November 18, 1994

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
REMARKS TO A CONFERENCE ON ARMS CONTROL AND
VERIFICATION SPONSORED BY THE JOHN GOODWIN
TOWER CENTER FOR POLITICAL STUDIES
AT SOUTHERN METHODIST UNIVERSITY

"Verification in the Arms Control Implementation Era"

I want to thank the Tower Center, and to recognize Southern Methodist University not just for hosting this important conference, but also for its significant contributions over the years in the design of seismic arrays -- technology that will have a major role in rigorously verifying the comprehensive test ban.

But I'm not going to talk to you tonight about that or the other important arms control negotiations underway. Instead, I want to discuss something perhaps less glamorous -- but every bit as vital. That is the nation's sharply expanding mission of implementing and verifying arms control agreements and regimes.

A number of recent agreements -- such as Conventional Forces in Europe, Open Skies, INF, START and START 11, and the Chemical Weapons Convention -- are joining older agreements such as the ABM Treaty and the NPT to create a prodigious architecture of international arms control law. Further agreements -- the test ban, the fissile material cutoff -- are in process.

Realizing their full potential is becoming a momentous mission. It is fair to say that we are entering the arms control implementation era.

This has major implications for our national security. Accidents of history and politics have led some to the mistaken conclusion that arms control and defense are somehow opposites. But their fundamental purposes are exactly the same: to make us safer. Defense deters or defeats threats to our national security; arms control quietly takes them away. Secretary of Defense Perry has said it well: Arms control is defense by other means -- a principle understood, and indeed championed, by John Tower as chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as President Reagan's START negotiator.

Arms control agreements represent the n-use that a potential adversary's arsenals will be limited or destroyed. But that promise isn't kept until implementation - where the weapons that could used against us are actually averted or finally ken down. Implementation is where we add to our security without needing to add to our forces.

Let me mention just two of the issues this burgeoning national security mission entails.

Chemical Weapons Convention

Chemical Weapons Convention, or CWC, presents an immense implementation challenge. It s also a tremendous achievement that will obligate he rest of the world to do what we as a nation have already decided to do: get out of the chemical weapons business -- put an abominable genie back in the bottle and incinerate the bottle.

The CWC may represent our greatest implementation effort yet - whether viewed from the standpoint of history, of intrusiveness, of industry involvement, or of magnitude of coverage. Today more than 25 countries are suspected of having chemical weapons or the ability to produce them. Significantly, three quarters of these countries have signed the CWC. Obviously we want to bring it into force as soon as possible.

It's worth remembering that the Chemical Weapons Convention was introduced and pursued by the United States during the Reagan Administration, and concluded by the Bush Administration - which adhered to its principles during Desert Storm. Now the Clinton Administration is vigorously pressing its ratification.

The CWC embraces for us the central and fundamental truths about chemical agents designed to kill and disable in the cause of war: To make them is a waste; to keep them an affliction; to use them an abomination. Their banishment will make us at once more civilized and more secure.

The START Treaties

The START Treaties underscore another crucial implementation task -- addressing the bulk of all the world's weapons of mass destruction that could be delivered with devastating force on our own country.

START was signed in 1991, and START II in January 1993. Some think that means we have taken care of the problem of Soviet heavy missiles and multiple warhead capabilities, and made deep, two-thirds reductions in strategic nuclear forces. Well, not quite.

Both we and the Russians have been retiring missiles and bombers to be eliminated under START 1, and removing some associated launchers as well. Under related agreements, warheads are being moved out of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine, where they were left when the Soviet Union collapsed.

But we are just now nearing the point where START I will formally enter into force. Russia's ratification was made contingent on, among other things, accession to the NPT by Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine. just this week, after many anxious moments, the parliament of the last of those three -- Ukraine -- voted to join the NPT as a non-nuclear-weapon state.

This is a major foreign policy success for the United States. It means we will very soon be in a position formally to fulfill START I -- and to move ahead with ratification and entry into force of START II.

That, in my view, is highly preferable to the more informal reductions made thus far in Russian strategic forces -- even recognizing their great contributions to our security. Formal agreements are more durable; we can have more confidence they will stick even if our relations with Russia turn sour. Of more immediate importance, and in contrast to most informal reductions, the START Treaties prescribe detailed means of verification -including twelve different kinds of on-site inspections -- so we can see for ourselves that reductions pledged on paper are made on the ground.

Fortunately, with little fanfare, preparations for START implementation have long been underway. Beginning in November 1991, the START I implementing body, the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission, has been meeting in Geneva, where it concluded its most recent session just two weeks ago. Thus far the JCIC has completed some 50 agreements and joint statements, to ensure that START implementation can proceed smoothly and on time.

Rigorous Verification Remains Imperative

In the implementation of all arms control agreements, rigorous verification is indispensable. Let me talk a bit about what that means.

I do so from a particular vantage point. ACDA, as you may know, is the primary federal agency charged with developing negotiated approaches to verification. We are also required to assess for the Congress whether arms control agreements can be verified, and to report back if there is any change. We also certify compliance (or report noncompliance) to the Congress.

Evaluating verifiability is a demanding legal requirement and also a matter of nuanced judgment. We begin with a technical comparison of our information-gathering capabilities against the constraints in an agreement. Then we decide whether this level of verifiability is good enough -weighing such factors as the past compliance record of the parties, the incentives they might have to cheat, and the degree to which undetected cheating could pose a national security risk.

The policy standard of "effective verification" is necessarily rigorous. We must retain the ability to detect significant violations, with high confidence, in sufficient time to respond effectively with defense adjustments or other responses, as needed.

The underlying aims of verification have not changed since 1961, when President Kennedy declared that America would continue to press for "properly safeguarded" arms control measures.

But since then, there have been a number of changes affecting verification, and lately their pace has been accelerating.

One is that we have more and better information. National technical means (NTM) have advanced, with new kinds of sensors, imagery, and other technologies. In line with the President's nonproliferation initiative, a number of federal agencies, including the national labs, are focusing on a variety of new verification technologies from seismic, infrasound, and radionuclide detection systems for the CTBT to laser-based sensors and neutron interrogation systems for the CWC.

The verification provisions in our agreements have also advanced, to include such measures as on-site inspections, portal monitoring, data exchanges, and a variety of transparency, confidence-building, and other cooperative measures.

Together these developments mean, for example, that we can now work realistically on steps to deter noncompliance with the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC). The necessary technologies and methods were far from ready in 1972, when we signed the Convention. Now they are a great deal closer, and today we are working hard in Geneva to strengthen the BWC.

A second change is the centrality of our multilateral nonrroliferation efforts. As technology has become more widely available, and as the constraints of a bipolar world have loosened, our focus has shifted to the threat of nuclear, chemical- and biological weapons and their means of delivery in the hands of more and more countries. This has multiplied and enlarged the verification challenge.

The IAEA, which inspects for the NPT, oversees about 900 nuclear facilities in some 60 countries. The CWC's implementing body, the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, will have access to over 25,000 facilities in at least 120 countries.

Compared with the original bilateral nuclear agreements between the United States and U.S.S.R., broad-based multilateral agreements addressing proliferation face at least two additional verification challenges.

First, the technology base of the participants is radically uneven. So multilateral arms control regimes cannot rely exclusively on NTM or on the advanced technological capabilities of each participant. Hence the importance of institutional verification measures such as the NPT's safeguards me and the IAEA, or the CWC's verification visions and the OPCW.

Second , the strategic view and position of the participants is also varied. So multilateral verification regimes must address a host of different individual potential causes for noncompliance, reflecting the participants' widely varying incentives and abilities to cheat.

Our bilateral nuclear arms control agreements with the former Soviet Union involved a straightforward, if stringent, assessment: we had to be satisfied that we could detect, promptly, any heating significant enough to endanger the strategic calculus on which a treaty was based. Our survival was at stake.

Today, with a number of multilateral agreements, the likeliest cheating scenarios do not involve direct threats to the territorial integrity of the United States, but rather, attacks or threats seeking regional advantage -- rogue states bullying their neighbors.

This does not mean that we should relax the high standard of verifiability the United States has and always will insist upon. It does mean, though, that concepts such as "militarily significant" behavior cannot be mechanically applied.

The Chemical Weapons Convention is a good illustration. Acquisition of any nuclear weapons by a non-nuclear-weapon state is militarily significant. But to be militarily significant, a CW program must go beyond production of a small quantity of agent. And each additional step development, testing, weaponization, storage, military training and other activities -- increases the risk of detection.

While no treaty is perfectly verifiable minute by minute, what matters is our ability to assure compliance over time. The CWC is the first multilateral treaty to require intrusive, short notice challenge inspections of declared and undeclared sites. Compared with the permissive status quo under the 1925 Geneva Protocol, the CWC will substantially increase the risks of detection and the costs of evasion. It will help us build up a network of information -- a web of detection and deterrence -- and provide grounds for sanctions that will make chemical weapons far less attractive to rogue regimes.

A third major change, of course, has been the collapse of the Soviet Union, with a host of implications -- mostly favorable -- for arms control.

A reduced need for scrupulous arms control verification is not, however, one of those implications. In fact, I think a case can be made that close monitoring and verification are even more important in this new era.

One reason for this lies in the numbers. As the quantity of weapons comes down on both sides, any transgression of treaty limits becomes more significant. To take an extreme example, 500 nuclear warheads is not much different from 499 but two is twice as many as one.

To my mind a more immediate and tangible issue the political burden that now rests on treaty compliance. With Russia as with other states, rigorously implementing and verifying our arms agreements not only ensures their fulfillment -- it sustains the legislative and popular port such agreements must have to form the basis for further steps.

And with Russia in particular, because our relationship is evolving, verification is doubly important: The overall progress and quality of our relationship depends in part upon it. Any breach faith, especially in a realm as sensitive as arms easily disrupt our wary, often halting process of building trust.

So for these times, as earlier, the motto of the On-Site Inspection Agency, 'Trust and Verify,' isn't one. In this pair, it is the second element that is to the first. Strict enforcement is what makes arms control agreements work. And working arms control agreements can in turn foster the trust and relative openness that permit further progress.

In short, to neglect the implementation and verification of arms control agreements would be folly. Assuming that such agreements will take of themselves is a bit like thinking you have a hungry man by giving him a menu.

Conclusion

After almost a year on the job, I continue to sense a to the arms control implementation and verification mission. It lies in two intersecting tends and conditions.

The first is the advent of the implementation era -- accumulation of arms control implementation verification requirements.

The second, demanded by more than a decade of deficits, is that most federal agencies are cutting our budgets. While arms control is a national security bargain, it is not free -- especially when it comes to verification, which depends on radars, sensors, satellites, on-site inspectors, and other assets (which, incidentally, are owned and operated by other agencies, not ACDA). Obviously those agencies -- such as Intelligence, Energy and Defense -- are not immune to fiscal pressures. So they quite reasonably apply their own standards of cost-effectiveness -- balancing intelligence or defense requirements against arms control verification.

You can see the tension. Already it has occupied a considerable amount of my time as Director of ACDA. In the months ahead it could well become a preoccupation. I invite you to worry about it too.

In any event, I have made clear my bias for rigorous verification -- and hope you share the view that this concern stems from necessity, not neurosis.

However we resolve this tension, my central message remains -- that on a daily basis, away from public view, real arms control is being steadily achieved. We are implementing and verifying our agreements with skill and rigor. We are finishing the jobs we have started. We are strengthening our national security.

Because this is what arms control means to Americans. Most are more interested in what we and other treaty parries have done than in what we have agreed to do. They realize something often forgotten inside the Beltway: After the Rose Garden ceremonies have ended, and the strains of "Hail to the Chief" have died away, the heavy lifting has just begun.