A year of significant accomplishment and significant change marks 1997 for this Agency. The Chemical Weapons Convention was ratified in April, and in the words of President Clinton, “we will end a century that began with the horror of chemical weapons in World War I much closer to the elimination of those kinds of weapons.” In another move that will enhance our ability to meet the growing challenges of the 21st century, President Clinton decided to systematically reinvent the agencies which implement the nation’s foreign policy, including this one. Pending congressional approval, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency will be fully integrated with the Department of State, merging the arms control and nonproliferation functions of both.
The President’s plan ensures that arms control and nonproliferation will be at the heart of American foreign policy, and enhances our nation’s ability to meet the growing foreign policy challenges of the 21st century.
My assumption of the position of Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, in addition to retaining my position as Director of ACDA, marks an important first step toward eventual integration. At that time, the two positions will be merged as Under Secretary/Senior Advisor to the President and Secretary of State. Thus, ACDA’s unique policy role will be strengthened through additional interagency responsibilities. Along with ACDA’s technical and policy expertise, its verification, compliance, and legal functions will be preserved.
We are a small Agency with a large purpose and a mighty legacy. However, I am totally convinced that the President’s decision will materially strengthen arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament missions, and the entire foreign affairs structure to more efficiently address the post-Cold War era.
That will happen in major part because Secretary Albright is deeply committed to this mission -- and has shown it tangibly, not only by making arms control and nonproliferation central to her public service and now to the State Department, but by stressing the importance of independent arms control advocacy, including from within the Department, when arms control and diplomacy may be at odds.
And so the President’s decision at once saves what has been most crucial to ACDA’s historic value, and yet adds what has been most needed -- elevation of arms control and nonproliferation within the Department of State.
Now our task is to fill in the details of the President’s and Vice President’s decision, once Congress provides authorization, and still keep advancing what the President has described as “the most ambitious agenda to dismantle and fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction since the atom was split.”
That will require our best talents and energies. It will require an unyielding commitment to a safer world and to cooperation in its pursuit. Given all we’ve accomplished together over the last several years, and what this Agency has accomplished in its lifetime, I have no doubt we will succeed.
John D. Holum