Ambassador Bonnie Jenkins Statement before the House Foreign Affairs Committee

50 Years of the Non-proliferation Treaty: Strengthening the NPT in the Face of Iranian and North Korean Nonproliferation Challenges
March 3, 2020

Weapon Program: 

  • Nuclear
  • Missile

Related Country: 

  • United States

Good morning Chairman Bera, Chairman Deutch, Ranking Member Yoho and Ranking Member Wilson,

Thank you for holding this hearing on “50 Years of the Non-proliferation Treaty: Strengthening the NPT in the Face of Iranian and North Korean Nonproliferation Challenges.”

I am honored to be here.


What should we be doing?

The first steps I would propose are not those most popular with the administration today. In my view, there is still an opportunity to save the JCPOA, and by doing so, take a big step towards strengthening the NPT. It would also go far to begin to open the door for dialogue and discussion on other issues of concern with Iran, like that of missiles. I lean on the side of discussing areas of conflict, not forcing countries to do what we want when there is still an open chance for an interim agreement. We want to avoid the international community from going back to where we regarding Iran's nuclear program before the deal

I would also be more forthcoming with those who want to maintain the JCPOA, mainly the Europeans. Since the U.S. withdrew, the Europeans, as well as Russia and China, have been making efforts to maintain the agreement, and we have criticized them for their efforts. The U.S. has not been willing to meet anyone even half-way.

It is challenging to see how we can address this situation at the NPT Review Conference or elsewhere if the U.S. is not ready to talk about the problems and a positive way forward. A fundamental aspect of the NPT and with all treaties and conventions is the concept of diplomacy, of being willing to sit at the table and discuss how to find an agreed solution. That has not been occurring.

The U.S. has noted its concerns about Iranian missiles, which were never part of the JCPOA. In the view of the administration, missiles should have been part of the agreement, and since they were not, that fact provided another rationale for withdrawal. However, it is unlikely Iran would now want to agree to discuss any additional U.S. concerns when the U.S. withdrew from the JCPOA. How can the U.S. be trusted to stay in another treaty considering our current actions not only with the JCPOA but also regarding the INF Treaty?

If we want other countries to trust our commitment to international agreements and to nuclear nonproliferation, we need to take steps back towards the JCPOA. Here again, we do not see the bigger picture. When the U.S. assassinated Iranian commander Qasem Soleimani, Iran responded with a coordinated ballistic missile strike against U.S. assets. The missies are a weapon they had that can make a statement in their defense. If anything, we have provided Iran with another reason for them to see the value of their missiles.