Created January 10, 1997

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
REMARKS TO THE SECRETARY'S OPEN FORUM
DEAN ACHESON AUDITORIUM, WASHINGTON, DC

I'm pleased to return to the Open Forum at a critical time for arms control -- and more broadly, for America's diplomatic standing and leadership in the world.

President Clinton has forcefully reaffirmed the need for such leadership -- which means in part, as he has said, pursuing "the most ambitious agenda to dismantle and fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction since the atom was split."

But the Executive Branch cannot succeed in this alone. For in our system, successful arms control -- like effective national security and foreign policy generally -- is a joint endeavor requiring statesmanship at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue.

I'd like to focus today on several matters where our prospects will depend on whether relations between the elected branches are marked by conflict -- as in recent years -- or by the spirit of bipartisanship that more typically has marked the times of America's greatest effectiveness in the world.

Right after the 1996 elections, all agreed that in returning a Democratic President and a Republican Congress, the American people wanted the parties to work together. From my perspective in international affairs, the principal tests for that can be summed up in two words -- ratifications and resources. And the stakes couldn't be higher.

As Ambassador Albright stressed in her confirmation hearing, our highest immediate arms control priority is Senate approval of the Chemical Weapons Convention. I'll return to that in a few minutes. But we face many other challenges if we are to lead global efforts against proliferation and terrorism, and restore our full presence and voice abroad.

Several of these challenges arise in the context of the 1995 decision to make permanent the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, taken in New York by all its parties without dissent. That was among the greatest arms control victories in decades. But it may be imperiled if Congress dissipates our momentum on matters integral to the NPT extension decision.

In particular, the NPT parties adopted, also by consensus, a "Principles and Objectives" document laying out an agreed arms control and disarmament agenda. Since May 1995, we've made dramatic progress toward those goals. But in each case the process remains to be completed, and depends on legislative action.

The first goal was a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing. And this past September, President Clinton was the first world leader to sign the CTBT -- thus culminating a quest pursued by U.S. presidents since Dwight Eisenhower. By halting the ascent of every country up the nuclear weapons learning curve, the CTBT will make us and all nations safer.

But if the Treaty is ever to enter into force, the United States must continue to lead -- through our own ratification. And so now it is our bipartisanship, not our weaponry, that is being tested. Will we divide ourselves -- Congress advocating more nuclear explosions, the Executive insisting that that era is over? Or can we revive the active role of Congress in our testing moratorium, and join now in reinforcing this further barrier against more and better nuclear weapons -- and in the process reinforce the NPT decision and bolster the international leadership of the United States?

The 1995 NPT conference also endorsed more nuclear-weapon free zones, in which participating states rule out nuclear weapons, and in return seek binding assurances that nuclear weapons will not be used or threatened against them. And last year, the United States and other nuclear weapon states signed the protocols to the South Pacific and African Nuclear Free Zones, which together cover nearly 70 countries.

These protocols, too, will have to be ratified by the Senate. Will we carve ourselves up in a debate over the right to use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear countries? Or will we find a way to keep faith with the NPT decision, while at the same time reinforcing the NPT and extending the reach of the IAEA's safeguards agreements through nuclear weapon free zones?

The 1995 NPT conference also pressed for further nuclear reductions by the nuclear weapon states. On this front, progress until recently has been dramatic -- a testament to bipartisan continuity and cooperation. The first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, negotiated by Presidents Reagan and Bush, was easily and speedily ratified by a Democratic Senate. It entered into force in late 1994 -- after the Clinton Administration worked for the formal renunciation of nuclear weapons by Ukraine, Kazakstan and Belarus. Today verified reductions are running more than two years ahead of schedule.

START II will build on these achievements, reduce the total of deployed strategic warheads to just one-third of their Cold War peaks -- and eliminate all the rest of Russia's heavy, multiple-warhead SS-18 missiles.

Here the main barrier is not the U.S. Senate but the Russian Duma, where START II remains to be ratified. Hindsight affords ample reason to wish that our own Senate's 87 to 4 vote for START II had come sooner, before Russia elected a new Duma in which the Treaty faces far tougher sledding.

Nevertheless, this Duma should recognize that START II remains profoundly in the interests of the Russian Federation as well as the United States.

Some Duma members complain that START II will require Russia to eliminate multiple warhead missiles, and then build new single warhead missiles, both at great cost, in order to maintain parity with the United States. But the best answer is to ratify START II, and get on with further negotiations.

Without START II, the United States must maintain START I force levels of 6,000 weapons, which Russia could match only at ruinous expense -- and with virtually no prospect for negotiating deeper cuts. With START II, they will have actual parity at 3,000 to 3,500 warheads, and -- as President Clinton has said -- we would begin promptly to negotiate further limits and cuts, which could avoid the need for any costly rebuilding program. As Secretary Perry said in Moscow last October, "Long before all those new missiles people talk about could be constructed, we would have agreement on lower numbers."

But if the main action is with the Duma, our own Congress will influence Russia's behavior. There, as here, disarmament is much cheaper than defense, but it is not free. Continued support for the bipartisan Nunn-Lugar program can help dispel genuine concerns about the burgeoning costs of fulfilling arms control commitments.

And on the negative side, because of the relationship between offensive and defensive arms, pressures here to summarily cast off the ABM Treaty and build a national missile defense translate directly into more pressures in Moscow to turn down START II. Can we drain some of the emotion and theology from the debate over missile defense, and develop a common assessment of what our security requires, and when?

As suggested earlier, we face other, even more immediate tests.

We have entered the fourth year of the Chemical Weapons Convention's review in the Senate. Last April, after a cumulative total of 13 hearings and hundreds of answers for the record, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee favorably reported the treaty to the Senate floor. Then, by unanimous consent, a full Senate vote was scheduled by mid-September.

But that date proved too close to November. The Convention's opponents led a determined campaign to deny President Clinton a visible victory just six weeks before the election. As Senator Lugar told the New York Times, "The whole process was politicized in a way that would be harmful to our foreign policy. This is not a good time for the debate."

So our ratification drive has begun anew in the 105th Congress. Now, however, postponement is no longer an option. In late October the 65th ratification of the CWC set in motion an irrevocable six-month timetable for entry into force -- with or without the United States. To be an original party -- and thus guide rigorous implementation of the treaty -- we must ratify within the first four months of this year.

Consider some of the arguments for ratification.

The Convention is about other peoples' weapons, not our own. The United States decided unilaterally more than a decade ago to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal. So our only question today is whether to require other nations to do the same.

The Convention with its implementing legislation is a useful tool in the fight against terrorism. The only country to experience chemical weapons terror against civilians -- Japan -- ratified the Convention within weeks of the deadly 1995 Sarin attack in the Tokyo subway. Without the Convention implemented in our own country, we have no domestic federal law against cooking up poison gas here. We want those laws everywhere. They are required by the CWC.

The treaty will give us tools to deal with at least twenty countries -- many hostile to us -- that have or seek chemical weapons. Some opponents point to the challenges of verifying such a treaty. But at a minimum, the CWC will give us more information about those twenty countries' CW efforts -- information we need with or without the treaty -- and it will make that information actionable, through sanctions, because possessing chemical weapons will be illegal, which is not the case now. Without the CWC, countries like Iran, Libya and North Korea can legally maintain CW stockpiles. Libya can build the largest underground chemical weapons complex in the world, and we can know about it, and point to it, but there is no law against it.

It takes our ratification to make this Convention viable. Although three-fourths of the countries of concern have signed, some of the worst rogues may not join right away. If they do not, the treaty ensures they will suffer, politically and economically. And we know this for sure: They will never join if we remain outside -- thus keeping them company, and giving them cover.

Our military is urging ratification -- knowing that, as retired Admiral Elmo Zumwalt wrote this week in the Washington Post, "our failure to ratify will substantially increase the risk of a chemical attack against American service personnel."

Our chemical industry strongly supports it, knowing we stand to lose many jobs and up to $600 million in exports if the treaty's trade restrictions take effect against us as a non-Party.

Finally, on the central point of my remarks, as a Republican negotiating achievement, the CWC is the best possible vehicle for renewed biparti-sanship in foreign affairs. Presidents Reagan and Bush championed the treaty; the Bush Administration completed and signed it; Republican leaders from James Baker to Brent Scowcroft to Senator Lugar support it.

I would also point out that President Clinton has taken the initiative to keep it a bipartisan issue. He could have pressed the CWC to a vote in 1996, creating a political club for Democratic Senate candidates to wield against those voting "no." Given the political climate of these times, one can envision TV commercials tagging them as "friends of poison gas." But instead the President withdrew the treaty, removing it entirely from the political context, and giving us all a chance to come back and do it justice. I hope the same spirit will prevail on Capitol Hill.

I've discussed only some of the arms control and nonproliferation matters that will come before the 105th Congress. Along with the CWC, the test ban, and nuclear weapon free zones, we will need action on the landmine and other protocols to the Convention on Conventional Weapons and the CFE flanks agreement, and possibly action on ABM treaty demarcation. Certainly we have high-stakes international negotiations underway. But in a very real sense, the action on arms control and nonproliferation is moving to the U.S. Congress, and more specifically to the U.S. Senate. And no matter how committed the President, failure there could stop these endeavors in their tracks.

Arms control's narrow band of traditional opponents would jump for joy. But all should keep in mind that the damage will be not only prospective, but retroactive, and not only to the presidency, but to the country. For no treaty, including the NPT, is invulnerable if the United States fails to lead. And all our arms control and nonproliferation tools -- including multilateral export controls -- can be put at risk. So just when all agree that one of our gravest threats is the spread of the most dangerous weapons to rogue states and terrorist groups, we could be jeopardizing our most important instruments for answering those threats. Those, as well as their individual merits, are the stakes in the lineup of treaties I've described.

Precisely the same stakes are at risk if we have insufficient resources for diplomacy and international affairs.

As I've said many times, I am every bit as concerned about the State Department's budget as ACDA's own. For as a small agency of some 250 people, we depend heavily on the State Department's embassies and missions for our voice abroad, and daily reporting about our negotiating partners. Our NPT and CTBT victories proved how potent the interagency collaboration between ACDA and State can be. So it troubles me deeply that over the past dozen years, our spending on international affairs overall, including the State Department, has been cut in half in real terms -- by 51 percent, to be exact.

Cuts of this magnitude have neither been seriously debated nor motivated by any careful reassessment of our interests in the world. Few in Congress speak against American leadership. But in practice, we are in danger of yielding to a disguised new isolationism that demands American leadership in the world at the same time as it deprives us of the capacity to lead.

If anyone doubts these cuts have gone too far, consider that last year we spent on international affairs just one-fifteenth of what we spent in 1947, during the Marshall Plan, as a percentage of the federal budget. Hans Morgenthau, no Wilsonian idealist, declared that the quality of a nation's diplomacy is "the most important" component of its international power. You don't have to agree entirely to see grave danger in the notion that we can get by in world affairs with little more than a swagger.

As we saw Wednesday, no one can be as eloquent or persuasive as Ambassador Albright in making the case for resources. But we all need to add our voices to hers, until the country and the Congress hear us.

Conclusion

In June 1993, former Secretary of State Eagleburger testified on START II before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He stressed that while it was "one of President Bush's proudest accomplishments it could not have been concluded ... without President Clinton's strong public support" -- for that bipartisan continuity gave President Yeltsin confidence that the Treaty represented U.S. national policy, not just that of the outgoing administration.

The ability to speak with one voice has been a defining strength of American foreign policy in its finest hours. This is a principle each Congress, and each Administration, must come to grips with. For the national interest exists in reality, not just rhetoric. And it must override any rivalry between the elected branches or jousting between the political parties.

When a president decides which arms control treaties to push for, he cannot think first about who will get the credit. When the Congress is asked for its consent to ratification of such treaties, or for the resources to conduct our foreign policy, its calculations cannot be primarily political. And when any of us hears the latest siren song of retreat and withdrawal from the world, we cannot succumb. For America is the indispensable nation -- and our world has grown far more dangerous and interdependent than when we paid the price for our isolationism after World War I.

The world today still bristles with the Cold War's overarmament -- and faces new dangers of proliferation, terrorism, convulsive nationalism, environmental pressures, drug trafficking, and many others that directly affect us. In such a world we cannot indulge the ideological pretext that national security is a one-legged stool -- treating every leg but the military as though it doesn't really matter. Nor can we let internal bickering call our international commitments and standing into question.

Rather, we must look to serious internationalist leaders of both parties to join -- even when our government is divided -- to fashion the kind of unified foreign policy that befits a great power in a perilous world. Then, and only then, will we keep the tide of history running strongly our way.

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