Jakarta, 17 October 2011
The U.S. reiterates its active support for ASEAN and its Member States in the nonproliferation of nuclear and other weapons of mass destruction, as well as in nuclear safety.
The message came from Mr Thomas Countryman, Assistant Secretary of the Bureau of International Security and Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State, during his courtesy call on Dr Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General of ASEAN, at the ASEAN Secretariat today.
The support, according to Mr Countryman, is part of the hundreds of activities being undertaken by various U.S. agencies to follow up on President Obama’s remarks in Prague on 5 April 2009, in which he held out the hope of a “world without nuclear weapons” and his vision on how to achieve this noble goal. He confirmed that President Obama intends to raise the topics of nonproliferation, disaster relief and maritime security, among others, at the upcoming 6th East Asia Summit in Bali next month.
Mr Countryman said the U.S. is keen to work with ASEAN and its Member States in nuclear security, nuclear safety, nuclear energy and capacity-building in these areas to ensure the highest safeguards and standards. In his opinion, ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat can play an important role to supplement the role of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), particularly as a clearing house of information and focal point of contact.
Dr Surin welcomed the U.S. support and agreed with Mr. Countryman that ASEAN and the ASEAN Secretariat have an important role to play in these crucial 21st century issues of international interest. He noted that ASEAN and its Member States are committed to keep Southeast Asia a nuclear weapon-free zone, which is also free of all other weapons of mass destruction, as stipulated in the ASEAN Charter (Article 1 Paragraph 3).
“These are important issues about which ASEAN and its Member States require technical education and capacity-building support,” noted Dr Surin.
Dr Surin also urged the U.S., through Mr Countryman, to support ASEAN’s upcoming third resolution in the UN General Assembly on the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone (SEANWFZ). ASEAN had its first two resolutions adopted in the UN General Assembly in 2007 and 2009 to raise the profiles of SEANWFZ and ASEAN’s contribution to nonproflieration.
Indonesia is the first stop on Mr Countryman’s tour of ASEAN countries after three weeks on his current position. Prior to calling on Dr Surin, he had met with Indonesian Parliamentarians. He will also meet with senior Indonesian officials, including Mr Djauhari Oratmangun, Chairman of the ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting.
The U.S. is an active participant in the ASEAN Regional Forum’s (ARF) Inter-Sessional Meeting on Nonproliferation and Disarmament. The U.S. attended its recent meeting on Nuclear Energy Cooperation Sub-Sector Network (NEC-SSN), which is a regional mechanism established by ASEAN Energy Ministers, in Ha Noi recently.
At the bilateral level, the U.S. supports ASEAN Member States in implementing the UN Security Council’s Resolution 1540 to prevent nuclear terrorism, especially by non-state actors, to put in place necessary and effective domestic law on strategic goods control. The U.S. also has bilateral cooperation and consultations with ASEAN Member States in nonproliferation, nuclear energy infrastructure, and nuclear safety.