April 19, 1994

MR. THOMAS GRAHAM, JR., ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
TO THE CONFERENCE ON PEACEFUL USES OF
NUCLEAR ENERGY AND NONPROLIFERATION
BARILOCHE, ARGENTINA

I am grateful for the opportunity to speak before this distinguished group on the subject of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

This is a particularly timely opportunity to discuss the NPT because one year from now, the more than 160 parties to the Treaty will meet in New York to decide whether the NPT shall continue in force indefinitely, or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or fixed periods. For many states, including the United States, this conference will be the most important event in the life of the NPT and will determine not only that Treaty's future, but the future of the entire international nuclear nonproliferation regime. This is the one opportunity the parties will have to make the NPT a permanent part of the international security framework, the one and only opportunity to extend the NPT and give it the same duration that all other international arms control treaties and conventions enjoy. I will try to demonstrate here why the United States believes the parties should take such a decision.

We all have witnessed over the past several years the tremendous changes that have swept the world. The former Soviet Union collapsed bringing an end to the Cold War; Germany reunited; Iraq mounted an unsuccessful bid for regional hegemony; Israel and the Palestinians signed a peace agreement; apartheid collapsed in South Africa and the South African Government agreed to share power; to mention only a few. The pace and nature of these changes could not have been predicted just a few years ago.

What is clear now, however, is that the old East-West competition no longer dominates the geostrategic landscape. Rather, regional rivalries and instability constitute the major threat to international security. With the ever present potential for the proliferation and/or use of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, these regional rivalries have become significantly more dangerous.

The threat of nuclear proliferation is not new, however. In the early 1960s there were predictions that there could be 20, 25 or 30 declared nuclear weapon states by the mid 1970s if the international community took no action to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean were among the first states to address the emerging proliferation threat by negotiating the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America, or the Treaty of Tlatelolco. This was a pioneering effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and it succeeded in establishing a framework to free this part of the world from the threat of nuclear proliferation.

The international community has applauded the recent actions by Argentina and Chile to waive the Treaty of Tlatelolco into force. This brings that important regional agreement one step closer to full implementation. We have been inspired by the efforts of Argentina and Brazil to collaborate and cooperate on measures to reduce suspicions about their respective nuclear programs by making them more transparent. And we have welcomed Brazil's ratification of the Quadripartite Safeguards Agreement which brings full-scope safeguards into force for Argentina and Brazil.

Following the achievement at Tlatelolco in 1967, the broader international community undertook to negotiate a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with global reach, the NPT. The NPT serves as the cornerstone of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. Indeed, it has provided a firm and dependable foundation on which all other measures of arms control and disarmament, such as the START Treaties and the Chemical Weapons Convention, have been and are being built.

THE NPT: WHAT IT IS, WHAT IT DOES

Let me review briefly the provisions of the NPT and its status. In broadest outline, the NPT is designed to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons (Articles I and II);

There are currently 163 parties to the NPT, including all five declared nuclear weapon states -- US, UK, Russia, France and China. More countries have joined the NPT than have joined any other arms control treaty in history; this reflects the widespread and consistent appeal of the goals and objectives of the NPT. The newest adherents are Kazakhstan which joined on February 14, and Georgia which did so on March 7. They joined Belarus, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and the Baltic States from the former Soviet Union in becoming Treaty parties.

Argentina has stated it will join the NPT before the 1995 NPT Conference. Argentina's decision to become an NPT party will leave only a handful of states in Latin America that have not yet joined the NPT. Argentina's decision to join the NPT is fully consistent with its role as a regional and international leader in multilateral arms control, and now, nonproliferation fora. It strongly reaffirms the continued relevance and vitality of the NPT and provides important reinforcement to the internationally accepted norm of nonproliferation that the NPT has established.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE NPT

Why is the NPT so important to the United States and to the entire world community?

The NPT is essential to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons. As I have already noted, the NPT is the only nuclear nonproliferation agreement that is global in scope, and as such, it serves as the principal international legal and political barrier to such proliferation. The NPT reflects an international norm of nonproliferation that has helped to isolate states outside the regime who have persisted in their efforts to acquire nuclear weapons. It codifies a standard of acceptable international behavior against which the actions of even those states outside of the regime are measured. And, it provides a basis upon which the international community can act when faced with direct challenges to the NPT and to the nonproliferation norm. The taboo that now exists against the acquisition of nuclear weapons is a direct result of the entry into force of the NPT and of the Treaty of Tlatelolco before it.

The NPT also is essential to support the worldwide regime for the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy under effective international safeguards. NPT parties are required to conclude full-scope safeguards agreements with the IAEA whose duration is tied to the duration of the NPT.

By law, the U.S. may not engage in nuclear cooperation with any country that does not have such a safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This policy, moreover, has been adopted by all major nuclear suppliers. Were the NPT to end, the basis for all of these safeguards agreements would also end, and the fundamental enabling force for peaceful nuclear cooperation with other NPT parties would be destroyed. It is important to note that there is no similar risk to the full-scope safeguards agreements negotiated pursuant to the Tlatelolco Treaty because that Treaty is of unlimited duration.

The United States has long recognized that adherence to the NPT should facilitate international nuclear cooperation. As a result, we have long had a policy of according NPT and Tlatelolco parties preferential treatment when choosing opportunities for peaceful nuclear cooperation. Throughout the nearly twenty-five years of cooperation under the NPT, the U.S. has supported technical cooperation projects in NPT countries, including many of those represented here today, in such diverse areas as agricultural research, nuclear medicine, and nuclear energy in an effort to enhance the technological knowledge and promote the development and economic well-being of those countries. We have made it a practice to support projects conducted under the auspices of the IAEA's regional program for Latin America - ARCAL. Each year, the U.S. funds numerous fellowships and training courses bilaterally and through the IAEA enabling individuals from NPT parties to receive instruction and experience in nuclear-related fields of study. The U.S. also has played an active role in providing NPT countries with nuclear safety assistance.

The NPT provides a framework in which to address regional proliferation problems and promotes regional stability. Regions where the risk of proliferation is greatest are those where key states have been unwilling to forswear the nuclear weapons option in a binding and verifiable manner. This danger is mitigated, however, by the NPT and the strength of its membership.

In the Middle East, Korean Peninsula, and South Asia there would be little or no prospect for avoiding nuclear arms races without the NPT. Without the NPT, states would be free of any legal restraints on their nuclear activities, and mutual suspicion and regional tensions would greatly increase. Moreover, as international concern about nonproliferation has grown, the NPT has provided the enduring norm of nonproliferation behavior to which all states are increasingly being compelled to abide.

In the former Soviet Union, if there had been no NPT it would probably have had to be invented to address the proliferation dangers inherent in the breakup of a nuclear superpower into many independent states. The commitments of many of the newly independent states to the NPT as non-nuclear weapon state parties have gone a long way towards eliminating mutual suspicion and fear of a nuclear confrontation in this difficult transition period.

Finally, in Africa, South Africa's adherence to the NPT helped to open a security dialogue with other African states and to pave the way for the negotiation of an African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty. Here, as in Latin America, the NPT and the regional nuclear weapon free zone treaties complement and reinforce each other to the benefit of all.

The NPT is the only multilateral arms control agreement that obligates all states to pursue measures of disarmament. For the nuclear weapon states, this provision is clearly aimed at their nuclear weapons arsenals. The NPT provides both a framework and a foundation for those arms control measures and contributes to a stable international environment that facilitates progress towards this end.

The Cold War is over, and with its demise we have witnessed a dramatic surge of activity in nuclear arms control efforts between the United States and Russia. The NPT's call for an end to the arms race has been met. The United States and Russia are now pursuing arms reductions as rapidly as is technically possible. The U.S. is destroying nearly 2,000 nuclear weapons a year and Russia is pursuing a similar policy.

In addition to the INF agreement, START I and II, and unilateral reductions of tactical nuclear weapons, the U.S. is now actively involved in negotiating a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva. A CTBT will be an important part of our efforts to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons and will place a major restraint on the nuclear weapon states. President Clinton also informed the U.S. Congress last month that he was extending the moratorium on nuclear testing by the United States through September 1995. The President's decision was based on fundamental U.S. national security interests including an assessment that the CTBT negotiations had made encouraging progress since their commencement on January 25 and that further U.S. nuclear tests would have an adverse impact on our broader nonproliferation objectives, including our interest in securing the indefinite extension of the NPT next year.

In his September 1993 address to the UN General Assembly, President Clinton proposed a multilateral treaty to ban the production of fissile material for nuclear explosives or outside of international safeguards. A non-discriminatory, global, and effectively verifiable fissile material production ban would strengthen substantially the nonproliferation regime by restraining the unsafeguarded nuclear programs of certain non-NPT states for the first time. It also would halt the production of separated plutonium and high-enriched uranium for nuclear explosives in the five declared nuclear-weapon states.

The United States also recognizes the importance attached by many NPT parties to the issue of security assurances. We have had a consistent policy for more than fifteen years that was recently reaffirmed by the Director of ACDA at the CD. The U.S. is committed not to use nuclear weapons against any non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT or any comparable internationally binding commitment not to acquire nuclear explosive devices, such as the Tlatelolco Treaty, unless the U.S. is attacked by a non -nuclear weapon state in alliance with a nuclear weapon state. In addition, the positive security assurances given at the time of signature of the NPT could be updated. We are open to discussion on this issue.

Continued progress on these important arms control measures is dependent on a number of factors not the least of which is a strong, durable and dependable NPT. That is why the United States is committed to make every effort to secure the NPT's indefinite extension in 1995. We and many other states believe that this is the best way to ensure that the many benefits of the NPT continue to flow to its parties.

The context in which the Treaty's negotiators gave the NPT an initial duration of twenty-five years has changed. During the Cold War, uncertainty about the future and the long-term effectiveness of the Treaty led some states to want to leave open the nuclear option. Today, the Cold War is behind us but the threat of nuclear proliferation has emerged as the gravest threat to regional and global security and stability that confronts us.

In 1968, the world did not have any experience in operating a complex, global, nuclear nonproliferation regime. Some states felt that full-scope IAEA safeguards administered under the NPT could be unduly burdensome and could compromise industrial secrets. Today, we can declare the nuclear nonproliferation regime a major success. One of its most important characteristics has been its capacity for adaptability and growth without having to alter the NPT itself. The safeguards regime has demonstrated its effectiveness and efficiency; the commercial burden that had been feared has not been realized.

Finally, uncertainty about who would join the NPT has been replaced with an appreciation of the nearly-universal membership of this arms control Treaty. Membership in the Treaty continues to increase, which reinforces the view that the NPT is a vital and effective part of the international nonproliferation regime.

Indefinite extension of the NPT would be the most unambiguous signal the international community could send about its commitment to preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons. A strong and permanent NPT is an important source of leverage over those states outside the nonproliferation regime to join the NPT or adopt other measures to conform with established nonproliferation norms. The nearly universal support that now exists for the NPT is a formidable political force against states that have remained outside the regime, or parties that have not complied with their NPT obligations. Further, as I have already underlined, by making the NPT a permanent part of the international security structure we would ensure that it continues to serve as a stable foundation upon which other vitally needed measures of nuclear disarmament can be built.

It is generally understood that the NPT could never be recreated. The Treaty is a reflection of the time when it was negotiated. The NPT, by establishing a global norm against the further proliferation of nuclear weapons, converted the acquisition of nuclear weapons from an act of international pride to an act contrary to international law. To demonstrate this, one only needs to look at the banner headlines in France after the first successful French nuclear test to the world-wide condemnation of India when it carried out its only nuclear test in 1974. Today, this sentiment continues to be reflected in the strong and growing commitment of the international community to oppose nuclear proliferation and in its willingness to isolate those countries that have persisted in attempting to acquire a nuclear capability.

The NPT creates a balance of obligations between nuclear-weapon states and nonnuclear-weapon states parties. It is a reflection of the time when it was negotiated, and was the best that the world community could do at the time. And because of the complex world in which we live, the NPT is the only global treaty regime that we will ever have which serves to control the spread of nuclear weapons. We could eliminate any alleged "discrimination" by making arrangements for every state in the world to have nuclear weapons. But would anyone feel safer with such a result?

No, the NPT is the best instrument we will likely ever have. We must support it, enhance it, strengthen it, protect it, and through this process reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world thereby making the world a safer place. In 1995, we will have one and only one opportunity to make the NPT a permanent part of the international security system. The 1995 decision is by majority vote of the parties and binding on all without reference to Parliaments. Any further extension could only be accomplished by Treaty amendments, impossible, in my view, to achieve in today's world. Thus, we must not let this opportunity pass unfulfilled.

The extension of the NPT in 1995 is a decision with important consequences for national and international security. An uncertain future for the NPT beyond 1995 would force states to prepare for the possible collapse of the only global political and legal barrier to nuclear weapons proliferation that currently exists. One thing is certain -- the threat of nuclear proliferation is real today, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. It is our hope that the parties to the NPT will decide to make this Treaty, which is essential to dealing with the threat of proliferation, a permanent part of the global security system.