Remarks of John D. Holum
NRRC 10th Anniversary Ceremony
April 7, 1998

It is a pleasure to be here today, celebrating one of the most effective, meaningful elements of our national security team.

Arms control treaties and agreements -- more than 30 since 1987 -- are substantially reducing the numbers of nuclear and conventional weapons threatening our interests, our people, and our men and women in uniform. We all follow the negotiations and the signing ceremonies, the dramatic moments. But what really matters most is what happens next -- in implementation. I suspect most people are less interested in what we've agreed to do than in what we've actually done.

With my South Dakota farm roots, I tend to think of this as the arms control "harvest," when we actually reap the benefits of arms control, in weapons sliced apart, threats averted, disputes resolved.

The treaties are only as good as the level of compliance and enforcement we can ensure. That's where the NRRC plays its role, in giving us confidence that the parties to an agreement are doing what they have promised. Verification often begins with an NRRC notification -- laying out the who, what, where, when and how of arms control actions.

We get the coordinates from the notification and we take pictures -- the treaties often require that the dismantled weapons be left in the open for that purpose. If further doubt exists, we can send inspectors on short notice -- and we signal they're on their way through a NRRC notification. This Center, therefore, is fundamental to verify fulfillment of the promise.

The NRRC is a small but vital part of a large endeavor. To make sure treaties are carried out to the letter we draw on resources from the Department of State, ACDA, the Department of Defense and the intelligence community. In the last decade:

  • We've confirmed that the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty has completely eliminated the 2,700 mid-range nuclear missiles targeted at Western and Eastern Europe.

  • The START I Treaty is now eliminating the long-range delivery systems for more than 9,000 nuclear warheads -- and will eventually cut 14,000 once START II is ratified.

  • Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine have already turned over their thousands of nuclear warheads to Russia for dismantling and are now nuclear-free.

  • Under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, signatories have destroyed more than 51,000 weapons, mostly tanks, artillery pieces, attack helicopters and combat aircraft.

All these arms control successes are part and parcel of NRRC's charge. And it is continuously gaining new responsibilities -- including with respect to the Chemical Weapons Convention that went into force last fall.

The success of the NRRC means the United States can approach arms control from a position of confidence and strength, and thus pursue additional steps -- including the President's call for Senate ratification of the pending Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

Yesterday, our allies in Britain and France became the first two nuclear weapon states to ratify the CTBT. The ball is now even more squarely in our court. The sooner we ratify the CTBT, the sooner we set the rest of the world on the same path. U.S. leadership is critical to the CTBT's success. We should be in the business not of complicating arms control, but making it happen.

The professionals here in the NRRC make compliance and verification credible for American arms control policy. After ten fruitful years, it has built a solid foundation up which our ongoing arms control work -- ABM demarcation agreements, START II and CTBT among them -- can be built.

Now it is my great pleasure to introduce Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott, who has done so much to help make our once greatest nuclear adversary a partner in arms control -- helping to keep the NRRC fully occupied and challenged. Thank you and let me hand off to Strobe...