The Trinity test, almost fifty years ago, changed the world forever, affirming for the first time our potential capacity to extinguish life on Earth. The most important -- and in many respects the most difficult -- challenge that emerged was not how to design and build more and better nuclear weapons, but how to control them. Most importantly, how to stop them from spreading. It became clear that this could be achieved only through an effective common, that is multilateral, effort.
I am pleased to report that multilateral arms control works, and while we still have a long way to go, we have reason to hope for a world free of nuclear weapons.
The consensus decision to extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) indefinitely and without conditions demonstrates that the international community's skepticism that gave the NPT an initially limited duration has given way to confidence that nuclear nonproliferation should be an enduring norm and that the ultimate goal of a world without nuclear weapons as contemplated by the NPT is what all nations support.
The consensus decision to extend the NPT indefinitely and without conditions was a collaborative victory, not a competitive one. The NPT Review and Extension Conference was not similar to a football game with winners and losers. Rather it was a debate over how best to make this Treaty, the centerpiece of international peace and security, strong and durable. All the nations and peoples of the world are winners as a result of the decision in New York.
The 1995 Review and Extension Conference did more than extend the NPT indefinitely. It adopted a set of principles and objectives on nonproliferation and a framework for a strengthened review process. These decisions give us the framework for our future efforts and guiding principles by which we can judge our success. The United States is fully committed to the effective implementation of these documents. It is particularly satisfying that the impetus for two of these decisions -- the principles and the strengthened review -- came from a recent adherent to the NPT, South Africa.
The United States Government is resolutely committed to do its part to support the decisions taken in New York and the terms and obligations of all the articles of the NPT. In the short run, this will mean redoubling our efforts to achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a fissile material cutoff agreement, but at the same time we will be exploring ways to move beyond the significant reductions to which we have committed ourselves in the START I and START II Treaties. We will not -- we cannot -- walk away from this process.
While the review of the Treaty did not produce a final review document, it did reveal large areas of agreement. NPT parties agreed to give Conference endorsement to the "93+2" plan for strengthened and cost effective safeguards. They also endorsed the value of increased cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, including particularly the safe and efficient utilization of nuclear energy. NPT Parties agreed to pursue the creation of more nuclear weapon free zones (such as the emerging African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty) and have agreed on the importance of nuclear weapon state support for such zones through their implementing protocols, the universal adherence to the NPT, and the early attainment of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Let me again stress that the outcome of the Review and Extension Conference was not a victory for any country or region but rather was a significant achievement for all the parties to the NPT, indeed for the whole world. On March 1, 1995, President Clinton noted that the United States believes that nothing is more important to international security than the achievement of the indefinite extension, without conditions, of this Treaty. In that view, the United States associated itself with an overwhelming majority of the states parties to the Treaty. Every sovereign nation at the 1995 NPT Conference rendered an historic judgement; the United States is hopeful that all states parties will now work together toward the Treaty's ultimate goal: a world without nuclear weapons.
Let me turn to some specific disarmament issues. Through the agreed enhanced review process, the nuclear weapon states have given their commitment for nuclear arms control and disarmament progress in the future. The United States intends to keep its pledge.
A Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has been the central objective of nuclear arms control since the late 1950s. All five of the declared nuclear weapon states are committed to achieving a CTBT by 1996. The United States is prepared to conclude that we have already conducted our last nuclear test. President Clinton is committed to delivering this Treaty, which has been the elusive principal object of the arms control quest for over forty years. Achievement of this all-important goal will close and double lock the tomb of the Cold War forever.
The United States will continue exercising global leadership toward the conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapon purposes. The United States no longer produces fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes and is working to help Russia obtain alternative power sources for its three remaining military production reactors. Last year, the United States placed a substantial quantity of nuclear material under IAEA safeguards, including 10 tons of highly enriched uranium from the Department of Energy's Y-12 facility, and this effort is expanding. A fissile material cutoff treaty would cap the amount of material available for nuclear explosives and it would bring the unsafeguarded nuclear programs of certain non-NPT states under some measure of international restraint for the first time. Perhaps most importantly, it would prevent any further production of separated plutonium and highly-enriched uranium for weapons or other explosive purposes.
The United States is committed to the establishment and strengthening of nuclear weapon free zones. South Africa's unprecedented dismantlement of its nuclear weapon program, as I indicated earlier, has cleared the way for an African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. The United States Government has been on record since 1964 in support of the denuclearization of Africa and supports the concept of this being achieved through a nuclear weapon free zone treaty. The text of this treaty is not yet final, but we hope to be in a position to become a protocol party to the final treaty soon, assuming it meets longstanding U.S. criteria for such zones, as we are with the Latin American Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty, the Treaty of Tlatelolco. We recognize the great importance attached to U.S. adherence as a protocol party to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone by our negotiating partners from that region and we are actively studying that course of action.
The United States supports the establishment of regional nuclear weapon free zones that meet our longstanding criteria for such zones, and encourages progress toward this goal in the different regions of the world. President Clinton has informed President Soeharto of Indonesia that, in principle, the United States would support the creation of a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, assuming it meets longstanding U.S. criteria for such zones. We understand that global solutions can start with regional approaches.
If there is one lesson of the NPT Review and Extension Conference, it is that the Treaty and the nonproliferation regime it supports become stronger and better with each new adherence. Each new member brings the Treaty one step closer to universality and makes the danger of nuclear proliferation more improbable. The United States supports universality for the NPT and looks forward to the day when this goal is achieved.
The consensus decision to extend the NPT indefinitely and without conditions was a team effort that required numerous contributions that could only be made by partners from diverse perspectives. Vice President Gore demonstrated United States leadership by reaffirming that complete nuclear disarmament remains the ultimate goal of the United States. South African Foreign Minister Nzo played an indispensable role in bridging the gap between the developed and the developing world and providing the basis for the discussion of principles and objectives on nonproliferation and of beneficial enhancements to the NPT Review Process. Indonesian Foreign Minister Alatas demonstrated great diplomatic leadership through his proposal to establish a direct relationship between the arms control and nonproliferation principles and objectives and strengthened review process which empowered the conference to reach the consensus which will be beneficial to all. Above all, the farsighted leadership and steady hand of Conference President Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala guided the Review and Extension Conference to the best
outcome, locking in a larger area of general agreement among the states parties than almost anyone thought possible on the eve of the Conference. As I said, the United States is committed to all three documents of the Conference, the Extension Decision, the Principles and Objectives for Non-Proliferation, and the Strengthened Review Process, and to seeing that they are carried out. We are very grateful to all of our partners around the world who helped us arrive at these historic decisions and look forward to continuing to work with these partners, and all NPT parties, to ensure that their concerns are addressed.
The victory on May 11 was a common victory. It established a permanent landmark on the arms control horizon that we will be blessed to have in years to come. In the last twelve months alone, the headlines and attention of the world have been drawn repeatedly to the grim specter of nuclear proliferation. North Korea's nuclear program, the smuggling of fissile materials out of the former Soviet Union, and the apparent Iranian decision to seek nuclear weapons capability have each reinforced the gravity of the problem. The international community will have to continue to work together to keep nuclear proliferation in check and, to this end, it is important to the United States that all states parties to the NPT feel a part of our common victory.
Reflecting on this month's historic decision to make the NPT permanent, it is important for us to ask ourselves what the essential elements of this decision are, what made it possible and what will make it work? The answers include peace, cooperation, and the conscious decision to establish the permanent basis for efforts to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons.