"The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT):
A Twenty-Five Year Success Story"
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 less than one year from today, 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 nonproliferation and arms control regime. This is the one opportunity the parties will have to extend the NPT indefinitely and make it 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 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 further spread of nuclear weapons. Following the achievement at Tlatelolco in 1967, where Latin American and Caribbean countries negotiated an agreement to free their region from the threat of nuclear proliferation, the broader international community undertook to negotiate a nuclear nonproliferation treaty with global reach, the NPT.
THE NPT: A NONPROLIFERATION SUCCESS STORY
The NPT has served for nearly twenty-five years 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.
There are now 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, a decision that will leave only a handful of states in Latin America that have not yet joined the Treaty. Argentina's action will bring to 28 the number of states that have joined the Treaty since 1990 alone. The growing number of NPT parties reflects countries' confidence in the Treaty and a recognition that the NPT benefits regional and international security. 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.
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.
Arms Control Benefits:
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 toward 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 nuclear 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 in May 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 multilateral, non-discriminatory, 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 highly-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.
Regional Security Benefits:
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 not been willing 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 Weapon 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 safeguards system required by the Treaty has also bolstered regional security and stability by promoting confidence among Treaty parties about one another's peaceful nuclear intentions. Were the NPT to end, the important contributions the Treaty has made to enhancing confidence among Treaty parties and regional stability would be severely undermined, perhaps leading to the kind of regional nuclear arms races that the Treaty to date has worked so successfully to prevent.
Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Benefits:
The NPT is essential to support the worldwide regime for the development of peaceful uses of nuclear energy under effective international safeguards. Article III of the Treaty obligates all non-nuclear-weapon states parties to conclude full-scope safeguards agreements with the IAEA, whose duration is tied to the duration of the NPT. Moreover, 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 has been adopted by nearly 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.
The United States has long recognized that adherence to the NPT should facilitate international cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. As a result, we have consistently accorded NPT 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 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 various regional programs. 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.
Continued progress in these important areas -- nonproliferation, arms control, regional security, and cooperation in peaceful uses of nuclear energy -- 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 NATURE OF THE EXTENSION DECISION
Let me turn now to a brief discussion of the nature of the extension decision. This aspect of the 1995 NPT Conference has been the subject of much debate within the NPT community, and is likely to be subject of even more intense discussion over the coming months.
It is important that the NPT parties understand the constraints built into the Treaty and the parameters within which the extension decision in 1995 must be taken. 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." The decision taken by a majority of the parties in 1995 is immediately legally binding on all parties no matter how they voted and without reference to national parliaments. This is possible because the decision mechanism is built into the Treaty. When states joined the NPT, they accepted the 1995 provision and are bound by it, but are bound by nothing more. A review of the Treaty's negotiating history suggests that the treaty negotiators deliberately formulated the language of Article X.2 to restrict the extension to three options. As Ambassador Mohamed Shaker, an Egyptian diplomat, well known expert on the NPT, and author of a three volume treatise on the NPT's negotiation, states:
Despite the Treaty's precise language, some have suggested that the decision in 1995 is a political one and that the parties should thus be allowed to take whatever decision they like in 1995, regardless of whether it conforms to the options set forth in the NPT. While political views will certainly play a role in 1995, it is irresponsible -- even dangerous -- to suggest that treaty parties could ignore the very real legal aspects of the NPT. When an important new legal obligation is imposed on the parties pursuant to a Treaty provision, but without further ratification by national parliaments, that provision must be narrowly construed. This is a fundamental rule of legal construction. In 1995, NPT parties must choose one of the three options pursuant to Article X.2 in order to extend the Treaty. The conference is not authorized to take some other extension option.
The singular nature of the extension decision must also be given due consideration. What Article X.2 does not explicitly state, but what is so critical to the decision in 1995, is that 1995 offers, as a practical matter, the one and only chance for NPT parties to take a decision on extension which will be legally binding on all NPT parties, whether or not they support the decision, and that will not require ratification by national parliaments. A new extension decision taken sometime after the 1995 Conference could only be accomplished through treaty amendment, which in turn would require approval of a majority of all states to the Treaty (that is, by their national parliaments), including by all five nuclear-weapon states and all other parties which are then-members of the IAEA Board of Governors. Eventually, all states parties would have to submit the amendment to ratification procedures for it to take effect for them. It is worth noting that 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, 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 by national parliaments. 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.
A final aspect of the extension decision that should be given due consideration is that Article X of the Treaty expressly permits the decision in 1995 to be taken by a majority vote. This marks a significant departure from the past NPT Review Conference practice, where consensus decision-making has been the norm.
The fact that Article X permits the taking of the extension decision by a majority vote, however, is no accident. This aspect of Article X was crafted in recognition that the extension decision in 1995 fundamentally is too important to risk it being held hostage to a consensus decision requirement. If consensus was the rule in 1995, this would mean that one state could block a successful extension outcome; that the wishes of the vast majority of states would go unrealized because one state -- or an handful of states -- was unwilling to accept a particular extension decision. This clearly would be unacceptable.
I am personally skeptical that consensus on any extension decision will be possible in 1995. More important, however, is the fact that the provisions of the Treaty anticipate that a vote on the extension may be necessary and explicitly provide for such an outcome. This important aspect of Article X must not be ignored. The U.S. shares the view that an extension outcome in 1995 reflecting consensus support would be the ideal, but it is clear that such an outcome will not be needed to meet the requirements of Article X and to achieve success in 1995. The U.S. will work with all NPT parties to achieve a successful outcome at the 1995 NPT Conference; but in doing so we intend to make full use of the flexibility built into Article X, including the taking of the extension decision by majority vote if necessary. The consequences in 1995 for the future of the entire international nonproliferation regime are too important to do otherwise.
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 a small handful of 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 continue to serve as a stable foundation upon which other vitally needed measures of nuclear disarmament can be built.
One thing is certain -- the threat of nuclear proliferation is real today, and will remain so for the foreseeable future. The NPT is the best instrument for combatting the threat of nuclear proliferation 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. We must not let this opportunity pass unfulfilled. It is our strong hope that the parties to the NPT will decide to make this Treaty, which has played an integral role in forging international and regional peace and stability, a permanent part of the global security system.