April 22, 1998


The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is the cornerstone of international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and promote arms control and disarmament, to achieve and maintain an effective international safeguards system, and to promote peaceful cooperation in nuclear energy. During the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, NPT parties agreed to extend indefinitely the Treaty, making it a permanent part of the global security system. NPT parties at the 1995 NPT Conference also agreed to two other decisions: (1) "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament," which affirmed the need to "move with determination toward the full realization and effective implementation of the provisions of the Treaty" and (2) "Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty."

The United States is strongly committed to the NPT, to efforts that further strengthen the Treaty, and to the broader international nonproliferation and arms control regime. The United States has taken numerous practical steps -- unilateral, bilateral, and multilateral -- to affirm this commitment and to underscore the fact that a permanent NPT is a positive force for international efforts to promote progress in arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament. Many of these steps have been taken since the conclusion of the 1995 NPT Conference.

Formal preparations for the 2000 NPT Review Conference began in April 1997 with the first of three Preparatory Committee meetings. The second Preparatory Committee meeting will take place in April 1998. The United States hopes that all NPT parties will work together to ensure that the 2000 NPT Review Conference further strengthens the NPT and reinforces global nonproliferation and disarmament objectives.

The Goal of Nuclear Disarmament

  • President Clinton reaffirmed on April 17, 1996, that the United States remains committed to the pursuit of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons.

  • In his September 24, 1996, speech before the United Nations General Assembly, President Clinton expressed the hope that during the next century "the roles and risks of nuclear weapons can be even further reduced -- and ultimately eliminated."

  • In an historic step, President Clinton and President Yeltsin, at their summit in March 1997, issued a joint statement on future reductions in nuclear forces, reaffirming their shared commitment to reduce further the nuclear danger and strengthen strategic stability and nuclear security.

  • The Department of Defense's 1994 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which was approved by the President, and is still in force today, created no new missions or roles for nuclear weapons. The basic premise of the NPR is that nuclear weapons play a smaller role in U.S. security today than at any other time in the nuclear age. The United States favors this diminished role for nuclear weapons.

  • The United States played a leading role in securing a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was opened for signature on September 24, 1996. Conclusion of a CTBT by 1996, was specifically called for in the 1995 NPT Conference decision on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament."

  • On January 20, 1998, President Clinton urged the Conference on Disarmament to negotiate a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty and an export ban on anti-personnel mines, and stated that doing so would represent "important steps on the road to a world that is free of nuclear weapons and safe for children to tread."

Nuclear Arms Reduction Efforts

  • The United States eliminated all ground-based intermediate-range ballistic missiles by the end of May 1991, as required by the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty.

  • The START I Treaty entered into force in December 1994. Implementation of the Treaty is running well ahead of schedule. Both the United States and Russia have reduced their strategic nuclear warheads below those limits that were required to be met by December 1997 (9,150 deployed strategic warheads), and are close to meeting all the limits that are required to take effect by December 1999 (7,950 deployed strategic warheads). Moreover, all nuclear weapons have been removed from the territories of the other three START Parties: Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan, all of which have joined the NPT as non-nuclear weapon states parties to the NPT.

  • As of January 1998, the United States has eliminated more than 900 heavy bombers and missile launchers that had carried over 4,000 accountable warheads. This is about 75 percent of the U.S. planned eliminations under START I.

  • The START II Treaty, signed in January 1993, is a follow-on to START I. It is designed to achieve deeper reductions in strategic nuclear forces and enhance strategic stability by eliminating the most destabilizing weapons systems -- that is, land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles with multiple warheads.

  • On January 26, 1996, the United States Senate voted to give its advice and consent to ratification of START II. We are now awaiting positive consideration by the Russian Duma and the Federation Council so that START II can enter into force.

  • Once START II has been fully implemented, the United States will have reduced its nuclear forces by two-thirds from Cold War levels.

  • In a joint statement at their March 1997 summit in Helsinki, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin reached an understanding to begin negotiations on START III immediately after START II enters into force.

  • The presidents reached an understanding that START III will establish by December 31, 2007, a ceiling of 2,000-2,500 deployed strategic weapons for both parties. This represents a 30-45 percent reduction in the number of total deployed strategic warheads permitted under START II, a 60-65 percent reduction in the number of total deployed strategic warheads permitted under START I, and an 80 percent reduction below Cold War levels.

  • At Helsinki, the two presidents agreed that START III would be the first strategic arms control agreement to include measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads. They also agreed that START III should include other measures designed to promote the irreversibility of deep reductions, including the prevention of a rapid increase in the number of warheads.

  • The United States and Russia signed agreements on September 26, 1997, that promote the realization of these Helsinki commitments. They include a Protocol to START II extending its implementation until December 31, 2007. This extension is needed to encourage Russia's ratification of START II, in view of its concerns over the cost of dismantling nuclear weapons systems. The extension will apply equitably to both parties.

  • On September 26, 1997, the United States and Russia also signed and exchanged letters legally codifying the Helsinki commitment to deactivate by December 31, 2003, the U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear delivery vehicles that will be eliminated under START II, thereby ensuring that START II's security benefits are realized in roughly the same time frame as originally intended.

  • The United States is firmly committed to the viability of the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, a cornerstone of strategic stability for over 25 years. On September 26, 1997, after four years of negotiations, officials from the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakhstan signed five agreements, including the Memorandum of Understanding on succession to the ABM Treaty and two Agreed Statements on demarcation, which will preserve and enhance the viability of the Treaty.

  • The agreements address the issue of succession to the ABM Treaty by states of the former Soviet Union, and the demarcation between ABM systems, which are limited by the Treaty, and Theater Missile Defense (TMD) systems, which are not limited by the Treaty. These agreements are subject to ratification.

Unilateral Nuclear Disarmament Efforts

  • Beyond the specific requirements of the START and INF Treaties, the United States has taken additional steps unilaterally to reduce the roles of, and risks associated with, nuclear weapons; to modify the nuclear force posture associated with the Cold War; and to ensure that nuclear material declared excess to defense needs remains unavailable for weapons use.

  • The United States no longer targets any country with its strategic nuclear forces.

  • U.S. strategic bombers are no longer on alert.

  • In July 1997, the United States reached a milestone in a program to strengthen further its controls against the unauthorized use of nuclear weapons by the installation of special coded control devices on all its ballistic missile submarines. All U.S. nuclear weapons systems are now protected by coded control devices to assure against unauthorized or accidental use.

  • As a result of the 1991-1992 Presidential Nuclear Initiatives, the United States canceled a number of strategic modernization programs including the Peacekeeper rail-mobile ICBM, the small ICBM, and the SRAM II missile, and ended or severely truncated new production of B-2 bombers, warheads for its sea-based missiles, Peacekeeper missiles, and the Advanced Cruise Missile.

  • Since 1988, the United States has reduced both defense expenditures for strategic nuclear weapons and the number of personnel performing duties with strategic nuclear forces by almost two-thirds.

  • The 1991-1992 unilateral Presidential Nuclear Initiatives also took significant steps to reduce non-strategic nuclear forces. On July 2, 1992, the U.S. Department of Defense announced the completion of the worldwide withdrawal and retirement of the U.S. stockpile of nuclear artillery shells, Lance missile warheads, and naval nuclear depth bombs to U.S. territory in accordance with the Presidential Initiative. All of these weapons have now been eliminated except for a small number of artillery shells whose elimination will be complete in 1999.

  • U.S. ground forces no longer train for nuclear delivery missions and have no nuclear capability.

  • All non-strategic nuclear weapons, including nuclear cruise missiles, depth charges and torpedoes have been removed from surface ships, multipurpose submarines, and land-based naval aircraft bases. The capability to deploy such weapons on U.S. surface ships has been eliminated.

  • Several non-strategic nuclear weapon modernization programs were terminated -- the follow-on to the Lance missile, a new artillery-fired atomic projectile, and the Tactical Air to Surface Missile.

  • The air-delivered tactical bomb stockpile has been reduced by 60 percent, and all excess tactical bombs have been eliminated.

  • Since 1988, the United States has reduced its overall nuclear warhead stockpile by 59 percent, (i.e., 90 percent of the non-strategic nuclear stockpile and 47 percent of the strategic nuclear stockpile have been eliminated).

  • The United States has already eliminated more than 10,000 strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads.

Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

  • On September 24, 1996, President Clinton was the first world leader to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. The Treaty was the product of 2-1/2 years of arduous negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD), in which the United States played a leading role.

  • Conclusion of the CTBT by 1996 was specifically called for in the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference decision on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament."

  • The Treaty's preamble states that the CTBT, by banning all nuclear weapon test explosions and all other nuclear explosions, will constrain the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and end the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons.

  • The size of the U.S. stockpile continues to decrease. The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since September 1992, and has pledged to maintain its testing moratorium until entry into force of the CTBT, provided that all other countries also refrain from carrying out all nuclear explosions.

  • In September 1997, President Clinton transmitted the CTBT to the U.S. Senate for advice and consent to ratification.

  • The United States is committed to securing the Treaty's entry into force at the earliest possible time.

  • Along with other signatories, the United States is working in the CTBT PrepCom to establish an International Monitoring System, including an International Data Center, designed to monitor the Treaty upon its entry into force.

Fissile Material Production
Cut-Off Treaty

  • The United States strongly supports efforts to initiate negotiations on a fissile material production cutoff treaty (FMCT), as recently affirmed in President Clinton's remarks to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in January 1998, and in the September 25, 1997, statement of the Ministers of Foreign Affairs of the Five Permanent Members of the United Nations Security Council.

  • The United States has ceased production of all fissile material for use in nuclear weapons.

  • A cutoff treaty based on the 1995 consensus negotiating mandate agreed to by the CD would halt worldwide production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and thus would be an important nuclear disarmament and nonprolifera- tion step. Such a treaty was specifically called for in the 1995 NPT Conference decision on "Principles and Objectives."

  • The United States is continuing its efforts at the CD to begin FMCT negotiations. The United States sees an FMCT as an important milestone on the road to nuclear disarmament.

Cessation of Plutonium Production For Nuclear Weapons

  • The United States and Russia are continuing efforts, begun in 1994, to make permanent the cessation of plutonium production for nuclear weapons in both countries.

  • On September 23, 1997, the United States and Russia signed the "U.S.-Russian Plutonium Production Reactor Agreement," which entered into force immediately. Under this new agreement, the United States will provide assistance to Russia to convert its three operating plutonium-production reactors by the year 2000, so that they no longer produce weapon-grade plutonium. Additionally, the 10 Russian plutonium-production reactors, already shut down, and all 14 U.S. production reactors, which have been shut down since 1989, will remain closed permanently.

  • The September 1997 agreement marks the first time that the United States and Russia have placed limits on the materials for nuclear warheads themselves and also marks a new stage in U.S.-Russian cooperation to regulate and verify nuclear materials, to limit their use in weapons, and to build mutual confidence through increased transparency.

Fissile Material Transparency

  • Since September 1993, the United States has unilaterally removed approximately 226 metric tons of fissile material from its nuclear stockpile and has voluntarily pledged to make this excess fissile material available for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as soon as practical. Twelve metric tons of this excess material is now under IAEA safeguards at three U.S. Department of Energy facilities. An additional 26 metric tons of this excess material have been committed for such inspections by the end of 1999. A further 52 metric tons of this excess material will be made available for international inspection, consistent with plans for treatment, storage, and material disposition.

  • In April 1996, the United States proposed to work with the IAEA to carry out a verification experiment on the downblending of weapon-grade HEU. This HEU is a portion (13 metric tons) of the 26 metric tons committed at the 1996 IAEA General Conference to be made available for international inspection by September 1999. The experiment at the Portsmouth Gaseous Diffusion Plant will help demonstrate the irreversibility of nuclear disarmament. IAEA monitoring of downblending began on December 1, 1997, and is scheduled to conclude by July 1998.

  • Since October 1995, the United States has been working with the IAEA to incorporate international safeguards features into the design of a facility planned for storage of plutonium designated excess to defense needs. This storage location -- at the Savannah River Site -- may become one of two principal sites in the United States for storage of excess plutonium.

  • After considering options for the disposition of surplus high enriched uranium (HEU), the U.S. Department of Energy, on July 29, 1996, adopted the blending down of HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) as the preferred disposition alternative. This option will convert the material to a form unusable in nuclear weapons and, where practical, allow for the reuse of the resulting LEU in peaceful, beneficial ways that recover its commercial value.

  • On January 14, 1997, the U.S. Department of Energy stated its decision to pursue a strategy for plutonium disposition that allows for: a) immobilization of surplus weapon plutonium in glass or ceramic forms and b) irradiation of surplus plutonium as mixed oxide (MOX) fuels in existing reactors, while reserving the option to immobilize all the surplus. Both approaches would provide physical barriers to the reuse of plutonium declared excess to U.S. national security needs and help ensure that it is never again used for nuclear weapons or defense purposes. The MOX and immobilization options would also preserve the long-standing U.S. policy of not engaging in plutonium reprocessing or recycling, since spent fuel from the burning of surplus plutonium in reactors would not subsequently be reprocessed.

  • To demonstrate to the international community the transparency of the downblending of approximately 600 kilograms of HEU obtained from Kazakhstan through "Project Sapphire," the United States made portions of the Babcock and Wilcox facility in Lynchburg, Virginia eligible for IAEA safeguards. In August 1996, the IAEA began its initial physical inventory verification activities on the downblending operations. To date, the IAEA has verified the downblending of approximately 400 kilograms of that HEU. The remaining HEU is scheduled to be downblended in 1999 under IAEA safeguards.

  • The United States, the Russian Federation, and the IAEA commenced a Trilateral Initiative in September 1996, to address the unique challenges of providing assurances that fissile material from weapon programs, once removed, remains outside of such programs. In a meeting on September 17, 1996, the United States, Russia, and the IAEA initiated a process to consider means for IAEA verification of weapon-origin fissile material. Subsequent trilateral activities have addressed the scope and objective of IAEA verification, issues related to legal instruments and financing, and the development of technical measures. These technical activities have included workshops and joint demonstrations in the United States, Russia, and Vienna. Significant progress has been made toward developing approaches and technologies that will support IAEA inspection of both U.S. and Russian excess fissile materials in sensitive forms while protecting and preventing the disclosure of classified nuclear weapon related information. These inspections are planned to begin in a time frame consistent with the loading of the Russian fissile material storage facility at Mayak.
Other Cooperative Efforts

  • Through the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, the United States is continuing to cooperate with the Newly Independent States of the former Soviet Union to accelerate the destruction and dismantlement of weapons of mass destruction, ballistic missiles and their launchers, and infrastructure, and to prevent unauthorized or accidental use or diversion of nuclear weapons or fissile material. As of March 1998, the United States has committed almost $2 billion in such cooperation.

  • In the early 1990s, the United States established the Material Protection, Control, and Accounting (MPC&A) Program to provide nuclear security support for 53 nuclear sites in Russia, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and five other former Soviet States. The MPC&A Program is rapidly improving the security of approximately 650 metric tons of weapons-usable nuclear material in forms other than nuclear weapons stored and used at these nuclear sites. As of March 1998, the United States has committed $438 million in such cooperation.

Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zones

  • On March 25, 1996, the United States signed the three protocols to the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone (SPNFZ) Treaty, the Treaty of Rarotonga.

  • Under Protocol I of the SPNFZ Treaty, the United States is required to apply the basic provisions of the Treaty to its territories in the zone (e.g., American Samoa and Jarvis Island) established by the Treaty. Under Protocol II, the United States agreed not to use or threaten to use nuclear explosive devices against any Party to the Treaty, Protocol I Parties, or territories located within the zone. Under Protocol III, the United States agreed not to test nuclear explosive devices within the zone established by the Treaty.

  • On April 11, 1996, the United States signed the protocols for which it was eligible to the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone (ANWFZ) Treaty, the Treaty of Pelindaba.

  • Under Protocol I of the ANWFZ Treaty, the United States undertakes not to use or threaten to use nuclear explosive devices against any Party to the Treaty, or the territory of any Protocol III Party that lies within the zone established by the Treaty. Under Protocol II, the United States undertakes not to test or assist or encourage the testing of nuclear explosive devices anywhere within the zone established by the Treaty.

  • The United States continues to work with ASEAN states on the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty toward a Treaty and Protocol that conforin to longstanding U.S. criteria for supporting NWFZs.

  • The United States continues to support the establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones in other regions, provided they meet longstanding U.S. criteria for such zones.

Security Assurances

  • In April 1995, the United States reaffirmed in a Presidential Declaration that it will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states party to the NPT. The only exception to this global negative security assurance is in the rare event a state, allied or associated with a nuclear-weapons state (and therefore benefitting from such alliance or association) engages in an armed attack against the United States, its armed forces, or its allies. The United States joined the United Kingdom, France, and Russia in issuing virtually identical national declarations extending these assurances to NPT non-nuclear weapon states.

  • In April 1995, the United States jointly sponsored, with the other permanent members, U.N. Security Council Resolution 984 which strengthened positive security assurances for NPT non-nuclear-weapon states threatened with nuclear aggression. Resolution 984 illustrated the ways in which the Security Council could render assistance to such a state including "appropriate measures ... to restore international peace and security" which are called for in Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.

  • The United States along with other nuclear weapon states has provided additional guarantees against the use of nuclear weapons to non-nuclear-weapon state parties to the Latin American and Caribbean Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty; the South Pacific Nuclear-Free Zone Treaty; and the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty. As a result, the number of non-nuclear-weapon states receiving legally-binding assurances against the use of nuclear weapons from all five nuclear weapon states will have increased since the 1995 NPT Conference from 33 to 99 when all ratification and entry into force actions have been taken. This number could increase to 109, if the nuclear weapon states and ASEAN nations can resolve their differences over the Southeast Asian Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty and Protocol.

Universal Adherence to the NPT

  • Since the conclusion of the 1995 NPT Conference, the United States has continued to promote universal adherence to the Treaty. Eight additional states have joined the NPT since May 1995: Angola, Andorra, Chile, the Comoros, Djibouti, Oman, the United Arab Emirates, and Vanuatu.

  • There are now only five states worldwide outside the NPT regime, (Brazil, Cuba, India, Israel, and Pakistan). In June 1997, Brazil announced its intention to join the Treaty.

Promoting Full Compliance with the NPT

  • The 1994 U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework commits North Korea to remain a party to the NPT and to keep its safeguards agreement in force. We continue actively to implement the Agreed Framework.

  • The United States strongly supports maintenance of United Nations sanctions on Iraq until that country fulfills all of its UN Security Council obligations. Under UN resolutions, Iraq must make available for elimination all weapons of mass destruction (WMD), allow monitors, and fully disclose past WMD programs.

  • The UN Security Council has consistently joined with other members of the United Nations in unanimously determining that Iraq has not complied with its obligations.

Strengthening the NPT
Safeguards System

  • The United States strongly and actively supports the establishment of a strengthened and cost-effective IAEA safeguards system, including an increased capability to detect undeclared nuclear material and activities, and the incorporation of new technologies to enhance effectiveness and efficiency.

  • In June 1995, the United States joined other IAEA Board of Governors' members in approving a range of IAEA safeguards strengthening measures under existing authority, which built on other measures approved by the board, beginning in 1992, following the discovery of Iraq's clandestine nuclear program.

  • The June 1996 IAEA Board of Governors' meeting established an open-ended committee to complete a model protocol to comprehensive safeguards agreements containing measures for which the IAEA needed complementary authority. The United States worked intensively to gain agreement in the committee to forward an effective protocol for Board approval as soon as possible.

  • In May 1997, the United States joined other IAEA Board of Governors members in approving this Model Protocol for strengthening IAEA safeguards. The new strengthened safeguards measures, including the Model Protocol, will strengthen the effectiveness and improve the efficiency of safeguards and enhance the IAEA's ability to detect clandestine nuclear materials and activities.

  • The United States hopes all states will cooperate in the implementation of the new strengthened safeguards system and will complete and bring into force the additional Protocols to their safeguards agreements. The United States will accept the Protocol in its entirety and will apply all its provisions, excluding only information and locations of direct national security significance to the United States. The United States will treat the Protocol as an integral part of its existing voluntary offer safeguards agreement and make its commitment legally binding.

Increasing Cooperation in the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

  • Over the past year, the United States has continued to support peaceful nuclear cooperation efforts through its contributions to IAEA technical cooperation programs including the implementation of technical projects and the provision of experts, equipment, and training. The United States is the largest contributor to the IAEA's technical cooperation efforts.

  • In addition to cooperation through the IAEA, the United States maintains bilateral "sister-laboratory" cooperation arrangements with Argentina, Egypt, Ghana, Mexico, Morocco, Peru, and Thailand, and is pursuing an arrangement with Costa Rica.

  • In 1996, the United States brought into force agreements for peaceful nuclear cooperation with Bulgaria and the European Atomic Energy Agency (EURATOM). The United States is also discussing such arrangements with other countries. In 1997, agreements with Argentina and South Africa were brought into force. Agreements with Brazil, Kazakhstan, and Switzerland have been negotiated, signed, and submitted to Congress for the required review period. An agreement with Ukraine was initialed on March 6, 1998.

  • Since 1978, the U.S. Reduced Enrichment for Research and Test Reactors (RERTR) Program has been working to minimize and eventually eliminate the use of high enriched uranium (HEU) in civil commerce. More than 30 research reactors in foreign countries have been converted from HEU to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, and higher density LEU fuels capable of converting all operating research reactors are being developed. Also under development are new techniques to use LEU instead of HEU for medical isotope production. Under a May 1996 Department of Energy (DOE) Record of Decision the United States has offered to accept the return of about 19 metric tons of spent HEU fuel of U.S. origin from research reactors in 41 foreign countries. Several shipments from Europe and South America have already been made and DOE expects that the great majority of the material will be returned before the acceptance program expires in May 2009.

  • The United States supports the continuing efforts of multilateral export control organizations to make their work as transparent as possible including the October 1997 Vienna Seminar on Transparency in Export Controls. Nuclear-related export controls are already highly transparent, provide nonproliferation benefits to all NPT parties, and promote nuclear cooperation with NPT parties that behave responsibly. This transparency effort is an integral part of U.S. bilateral and multilateral activities to promote broader understanding of and adherence to intemationally-recognized nuclear export control guidelines.

  • The United States also has taken the lead in supporting the establishment of international instruments related to nuclear safety and liability. Such agreements are necessary to promote and secure the benefits of peaceful nuclear energy for all countries.

  • In September 1997, the United States was the first signatory of the Joint Convention on the Safety of Spent Fuel Management and the Safety of Radioactive Waste Management, which was adopted in September 1997, by majority vote during a diplomatic conference in Vienna. This "Waste Convention" expands the framework of the Convention on Nuclear Safety by calling for national coverage for spent fuel and radioactive waste in keeping with agreed international standards.

  • The United States was also the first signatory of the Convention on Supplementary Compensation for Nuclear Damage, which was opened for signature on September 29, 1997. The new regime addresses the treatment of legal liability resulting from a nuclear accident.