March 8, 1996


At midnight tonight, the Conference on Disarmament will complete the first seven weeks of its 1996 session. The pressing question is: Will the Conference be able to complete the CTBT by June and prepare for a signing ceremony in September at the outset of the 51st United Nations General Assembly?

My answer to this question is only a provision Yes. Yes we can do it. However, as Australian State Secretary Costello said at last week's CD plenary meeting, we cannot assume that a CTBT is going to happen; the completion of the Treaty is not inevitable. While true that the momentum in the negotiation has grown recently, marked especially by the tabling of model Treaty texts by Iran and Australia, such momentum can die if not sustained by all parties through commitment, dedication, and perseverance. As Mr. Costello pointed out, we all need to make a CTBT happen.

I regret to observe that there is a certain complacency in the CD, a feeling that, somehow, there is a negotiating dynamic that will carry us along to a completed Treaty. Worse yet, there are signs that some delegations are becoming stubborn and greedy. There is an insistence on some national positions which have no chance of a place in the CTBT. Also, some participants seek to impose on the negotiation linkages which could tie a CTBT to further commitments in the field of nuclear disarmament. These linkage tactics are posited on the mistaken belief that they can succeed because others want a Treaty so much, they will pay any price. Sadly, the only possible result of insistence on these linkages will be to lose out on both counts. Failure to keep the international focus on the politically attainable objective will in fact lead inevitably to failure and disappointment. The CTBT can only become a reality if all participants re-double efforts, re-examine national positions, distinguish the very important from the less important, trim national aspirations, and make compromises.

Many have spoken of the political window of opportunity that exists this year to complete the CTBT. Indeed, the long and torturous road to a CTBT is well known and documented, as illustrated in Dr. Goldblat's background paper on the nuclear test ban. During the past several decades, CTBT prospects have occasionally opened up -- only to close down again. The year 1996 appears substantially more promising. At the UN General Assembly last December, the international community declared that 1996 was the "year of CTBT" and recommended a target time for the completion of our negotiation. Nonetheless, the CTBT window that is invitingly open today can soon crash down if we do not meet our timetable. And there is no telling when we might have a similar chance again.

I urge my colleagues at this table and members of the press corps to examine the serious consequences of not finishing a CTBT by this June 29, the last possible target date for getting the Treaty text ready for signing in September.

The United States under President Clinton's leadership is prepared to give up a great deal in a CTBT. The Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, John Holum, detailed at the CD's opening plenary in January how the CTBT would impose new and permanent constraints against the spread and further development of nuclear weapons. I also draw your attention to a recent Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) article by Eric Arnett in which he describes his view of existing and planned nuclear weapon programs of both the nuclear weapon states and the nuclear weapon capable states that would be limited or killed off by a CTBT.

The CTBT itself will also amount to an indispensable step relating to nuclear disarmament which remains our ultimate goal, a point which was made clear at the NPT Review and Extension Conference last year. However, some suggest there should be direct "if-not-this-then-not-that" linkage between the cessation of nuclear explosions and other categories of progress in the quest for total elimination of nuclear weapons. I firmly believe that those who seek such linkage run a risk of derailing the CTBT negotiations. As Mr. Holum put it, a "strategy of linkage is a strategy of failure."

All the members of the CD decided long ago what they wanted out of a CTBT: that it should contribute effectively to the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects, to the process of nuclear disarmament, and therefore to the enhancement of international peace and security. These words are taken from the negotiating mandate that has guided our CTBT negotiations since January 1994.

I urge my fellow negotiating partners to seize the day before it is too late. Although it may seem as if we had just begun this negotiating year, in fact we are running out of time. The number of negotiating days until late June is limited severely. The United States believes that success is within our grasp, but we have to strain to get hold of it. We have to follow a determined path and share a common commitment to achieve what President Clinton called for in his recent message to the CD: "a true zero yield Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that will endure for all time." The participants in the Conference can make it happen. The choice is ours.