October 14, 1997

THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM, DIRECTOR
U.S. ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
STATEMENT TO THE UNITED NATIONS
GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN THE FIRST
COMMITTEE GENERAL DEBATE
NEW YORK, NY

Mr. Chairman, it is an honor once again to present the views of the United States on important international security issues before this Committee. My delegation congratulates you on your election to lead this body's work, and pledges its full support.

In his address to the General Assembly last month, President Clinton spoke of the great tide of global integration, and the resulting need for a new security strategy.

Security is an increasingly broad concept, involving not only defense but such issues as economics and the environment, science and information, combating drugs and terrorism, and education and human rights. But arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament remain vital components. The threats posed by weapons of mass destruction are far from being extinguished, and the consequences of miscalculation or deliberate acts can be horrific -- as we know from the terrorist activities of a cult group armed with nerve gas in Japan, biological and toxin weapons in Iraq, and persistent reports and risks of nuclear smuggling. And, with grim regularity, thousands of lives are lost in conventional conflicts.

These sobering realities should spur us. Each time we sit down to negotiate, we need to grasp all the progress we can. When we sit down, as I noted a year ago to this Committee, we should do so in a forum right for the given task. Today I want to underscore another, increasingly pertinent condition for success -- that even as we aspire to the loftiest goals, we aim in the near term for the kind of focused, practical steps by which arms control is not just argued but actually achieved. Let us not stand immobile, longing for the stars, but resolve to keep moving surely toward them, in deliberate strides.

This Committee, Mr. Chairman, has a particular responsibility. It meets to help the international community establish those realistic goals and provide the orientation needed to make real negotiating work possible.

The achievements of the past year well illustrate what can happen when realism prevails.

In September of 1996, the General Assembly overwhelmingly adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. It does not make nuclear arms obsolete in a single stroke. But it will curb both horizontal and vertical proliferation, and bring nuclear disarmament closer.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty's enhanced review process is proceeding. With Brazil's most welcome decision to accede, the NPT will soon be just four nations short of universality. Meanwhile, moving steadily among like minded countries, while accounting for the security requirements of others, nuclear weapon-free zones now span entire continents.

The pace of nuclear disarmament is picking up -- largely because the countries whose arms are directly involved have moved in bold but practical increments. START I reductions are ahead of schedule. And this year Russia and the United States have cleared away all remaining obstacles to Duma ratification of START II:

  • Concerns that Russia would have to build additional single warhead missiles to maintain parity, while destroying multiple-warhead ICBMS, were answered by our Presidents at Helsinki in March, and reiterated when Secretary Albright and Foreign Minister Primakov signed a Treaty Protocol here in New York last month. Immediately after START II is ratified, we and Russia will begin negotiations on further reductions deep enough to obviate any reason for such a build-up.

  • Concerns about compliance costs have been addressed in that Treaty Protocol by extending the START II elimination timetable to 2007. At the same time, the United States and Russia ensured that START II's security benefits will be realized as soon as possible, through deactivation by the end of 2003 of the strategic nuclear delivery vehicles slated for elimination.

  • Concerns about the viability of the ABM treaty were also answered last month, when Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan and the United States signed agreements on treaty succession and on demarcation between theater and strategic defenses.

Together with the new cooperative relationship between NATO and Russia embodied in the Founding Act, these steps have set the stage for early Russian ratification and entry into force of START II, so we can move on to even deeper reductions and more comprehensive controls on nuclear arms. In this Committee, the Russian and American delegations will urge adoption of a resolution supporting this process, on which so much of our future security rests.

Also in the past year, the Chemical Weapons Convention entered into force. We were proud to be able to deposit our instrument of ratification in April, so the United States could be among the original parties.

On conventional arms, parties to the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe have agreed to aim for further reductions in treaty-limited equipment. In Latin America, the Organization of American States General Assembly has proposed to help reduce the demand for arms, through a legal framework on advance notification of major arms acquisitions.

Mr. Chairman, how does this remarkable and diverse record of achievement guide us toward an even more secure future? How can President Clinton's call to meet the challenge of global integration be pursued specifically in arms control?

By assigning the right task to the right venue and, as I want to amplify here today, by orienting our work less toward idealized visions and more toward practical results.

How does that apply to a number of key priorities?

First, the practical approach calls for consolidating and realizing the full fruits of what we have already agreed -- through entry into force and compliance, enforcement, and implementation. This, after all, is where the practical value of arms control is realized -- not only in ceremonies or signatures, but in threats averted, in weapons physically eliminated or avoided, in resources saved for better uses.

This means, for example, that our respective governments need to secure approval for ratifications necessary to make the CTBT a functioning and enduring reality. We commend Japan and the other states that have already ratified the CTBT. As he announced here September 22nd, President Clinton has transmitted the Treaty to the United States Senate for its early and favorable advice and consent.

Also to secure the benefits of existing agreements, commitments to organizations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency are crucial. It falls to each country to apply the powerful new safeguards adopted in May to the real world, by upgrading bilateral agreements with the IAEA.

Arms control compliance is served by the combination of deterrence, through verification and the risk of sanctions, and political commitment. The United Nations has a vital role in stimulating governments and people everywhere to take compliance seriously. The United States resolution this year in this Committee will reemphasize this point.

Second, in strategic arms control, a practical orientation means tangible steps ahead. Just as soon as START II is ratified, START III negotiations will be underway, aimed at ceilings of 2,000 to 2,500 warheads -- leaving only about 20 percent of peak Cold-War levels. Indeed, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin have already set a timetable of 2007 for this next dramatic disarmament step.

In a first for arms control, our Presidents have also agreed that START III will include the actual destruction not only of means of delivery, but of nuclear warheads themselves. It will also embrace transparency measures to ensure that nuclear material from destroyed warheads will never again be used in weapons.

We are also coming to terms with an alarming potential side effect of nuclear disarmament: the possibility that excess nuclear materials could be diverted, to serve nuclear ambitions elsewhere. The nuclear weapon states have a particular responsibility to set aside rigid rules of secrecy in the storage and disposition of nuclear warheads and fissile materials, and to adopt fresh approaches to transparency and cooperation. We should aim for the fastest possible pace of irreversible reductions, and the safe and secure storage, and ultimate disposition, of the highly enriched uranium and plutonium recovered from dismantled arms.

Third, another leading priority is the work of the Ad Hoc Group to strengthen the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. Here, as we intensify our work next year, realism means most of all simply recognizing the core purpose of the effort, to protect all humanity from the depraved proposition that deadly diseases we've struggled to eradicate -- plague, botulinum, anthrax, and others -- would be nurtured and deliberately inflicted as weapons of war. Open-ended technology transfer is neither the purpose of the exercise nor a legitimate price of success.

Fourth, lest there be any doubt, let me stress that the United States has not given up on the negotiation of a ban on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. In their September 25 statement, the foreign ministers of the permanent members of the Security Council reaffirmed their conviction that such negotiations should begin immediately and conclude at an early date. We all agree to pursue the process of nuclear disarmament. It is past time to agree to take the next logical multilateral step in that process.

Who can be against it? A cutoff in the production of fissile material will threaten no one. It will set in place an upper bound, a cap, on the amount of nuclear weapons material in the world. How can we achieve reduced roles for nuclear weapons if we cannot even begin discussing a cap on their indispensable contents?

Fifth, we also have much more practical work to do to end the civilian carnage from anti-personnel landmines. The United States worked diligently leading up to and in Oslo to find an outcome to the Ottawa process that would be compatible with its security requirements. What emerged was a result we can welcome but cannot join. The Ottawa Convention would rule out military options we cannot now do without: to use anti-personnel landmines of types or in ways, I would stress, that are not part of the humanitarian threat of long-lived, undetectable mines scattered in unmarked fields.

All countries in a position to do so should sign the Ottawa Convention. Then I urge that we turn to the critical and challenging landmine work that still lies ahead.

Worldwide, for the foreseeable future, there will be many more people, and many more mines, outside the Ottawa Convention than inside. Now that its content and likely membership is settled, the question should be how, given these realities, can we best reduce the loss of human life to anti-personnel landmines?

Clearly the answer is that each process should make its maximum contribution, so that their sum will be greater than the result in any single forum.

On this issue the Conference on Disarmament unfortunately has shown that it is prepared for neither long strides nor a quick start. To the extent the CD was seen as competition to Ottawa, at least one impediment should be behind us. In any event, let us recall that the CD does include all the major historic landmine producers and exporters, and many members believe it should undertake anti-personnel landmine disarmament. The United States will strongly support CD negotiations on APL, beginning with a ban on exports next year.

We also urge prompt ratification of CCW Amended Protocol 2, which, again, includes the major landmine states not part of the Ottawa process, and deals specifically with long-lived, nondetectable mines. The humanitarian benefit can be immense.

As we deal with mines not yet emplaced we must, of course, also be mindful of a distinct bottom line -- that every mine removed from the ground is another innocent victim potentially saved. The United States currently spends almost as much on demining as the rest of the world combined. President Clinton has directed that we significantly increase our demining efforts, beginning with a 25 percent increase in funds next year.

These two issues, the fissile material cutoff and anti-personnel landmines, underscore the dangers to disarmament of the approach opposite to what I advocate here. The Conference on Disarmament is in the grip of a "linkage" virus. It insists not only on maximum results on one subject, but that all other progress must cease until we agree to that step -- a timetable for elimination of all nuclear weapons.

I will risk repetition to state our view that the Conference on Disarmament is a negotiating body, not a debating society, and negotiations in Geneva should address matters of global reach that require broadly representative participation.

But the linkage disease is impossibility squared -- a proposal in effect to stall the proven step-by-step approach by the United States and Russia that is in fact bringing nuclear disarmament closer, and then to drag all possible progress on other issues into the same morass. That linkage virus has paralyzed the CD. We will see if it proves to be fatal.

Finally, Mr. Chairman, realism should prevail in the ways we organize ourselves to pursue arms control. To function well over time, every organization must be prepared to adapt to change.

The UN Secretariat's support of arms control should be reorganized and reformed. The Center for Disarmament Affairs should revitalize its support for the work of the United Nations and the Conference on Disarmament, and be prepared to support new tasks.

If I may speak parochially, the United States is also reorganizing its arms control operations, by integrating the 38 year old agency I have been privileged to lead, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, into the Department of State.

This step, I want to assure you, is intended to and will enhance the role of arms control and nonproliferation in U.S. foreign policy. President Clinton and Secretary Albright have agreed that independent policy advocacy and compliance reviews will be preserved through reporting from the Department's senior arms control official directly to the President and the national security leadership. At the same time, ACDA's expertise and operational resources will be combined with those of the State Department, in a new set of bureaus, to give these issues even greater prominence in our diplomacy and national security strategy. The plan thus protects the core value of an independent agency, while capturing the benefits, in both efficiency and efficacy, of combining forces with a strengthened and revitalized Department of State.

Mr. Chairman, I have sought to sketch out an arms control approach to global security as the decade, century and millennium draw to a close. This approach is avowedly practical in design. It is rooted in the conviction, reinforced by all our experience, that taking one logical step after another is the best way to achieve long-term success.

Our work has never been more vital. Yet major parts of it are stalled, ensnared in a combination of outmoded political alignments and new techniques of diversion and delay. Let us break free of these shackles.

Let us turn down our megaphones, roll up our sleeves, and get back to work.