May 20, 1996

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
REMARKS TO AN INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON
DISMANTLEMENT AND DESTRUCTION OF NUCLEAR AND
CHEMICAL WEAPONS, SPONSORED BY THE INTERNATIONAL
SECRETARIAT OF NATO, THE FEDERAL REPUBLIC OF
GERMANY, AND THE LAND NORDRHEIN-WESTFALEN

The great mission that calls us here is rooted in a great paradox.

The Cold War is past. Yet on both sides of the old divide, people still feel unsafe -- for that bygone conflict left behind a material legacy of immense potential destructiveness.

Why should NATO, in particular, address these topics? For these reasons:

First, interest: For Europe has been both the focal point of the rivalry that generated immense arsenals and the most likely site of their use. Second, qualification: Europe for more than twenty years has played a leading role in generating arms control solutions, including ways for former rivals to lay down their arms and build up both transparency and stability. And third, opportunity: The Cold War's end affords us all a priceless chance to cooperate in taking down its overarmaments, and thus build a more secure Europe and a safer world. And there is also opportunity in that fact that Russia is a new society, free to conclude that its security lies in reciprocal arms reductions, not arms buildups; free to reform, with no requirement to justify or rationalize the conduct of a different state.

Today's conference can help transform these new realities into operational facts.

Nuclear Weapons Dismantlement

I begin where we have a good bit of history and experience to guide us -- taking down the nuclear overarmament of the Cold War. In recent years, the United States and its partner states of the former Soviet Union have:

The United States is dismantling up to 2,000 nuclear weapons a year, the highest rate now physically possible. The Russian Federation is also dismantling weapons well ahead of the timetable called for in START I. Kazakstan, Belarus and Ukraine have turned over thousands of warheads to Russia for dismantling; by year's end, all three will be free of nuclear weapons.

Simply put, the nuclear arms race is over. Today the race is to bring down force levels -- as quickly, safely, and securely as possible. And as directed by our two Presidents, the world's two largest nuclear powers are beginning to move from limiting delivery vehicles and weapons systems toward openly eliminating nuclear warheads.

In fulfillment of the rule that no blessing can be absolute, however, disarmament also has its down-side. As we reduce some dangers by dismantling weapons, we add to others because the fissile materials we remove have to go somewhere -- and that destination may not be secure. I'd like to concentrate briefly on four essential elements in a global approach to reducing that aspect of the Cold War's legacy.

First, states must work cooperatively to stop nuclear smuggling in its tracks, and to ensure that all weapons-usable nuclear materials are secure and accounted for.

Last month, as you know, there was a nuclear summit in Moscow, following up on President Yeltsin's initiative. The participants agreed on a "Programme for Preventing and Combatting Illicit Trafficking in Nuclear Material," to ensure increased cooperation in all aspects of prevention, detection, exchange of information, investigation and prosecution. Other governments were encouraged to join in this program.

The summit also reaffirmed states' fundamental responsibility to ensure, at the national level, the security of all nuclear materials in their possession -- which includes effective systems of nuclear material accounting and control and physical protection. It is noteworthy in this respect that joint US-FSU efforts to modernize security and accounting systems are to be implemented at more than 70 percent of all the key facilities in the former Soviet Union that handle weapons-usable fissile materials.

Second, states must work together to build security through transparency. Such measures as data exchanges and mutual inspections will build confidence in the irreversibility of arms reductions and in the secure control of warheads and fissile materials. On this, we are collaborating on the fissile material storage facility at Mayak. We look for more progress in the Joint Senior Implementing Group meeting next month.

Technical progress aside, we have been hampered by our inability to come to closure with Russia on an Agreement for Cooperation in the exchange and protection of classified information -- which Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed more than a year ago should be concluded "in the shortest possible time."

Transparency is not an altruistic option, but a practical necessity -- building security by letting others know there are not unseen threats to be answered. Uncertainty about the ultimate disposition of fissile materials from dismantled weapons must never become an impediment to the prompt completion of nuclear reductions. And as a practical political matter, publics and legislatures have a need and right to know that the weapons dismantlements they are helping to support are actually occurring.

For its part, the United States has opened its own nuclear programs in unprecedented ways, with far-reaching declassifications and placements of excess fissile materials under international safeguards. President Clinton has taken more than 200 tons of material out of our weapons stockpile forever. A substantial amount of that material is now under the IAEA's watchful eye.

Third, we must do everything in our power to prevent excess stockpiling of fissile materials.

One obvious answer is the fissile material cutoff treaty, to cut off unsafeguarded production of highly enriched uranium or plutonium, and thus cap the amount available for weapons. As you know, the fissile cutoff is endangered in Geneva by linkage -- holding even the formal commencement of negotiations hostage to other agendas. But the United States will continue advancing this treaty on two tracks. First, we will keep pushing for the CD's 1995 negotiating mandate to be re-established. Second, beyond Geneva, we are working with other countries to build support for the cutoff generally and for certain key elements in particular. The fissile material cutoff is not going away.

The growing accumulation of separated civilian plutonium around the world poses proliferation risks of its own. The United States believes that each nation -- whatever its fuel cycle choices -- should stop accumulating excess stockpiles and begin reducing these stockpiles over time. So we are heartened by the Moscow nuclear summit agreement that, at least in the context of managing excess weapons material, the aim of the P-8 is to reduce all stocks of separated plutonium and HEU through peaceful non-explosive use or safe and final disposal as soon as practicable.

Fourth, we need to dispose of excess plutonium and HEU-- both to confirm that today's arms reductions will never be reversed, and to ensure that this material will never fall into the wrong hands.

As you know, HEU can be blended down to make low-enriched reactor fuel -- which cannot be used for nuclear weapons. That is precisely what we are doing with a substantial stockpile of our own material -- and what the United States and Russia have jointly agreed to do with 500 tons of Russian HEU the United States is purchasing, in an agreement that harnesses market forces to global nonproliferation objectives.

Working out the detailed arrangements -- for easing this material onto the market and for transparency measures to assure us we're buying what we think we are -- has proven complicated. But this transaction is moving forward. Tons of HEU are being blended down in Russia, LEU is being delivered to the United States, and cash is going back. And we're doubling the pace this year.

Plutonium poses a greater disposition challenge -- one not solved by blending down, since virtually any isotopic mix can be used for weapons. And as even some non-U.S. authorities have begun to acknowledge, the economic value of plutonium is dubious at best. We strongly support the Moscow summit decision to initiate broad multilateral cooperation to dispose of excess fissile materials, particularly plutonium. And we look forward to the experts meeting in Paris this October, where all long-term disposition options will be examined evenhandedly -- taking into account nonproliferation, safety, technical, environmental and economic factors.

This is an ambitious agenda: securing fissile material, building security through transparency, stopping further fissile material accumulation, and ultimately transforming stockpiles to reduce security risks. None of this will be easy. But given the challenges we face, an agenda any less ambitious would be less than responsible. We must do everything we can to ensure that what had been our weapons of last resort become the least accessible weapons in the world.

That is why the United States has invested so much in its Cooperative Threat Reduction program with Russia, Ukraine, Kazakstan, and Belarus -- with more than $1 billion already obligated for destruction and dismantlement, chain of custody, and demilitarization support activities. This program's equipment, technical expertise, training, logistical support and industrial partnerships have enhanced our security -- which is why we often call this program "defense by other means."

Chemical Weapons Destruction

The challenge posed by destruction of chemical weapons stockpiles is equally momentous. But here, a pathbreaking global norm will soon enter into force, outlawing chemical weapons entirely. The world's two largest possessors of chemical weapons, the United States and Russia, both led in bringing the Chemical Weapons Convention negotiations to fruition. And we both have an obligation and a clear self-interest in being among the original Parties to the Treaty.

Meanwhile, chemical weapons destruction is already underway. The U.S. method of choice to destroy our 30,000 ton stockpile -- as mandated by law in 1986 -- is direct incineration, which uses advanced robotics to drain the agent from munitions and other containers and then burns it thoroughly in a high-temperature furnace. One such facility is now operating at Johnston Atoll in the Pacific Ocean; another, in Tooele, Utah, will start up later this year.

Destroying the Russian Federation's 40,000-ton declared stockpile will also be a major task. But a series of steps demonstrate that the Russian Federation is grappling with and recognizes both the magnitude and complexity of the technical, logistical, environmental, fiscal and other challenges that lie before it.

Russia has begun to tackle many of the particulars that will be critical to the eventual success of their destruction effort. In March, edict No. 305 officially adopted the Federal Program, "Destruction of Chemical Weapons in the Russian Federation." The plan sets forth a complete program for the destruction of Russian stockpiles within the 10-year deadline mandated by the Chemical Weapons Convention. The law to implement the plan has been approved in its first reading by the Duma, opening the way for decisions on funding.

Since 1992, the United States and Russia have worked together, as partners to build on the experience of the United States destruction program, to explore a new neutralization technology that represents a Russian solution to a Russian problem, and to exploit possible economies of scale. To date, some $68 million has been appropriated under our Cooperative Threat Reduction program for CW destruction planning, a Central Analytical Laboratory, and joint experiments in technology for neutralizing chemical weapons.

We hope to focus future CTR efforts on helping Russia destroy its nerve agents, which are weaponized and comprise over 80 percent of the Russian stockpile. Subject to congressional approval and funding, we intend to help Russia design, construct and equip a pilot-scale CW destruction facility. Lessons learned as this facility moves forward should position Russia well for destruction operations at its other six storage facilities -- and thus for meeting its goals under the CWC.

We are not alone in this effort. By the end of this year Germany will have contributed 25 million DM for such uses as mobile labs and other analytical equipment aimed at destroying Russian stocks of the blister agent lewisite. Swedish assistance has been directed at risk assessment and emergency response, and also helped explore ways to "bituminize" the material resulting from neutralized mustard agent. I know other countries are considering the forms and magnitudes their involvement may take.

We are heartened that nations around the world, and throughout NATO, have recognized their stake in the success of Russia's chemical weapons destruction efforts. This is becoming an effort that is not only worthy of, but also ripe for, the vigorous support of our governments, including a tangible show of faith on the part of the West. So we must now consider seriously and concretely the ways in which we can work with Russia to expedite this great task.

Ultimately, of course, the responsibility for destroying chemical weapons in Russia must rest with Russia. But Russia's ability to follow through on its destruction program will be reinforced and multiplied by the assurance of additional support from both sides of the Atlantic.

Defense Conversion

With the Cold War's passing, each of our nations faces the same conundrum: how best to transform the people, technologies, enterprises, facilities, and entire communities that had been great assets to our defense complexes into assets highly valued once more -- only now, in the civilian sector, in a competitive world economy.

Such transformations can be painful -- affecting lives and livelihoods, neighbors and neighborhoods like. But they are necessary steps on the path to greater prosperity. So defense conversion also deserves its due in this conference. For it helps make arms control possible -- and enables the weapons dismantlement and destruction we are here to discuss.

Tomorrow in Yekaterinburg, the United States and Russia will jointly convene a major conference on defense conversion that will bring together some 20 leading American companies and more than 50 Russian defense enterprises seeking to enter the civilian sector. And we are looking forward to the major international conference in Kaiserslautern, at the end of October.

Conclusion

It is important to observe, in conclusion, the role of formal arms control in these endeavors. For they will be directly affected by some arms control business that remains unfinished in Russia and the United States.

Along with the transparency and irreversibility steps I have mentioned, entry into force of the START II Treaty will confirm that nuclear reductions will not be reversed, because rebuilding the same arsenals would be not only wasteful but illegal. And, of course, entry into force will open the door to further steps, as President Yeltsin and President Clinton have agreed. Negotiated nuclear threat reduction has not nearly exhausted all it can do for our security, our prosperity, our civilization.

The Chemical Weapons Convention must also be ratified. Our colleagues from the United Kingdom have bragging rights here today, as the most recent to deposit their ratification instruments. Both Washington and Moscow must take the same historic step. And one effect can be to accelerate the support for CW destruction I mentioned earlier -- because entry into force of the CWC will cement our commitments to take those arsenals down.

The British poet John Milton wrote: "Peace hath her victories, no less renowned than war." This is not merely a pleasing sentiment, but a profound insight -- expressing the truth that while war has losers, peace is a venture in which all parties can win.

NATO has taken historic strides. Together with our Russian partners, we are now working shoulder-to-shoulder, on the ground, to implement what would be a shining new kind of triumph: a just and durable peace in the former Yugoslavia.

But today and tomorrow, on these placid grounds, where the only landmines that threaten us are verbal, we in this room have the chance -- indeed, the obligation -- to begin etching an even broader victory for Russia, for Europe, for America and all humanity.

The Berlin Wall is long since down. Our people, our governments, and our consciences call us now to take down as well the weapons of mass destruction that are just as much artifacts of an era that has passed into history -- to render these artifacts equally unusable, once and for all.

With your hard work and good faith, this week and in the months and years to come, I know we will succeed.

With our posterity as our judge, we have no other choice.