its key nuclear efforts from the international community. Yet the regime continues to claim that it does not seek to develop nuclear weapons. The Iranian regime’s true intentions are clearly revealed by the regime’s refusal to negotiate in good faith; its refusal to come into compliance with its international obligations by providing the IAEA access to nuclear sites and resolving troubling questions; and the aggressive statements of its President calling for Israel to “be wiped off the face of the earth.” The United States has joined with our EU partners and Russia to pressure Iran to meet its international obligations and provide objective guarantees that its nuclear program is only for peaceful purposes. This diplomatic effort must succeed if confrontation is to be avoided.
As important as are these nuclear issues, the United States has broader concerns regarding Iran. The Iranian regime sponsors terrorism; threatens Israel; seeks to thwart Middle East peace; disrupts democracy in Iraq; and denies the aspirations of its people for freedom. The nuclear issue and our other concerns can ultimately be resolved only if the Iranian regime makes the strategic decision to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. This is the ultimate goal of U.S. policy. In the interim, we will continue to take all necessary measures to protect our national and economic security against the adverse effects of their bad conduct. The problems lie with the illicit behavior and dangerous ambition of the Iranian regime, not the legitimate aspirations and interests of the Iranian people. Our strategy is to block the threats posed by the regime while expanding our engagement and outreach to the people the regime is oppressing.
The North Korean regime also poses a serious nuclear proliferation challenge. It presents a long and bleak record of duplicity and bad-faith negotiations. In the past, the regime has attempted to split the United States from its allies. This time, the United States has successfully forged a consensus among key regional partners – China, Japan, Russia, and the Republic of Korea (ROK) – that the DPRK must give up all of its existing nuclear programs. Regional cooperation offers the best hope for a peaceful, diplomatic resolution of this problem. In a joint statement signed on September 19, 2005, in the Six-Party Talks among these participants, the DPRK agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons and all existing nuclear programs. The joint statement also declared that the relevant parties would negotiate a permanent peace for the Korean peninsula and explore ways to promote security cooperation in Asia. Along with our partners in the Six-Party Talks, the United States will continue to press the DPRK to implement these commitments.
The United States has broader concerns regarding the DPRK as well. The DPRK counterfeits our currency; traffics in narcotics and engages in other illicit activities; threatens the ROK with its army and its neighbors with its missiles; and brutalizes and starves its people. The DPRK regime needs to change these policies, open up its political system, and afford freedom to its people. In the interim, we will continue to take all necessary measures to protect our national and economic security against the adverse effects of their bad conduct.
The second nuclear proliferation objective is to keep fissile material out of the hands of rogue states and terrorists. To do this we must address the danger posed by inadequately safeguarded nuclear and radiological materials worldwide. The Administration is leading a global effort to reduce and secure such materials as quickly as possible through several initiatives including the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI). The GTRI locates, tracks, and reduces existing stockpiles of nuclear material. This new initiative also discourages trafficking in nuclear material by emplacing detection equipment at key transport nodes.
Building on the success of the PSI, the United States is also leading international efforts to shut down WMD trafficking by targeting key maritime and air transportation and transshipment routes, and by cutting off proliferators from financial resources that support their activities.
2. Biological Weapons
Biological weapons also pose a grave WMD threat because of the risks of contagion that would spread disease across large populations and around the globe. Unlike nuclear weapons, biological weapons do not require hard-to-acquire infrastructure or materials. This makes the challenge of controlling their spread even greater.
Countering the spread of biological weapons requires a strategy focused on improving our capacity to detect and respond to biological attacks, securing dangerous pathogens, and limiting the spread of materials useful for biological weapons. The United States is working with partner nations and institutions to strengthen global biosurveillance capabilities for early detection of suspicious outbreaks of disease. We have launched new initiatives at home to modernize our public health infrastructure and to encourage industry to speed the development of new classes of vaccines and medical countermeasures. This will also enhance our Nation’s ability to respond to pandemic public health threats, such as avian influenza.