April 21, 1994

SPEECH BY MR. THOMAS GRAHAM, JR., ACTING DEPUTY DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY TO THE
COMMITTEE ON DISARMAMENT'S ANNUAL DISARMAMENT
SYMPOSIUM, NEW YORK

"The Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and Its Extension"

I'm pleased to have this opportunity to speak with you about the Nuclear NonProliferation Treaty and its extension in 1995. One year from today, the 1995 NPT Conference will be underway here in New York. The U.S., as many of you are aware, is seeking the indefinite extension of the NPT at that time as the best way to assure the continued viability of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. Today, I would like to share with you my views about the importance of securing the indefinite extension of the NPT at the 1995 NPT Conference.

NATURE OF THE EXTENSION DECISION

Let me begin by stating that the 1995 NPT Conference offers, de facto, a one-time opportunity to extend the NPT. Article X.2 of the Treaty explicitly provides that parties in 1995 will meet to: "decide whether the NPT shall continue in force indefinitely or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods. This decision shall be taken by a majority of the Parties to the Treaty." What Article X.2 does not explicitly state, but what is so critical to the decision in 1995, is that 1995 represents in effect the @l opportunity that the parties have to give the NPT an indefinite extension that is legally-binding on every member without the need to go back to Parliaments for ratification. Any new extension of the Treaty after the 1995 NPT Conference could only be accomplished through treaty amendment. Given the stringent amendment provisions in the Treaty and the world in which we live, this would, in my view, be near-impossible to achieve.

It took nineteen years for the original ninety-eight signatories of the NPT to ratify their decision. It is likely that any effort to amend the NPT today, even for such a necessary purpose as extending its life, would fall victim to the processes by which such amendments would need to be agreed to and ratified by national parliaments. Let me give you a flavor for what an effort to amend the NPT would require.

The Treaty states that any amendment to the NPT must be approved by a majority of all states to the Treaty, including by all five nuclear-weapon states and all other parties which are then-members of the IAEA Board of Governors. At a minimum, given that there are 163 parties to the Treaty, this would require ratification by eighty-two countries. Eventually, all states parties would have to submit the amendment to ratification procedures for it to take effect for them. Given these unusually cumbersome constraints, it is not realistic to consider amendment as an option in discussing the future of the NPT. Even with the best intentions, to collect the ratifications of most parties could take years, which in turn could seriously undermine the entire international nonproliferation regime which is based so fundamentally on the norm established by the NPT. And even if all Treaty requirements were met to bring the amendment into force, the extension amendment would only apply to the states which actually ratified it, giving many states an easy out. I do not believe that serious NPT supporters should consider any kind of fixed extension as the ultimate outcome in 1995.

Clearly, there are numerous issues which will be discussed and debated as countries prepare for the 1995 NPT Conference, as well there should be given the importance of this conference. It is essential, however, that the singular nature of the extension opportunity offered in 1995 be considered seriously and carefully by all parties as the 1995 NPT Conference approaches.

IMPORTANCE OF THE NPT

I would like now to share some of my thoughts on the importance of the NPT and on the effect that achieving its indefinite extension will have on efforts to strengthen and enhance the international nuclear nonproliferation regime.

The NPT, first and foremost, is the cornerstone of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. It has stood for nearly twenty-five years as the primary legal and political barrier to the further proliferation of nuclear weapons. The NPT is the only nuclear nonproliferation instrument that is global in scope, and as such it 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. Its entry into force in 1970 transformed the acquisition of nuclear weapons from an act of national pride to one contrary to international law. The Treaty codifies a standard of acceptable international behavior against which the actions of those states outside 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 NPT is also essential to support the worldwide regime for the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy under effective international safeguards. By law, the U.S. may not engage in nuclear cooperation with any country that does not have in place a full-scope safeguards agreement with the IAEA. This policy has been adopted by all major nuclear supplier states. Were the NPT to end, the basis for such safeguards agreements would also end, and a fundamental basis for peaceful nuclear cooperation would be severely undermined, if not destroyed.

The NPT is unique in being the only multilateral arms control agreement that obligates all its parties to pursue measures of disarmament. For the nuclear weapon states, this provision is clearly aimed at their nuclear weapon 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 toward that end.

The NPT's global benefits are echoed on a regional and national level. The NPT has helped create a framework in which to address regional proliferation problems and promote regional security and stability, thereby irrefutably enhancing the national security of its respective states parties.

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, all states are increasingly being compelled to abide by the enduring norm of nonproliferation behavior embodied by the NPT.

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

In Latin America and Africa, the NPT has played an important role in enhancing the confidence of countries about the nuclear intentions of their neighbors and in providing a global complement to regional efforts to promote nuclear nonproliferation, such as the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America, or Treaty of Tlatelolco, and the Agreement on the Denuclearization of Africa.

Some might argue that the NPT is unnecessary in a world where such regional nuclear nonproliferation arrangements are emerging. I note, however, that the NPT remains the foundation of such agreements and that such agreements would surely suffer should this important foundation begin to erode. The NPT and the various regional nuclear weapon free zone agreements complement and reinforce one another to the benefit of all.

Given the important and irreplaceable role the NPT plays in facilitating and enhancing global and regional security, the U.S. strongly believes it should be extended indefinitely and unconditionally in 1995. In addition to ensuring that the NPT's contributions to global and regional security continue, a strong and permanent NPT would be 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 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 continue to serve as a stable foundation upon which other vitally needed measures of nuclear disarmament can be built.

EFFORTS TO STRENGTHEN THE NONPROLIFERATION REGIME

I would like to turn briefly to the issue of strengthening the nonproliferation regime.

As we look to the future, it is likely that additional measures to strengthen and enhance the existing international security system will be considered. Indeed, many NPT countries believe that efforts leading to 1995 should be dedicated to finding ways to further strengthen the nonproliferation regime. Some measures -- such as negotiating a CTBT, addressing the issue of fissile material production, strengthening the IAEA safeguards system, and reinforcing existing supplier arrangements -- are already underway. I note that many of these efforts will be dependent on a number of factors, not the least of which is the existence of a strong, durable, and dependable NPT. That is why the United States is committed to make every effort to secure the NPT's indefinite and unconditional 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, and that continued progress in pursuing measures parallel to the NPT to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime will remain possible.

In 1968, the world did not have any experience in operating a complex, global, nuclear nonproliferation regime. Over the life of the NPT, many nonproliferation and arms control initiatives have been pursued which, building on the foundation created by the NPT, allow us, today, to 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.

CONCLUSION

The NPT is the only instrument for supporting controls on the proliferation of nuclear weapons that we have. We must support it, enhance it, strengthen it, and protect it. A strong NPT is essential to regional and global security and to efforts to reduce the number of nuclear weapons in the world and thereby make it a safer place. 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, and would undermine countries' interests in seeing the nuclear nonproliferation regime further strengthened.

In 1995, we will have one and only one opportunity to ensure that the NPT, which is essential to dealing with the threat of proliferation, becomes a permanent part of the international security system. We must not let this opportunity pass unfulfilled.