Text and Video
of President Obama's Address to the UN Security Council on
September 24, 2009
The President gives
remarks at the United Nations Security Council on nuclear
non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament on September 24,
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT OBAMA AT THE UNITED NATIONS
SECURITY COUNCIL SUMMIT
ON NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION AND NUCLEAR
United Nations Headquarters
New York, New York
September 24, 2009
9:36 A.M. EDT
THE PRESIDENT: The 6191st meeting of the Security Council
is called to order. The provisional agenda for this meeting
is before the Council in document S/Agenda/6191, which
reads, "Maintenance of international peace and security,
nuclear proliferation, and nuclear disarmament." Unless I
hear any objection, I shall consider the agenda adopted.
Agenda is adopted.
I wish to warmly welcome the distinguished heads of state
and government, the General -- the Secretary General, the
Director General of the IAEA, ministers and other
distinguished representatives present in the Security
Council chamber. Your presence is an affirmation of the
importance of the subject matter to be discussed.
The Security Council summit will now begin its
consideration of item two of the agenda. Members of the
Council have before them document S/2009/473, which contains
the text of a draft resolution prepared in the course of the
Council's prior consultations. I wish to draw Council
members' attention to document S/2009/463 containing a
letter dated 16 September 2009 from the United States of
America, transmitting a concept paper on the item under
consideration. In accordance with the understanding reached
earlier among members, the Security Council will take action
on the draft resolution before it prior to hearing
statements from the Secretary General and Council members.
Accordingly, I shall put the draft resolution to the vote
now. Will those in favor of the draft resolution contained
in document S/2009/473 please raise their hand? The results
of the voting is as follows: The draft resolution is
received unanimously, 15 votes in favor. The draft
resolution has been adopted unanimously as Resolution 1887
I want to thank again everybody who is in attendance. I
wish you all good morning. In the six-plus decades that this
Security Council has been in existence, only four other
meetings of this nature have been convened. I called for
this one so that we may address at the highest level a
fundamental threat to the security of all peoples and all
nations: the spread and use of nuclear weapons.
As I said yesterday, this very institution was founded at
the dawn of the atomic age, in part because man's capacity
to kill had to be contained. And although we averted a
nuclear nightmare during the Cold War, we now face
proliferation of a scope and complexity that demands new
strategies and new approaches. Just one nuclear weapon
exploded in a city -- be it New York or Moscow; Tokyo or
Beijing; London or Paris -- could kill hundreds of thousands
of people. And it would badly destabilize our security, our
economies, and our very way of life.
Once more, the United Nations has a pivotal role to play
in preventing this crisis. The historic resolution we just
adopted enshrines our shared commitment to the goal of a
world without nuclear weapons. And it brings Security
Council agreement on a broad framework for action to reduce
nuclear dangers as we work toward that goal. It reflects the
agenda I outlined in Prague, and builds on a consensus that
all nations have the right to peaceful nuclear energy; that
nations with nuclear weapons have the responsibility to move
toward disarmament; and those without them have the
responsibility to forsake them.
Today, the Security Council endorsed a global effort to
lock down all vulnerable nuclear materials within four
years. The United States will host a summit next April to
advance this goal and help all nations achieve it. This
resolution will also help strengthen the institutions and
initiatives that combat the smuggling, financing, and theft
of proliferation-related materials. It calls on all states
to freeze any financial assets that are being used for
proliferation. And it calls for stronger safeguards to
reduce the likelihood that peaceful nuclear weapons programs
can be diverted to a weapons program -- that peaceful
nuclear programs can be diverted to a weapons program.
The resolution we passed today will also strengthen the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. We have made it clear that
the Security Council has both the authority and the
responsibility to respond to violations to this treaty.
We've made it clear that the Security Council has both the
authority and responsibility to determine and respond as
necessary when violations of this treaty threaten
international peace and security.
That includes full compliance with Security Council
resolutions on Iran and North Korea. Let me be clear: This
is not about singling out individual nations -- it is about
standing up for the rights of all nations who do live up to
their responsibilities. The world must stand together. And
we must demonstrate that international law is not an empty
promise, and that treaties will be enforced.
The next 12 months will be absolutely critical in
determining whether this resolution and our overall efforts
to stop the spread and use of nuclear weapons are
successful. And all nations must do their part to make this
work. In America, I have promised that we will pursue a new
agreement with Russia to substantially reduce our strategic
warheads and launchers. We will move forward with the
ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and open
the door to deeper cuts in our own arsenal. In January, we
will call upon countries to begin negotiations on a treaty
to end the production of fissile material for weapons. And
the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May will
strengthen that agreement.
Now, we harbor no illusions about the difficulty of
bringing about a world without nuclear weapons. We know
there are plenty of cynics, and that there will be setbacks
to prove their point. But there will also be days like today
that push us forward -- days that tell a different story. It
is the story of a world that understands that no difference
or division is worth destroying all that we have built and
all that we love. It is a recognition that can bring people
of different nationalities and ethnicities and ideologies
together. In my own country, it has brought Democrats and
Republican leaders together -- leaders like George Shultz,
Bill Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn, who are with us
here today. And it was a Republican President, Ronald
Reagan, who once articulated the goal we now seek in the
starkest of terms. I quote:
"A nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought.
And no matter how great the obstacles may seem, we must
never stop our efforts to reduce the weapons of war. We must
never stop until all -- we must never stop at all until we
see the day when nuclear arms have been banished from the
face of the Earth."
That is our task. That can be our destiny. And we will
leave this meeting with a renewed determination to achieve
this shared goal. Thank you.
In accordance with the understanding reached among
Council members, I wish to remind all speakers to limit
their statements to no more than five minutes in order to
enable the Council to carry on its work expeditiously.
Delegations with lengthy statements are kindly requested to
circulate the text in writing and to deliver a condensed
version when speaking in the chamber.
I shall now invite the distinguished Secretary General,
His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, to take the floor.
END 9:45 A.M. EDT
--President Barack Obama at
the United Nations, New York City, on September 24,