March 21, 1995

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
REMARKS TO THE CENTER FOR STRATEGIC AFFAIRS
BRASILIA, BRAZIL

"Some Arms Control Principles for
the Post-Cold War Era"

I am especially pleased to address this influential audience in the capital of the world's largest Portuguese-speaking democracy -- and the 1994 World Cup Champion. And I look forward to the United States' next soccer encounter with Brazil .only not too soon: We need time to improve. But nothing would please me more than to see the "superpower rivalry" of the next century defined by midfielders rather than megatons, strikers instead of first-strike capabilities.

Of course, we have much to do before then. But with the Cold War over, we are working in a far different realm.

A world transformed demands transformed thinking. And President Clinton has responded by giving arms control a greater role. Indeed, as the President said this month in a major foreign policy address, "in 1995, we face a year of decision --a year in which the United States will pursue the most ambitious agenda to dismantle and fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction since the atom was split."

Similar energy is evident throughout this hemisphere, as more states pursue measures to build confidence and transparency, halt the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and contain expensive and destabilizing arms races. This heartening momentum is reflected in your taking the final steps needed to have the Treaty of Tlatelolco in force for the entire region.

It is reflected as well in the excellent arms control and nonproliferation discussions I have held here with Foreign Minister Luiz Felipe Lampreia, Secretary General Sebastiao do Rego Barros, Minister Jose Bustani and other senior officials. We have discussed these issues in a spirit of true partnership, mutual respect and shared purpose. These have been the first of what I hope and expect will be a series of consultations in which we will confirm progress thus far, stimulate each others' greater efforts, and blend our creative energies to build a safer region and world.

But the uninitiated might ask broadly, of both our efforts and yours: What is their ultimate purpose? My aim today is to further a dialogue about the role of arms control in the new international security environment -- raising such issues as how much we should rely on it, and its proper priority in time, resources and emphasis.

I don't pretend to have resolved all these issues definitively. But I will set forth tentatively a number of guiding principles, as a spur to further thinking and discussion.

Prologue: What Is Arms Control?

First, a definitional note. After all, the term "arms control" itself seems perilously close to an internal contradiction. It combines the idea of "control" or restraint with "arms" -- perhaps the ultimate signs that we have lost control, by losing the ability to settle differences peacefully.

The phrase, "agree to disagree," is useful here. Arms control comprises all international efforts to reach agreement about how nations will permit themselves to express their most bitter and intractable disagreements. It says, we will fight if we must, but not in certain ways. It limits the number, nature and disposition of weapons to reduce the likelihood of war, and to make war less deadly and indiscriminate if it does come.

Now to some proposed guiding principles. The first is that arms control is a pillar of national security complementary to and no less vital than defense.

Accidents of history and politics have led some to the mistaken conclusion that arms control and defense are somehow opposites. But they may be confusing a difference in means -- the diplomatic versus the military -- with a difference in ends.

The fundamental purposes of arms control and defense are exactly the same: to make us safer. Defense deters or defeats threats; arms control takes them away more quietly.

The Mendoza Declaration is a good example. By having the wisdom to foreswear chemical and biological weapons, you and your neighbors have avoided the costs and dangers of competition in these ghastly and indiscriminate forms of warfare. There is no need to build defenses against nonexistent threats.

In our case, thanks to the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties, the most dangerous missiles of the former Soviet Union -- the SS-18s, which carry up to 10 independently-targetable warheads -- will be removed. A weapon system designed to do that would, optimistically, cost many billions of dollars, and could do the job only with considerably less confidence, and only in the midst of a nuclear war -- which would signal failure of the prime, deterrent purpose for having nuclear weapons at all.

Arms control is threat control -- in the apt words of Secretary of Defense William Perry, it is "defense by other means." As President Clinton said in his recent speech, "By spending millions to keep or take weapons out of the hands of our potential adversaries, we are saving billions in arms costs and putting it to better use."

So arms control buttresses both national security and economic security. As President Clinton has emphasized, arms control is a source of national strength.

My second principle is that, contrary to expectations, the global arms control challenge is bigger and more complex after the downfall of the Soviet Union.

The bipolar nuclear standoff is largely over. But many of its sharpest teeth still have to be extracted. Only the first START Treaty has entered into force. Despite voluntary reductions, many thousands of strategic nuclear arms remain.

Moreover, the Soviet-American arms competition has been replaced, as the President has noted, by a world of "rampant arms proliferation, bitter regional conflicts, ethnic and nationalist tensions. . . and fanatics who seek to cripple the world's cities with terror." These changes affect each of us in this room. Consider:

Technological and Cold War constraints once served as steady, almost gravitational forces against the proliferation of the most destructive arms and means of delivery. But in the years to come, we will have to rely more and more on the barriers to proliferation that we build ourselves -- on arms control.

My third principle is that, with the strategic arms race over, arms control considerations can and should have greater weight in national security decisions. They should for the reasons I've just stated. And they can mainly because the United States no longer faces a superpower rival that is refining a capacity to destroy us. Simply put, as the Cold War-based threat subsides, we can elevate the arms control solutions that keep that and other perils in check.

The Comprehensive Test Ban is a prime example. In the midst of an arms race, the long quest for a comprehensive test ban always fell short. Now it is in sight. I am confident it will be achieved.

It will help considerably that President Clinton has: revised the U.S. negotiating position to speed conclusion of the comprehensive test ban treaty, while reaffirming our determination to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile; withdrawn 200 metric tons of fissile material permanently from our nuclear stockpile; and extended the United States moratorium on nuclear tests to overlap with the expected completion of the test ban negotiations.

I hope the international community can take "yes" for an answer. If the Conference on Disarmament does its job, we are prepared for the conclusion that the United States has already conducted its last nuclear test.

In turn, that reality should help considerably in the effort to make the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty permanent at the extension conference that will begin in New York less than one month from now.

President Clinton has left no doubt that "nothing is more important to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons than extending the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty indefinitely and unconditionally." It is the bedrock of all our arms control and nonproliferation efforts.

We do not believe the test ban and the NPT should be linked; the NPT should not be held hostage to other issues. Both the NPT and the test ban have their own profound value, and can stand on their own feet. But we nonetheless recognize that the test ban is of importance to many countries in the NPT context. So our irreversible progress on the test ban -- and our unshakeable commitment to its completion -- should advance the Nonproliferation Treaty as well.

Because the Soviet Union is gone, nuclear weapons now play a smaller role in U.S. security strategy than at any time since their inception. As we further deemphasize their role, we make ourselves safer, by enhancing the likelihood that the NPT can be counted on forever.

And with the same goals in mind -- and the same sense of post-Cold War possibility -- we are looking forward to further reductions in nuclear forces. In President Clinton's words, "We have a chance to further lift the nuclear cloud and we dare not miss it."

We are meeting our disarmament obligations. And all nations, the non-nuclear states included, can help propel us toward our ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear weapons by working --indeed, exerting leadership -- to safeguard the NPT for all nations, all people, all time.

A fourth principle, which needs stating only because it might be unexpected from someone in my position, is that while arms control can lessen the need for defenses, it does not take their place.

I will summarize this simply by noting that while nations should view arms control as a preventive medicine of first resort, this of course does not mean that they sacrifice the ability to defend themselves in those situations where arms control has not yet succeeded or is not enough.

But the caveat does not swallow the rule. For any nation to amass arms or develop additional military capabilities without considering all the consequences -- including the likelihood that such build-ups will serve to ensure their own necessity -- is short-sighted militarily as well as fiscally. The world remains a dangerous place. But it rewards prudence, not profligacy.

A fifth principle is that we must all pay more attention to arms control implementation.

The world is working to sustain the benefits of older agreements like the Treaty of Tlatelolco, NPT, INF, CFE and ABM treaties, and your quadripartite nuclear safeguards agreements with the IAEA and Argentina, while bringing on line new ones like START, START II, the CWC and Open Skies, and planning for future agreements now in process, such as the Comprehensive Test Ban and fissile material cutoff.

Given my Midwest farm roots, I have been calling this the arms control "harvest" -- where we finally reap the benefits of our agreements, by taking down weapons that were or could be aimed at us, or at our allies and friends.

Signing ceremonies and presidential visits are nice. But implementation is where arms control does much of its heavy lifting -- where arms control parties exercise their treaty rights to take or keep weapons out of the hands of potential adversaries. The promise of arms control isn't fulfilled until agreed reductions are verifiably made.

A sixth guiding principle is that the international community should welcome and prepare for the trend toward almost exclusively multilateral arms control.

The main nonproliferation regimes -- the NPT, Treaty of Tlatelolco, Chemical Weapons Convention, Biological Weapons Convention, and all the suppliers groups with common export controls -- all involve many parties and multilateral negotiations. And the agenda for coming arms control agreements -- the nuclear test ban and cutoff in fissile material for weapons -- is almost entirely multilateral.

I want to say two things about this. First, that multilateral arms control is worth it: its benefits far exceed its added challenges and costs. This is because multilateral controls have a multiplier effect. Each of the more than 170 members of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, for example, applies its own pressure for compliance. And that global legal regime forms the basis for global sanctions, which rarely work if one country applies them, but can be suffocatingly effective when applied in concert by a united world -- as Iran knows, as Iraq learned, as North Korea has had to consider.

Thus, the second point: we should all prepare ourselves to work effectively in multilateral settings, which place a premium on distinct skills. My Agency is helping develop and present a new training course for this purpose. The growth of arms control professionals worldwide is one of the few forms of proliferation I encourage.

The seventh principle is that transparency and confidence building measures are a particularly value-added form and foundation of arms control, even for states and regions relatively new to it.

One of the best ways to understand transparency's value is to ponder what happens without it. Many historians have argued that in 1914, it was the fog of misunderstanding that created automatic escalation on both sides once German forces began mobilizing after the assassination of Archduke Ferdinand. Greater transparency might have prevented the First World War.

Today the stakes are still higher, and the problem harder. Even in relatively stable regions, enhanced weapons and compressed time frames demand that we use every means at our disposal to prevent reflexive ratcheting up toward conflict.

Because they began twenty years ago, the most comprehensive transparency measures yet have grown up in the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, or OSCE. Under OSCE rules, potential adversaries are behaving increasingly strangely toward each other. They now notify each other 42 days in advance for military activities involving 250 tanks or as few as 3,000 amphibious or airborne troops. Observers are required for many military activities. Some military exercises are limited in number and are forecast annually to member states. On-site inspections are routine.

Such measures help build trust through openness. They enhance stability by allowing states to observe that their neighbors are not taking threatening military postures. What had potentially looked like a threatening reach into the pocket for a gun is instead revealed as a benign retrieval of the car keys. As one philosopher put it, "A matter that becomes clear ceases to concern us."

Our Presidents took a positive step when they agreed in Miami at the Summit of the Americas to encourage steps that prepare the way for a regional conference on confidence and security building measures in 1995, which will be hosted by Chile in November. All of us look forward to this OAS Vice Ministers' meeting. I hope we succeed there, working together, in laying the groundwork for an even more open, transparent, and stable hemisphere -- drawing on experience elsewhere, but also fashioning methods suited to the unique conditions of our own region.

My eighth and final principle is that the world should begin to focus more intently on the control of conventional arms, and on regional arms control regimes.

Nuclear weapons, for all their deserved notoriety, have not been used in war since Hiroshima and Nagasaki. By contrast, chances are that in the time we spend together today at least one innocent noncombatant -- probably a farmer at work or a child at play -- will be killed or maimed by a land mine. So if arms control priorities were set according to actual versus potential harm, conventional arms control would quickly rise to the top of the list.

We should intensify our efforts to apply the proven principles and techniques of arms control -- formal and informal, dealing with both conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction -- on a regional basis. We need to work harder to constrain exports of arms and related technology, and especially to have all supplier countries follow the same rules. But the more promising element (even if more elusive, especially in conventional arms), is to deal with demand, as well as supply.

Ultimately that requires decisions by the customer countries that they don't want or need everything that some supplier is willing to sell.

Our hemisphere has begun a valuable dialogue at the OAS Special Committee on Hemispheric Security, which serves as a useful engine for discussion of arms control and nonproliferation issues. Likewise, OAS General Assembly Resolution 1179 -- jointly drafted by Brazil and the United States and co-sponsored by 31 countries -- remains the cornerstone of the arms control agenda for this hemisphere.

Throughout the world, regional arms control is a painstaking process. But the stakes are high enough to warrant the pain. I genuinely believe, and experience shows, that arms control can be contagious. We must do our best to make it so.

Conclusion

This hemisphere has a rich history of arms control: the pathbreaking 1967 Treaty of Tlatelolco; the Foz de Iguazu bilateral nuclear safeguards agreement; the quadripartite nuclear safeguards agreement among Argentina, Brazil, the Argentine-Brazilian nuclear accounting agency (ABACC), and the IAEA; the 1991 Declaration of Cartagena of the Presidents of the Andean Group; the Declaration of Guadalajara; the ongoing Central American efforts to negotiate an arms control arrangement; the Mendoza Declaration; and widespread adherence to the BWC, CWC, and NPT -- all of these reflect regional initiatives and national wisdom that other regions and states would do well to study and emulate.

By any measure, this is a remarkable set of nonproliferation achievements -- putting to rest the canard that arms control was destined to be the exclusive preserve of the United States, Russia, or Europe.

For every nation that has pursued it, arms control has proved itself no less sensible than statesmanlike. Brazil and the United States alike have demonstrated that when we control arms, we control our fate -- while buttressing both their national security and their economic security.

And as we do, we help build the kind of world that is in our deepest mutual interests: a world where the worth of nations is measured not by the arms they keep, but by the commitments they keep -- to other nations and their own people.

Working together, let us do everything in our power to advance this noble and necessary enterprise.