Eberhardt: U.S. is committed to provide NPT negative security assurances

The U.S. is committed to providing security assurances to states that have forsworn nuclear weapons and followed nuclear nonproliferation obligations, according to a statement on Thursday by a high-ranking State Department official.

Jeffrey Eberhardt, the director of the Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance's Office of Nuclear Affairs, delivered the statement on Thursday in Geneva before the Non-Proliferation Treaty Preparatory Committee. Eberhardt summarized the U.S. commitment to giving security assurances to NPT states that forgo nuclear weapons and comply with nonproliferation obligations.

"The United States released its Nuclear Posture Review in April 2010, after completing a comprehensive assessment of U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, strategy, and force posture," Eberhardt said. "One result of that assessment was that the United States strengthened its long-standing negative security assurance associated with the NPT in several ways. Specifically, the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review declared that the United States will not use or threaten to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon States that are party to the NPT and in compliance with their nuclear nonproliferation obligations. This revised assurance is intended to underscore the security benefits of adhering to and fully complying with the NPT."

Eberhardt also said the U.S. supports nuclear-weapon-free zones and a Middle East zone completely free of weapons of mass destruction. Eberhardt noted that U.N. Disarmament Commission guidelines ensure that NWFZs are not imposed from the outside or without the consent of all concerned states.

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review clarified that the U.S. would only use nuclear weapons in extreme circumstances to defend the vital interests of the U.S. or its allies and partners.

"It is in the U.S. interest and that of all nations that the nearly 68-year record of non-use of nuclear weapons be extended forever," Eberhardt said.