April 20, 1994

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
IN A PANEL ON THE STATUS OF THE
COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY NEGOTIATIONS
SPONSORED BY THE UNITED NATIONS NGO
COMMITTEE ON DISARMAMENT

Distinguished panel members, friends: I am pleased to join you today to discuss the comprehensive test ban treaty, or CTBT.

My deputy, Tom Graham, will be with you tomorrow to address the broader theme of this conference, and to explain why it is so vitally important that we extend the Non-Proliferation Treaty unconditionally and indefinitely. Let me just affirm now that the United States is sparing no effort to assure this result at next year's NPT Review Conference. This is my agency's highest priority in the coming year.

From the start of the nuclear age, the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, has been a security preoccupation of the international community. As early as 1946, shortly after the founding of the United Nations, Bernard Baruch addressed the General Assembly to propose international control of nuclear energy, in an effort to prevent the acquisition of nuclear weapons by additional states.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty demonstrates the long-standing conviction of the international community that proliferation undermines global security interests. The fact that it now boasts over 160 adherents confirms that strong international consensus.

The passing of the Cold War has thrown a new light on the nonproliferation challenges that face us. Arms control now confronts security problems that have long been brewing, but which only recently have emerged from the long shadow cast by the Soviet-American standoff.

The importance of sustaining and strengthening the nonproliferation regime is confirmed by the events in Iraq, where a party to the NPT shamelessly violated its undertakings not to acquire a nuclear explosive capability, only to be found out because of its aggression against Kuwait. It is underscored by the sobering -- but ultimately heartening -- experiences in South Africa, where the present government has been wise enough to conclude that its concealed nuclear weapons stockpile was counterproductive to its security, and has adhered to the NPT. The NPT's importance is magnified by our current experience in coping with the proliferation problems posed by North Korea. And it is intensified by regional instability in other parts of the world: the former Soviet Union, the Middle East, and South Asia.

It is altogether fitting that this Conference on the NPT begins with a discussion of prospects for a complete negotiated ban on nuclear explosive testing. The nuclear age opened nearly fifty years ago in the radioactive fires of the Trinity test at Alamagordo, New Mexico. Since then, testing has been both a reality and a symbol of nuclear weapons capabilities. Indeed, it was on the basis of testing that the NPT recognized the existence of five nuclear-weapon states.

International calls for a halt to testing date back to 1954, when Prime Minister Nehru of India, among others, called for a suspension of nuclear explosions. There were only three nuclear powers then -- but testing was already causing serious concerns because of its contribution to the arms race and its menace to the environment and human health.

It is in no small measure thanks to non-governmental groups like those represented here today that the torch of a comprehensive test ban has been carried through the four decades since. Your work in keeping the flame alive was particularly important during the years when we were not making much progress -- and I know it will be important as our efforts come to fruition at last with the negotiation of a comprehensive, durable, broadly accepted and internationally verifiable CTBT.

You have witnessed the conclusion of the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty (the first great multilateral arms control agreement of the post-War era), whose relevance and importance continue today. You have seen the signing of the NPT, and the long struggle to set in place the bilateral Threshold Test Ban and Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaties between the United States and the former Soviet Union. You have supported the concept of nuclear-weapon-free zones, such as embodied in the Treaty of Tlatelolco in Latin America and proposed for the Middle East and other regions. And through it all you kept the faith, never giving up the fight for a CTBT.

Before too long your faith will be vindicated. Already this morning you have heard the distinguished Ambassador of Mexico to the Conference on Disarmament, the chair of the Ad Hoc Committee, describe how he sees the negotiations progressing. I'll not duplicate his report. But perhaps it will be helpful to provide a United States perspective on the negotiations.

The CTBT will be another important milestone in fulfilling the mandate of Article VI of the NPT. As with our new efforts to halt the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, and our hope to work out understandings regarding assurances against the use of nuclear weapons, the United States has sought to take the lead in pursuing the Article VI obligation to reverse the arms race and pursue nuclear disarmament.

In recent years progress toward that goal has been profound. Through the INF and START agreements, some 19,000 nuclear warheads will be removed -- not counting voluntary reciprocal reductions of short-range missile and artillery warheads. The United States is now dismantling nuclear weapons at a rate of around 2000 per year -as fast as technical limitations will permit. The Russian Federation -- with the cooperation of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine -- is making comparable progress. We are committed under START II to reduce nuclear weapons to their 1972 levels -- to wipe out twenty years of the arms race.

President Clinton took another step to fulfill Article VI last summer when he reviewed the United States approach to nuclear testing. As you know, the United States has not tested since September 1992. Last July, the President announced that he would extend our moratorium, and called on other nations to stay their hands as well. He also decided that the United States would seek to negotiate a complete prohibition against nuclear testing everywhere. The President declared in his address to the UN General Assembly last September 27:

This decision was not lightly made by the President; nuclear weapons remain a key element of our security strategy. Testing has long been part of the fabric of United States arrangements for the maintenance of our security and that of our allies. We have felt a need to pursue new nuclear weapons capabilities over time, and testing was an integral part of that effort. Testing has also been seen as a means to give us greater assurance of the safety and reliability of our existing weapons.

The President had to weigh those benefits against the impetus that a halt to testing would give to our nonproliferation objectives. He concluded that our interests would be best served by seeking a permanent ban on testing.

Last month, as you know, President Clinton once more extended our moratorium on testing to September 1995 -- despite China's nuclear test of last fall and unwillingness to join in the moratorium being respected by the other four nuclear weapon states. I call on China again today to reconsider its position and refrain from further testing -- and thus lend tangible support to the goal we seek in Geneva.

A Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will significantly strengthen the array of nuclear arms restraints negotiated since the signing of the NPT in 1968.

There is no time to lose in the negotiations. When I addressed the Conference on Disarmament in January at the inaugural meeting of its 1994 session, I brought with me a strong message from President Clinton. He said that no item on the CD's agenda was more important than a comprehensive and verifiable ban on nuclear explosions. And he asked the CD "to take bold steps toward a world made safer through the negotiation at the earliest possible time of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that will strengthen the security of all nations."

The CD's 1994 session is one third complete. In important respects, progress has been satisfactory. Ambassador Marin-Bosch has ably guided the work of the Nuclear Test Ban Ad Hoc Committee -- as Ambassador Dembinski of Poland has guided the legal and institutional issues working group and Ambassador Hoffman of Germany the verification working group. The Committee has before it various pieces of text, and it can be said to have begun drafting the elements of a treaty.

Australia has now formally introduced its "resource paper" containing a complete treaty draft, adding to the previous drafts submitted by Sweden, so there is an abundance of material to draw from. Now we must pull together the elements that have been introduced and proceed expeditiously to negotiate a full treaty.

I am wary of saying anything too definitive to this distinguished audience lest it be quoted back to me some weeks or months from now. But let me venture to lay out some broad principles that I believe must guide us as we pursue a comprehensive, broadly acceptable, internationally verifiable CTBT.

At the outset, let there be no mistake about what the United States seeks. We seek a comprehensive, not a threshold, ban. We seek a complete ban on nuclear explosions, whether for stated weapons purposes or purposes described as peaceful. We do not favor exceptions to the general ban on weapons testing. We believe that all five nuclear weapons states should become parties for the treaty to enter into force. And we seek an exacting international verification system that will ensure that the ban is respected.

We believe strongly that the treaty should say what is prohibited, not attempt to enumerate everything that is permitted. To do the latter would create needless definitional problems. The vast panoply of nuclear-energy-related activities in industry and research laboratories around the world should not be affected by a treaty banning nuclear explosions.

Similarly, we believe that the treaty should not ban preparatory activities. There are a lot of holes around the world potentially available for testing; we do not want the treaty to hinge on all of those holes being filled.

Some nations see the treaty primarily as a nonproliferation tool -- to prevent the initial acquisition of nuclear weapons by more countries. Others view it as an arms control and disarmament measure -- to undermine and ultimately destroy the confidence of nuclear weapons states in their arsenals.

This is a false choice. The treaty will -- and should -- serve both nonproliferation and arms control.

If testing is ruled out, a substantial barrier is erected to the initial acquisition of nuclear weapons capabilities. Even though a primitive capability might be feasible without tests, a proliferator would be uncertain about the performance of its weapons. More importantly, the ability to enhance capabilities -- to perfect and improve weapons -- to lower their weight and size for a given yield, for example -- would be significantly constrained. An entire spectrum of weapons capabilities is available only through testing. A CTBT will place those enhanced capabilities beyond reach.

As to arms control, those who already possess tested weapons will also be constrained. A CTBT cannot, of itself, take down existing nuclear forces. We should not burden it with inflated expectations. But it will sharply restrain modernization and refinement of the nuclear weapon states' arsenals. It can help break the back of a main driver of arms races -- the qualitative competition -- and thus open the way to further reductions.

So the CTBT will have effects on both those who aspire to nuclear weapons and those who have them. It will restrain both, to the benefit of all nations.

I believe in acknowledging that states come to the CTBT table with different motivations. I do so because it is true, and because it will help us take advantage of every bit of support that exists for the imperative of a CTBT. Non-nuclear-weapons states should not be discouraged from supporting the treaty by other states pretending that it is only a nonproliferation measure. And the converse is true as well. Simply put, the treaty will serve multiple purposes, and it will impose uniform obligations on all states.

I need not overstate to this audience the importance of verification to serious arms control efforts. Some of you may recall the impasse over verification that held up the CTBT negotiations when John F. Kennedy was President of the United States and Nikita Khrushchev led the Soviet Union. The issue at the time was over the number of annual on-site inspections, with the U.S. seeking seven while the U.S.S.R. wanted three.

Today, in a changed world, we anticipate an international verification regime for the CTBT that will include a far-reaching system of exchanges of technical information derived from seismic instruments, sensors of radionuclides in the atmosphere, and possibly other kinds of sensors of infrasound or hydroacoustic signals and the like. Consensus is already emerging that seismology will play a key role -- indeed, that it probably will be the backbone of the treaty's verification regime. In addition, we favor mandatory on-site inspections, on a "challenge" basis, to allow the parties to investigate ambiguous events. There may also be a role for other kinds of information exchanges that would improve the overall transparency of the regime.

Designing a rigorous international verification regime is technically challenging, but we believe that it is well within our capabilities. Participants in the negotiations appear to understand the importance of this issue, and are summoning the political will to resolve it.

It remains to be resolved what body should oversee and implement verification. Some sort of international arrangements will be necessary, in all likelihood including a technical secretariat and bodies composed of parties to the treaty. As the exact shape of the verification regime is determined, it will become clearer what this body will be. It is premature to decide the forum until we know the substance.

It is already obvious, of course, that any such regime will require funding. We do not yet know how much, but it is clear that countries must be prepared -- on national security grounds -- to underwrite the necessary international verification arrangements. A substantial commitment will be required, for example, in seismic stations, communications, and organizational infrastructure.

We should not -- any of us -- begrudge these commitments. Of course we want a costeffective CTBT. But we want an effective CTBT even more.

Arms control is not free, just as the military component of security is not free. Since becoming Director of ACDA last November, I've repeated many times what I believe to be a central truth -- that arms control ranks equally with defense as one of the pillars upon which national security rests. Defense deters or answers threats; arms control quietly takes them away. In today's world both are indispensable.

So while we seek a cost-effective CTBT, we do not apologize for the costs of arms control and nonproliferation policies. They contribute just as much to world security as defense systems. We should no more stint on ensuring the verifiability of international treaties than on providing rations for our armed forces.

Let me say a bit more about timing and progress. The President's words -- "at the earliest possible time" -- mean just what they say. Make no mistake about it: the United States motivation to conclude a widely acceptable, internationally verifiable CTBT is very strong. The political will coming from the very top levels of our government has never been stronger.

But while the rate of progress is important to us, the quality of progress is just as important. As the head of the U.S. delegation to the CD, Ambassador Steve Ledogar, is fond of saying, our position cannot be reduced to "all thrust and no vector."

Of course no country in a multilateral negotiation can unilaterally set the pace. But I believe that everyone who has been observing the CTBT negotiations closely will agree that the United States is working to quicken the pace.

Does all this mean we foresee no problems coming in the negotiations? Of course not. Every serious multilateral negotiation confronts thorny problems. Certainly some markers have been laid down, and some unpopular positions have already been identified. But so far -- in the relatively short time that has passed since the CTBT was transformed from a distant goal to an immediate prospect -- everyone seems intent on working toward a common goal.

This gives me cautious optimism that a CTBT of the kind we seek can be close to completion by April 1995.

It is well known that we do not recognize any formal linkage -- direct or reverse -- between conclusion of the CTBT and indefinite extension of the NPT. Both of these agreements are important enough to deserve consideration on their own merits. We will insist that they get it.

It would not be responsible for me to predict that we will conclude all our work by next spring. But I can promise that the United States will continue to hold up its end of the bargain, not only in the CD, but also in its bilateral and other consultations -- such as those we routinely engage in with the other nuclear weapon states.

It is an intriguing historical coincidence that the fiftieth anniversary of the first nuclear explosion and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the entry into force of the NPT fall in the same year -- 1995. 1 hope our efforts can make this coincidence into an important signpost of progress.

From the very first atomic blast at Alamagordo, mankind has been struggling to recapture the ferocious beast unleashed there. Since then, thousands of women and men of good will and intellect have pursued -- passionately, painstakingly -- the compelling mission of our age. Working together, let us rededicate ourselves to that mission: to shepherd this beast back into its cage -- to bring what was unleashed in a blinding blast of heat in the New Mexico desert to a fitting end in the cool atmosphere of reason in Geneva -- to ensure that the first half-century of nuclear explosions is the last.