February 17, 1995


"Arms Control's Year of Decision:
No Time for U.S. Retreat"

In September, I spoke to the Cleveland Chapter of the Council on Foreign Relations on the principles of arms control. This afternoon, I'm pleased to address the City Club of Cleveland on whether we will effectively practice arms control in this, its year of decision.

For that has been called into question.

Just last year, the Congress joined President Clinton in concluding that U.S. security in a post-Cold War world demanded not the disappearance of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, but its revitalization. Strong new legislation confirms ACDA's lead role in arms control negotiations, policy and implementation, and adds several new missions. And just a few weeks ago, Vice President Gore's National Performance Review scrutinized ACDA, as it is doing with all parts of the government, and recognized it as a vital agency -- well along in its own streamlining -- whose independence is essential to effective arms control.

Yet the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's new Chairman, Jesse Helms, has begun arguing anew that ACDA should be done away with.

Let me say up front that his proposal should be recognized for what it is -- a surreptitious assault on arms control itself, only masquerading as government reform.

That's shown by Senator Helms' votes against every arms control agreement he's had a chance to vote on -- customarily among tiny minorities of less than 10 votes. He's well outside the bipartisan consensus for arms control -- and outside the recognition by every administration, Republican and Democratic, since ACDA was created in 1961, that if you want to pursue arms control effectively, an independent, expert, unconflicted agency is the way to do it.

And this year arms control is more prominent on our national agenda than ever before.

The Increased Need for Arms Control

With the downfall of the Soviet Union, many expected the need for arms control to disappear too. But in fact, the opposite has taken place.

The bipolar nuclear standoff is largely over. But even there we still have to extract many of its sharp teeth. Despite voluntary reductions, many thousands of weapons remain.

Furthermore, the Soviet-American arms competition has been replaced, as President Clinton has noted, by a world of "rampant arms proliferation" and rogue regimes no longer constrained by Cold War disciplines. Consider the following:

During the Cold War -- when arms control dominated U.S.-Soviet relations -- there was little chance it would be overlooked. But that risk is far greater now, when arms control most often means pressing our nonproliferation goals with more than 150 nations -- with most of whom we have many diplomatic, trade and other priorities besides arms control.

So we live in a time when the arms control perspective urgently needs to be heard -- and not muffled in a large institution like the State Department whose primary, legitimate country relations mission often conflicts with arms control.

That is the central reason for an independent agency. When it is argued that pushing compliance with arms control or nonproliferation rules may upset bilateral relations with the affected country, ACDA is at the interagency table to make the competing case for arms control. Today we are there, with the Departments of State, Defense, and often Energy, the military, and others. The ACDA Director is at the table when issues reach the top -- at the level of members of the cabinet and the Joint Chiefs of Staff. And the ACDA Director has the right, as the President's principal advisor on arms control and nonproliferation, to go directly to the President to make his case.

We don't always win the argument, nor should we. But our voice is heard. And if ACDA disappears, and its mission subordinated to the broader and often competing agenda of a bigger agency, I guarantee you that arms control will suffer.

And arms control now is increasingly central to our security. The emerging threats cannot be answered by military build-ups alone. If the Cold War taught us anything, it is the necessity of both military might and arms control. Arms control is defense by other, cheaper means. Every weapon we can keep or take out of the hands of our potential adversaries is a weapon we do not have to spend much more, with less certain effect, to defend against.

So whatever one's ideology, abandoning arms control would be mistaken -- and particularly senseless in 1995, as the United States addresses arms control missions that will fundamentally shape the nation's security for years to come.

1995: Year of Decision

Here are some key aspects of the broadest and most fateful arms control agenda in history:

This Spring, the fate of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty will be determined in the 25th-year review and extension conference. The NPT has never been more important than it is now, with access to technology waxing, Cold War disciplines waning, and rogue regimes hungering for nuclear arms. It is the biggest single reason why there are not scores of nations armed with nuclear weapons -- as many in the past projected there would be by now.

The NPT works. It should be made permanent. Any other outcome would leave doubts about its dependability over the long term, and thus make it less effective even in the short term.

But we are engaged in a real struggle. A number of countries are attracted to the self-defeating idea that the NPT should be held hostage, to be ransomed by a comprehensive nuclear test ban, further strategic disarmament, or something else. Others, like Iran, think it should be amended to make access to nuclear technology an automatic right of every party -- as if we had no memory of what happened in Iraq . . . and, indeed, no clue about Iran itself.

Let me put this as straightforwardly as I can: ACDA is spearheading the U.S. effort on NPT extension. The Congress should not send our Ambassador for this cause, the President's Special Representative for NPT extension, out into the world carrying spears in his back.

One thing is certain: 1995 is our one chance to safeguard the NPT for all time -- the only time, by the NPT's terms, when a simple majority will be able to bind all members to its indefinite extension, with no need for parliamentary ratifications. Congress should do nothing to undercut this singular opportunity.

1995 is also a decisive year for strategic arms control -- particularly with implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or START, and our effort for early ratification of START II.

These Treaties underscore ACDA's role as the United States implementation and verification agent for arms control -- its tender and watchdog. It is also our job to assess and report to Congress on compliance, a role which demands an independent policy agency whose judgment won't be clouded by broader aspects of U.S.-Russia relations.

This is work both sides of the aisle should care about. Rose Garden ceremonies are nice, but the promise of arms control isn't fulfilled until agreed reductions are verifiably made. And when these particular strategic arms obligations are fulfilled, we will slam shut the "window of vulnerability" many saw as the consequence of the heavy Soviet multiple warhead land-based missiles that are on their way to total extinction -- along with two thirds of all deliverable strategic warheads -- when both START Treaties are implemented.

Also in 1995, the United States has the opportunity to lead in bringing the Chemical Weapons Convention into force.

The United States is pushing resolutely for full Russian compliance with our bilateral agreements on chemical weapons, including the 1989 Wyoming Memorandum of Understanding, designed to build confidence through chemical weapons declarations and trial on-site inspections. Since December, I have led two delegations to Moscow for high-level discussions of those matters.

Coupled with such efforts, the best way to resolve our concerns is to bring the CWC into force promptly. Then Russia will have the choice of either complying with a legally binding, global regime -- with sanctions -- or else isolating itself from a worldwide consensus.

Meanwhile, the CWC will give us a way to deal with at least 25 other countries of concern, who without the treaty can legally stockpile chemical weapons.

1995 will be a decisive year for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The test ban's time has come -- to ensure that there won't be another qualitative arms race, and also to restrain proliferation, by denying aspiring proliferators the ability to refine weapons and make them easier to deliver.

At a time when the nuclear arms race is over; when we have already conducted 1,054 tests (to Russia's reported 715 and China's reported 41); when both we and the Russians are eliminating nuclear weapons by the thousands and not developing any new ones; when we can maintain a safe and reliable stockpile without tests -- it simply makes no sense to keep setting off nuclear explosions, at great expense, to further sift the finest particles of knowledge about how nuclear weapons work, when the main effect of doing so would be to give cover to other nations who could actually use the knowledge they would gain.

A few weeks ago, to further demonstrate his commitment to the test ban, the President further extended our moratorium on nuclear tests, and rescinded a controversial U.S. proposal for a special "right to withdraw" from the test ban treaty after ten years. This confirms once again that our country is out front pulling for a comprehensive end to nuclear explosive testing.

Another leading negotiating priority for 1995 is the global cutoff in production of fissile material for weapons. This is our best hope of putting a cap on the potential nuclear programs of the so-called nuclear threshold states -- India, Pakistan and Israel -- that are outside the NPT.

In 1995, the United States must also sustain and intensify a major effort to address nuclear smuggling -- to enhance fissile material security, accounting, and controls worldwide -- and specifically, to foster safeguards, transparency and irreversibility in the nuclear disarmament of the former Soviet Union.

There is too little focus on the fact that our success in controlling the delivery systems for Russian nuclear weapons is not matched by effective controls on the weapons themselves, the warheads and bombs, and on the sensitive materials -- particularly plutonium and highly-enriched uranium -- that they're made of. The Russians are dismantling weapons, but more slowly than we are, and the process is opaque when it should be transparent. So we are negotiating to make the reductions irreversible, and also to tamp down the risks of proliferation. This must be a leading priority this year -- and every year until we succeed.

Also in 1995, we have the task of clarifying the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile, or ABM, Treaty, on the dividing line between prohibited strategic defenses and permitted theater defenses. We must protect the enormous benefits of the Treaty for strategic stability. At the same time, our security requires capable defenses against the theater ballistic missiles that rogue states and potential adversaries could foreseeably acquire -- missiles far more advanced than the Iraqi SCUDs we faced in the Gulf War.

I am convinced that we can negotiate an agreement that will protect technologies for effective theater ballistic missile defense -- including the THAAD system, which is ready to begin flight testing in February. And I also believe it would be a grave mistake to preemptively jettison the ABM Treaty, upon which the agreed deep reductions in Russian offensive forces probably depend. As Secretary of Defense Perry has emphasized -- and Wednesday's vote in the House encourages me to believe is being broadly realized -- rushing now to revive Star Wars is both unnecessary and unaffordable.

1995 is also the final year of reductions under the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty. The United States will need to hold firm to protect the Treaty against efforts to dilute it in the name of "harmonization," to weaken it by watering down its flank limits, or to refuse compliance with mandated reductions.

1995 is also the year we expect entry into force of the Open Skies Treaty, opening the way for overflights of nations' territories from Vancouver to Vladivostok.

And in 1995 we will negotiate vigorously for a system aimed at improving compliance with and enforcement of the Biological Weapons Convention.

In 1995 we must ratify the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW), to advance the President's landmines initiative at this year's CCW review conference.

And 1995 will be the critical first year of implementation of the Framework Agreement to freeze and roll back North Korea's nuclear program.

Several of these efforts illustrate a major cross-cutting challenge for the United States in 1995: what I have been calling (with my Midwestern roots) the arms control harvest. With new treaties like START, START II, the CWC, and Open Skies -- plus others now in process such as the test ban and the Fissile Cutoff -- joining older agreements such as the NPT, ABM, CFE and others already in force, the United States faces a burgeoning mission in reaping the benefits of arms control.

ACDA is the nation's agent for these efforts -- combining expertise in negotiations, law, intelligence analysis, and technology to make sure that our treaty rights are respected.

And those who want to dissipate those resources should consider that arms control agreements do not tend themselves. Assuming they do is a bit like thinking that you've fed a hungry man by giving him a menu.

ACDA's Value Transcends its Size

Our work on all these missions (and many others) is performed by a small, efficient workforce of about 250 -- and a budget that has remained essentially flat, in constant dollars, since the late 1960s, while our missions have grown from 10 to 54.

And this work is a national security bargain. As the President's national security advisor, Anthony Lake, said recently, pulling back from the Cold War nuclear precipice has allowed us to save some $20 billion per year on strategic nuclear forces alone. As against that figure, simply note that ACDA's core budget is around $50 million -- roughly equal to the unit program costs of a single F-15E fighter aircraft.

So abandoning ACDA would cost the taxpayers far more than it could ever save. And now -- as we address the broadest arms control agenda in history -- is exactly the wrong time to subvert this vital national mission.

In the post-Cold War world, arms control bears ever greater weight as a pillar of U.S. national security. I am confident the new Congress -- so long as it considers the case for arms control on its merits -- will not dislodge that pillar or weaken its foundation.

As a nation, I believe we will once more choose engagement over isolationism, world leadership over retrenchment, true security over retreat.