September 28, 1996


"Preparing for the 1997 NPT PrepCom"

The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the cornerstone of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime. In May 1995, the nations of the world made history in agreeing to extend indefinitely the NPT, making that Treaty a permanent part of the international security system.

The 1995 NPT Conference took two other decisions of import, namely those on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament" and "Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty." The first of those decisions sets forth a number of recommendations designed to promote the full implementation of the Treaty. The second decision provides the framework for a more substantive, and thus "strengthened," treaty review process through which efforts to implement fully the Treaty can be examined and recommendations on further steps made to the Review Conference.

We are here today to discuss the Preparatory Committee process leading to the 2000 NPT Review Conference, and specifically the first Preparatory Committee meeting to be held in 1997, which will launch the strengthened treaty review process. Altogether there will be three and possibly four preparatory committee meetings that cumulatively will lay the procedural and organizational framework for the Review Conference, but will also examine the substantive issues related to the Review Conference. A caucus of the parties will convene in New York next month to set dates for the first Preparatory Committee meeting. Hence, this topic is most timely and I welcome the opportunity to participate in today's discussion.

For its part, the United States began an internal review of this issue last year, shortly following the 1995 NPT Conference. What has become clear is that the decision on "Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty" provides the basic framework and objective for the process -- a strengthened treaty review; but it does not provide the details of what it will take to implement and achieve this objective. Working out these details will be the responsibility of NPT parties and the first PrepCom meeting in 1997 will be especially important in this regard.


Before I discuss U.S. perspectives on the first PrepCom meeting, I want to spend a few minutes on the "Principles and Objectives" decision. The "Principles and Objectives" decision agreed by the 1995 NPT Conference is one element that could be considered by NPT parties in determining "ways and means" to ensure the full implementation of the Treaty during the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

There are two aspects to the "Principles and Objectives" decision that will need to be considered: the relationship between that document and the Review Conference process; and its substance.

A. The Relationship Between the "Principles and Objectives" decision and the 2000 NPT Review Conference

Some NPT countries refer to the "Principles and Objectives" decision as the "yardstick" against which future progress will be measured. Certainly all NPT parties recognize the importance of this decision and the significance of its development in the 1995 NPT Conference process. But it is not clear just how this decision will affect the 2000 NPT Review Conference process. For the United States, the "Principles and Objectives" decision represents the important collective political interest and commitment of NPT parties to see further progress made toward assuring the full implementation of the NPT and a useful reference point for our continued efforts toward that end. The recommendations outlined in the decision are ones we and others should strive to meet. However, it is the Treaty itself that is the source of our obligations and a full and balanced review of the Treaty is the objective of NPT review conferences. The "Principles and Objectives" decision was developed for a certain purpose during the 1995 NPT Conference, (i.e., to highlight the parties' commitment to the NPT and its full implementation, which in turn facilitated agreement to the indefinite extension of the Treaty). Whether or not, as some appear to imply, one should think in terms of creating new or additional Principles and Objectives for the 2000 NPT Review Conference is another question and one that depends on whether NPT parties believe such a decision will be useful in shaping or reflecting a consensus of views on achieving the full implementation of the Treaty.

B. The Substantive Aspect of the Principles and Objectives Decision:

Dealing with the substantive aspect of the "Principles and Objectives" is a more straightforward exercise. The decision outlines twenty different recommendations for promoting the full implementation of the Treaty. I would like to highlight some of the more significant steps that the United States has taken since May 1995, which illustrate clearly our continued strong commitment to the NPT regime and to the political commitments outlined in the "Principles and Objectives" decision.


The 1995 NPT Conference decisions called for the completion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty "no later than 1996." Achievement of a CTBT has long-been recognized as a key step in achieving the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT. Last month, the Conference on Disarmament concluded its work on the CTBT. This week, nations from around the world gathered together in New York to sign the CTBT. The successful conclusion of the CTBT is an historic achievement that not only completes an arms control quest spanning more than forty years, but also helps wall off nuclear dangers today and henceforth. The CTBT will further strengthen the NPT and the broader international nonproliferation regime by constraining nuclear weapon innovation, and by giving us a clearer view of a secure future in which we can safely continue the disarmament process which is already reducing U.S.-Russian nuclear arsenals by more than two-thirds.


Universal adherence to the NPT has long been supported by the United States. Since the conclusion of the 1995 NPT Conference, five more countries have joined the Treaty: Andorra, Chile, Comoros, the UAE, and Vanuatu. This brings the total number of parties to 182 and leaves only eight countries worldwide outside the NPT (i.e. Angola, Brazil, Cuba, Djibouti, India, Israel, Oman, and Pakistan). Of those remaining eight, five (i.e., Brazil, Cuba, Angola, Oman, Djibouti) either have joined regimes comparable to the NPT or will likely soon adhere to the NPT. In our view, the prospects are good that by the time of the first Preparatory Committee meeting, there will be only three countries worldwide that have not joined the NPT or a comparable nuclear nonproliferation regime. The U.S. will continue to work to encourage all remaining non-NPT countries to join the Treaty.


The end of the Cold War and the consequent cessation of the nuclear arms competition between the United States and the states of the former Soviet Union has generated new momentum for the creation of nuclear-weapon-free-zones (NWFZs) in many areas of the world. The United States supports the creation of such zones in regions where they would contribute to the achievement of U.S. nuclear nonproliferation goals, taking into account the specific characteristics of each region, and where doing so would be consistent with our established criteria for recognizing such zones and with other U.S. national security interests. Those criteria include:

Considerable progress has been made in establishing additional nuclear weapon free zones to the 1967 Latin American Nuclear Weapon Free Zone that are supported by all regional states and the nuclear weapon states, as called for by the 1995 NPT Conference. In March 1996, the U.S. -- along with the United Kingdom and France -- signed the Protocols to the Treaty of Rarotonga, which established a nuclear free zone in the South Pacific. In April 1996, the United States signed the Protocols to the Treaty of Pelindaba, establishing a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Africa. The United States continues to work with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries, who last December signed the Treaty of Bangkok, to bring that Treaty into conformity with U.S. criteria for supporting such zones.


The United States continues its active support for a strong and robust international safeguards system. Efforts are ongoing at the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to conclude agreement on safeguards strengthening measures. Adoption of these safeguards strengthening measures early, and with the full support of NPT parties, will be essential to ensuring the full implementation of the NPT. The successful adoption of the full programme of safeguards strengthening measures is an essential element of a strong nonproliferation and disarmament process. The IAEA safeguards strengthening measures will increase the level of confidence that NPT parties have about the nonproliferation commitment and activities of their neighbors. This in turn will enhance international security and contribute to increased opportunity and willingness of the United States and other nuclear weapon states to continue their efforts to reduce and eventually to eliminate nuclear weapons.

While the strengthened safeguards measures are intended for application in NPT non-nuclear- weapon states, the United States as indicated in President Clinton's statement to the recent IAEA General Conference, "stands ready to apply the new safeguards as fully as possible in our country consistent with our obligations under the NPT." Our principle obligation under the Article I of the Treaty, of course, is not in any way to assist a non-nuclear-weapon state to acquire nuclear weapons. To this end, we are prepared to provide the IAEA with information on our nuclear exports and imports, accept the application of new safeguards measures to those of our nuclear facilities selected for safeguards by the Agency, and discuss with the Agency the provision of additional information that would enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of safeguards in non-nuclear weapon states.


The United States continues to be engaged in an irreversible process of nuclear disarmament. The U.S. Senate has provided its advice and consent to ratification of the START II Treaty. Once Russia also ratifies the Treaty -- a step we hope will take place in the near future -- START II's implementation will result in further deep reductions in strategic nuclear forces and will enhance stability by eliminating MIRVed and heavy ICBMs. Following the ratification of START II Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin are committed to begin to discuss possibilities for follow-on measures.

President Clinton reaffirmed this commitment in his September 24 speech before the UN General Assembly, stating that he and President Yeltsin "are ready to discuss the possibilities of further cuts -- as well as limiting and monitoring nuclear warheads and materials. This will help make deep reductions irreversible." There should be no question that the United States is committed to a process of nuclear disarmament and to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons. However, nuclear disarmament cannot be achieved on demand or in a vacuum. It is a process that requires an improved international security system in which all states have taken steps to support global nonproliferation regimes. This could include steps to control, and reduce where necessary, the levels of armaments in their respective regions. To be clear, assuring the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT is the responsibility of all NPT countries.


The 1995 NPT Conference decisions called for the "immediate commencement of negotiations on a universal, non-discriminatory convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." A fissile material cutoff treaty is one of the measures mentioned in the preamble of the NPT and is widely recognized as a necessary step on the road to disarmament. With the conclusion of the CTBT, the United States believes that the international community should now turn its attention to a fissile material cutoff treaty and should make every effort to initiate negotiations in Geneva, and not allow the will of a few states to block the will of the vast majority of nations who recognize the inherent nonproliferation and disarmament value a successful cutoff treaty will bring.

In addition to pressing for multilateral action on a fissile material cutoff treaty, the United States continues to move forward with unilateral initiatives. During her speech before the IAEA General Conference earlier this month, U.S. Energy Secretary O'Leary announced that the United States has completed a comprehensive plan for the international inspection of fissile material that has been declared excess to national defense needs. Under this plan, the United States will submit 26 metric tons of excess fissile material to IAEA inspection over the next three years. This is in addition to the 12 metric tons of fissile material that has already been placed under IAEA safeguards. This parallels commitments made by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin regarding the transparency and irreversibility of nuclear arms reductions. Pursuant to that goal, the United States, Russia, and the IAEA just two weeks ago initiated a cooperative effort to implement commitments concerning the application of IAEA verification of weapon-origin fissile materials.


I would like now to turn to U.S. views on the strengthened treaty review process, including the first PrepCom meeting next year. As I noted earlier, the framework for the strengthened treaty review process makes clear that the PrepCom meetings are to have a substantive character. However, the decision provides relatively little detail regarding how this new, substantive character should be implemented. Moreover the PrepCom will also have as its task the traditional responsibility to develop the procedural and organizational framework for the Review Conference.

In considering the Preparatory Committee process for the 2000 NPT Review Conference, the United States is seeking to identify its broad priorities and objectives, as well as to determine how best to organize the PrepCom agenda to deal with the various substantive issues. We have also been considering the range of procedural and organizational issues with which the PrepCom will have to deal. At this stage, our consideration of these issues is still preliminary in many ways. While we will be identifying those issues we believe will need to be addressed, we recognize that this will be a dynamic process and we are committed to working with the other NPT parties to develop a collective approach and understanding of what the strengthened treaty review process can and should accomplish. To this end, we will be consulting broadly with other NPT parties. This meeting provides an important opportunity to pursue these discussions. The first Preparatory Committee meeting in 1997, however will be the first opportunity for Treaty parties to collectively address the cross-section of issues related to the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

General Views on the PrepCom Process:

In general, our views on the PrepCom process are evolving along the following lines:

A) The PrepCom Agenda Should be Balanced:

We believe it is important to ensure that the PrepCom process and Treaty Review are balanced and treaty all aspects of the NPT with equal thoroughness. Although we do not yet know how the PrepCom agenda will be organized, we will be working for the development of an agenda of work that addresses the whole of the Treaty, and does not focus exclusively or to an inappropriate degree only on one aspect of the Treaty, such as Article VI. While we of course recognize the importance that many NPT parties attach to Article VI, we must remember that the NPT is much more than Article VI and work to keep a balanced focus.

B) The PrepCom Should not Pre-empt the Work of the Review Conference:

We will be interested in promoting an agenda of work for the PrepCom that is consistent with the decision on a strengthened treaty review process and that, in this regard, enables the PrepCom to begin to consider the substantive issues related to the Treaty. However, we need to be mindful of the purpose of the PrepCom in contrast to that of the Review Conference. The PrepCom needs to make the necessary procedural and organizational preparations for the Review Conference. The PrepCom will also consider "objectives, ways, and means" to promote the full implementation of the Treaty and will forward recommendations thereon to the Review Conference. But it is the Review Conference that is the venue for a detailed review of the Treaty and its operation. In our view, the PrepCom process should reinforce and support the Review Conference process, but it should not undertake activities that are the prerogative of the Review Conference, including drafting final document.

C) Past Practice Should Serve as A Guide:

The PrepCom will again consider many procedural and organizational issues that have been looked at by previous PrepComs. This includes rotation of chairmanship of PrepCom meetings, documentation, financing, observers, conference agenda, and rules of procedure. For many of these issues, there is an established precedent that has proven workable and acceptable. The United States believes that precedent is a useful guide in determining how to proceed for the future and that, unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise, precedent should be adhered to. Some have suggested that, in order to demonstrate that the PrepCom process is truly revitalized, the "traditional" aspects oriented to addressing procedural and organizational questions should be totally revamped. The United States would not subscribe to this notion. In our view, an attempt to create a new approach will be time consuming and likely counterproductive. Put simply: we believe in the adage "if it ain't broke don't fix it."

D) Consensus Decisionmaking Should be Promoted:

There have been no formal rules of procedure agreed for the PrepCom meetings themselves. Rather, the practice has been to make every effort to take decisions by consensus and if necessary to draw on the Review Conference rules of procedure for guidance. The United States believes the preserving the practice of consensus decisionmaking during the PrepCom and the Review Conference will be of utmost importance to ensuring a constructive process.

Organization of the PrepCom:

Perhaps the most important decision that will need to be considered by the first PrepCom meeting is that concerning the organization of the work of the Preparatory Committee. NPT parties need to identify issues to be addressed by the PrepCom, agree to an agenda of work to address those issues, and to ensure that enough time is allocated to each agenda item. The organization of the PrepCom's work will impact the discussion of substance throughout the PrepCom process and the Review Conference itself.

In terms of how the PrepCom agenda could be organized, the U.S. recognizes that there are a number of options. For example:

At this stage, the United States has not determined what organization it thinks would make the most sense in terms of both ensuring a productive PrepCom process and preserving our interest in ensuring a balanced treatment of all the relevant issues. This issue will be the subject of further internal consideration in the months remaining before the first PrepCom meeting next year.

Expectations for the First PrepCom Meeting:

This brings me to another important point that deserves emphasis. With the 1997 PrepCom, the first under the post-1995 NPT Conference regime, we are going to be navigating new, uncharted waters. There is no doubt that the PrepCom process as a whole will address substance in a way that it has not done previously and, as such, the PrepCom will make an important contribution to the substantive work of the Review Conference. The United States is fully prepared to contribute constructively from the outset to ensure that the PrepCom is effectively able to deal with its responsibilities in addressing both substance and process. However, we should not overly raise expectations about what the first PrepCom meeting in 1997 will be able to accomplish in terms of launching the substantive effort leading to the Review Conference.

The first PrepCom meeting will necessarily have to deal first with the key question of what a strengthened treaty review process means and how it should be implemented, as well as deciding on the agenda, structure, priorities, and allocation of work for the PrepCom process. Our discussion here today will undoubtedly reveal the wide-ranging possibilities in addressing these fundamental issues. Also, beginning with the first PrepCom meeting, we will need to consider and take decisions on procedural issues such as financing, observers, documentation, chairmanships, and rules of procedure. Discussion of those issues may not be as interesting as the anticipated discussions on substance, but it is absolutely essential to ensure the effective operation of the PrepCom process. Consequently, the United States will be working to make sure that adequate time at the outset is devoted to consideration of key procedural questions. This is not an effort that will be set aside easily or as expediently as some might wish.

In raising this cautionary note, I am not suggesting that the first PrepCom should or will be devoted solely to discussion of procedure. However, I am suggesting that we need first to get our house in order and determine how the PrepCom process -- both its substantive and procedural aspects -- will operate.


Many countries are just beginning their assessment of the PrepCom process. Over the coming months, there will likely be increasing attention paid to this issue. It will be up to all NPT parties to cooperate and coordinate to ensure a successful PrepCom process. Throughout this process, we need to work to promote a constructive dialogue and a positive exchange of views among NPT parties. Above all, we need to remain aware of the fundamental priority of this process: to serve our mutual interest in a strengthened NPT regime. As the 2000 NPT Review Conference process gets underway, the United States looks forward to working with all of you to make this shared priority a reality.