Director's Overview

Last year, my comments in this space spoke of significant accomplishments, but also warned of the growing terrorist threat and of the national security setbacks caused by interrupted government operations. For 1996, there have fortunately been no repetitions of the Oklahoma City bombing or the Tokyo subway gassing, and there have been no government shutdowns or protracted Continuing Resolution funding at inadequate levels. But, we do have further significant accomplishments to report for arms control and nonproliferation, as well as for national security.

I have been privileged to direct ACDA as it led the successful negotiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban on nuclear explosions. While we deeply regret India's present unwillingness to sign, this treaty is nevertheless a major tool for reducing the probability of nuclear proliferation.

Successful negotiation of the amended Convention on Conventional Weapons will significantly reduce worldwide civilian casualties from anti-personnel landmines. If this treaty had been in effect and observed for the past three decades, there would be no global landmine crisis today. ACDA was pleased to support the excellent leadership of the Department of State in this negotiation.

For 1997, the central issues will revolve around ratification. The Chemical Weapons Convention has been approved by the Senate and the United States became an original Party on April 25, 1997. The amended Convention on Conventional Weapons has been submitted to the Senate for approval and we expect the Comprehensive Test Ban to be submitted during the course of the year.

Without detracting from any of the foregoing, I must point out that arms control is not solely a matter of negotiation and ratification. A treaty is like a fighter aircraft: after it comes off the assembly line, the critical work of maintenance begins. Treaty implementation is less headline-provoking than negotiation or ratification, but it is not less essential. Verification and monitoring are massive undertakings, particularly with the large and growing availability of on-site inspection. And once a treaty has entered into force, the work needed to apply the treaty to the constantly evolving world of real weapons and real military forces is far more complex and painstaking than the uninitiated would expect.

On April 18, 1997, the President announced a plan to integrate ACDA into the Department of State while preserving the independent arms control advocacy function, including the ability to submit policy recommendations to the President. Under this integration plan, all of the arms control and nonproliferation functions of both ACDA and the Department of State will be combined under a new Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Affairs. The Under Secretary will also serve as the Senior Adviser to the President and the Secretary of State for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament.

Finally, I must once again offer my gratitude to the extremely high performing and hard working ACDA professionals whom I am privileged to lead. The nation will be forever in their debt, as am I.

John D. Holum