March 10, 1995

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
REMARKS AT THE ATLANTIC COUNCIL,
WASHINGTON, D.C.

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

Thank you. I'm honored to be here, and to share this podium with James Schlesinger. We've shared some interesting working relationships -- in which I practiced rudimentary law and he taught me the intricacies of nuclear energy policy.

This is proving to be an interesting year for the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency I like to collect quotations, and I'm reminded often these days of the one from Marcus Aurelius: "The art of living is more like wrestling than dancing." Or perhaps Samuel Johnson's, "Nothing concentrates a man's mind so much as the knowledge he's about to be hanged."

The Arms Control and Disarmament Agency has been described as a "Cold War relic" that ought to be abolished. Partly by way of response, I'd like first to describe the arms control environment and part of our agenda in 1995.

The Increased Need for Arms Control

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

The bipolar nuclear standoff is largely over. But many of its sharpest teeth still have to be extracted. Despite voluntary reductions, many thousands of weapons remain. The START treaty only recently entered into force, and both the United States and Russia must still ratify START II, and implement both treaties. 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: By reputable estimates, more than 40 countries now would have the technical and material ability to develop nuclear weapons, if they decided to do so.

Missiles -- with much longer ranges, greater payloads, and higher accuracy than Iraq's SCUDs -- are more accessible. North Korea is working on the Tai-Po Dong, with a range of several thousand kilometers, and sees missile exports as a source of hard currency earnings.

We believe that more than two dozen countries -- many hostile to us -- have chemical weapons programs.

And the leading proliferators of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons tend to be found in some of the most unstable regions -- the Korean Peninsula, the Middle East, South Asia.

In this new era our security depends on arms control more than ever. If the Cold War taught us anything, it is the necessity of both military might and arms control. Arms control is threat control -- in the apt words of Secretary Perry, it is "defense by other 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.

1995: Year of Decision

As a result, arms control now looms larger on our national agenda than ever before. As President Clinton told the Nixon Center last week, in 1995, "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."

Consider some of the items on the agenda:

Starting next month, the fate of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty will be determined in its 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. In President Clinton's words, "Nothing is more important to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons than extending the Treaty indefinitely and unconditionally."

But we remain engaged in a real struggle. A number of countries are still 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.

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 indefinite extension, with no need for parliamentary ratifications. I hope the Congress will help us grasp 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 quest 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 its watchdog. It is also our job to assess and report to Congress on compliance -- applying an independent, undiluted policy perspective.

This is work all Americans 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 the START treaty obligations are fulfilled, we will slam shut the "Window of vulnerability" that many saw embodied in the heavy Soviet multiple warhead land-based missiles. These SS-18 missiles 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 should take lead in bringing the Chemical Weapons Convention into force.

We are pushing resolutely for full Russian implementation of our bilateral agreements on chemical weapons. But 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 produce and stockpile chemical weapons.

This year is also a window of opportunity for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

After a half-century of testing, the nuclear test ban's time is here -- both to ensure that there won't be another qualitative arms race, and to restrain proliferation, by denying aspiring proliferators the ability to refine and miniaturize their weapons, making them easier to deliver.

At a time when the nuclear arms race is over; when we have already conducted over 1,000 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 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.

Last month, the President revised the U.S. negotiating position to speed conclusion of the Treaty, while reaffirming our determination to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile. He also further extended the United States moratorium on nuclear tests to overlap with the expected completion of the test ban negotiations. The international community should take "yes" for an answer. If the Conference on Disarmament cooperates, we are prepared for the conclusion that the United States has already conducted its last nuclear test.

Another leading negotiating priority 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.

Also in 1995, we have the task of clarifying the ABM Treaty, as to the dividing line between proscribed 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 highly effective defenses against the theater ballistic missiles that rogue states and potential adversaries could foreseeable 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 so-called THAI system, which is now slated to begin testing this spring. But I believe just as firmly that it would be a grave mistake to preemptively jettison the ABM Treaty: The deep reductions in offensive forces agreed to by the Russians probably depend on it. As the Administration has emphasized -- and last month'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.

In 1995 we expect entry into force of the far-reaching Open Skies Treaty. We will negotiate vigorously for a system to improve compliance with the Biological Weapons Convention. 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 is the critical first year of implementation of the Framework Agreement to freeze and roll back North Korea's nuclear program -- a sound agreement whose implementation promises to be as absorbing as its negotiation, which is to say, very absorbing.

Several of these efforts illustrate a major cross-cutting challenge for the United States this year: what my South Dakota roots lead me to call the arms control harvest. With new treaties like START, START III, 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 would 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 Future

I believe it is clear that in 1995 the United States is addressing arms control missions that will fundamentally shape the nation's security for years to come.

As this agenda was building, just last year, the Congress joined President Clinton in concluding that U.S. security in the post-Cold War world demands not ACDA's disappearance, but its revitalization. And just this year, Vice President Gore's National Performance Review has scrutinized ACDA and concluded that its independence is essential to effective arms control.

Let me just state that attempts to caricature the Vice President's process as a concession to entrenched bureaucracy are wrong. To think that an Agency with about 250 employees and a core budget of less than $50 million could prevail because of its bureaucratic heft is flattering but false. As with all agencies, the Vice President asked fundamental questions: Is your mission still essential? And is your agency the best way to do it? After an intensive review, the answer to both questions was "yes."

The Vice President's decision calls for consolidation where it makes sense -- such as in administrative services. We will continue the streamlining which has made it possible for ACDA to move from 10 missions in the late 1960s to 54 today, on an essentially flat constant dollar budget. And we will be more fully integrated into State Department operations, under the Secretary's foreign policy guidance.

But independence remains imperative. Why?

In part because ACDA provides deep expertise and long experience in highly specialized, technical areas.

Often, arms control is rocket science. Over half our employees hold advanced degrees in such areas as nuclear physics or biochemistry. Our General Counsel's office has deep expertise in the negotiating history and the particular rules of interpretation that we need to uphold our treaty rights. In this sense we might be compared to the U.S. Trade Representative's office -- an expert agency with a tightly focused mission.

And the broader, guiding principle is this: an independent agency is the best way to ensure that arms control policy, implementation, enforcement and compliance judgments will not be subsumed in large institutions with competing responsibilities, but rather will be given full voice, within our government and internationally.

This takes on new meaning now. 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 today, 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.

That's why I've said that whatever their intent, the new proposals to abolish ACDA are in effect an assault on arms control itself, in the guise of government reform.

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 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.