Video message to the eighth annual NATO conference on WMD Arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation

by NATO Deputy Secretary General Alexander Vershbow

  • Last updated: 14 Jun. 2012 11:44

Minister Martonyi, Ambassadors, Excellencies, dear colleagues,

I regret that I cannot be with you in person today. But I very much value the opportunity to welcome you, and to wish you a successful meeting.

Your conference is NATO’s most visible non-proliferation event. In just a few years, it has also become one of NATO’s largest outreach activities. I want to thank Minister Martonyi and the Hungarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their initiative and hard work in hosting this year’s meeting. But let me also thank all of you – participants and speakers -- for coming to Budapest. I know that some of you have travelled a long way.

This is the eighth Annual NATO Conference on Weapons of Mass Destruction Arms Control, Disarmament and Non-Proliferation. That so many of you have come to take part shows that we face serious, persistent challenges in this area. But it is also a strong demonstration of our resolve to work together to meet those challenges.

At our NATO Summit in Chicago last month, NATO Allies expressed concern at the growing number of countries and non-state actors who either have, or are seeking to have, Weapons of Mass Destruction Capabilities, as well as the means to deliver them. That’s because it threatens our shared vision of creating the conditions necessary for a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Chicago Summit delivered strong messages with respect to Iran and North Korea, two countries of specific concern when it comes to nuclear non-proliferation. On other occasions, individual Allies have also expressed concern about Syria’s lack of cooperation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in dissipating concerns about its nuclear programme.

The Chicago Summit made an appeal to all states to strengthen the security of nuclear materials within their borders, as called for at the Seoul Nuclear Security Summit earlier this year.

NATO leaders made it clear that we will continue to implement NATO’s Strategic-Level Policy for Preventing the Proliferation of WMD and Defending Against Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Threats. They also stressed that NATO has the appropriate capabilities to address and respond to CBRN attacks.

The Chicago Summit also approved, and made public, the review of NATO’s Deterrence and Defence Posture, the DDPR. It underlines our commitment to maintain an appropriate mix of nuclear, conventional and missile defence capabilities. It makes clear that, consistent with the Strategic Concept and our commitments under existing arms control treaties, Allies will continue to support arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.

And I mentioned missile defence as did Minister Martonyi – and let me finish with a few words on that important issue which was on our Chicago agenda. Over the past year and a half, several Allies have announced contributions to the NATO missile defence system we agreed to develop at our previous Summit in Lisbon. At Chicago we were able to declare an interim capability that brings these contributions together under NATO command and control. It’s a first step – but a meaningful first step – towards full coverage for NATO’s European populations, territory and forces.

Taken together, all these measures represent a robust NATO response to the proliferation threat. But we realise that we can, and we must, do even more in this endeavour: to replace mistrust and misunderstanding with a new mindset of consultation and cooperation.

In recent years, we have stepped up our dialogue and cooperation with our partner nations on this vital issue and I’m pleased so many partners are participating at this conference. We have opened up our training opportunities. We have reached out to the United Nations, the European Union and other organisations and initiatives that address WMD proliferation.

And we have engaged with Russia, a critically important partner, to find a basis for cooperation on missile defence, since the proliferation of ballistic missiles is a common threat that we should try to meet together.

Your conference plays a key part in this new cooperative approach. We are very interested in listening to everyone’s views. To hear how you perceive the risks and threats of proliferation in your regions. And we want to discuss with you any new ideas and suggestions to meet this common challenge.

I wish you a successful conference - I regret I can’t be with you in person - and l look forward to the outcome of your discussions.