#11 - JRL 7179
US Department of State
12 May 2003
Transcript: U.S. Envoy to Russia on Terrorism, Non-Proliferation
(Moscow, May 12: U.S. Ambassador Alexander Vershbow) (1890)
While the tools for dealing with terrorism are well understood and working, those for countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) are not, U.S. Ambassador to Russia Alexander Vershbow said in Moscow May 12.
Addressing the conference "Russia in the New World Order," Vershbow said the United States was disappointed that in the case of Iraq a diplomatic alternative to the use of force could not be found: "Diplomacy failed because the UNSC [United Nations Security Council] did not have the unity of purpose to insist that Saddam comply with its demands."
Vershbow said "better tools" need to be developed to deal with "the next proliferation challenges - Iran and North Korea - if we want to avoid the need to use force in the future."
The cases of Iran and North Korea, he said, "demonstrate that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime is not working as intended," and he went on to describe North Korea's cheating and threats and Iran's secret development of its own uranium enrichment capability.
Iran's actions, he said, which suggest "a determined quest to acquire nuclear weapons," call into question "the assumptions behind Russia's assistance to the Bushehr [nuclear power station] project."
Vershbow said Russia has a "major role" to play in strengthening the non-proliferation regimes.
A contribution is also needed from Russia on post-war Iraq, he said.
"Success there - that is, establishment of a stable government that represents the true interests of all the Iraqi people, that does not threaten its neighbors, that is free of WMD - could mark the beginning of a new era of peace and progress in the Middle East as a whole.
"So we hope we can find common ground on the essential first step, passage of a new UN Security Council resolution to lift the sanctions and to define the UN's role in building stability and democracy in Iraq. Agreement on that resolution will help the people of Iraq, and help restore confidence in the UN Security Council itself as we turn our attention to Iran, North Korea and other future challenges."
Following is a transcript of Vershbow's remarks:
May 12, 2003
REMARKS TO THE CONFERENCE "RUSSIA IN THE NEW WORLD ORDER"
U.S. Ambassador to the Russian Federation
Thanks for the opportunity to speak today. I regret that I can't stay for the entire conference - my Embassy has a busy week ahead, with Lord Robertson and all the NATO Ambassadors arriving later today from Brussels for the first-ever meeting in Moscow of the NATO-Russia Council (NRC). Then Secretary of State Colin Powell arrives Tuesday night for meetings with Foreign Minister Ivanov and President Putin.
These visits underscore the timeliness of this conference's theme, "Russia in the New World Order." Russia's place in the New World Order is obviously central. In fact, in recent years, one of the goals of U.S. foreign policy has been to encourage Russia's deeper integration into the institutions and structures that exist for dealing with the political, security and economic challenges of the new century. This has been based on the assumption that, with the collapse of Communism and Russia's re-emergence as a democratic, free-market state, we are coming to share the same values and interests that make real partnership and integration possible. In some cases, we have sought to strengthen and adapt institutions in which Russia already participates (such as the UN Security Council, OSCE, APEC) to make them more effective in dealing with today's problems. In others, we have supported Russia's accession (such as to the G-8, WTO and OECD) or the creation of new mechanisms short of membership (like the NRC) that provide Russia an equal seat at the table for addressing areas of mutual interest. So we are not against multilateralism; what matters for us are results.
Our recent differences over Iraq, and the deep split that emerged in the UN Security Council, have prompted many commentators to suggest that we need to transform the institutions by which we manage crises in the 21st century. I would submit, however, that the institutions are not the main problem. Rather, what is needed is fresh thinking about the nature of the threats we face to international peace and security and the new tools that the international community needs to counter those threats more effectively. If we can come to agreement on how to deal with new and emerging threats, when the next crisis occurs, it should be much easier to achieve the essential unity and political will that were missing in the UNSC in the weeks leading up to the Iraq war.
You have heard many times the U.S. view that the two most serious threats to the New World Order are international terrorism and the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. These are not new threats - the U.S. has been dealing with terrorism for over 20 years - but the global scale of the threats has increased. And the combination of these two threats - the acquisition and use of WMD by terrorists - is perhaps the greatest danger of all.
Since 9/11, we have made considerable progress in strengthening international efforts to defend our societies against the threat of international terrorism. With UN Security Council resolution 1373, we established a broad set of obligations that are binding on all nations - including blocking terrorist financing and denying safe haven to terrorist groups. At the same time, the victory of the U.S.-led coalition in Afghanistan freed that nation from the Taliban regime that made the country one giant base for Al-Qaida. We have killed or captured several Al-Qaida leaders and disrupted the planning of many new terrorist acts. We have also dealt a heavy blow to the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan, another terrorist threat to Russia's south. And we have made great strides, working with Georgia, to root out terrorist forces and camps with links to Al-Qaida in the Pankisi Gorge. At the same time, we have strengthened cooperation among intelligence and law enforcement agencies to go after terrorist networks and sources of finance.
This said, the anti-terror struggle is far from over. Osama bin laden and other Al-Qaida figures are still at large plotting new attacks. We still have to deal with radical groups in the Middle East - Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, and many others - that carry out or sponsor terrorist attacks against Israelis and set back chances for peace in the Middle East. Russia, as a member of the UNSC and the "Quartet," needs to do its part in pressuring the Palestinian leadership - as well as the Government of Syria that supports many of these groups - to shut them down. (As Russians never cease to remind us: there can be no double standards.)
But, even though there is much unfinished business, the international norms and the tools for dealing with terrorism are well understood - and they are working. The same cannot be said, however, with respect to our means for countering the spread of weapons of mass destruction. In the case of Iraq, we and our coalition partners had to use force to topple a regime that refused to give up its WMD peacefully (which was the condition for the ceasefire at the end of the Gulf War in 1991). Diplomacy failed because the UNSC did not have the unity of purpose to insist that Saddam comply with its demands. While we consider the use of force in Iraq to be fully legitimate, we share the disappointment that a diplomatic solution could not be found. We need to develop better tools to deal with the next proliferation challenges - Iran and North Korea - if we want to avoid the need to use force in the future.
The cases of Iran and North Korea demonstrate that the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime is not working as intended. That regime is based on a simple bargain: if a state renounces nuclear weapons, it can gain access to assistance and technology for developing peaceful uses of atomic energy. Although a state must accept some safeguards and verification measures, the regime is based heavily on trust. What has happened? North Korea has cheated on the 1994 agreement under which it supposedly gave up its nuclear weapons by starting a covert program for uranium enrichment. This program began years before President Bush took office and dubbed North Korea part of the "Axis of Evil." Now Pyongyang has renounced the NPT, restarted its plutonium reactor, and even claims it already has a nuclear weapon. There are also threats that it will sell nuclear weapons to other buyers (just as Pyongyang recklessly sells ballistic missiles to rogue states all year round).
Meanwhile, Iran has been building a nuclear power station at Bushehr with Russia's assistance for some years. The proliferation risk was supposed to be reduced by Iran's reliance on Russia for supplies of fuel and a commitment to return all spent fuel to Russia. Yet we have now learned that Iran has secretly been developing its own uranium enrichment capability - with technology from sources other than Russia - which suggests a determined quest to acquire nuclear weapons. It certainly calls into question the assumptions behind Russia's assistance to the Bushehr project.
So we need to consider what new tools, what new forms of leverage, we can bring to bear to stop these two countries from acquiring nuclear weapons, and to strengthen all the non-proliferation regimes. Do we need to impose stricter forms of inspections? Do we need to impose sanctions or other punitive measures if diplomatic suasion doesn't work? Should we accelerate our cooperation on anti-missile defense in order to protect our countries against nuclear blackmail in the event we are unable to prevent proliferation? Do we need new strategies for our militaries, or for the new NATO-Russia Council, to prevent or counter the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction?
Our ability to find answers to these questions will be an important determinant in whether or not the New World Order turns into the New World Disorder. Russia, as a permanent member of the UN Security Council and original member of the NPT and other non-proliferation regimes, has a major role to play in finding those answers.
The fight against terrorism and WMD proliferation are not the only areas where Russia's contribution is needed. The most immediate topic on the agenda, of course, is post-war Iraq. Success there - that is, establishment of a stable government that represents the true interests of all the Iraqi people, that does not threaten its neighbors, that is free of WMD - could mark the beginning of a new era of peace and progress in the Middle East as a whole. So we hope we can find common ground on the essential first step, passage of a new UN Security Council resolution to lift the sanctions and to define the UN's role in building stability and democracy in Iraq. Agreement on that resolution will help the people of Iraq, and help restore confidence in the UN Security Council itself as we turn our attention to Iran, North Korea and other future challenges.