"Challenges and Opportunities in the
Post-NPT Conference Environment"
In May 1995, the nations of the world made history in agreeing to extend indefinitely and without conditions the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, or NPT. The importance of this decision to the cause of global security and stability cannot be overstated. Future generations will now be able to look back at 1995 as the year the NPT -- the cornerstone of the international nonproliferation regime and the bulwark against the further proliferation of nuclear weapons -- was made a permanent part of the international security system. This was a collective victory for all countries and for all people who desire to be free from the threat posed by the spread of nuclear weapons. It was one occasion where we can say, without fear of cliche, that the world was made a much safer place.
Challenges on the Road to Indefinite Extension:
Achievement of indefinite extension itself presented a major foreign policy challenge to the United States, and in particular to the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), which led the U.S. efforts to obtain this outcome. The primary challenges to achieving this objective were two-fold. First, it became clear early on in the process that many NPT parties, and primarily the smaller non-aligned countries, did not appreciate fully the importance of the extension decision for their own national and regional security concerns. In order to ensure that every NPT party understood the seriousness of the extension issue and the ramifications of the decision for national and regional security concerns, the United States undertook an intensive and widespread diplomatic effort aimed at increasing NPT parties' understanding of the importance of the NPT, not only for global security, but also for regional stability and the need to ensure that the outcome in 1995 resulted in a strengthened Treaty. Importantly, these efforts emphasized the unique and vital role of the NPT in preventing nuclear proliferation, in promoting efforts toward nuclear disarmament, and in promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.
Once awareness of the importance of the NPT was raised, a second challenge surfaced. Although virtually all NPT parties acknowledged the vital role the NPT plays in the international security system and virtually all agreed on the importance of ensuring that the Treaty remained a viable part of that system, there was no shared view on which extension option would be the best outcome for the regime and for ensuring the fulfillment of the NPT's objectives. A few countries argued that a limited extension of 5-10 years would be best, arguing that it would allow non-nuclear-weapon states to maintain leverage over the nuclear-weapon-states to make progress toward nuclear disarmament. Many more countries argued that a longer, but still limited, extension of 25 years would be the best outcome both to maintain the benefits of the NPT regime and to preserve leverage on the nuclear weapon states to continue toward nuclear disarmament. Still others proposed that the Treaty be extended for an unlimited series of fixed periods, with an agreed mechanism to allow for movement from one period into the next.
Having determined early on that indefinite extension of the NPT was the option that best served its national security and foreign policy objectives, the United States, and many other countries including Canada, worked diligently to convince other NPT parties that only an indefinite extension of the Treaty could guarantee that the NPT would remain a stable part of the international security system and thus ensure continued progress in preventing nuclear proliferation, promoting efforts toward nuclear disarmament and ensuring a stable environment in which nuclear cooperation could flourish. These countries stressed the importance of the NPT to world security and the danger that anything less than indefinite extension could jeopardize these objectives.
The culmination of years of preparation and an unprecedented international diplomatic campaign -- in which Canada played an important role -- came on May 11, 1995, when 175 of the then-177 parties to the Treaty agreed without a vote to the indefinite extension of the NPT, without conditions. Central to this decision was agreement on two documents which summarized the expectations and the objectives of all the parties -- the principles and objectives for nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament, and a strengthened treaty review process, respectively the hammer and the anvil of the post-NPT extension epoch.
Principles and Objectives
The decision on principles and objectives outlined an "agenda" of issues that the parties identified as important to future efforts to implement and sustain the NPT. It encompassed all of the elements generally regarded as critical to the long-term success of the treaty and of the nonproliferation regime that it supports. In particular, it:
-- reaffirms the commitment of the nuclear-weapon states to Article VI of the NPT and outlines a program of action that calls for completion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) "no later than 1996," the early conclusion of negotiations on a convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other explosives, and "systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons...";
-- encourages "as a matter of priority" the establishment of nuclear weapon free zones especially in regions of tension, as well as the establishment of zones free from all weapons of mass destruction, and notes the necessity of nuclear-weapon states' support for such zones to achieve their maximum effectiveness;
-- underlines the importance of IAEA safeguards for verifying NPT safeguards obligations and of supporting and implementing efforts to strengthen the effectiveness of such safeguards, as well as to increase the Agency's ability to detect undeclared nuclear facilities;
-- endorses full-scope IAEA safeguards and internationally legally-binding nonproliferation commitments not to acquire nuclear explosives as a necessary precondition of new nuclear supply arrangements to non-nuclear-weapon states; and
-- affirms the importance of the full implementation of the NPT's undertaking to "facilitate participation in the fullest possible exchange of equipment, materials and scientific and technological information for the peaceful uses of nuclear energy."
Before reviewing the status of efforts to implement these recommendations, I would like to say a few words about the process for strengthening treaty review.
Strengthening the Treaty Review Process
Interest in "strengthening" or "enhancing" the traditional treaty review process grew out of a concern shared by many non-nuclear weapon states that the nuclear weapon states would lose any incentive to make progress toward nuclear disarmament as called for by Article VI of the NPT once they had secured indefinite extension. A way to deal with this desire for greater nuclear weapon state accountability was to endow the NPT review conferences and the associated preparatory meetings with a more substantive character, thus "strengthening" the process. This struck a chord with the NPT non-nuclear weapon state members who saw this as an opportunity to promote the goal of full implementation of the Treaty by all its parties including the nuclear weapon states.
As part of the strengthened review process, the parties agreed that the now traditional NPT Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) should hold annual sessions beginning in 1997, "normally for a duration of 10 working days." The PrepCom is to make recommendations to the Review Conference on principles, objectives, and ways to promote the full implementation of the Treaty. It was also agreed that future NPT review conferences should look forward as well as back, both evaluating the results of the period since the previous Review Conference and making recommendations for the future. While the PrepComs will deal with many of the same procedural issues as in the past, much additional thought needs to be given to how the substantive aspect of the process will relate to the procedural aspect and how the process overall will be implemented.
We have begun to wrestle with this issue and with the prospect of once again embarking on an unprecedented multilateral process. Much about how the "strengthened treaty review process" will unfold is unknown. However, it is clear that the package of decisions taken by the 1995 NPT Conference has created an ambitious arms control agenda and an important set of benchmarks against which to judge progress toward commonly shared goals.Challenges on the Road to the 2000 Review Conference.
Having outlined the foundations upon which future dialogue will focus and depend, I would like to briefly discuss the challenges we face as we work to implement the arms control and nonproliferation agenda set forth in the 1995 NPT Conference decisions.
Nuclear Testing by China and France:
The difficulty of the challenges ahead was underscored in the days following the Conference when China conducted an underground nuclear weapon test. This action was followed by the announcement by France that it would end the testing moratorium it had been observing along with the United States, United Kingdom and Russia, and news reports that nuclear weapon states were considering continued low-yield testing under a CTBT. These events, particularly Chinese and French testing plans, coming so close on the heels of the 1995 NPT Conference, resulted in a strong (and persistent) feeling of "betrayal" on the part of non-nuclear-weapon states and assertions that the nuclear weapon states were abrogating the commitments made during the 1995 NPT Conference to "exercise utmost restraint" in nuclear testing pending entry into force of a CTBT.
The nuclear testing issue was hotly debated throughout the summer and fall of 1995, contributing to a difficult session of the 50th United Nations General Assembly. However, in August 1995, the United States, France, and the United Kingdom announced support for a zero-yield CTBT. Russia subsequently signaled its support as well. France concluded its nuclear testing series in February; announced it will close its South Pacific testing site; agreed to sign the protocols to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty of Rarotonga, an event scheduled to take place on March 25; announced publicly a series of unilateral nuclear arms control and disarmament steps, including ending the production of fissile material for weapons purposes; and has said it would work diligently to conclude a CTBT this year.
Completion of a CTBT "No Later Than 1996"
Achieving a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has been a goal of the international community since the 1960s and most countries today view a CTBT as a singularly important step on the road toward nuclear disarmament. A CTBT was the only arms control initiative set forth in the 1995 NPT Conference decisions with a specified date, [the Conference on Disarmament was called upon to complete work on CTBT negotiations no later than 1996] underscoring how strong was the desire of the NPT parties to finally realize this long-elusive objective. Shortly afterward, the 1995 UN General Assembly unanimously voted a resolution that the CTBT should be opened for signature prior to the convening of the 51st UN General Assembly in September 1996. The conventional wisdom is that conclusion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in 1996 will substantially enhance the process leading to the 2000 NPT Review Conference and will have an enormously positive impact on efforts to strengthen further the NPT and to ensure that its objectives are being implemented.
The United States recognizes the importance attached to the CTBT and has made intensive efforts to ensure that the Treaty is concluded in June so that it can be signed in the fall of 1996. We rescinded our earlier proposal for special withdrawal procedures after 10 years; we joined other nuclear weapon states in calling for a zero-yield CTBT; we have worked with nuclear weapon and non-nuclear-weapon states alike to develop a treaty text that will end nuclear explosions for all time. As President Clinton said in his State of the Union Address, a CTBT is America's "top arms control priority."
Last month, at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, both Australia and Iran introduced complete treaty texts. By refocusing the issues that divide the delegations and by demonstrating the extend to which there is already widespread agreement on issues, their efforts demonstrate that our timetable is realistic.
Negotiation of a Fissile Material Production Cut-Off Treaty
The 1995 NPT Conference decisions also call for the "immediate commencement and early conclusion of a ... convention banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices" -- the so-called fissile material production cut-off treaty (FMCT). A fissile material cut-off treaty has been another long-sought arms control objective of the international community. During the Cold War, there was no consensus among the nuclear weapon states to consider seriously the negotiation of such a treaty, but the end of the Cold War and the recognition that nuclear proliferation represented a serious threat to international security resulted in a new impetus for the FMCT initiative. President Clinton called for a cutoff treaty in 1993 and the United States subsequently joined in co-sponsoring a resolution at the UN General Assembly urging the negotiation of a FMCT by the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. That resolution formed the basis for a consensus decision in the Conference on Disarmament in March 1995 to pursue negotiations by establishing a negotiating mandate and an Ad Hoc Committee. Unfortunately, the 1995 CD session closed without any progress on beginning negotiations.
At the heart of the problem is the apparent reluctance of some states to give up their unsafeguarded fissile material production. This has played out in the CD as a series of procedural delays, including the G-21's efforts to hold cutoff negotiations hostage to appointment of a special coordinator or Ad Hoc Committee on nuclear disarmament. First Pakistan, then India, persuaded the other G-21 states to delay the onset of negotiations on cutoff until nuclear disarmament is addressed in the CD. With the first CD session of 1996 underway, efforts to begin negotiation of a cutoff treaty continue to be thwarted.
Multilateral Arms Control Dynamics
The 1995 NPT Conference decisions reflect the strong interest on the part of NPT non-nuclear-weapon states to see greater progress made toward full implementation of NPT Article VI and, in particular, the achievement of nuclear disarmament. Following the 1995 NPT Conference, the small minority of countries (both within and without the NPT regime) that were not satisfied with the NPT Conference outcome began to agitate publicly for those measures not agreed by the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. They began selectively to reinterpret the Conference decisions and to demand the establishment of certain arms control measures. In a direct challenge to the agenda set forth at the 1995 NPT Conference, these states have called for creation of linkage between important and internationally agreed initiatives, such as a FMCT, and rhetorical and unagreed initiatives, such as creating a time-bound framework for nuclear disarmament.
The actions of these few states, including some not party to the NPT, belie the very real cooperative atmosphere that resulted in the agreement to the 1995 NPT Conference decisions as well as the growing de-emphasis on "bloc politics" in favor of national or regional security perspectives. Their actions have undermined efforts to move forward constructively on important arms control initiatives, including the CTBT and FMCT. It has also run counter to stated interest in continuing the constructive dialogue that flourished during the 1995 NPT Conference process. If continued progress is to be made toward mutually shared arms control objectives, such as those outlined in the "Principles and Objectives" decision, it will be essential for these few states to stand down from the kind of approach that has characterized their participation in the arms control debate over the past eight months.
Allow me, if you will, to take this point a bit further. Disarmament on demand or timetable disarmament is not a tenable proposition -- rather, it is political grandstanding that blocks out of consideration whether and to what extent the security environment in which disarmament is to take place is conducive to such measures. We live today, and will for some time to come, in a period of transition between a world anchored on two relatively well disciplined superpower alliances which defined the international security order, and a future that is unknown and difficult to map with confidence and which is more likely than not to be characterized by forms of complex multipolarity in which local, regional and transnationalist forces weigh heavily. Building down one security order requires a commensurate building up of alternative orders if stability is to be safeguarded. The goal of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons must take this consideration into account. What is critically important at this stage is to engage in a process that moves us inexorably toward that goal but avoids the error of generating expectations that cannot be met, thus feeding the flames of disillusionment and frustration and reinforcing those who would argue against changing the nuclear status quo.
This debate over nuclear disarmament presents a continuous challenge, and one that is not easily addressed. The insistence on the part of non-nuclear weapon states for "disarmament on demand" must be reconciled with the reality that achievement of nuclear disarmament will not happen unless and until the international security situation evolves to the point where, in effect, nuclear weapons can be written out of our national security doctrine and strategies. Certainly the international security situation has changed dramatically from the days of the Cold War; U.S. strategic doctrine has evolved in response to this changed security environment and, as we announced in completing our Nuclear Posture Review, nuclear weapons today play a smaller role in U.S. military planning than at any time in the past. The reality, however, is that while much improved, the security situation today continues to present significant threats to the United States and its allies, and to global stability overall.
Many states appear unwilling to accept the fact that, in spite of the commitment of the United States and other nuclear weapon states to the elimination of nuclear weapons -- commitments that have been repeatedly reaffirmed and reinforced through the continued progress in nuclear arms reduction -- nuclear disarmament cannot and will not be achieved overnight. Our long experience illustrates the fact that nuclear arms reduction and elimination is a tedious process -- necessarily so. Like it or not, the fact is that the implementation schedule for START I and II -- agreements that already have been negotiated -- will take many years to fulfill. Without getting into a detailed discussion of what this audience already well knows concerning U.S.-Russian nuclear arms control and disarmament measures, let me just say that now that the U.S. Senate has provided its advice and consent to START II our primary concern is achieving consent to ratification by the Russian Duma. Following this, we intend to work with Russia on the deactivation of START II forces. During their September 1994 summit meeting, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin committed to consider further reductions of, and limitations on, remaining nuclear forces once START II was ratified. In the meantime, implementation of START I is running several years ahead of schedule.
On the multilateral front, I am personally intrigued by the undertaking of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons, which is approaching its task with a recognition that although there have been many calls for nuclear disarmament, there has been thus far no attempt to develop a comprehensive or practical answer to how this objective can be achieved. This issue is one with which we will continue to struggle and our work on the NPT will continue to be challenged by the existing tension between the desire for a nuclear free world and what is needed for us to transform this shared vision into reality.
Global Versus Regional Solutions
The NPT is the sine qua non of international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. The fact that this Treaty is nearing universality speaks to the continued vitality and increasing importance with which the international community views this regime. In my view, the near-universal status of the NPT has arguably created a customary rule of international law. As such, violations of the normative provisions of the NPT could be considered a violation of international law. The 1992 UN Security Council Presidential Statement declaring that nuclear proliferation is a threat to international peace and security reinforces this view that a violation of the norms embodied by the NPT is tantamount to a violation of international law.
The fact of this strong and undeniable norm, however, has to date not been able to solve alone certain proliferation problems that challenge the international community. In such cases, regional efforts may be needed to supplement or parallel those carried out on a global scale. The situation in North Korea is an example of a regional solution working to reinforce the objectives of the global regime. The U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework froze North Korea's nuclear program and provides a basis for full resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue, including compliance with its IAEA safeguards agreement. Since the conclusion of this agreement in October 1994, the DPRK has maintained the freeze on its nuclear facilities and allowed the IAEA a continuous presence at the Nyongbyon nuclear center. Moreover, with the successful conclusion of the KEDO-DPRK LWR supply agreement in December, the DPRK recently announced that it will allow the IAEA ad hoc and routine inspections at non-frozen facilities.
The Agreed Framework is based on reciprocal steps to be taken by both the United States and DPRK over many years. While most of North Korea's nuclear facilities are now closed and the IAEA has a continuous presence in North Korea, full compliance with its safeguards agreement and other critical DPRK steps will not occur for several years. In fulfilling obligations under the Agreed Framework, we need to be vigilant in ensuring that the DPRK is also fulfilling its obligations.
A regional approach to nonproliferation could be a way of dealing with the reluctance of India and Pakistan to adhere to the NPT and to place all their nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. The regional approach could also play a role in encouraging Israel to place its nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards. At the 1995 NPT Conference, a resolution was adopted by consensus which, inter alia, endorses the aims and objectives of the Middle East peace process and recognizes that efforts in this regard, as well as other efforts, will contribute to a Middle East free of nuclear weapons as well as all weapons of mass destruction.
The most well-known "regional" approach to the problem of nonproliferation has been the development of regional nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties. The NPT Conference gave new impetus to the negotiation of nuclear-weapon-free zone treaties for specific regions. The United States has been and continues to be prepared to consider supporting nuclear-weapon-free zones that meet a number of long-standing criteria for such zones where their creation would contribute to the achievement of nonproliferation goals. For many years, the United States has been a party to Protocols I and II to the Treaty of Tlatelolco establishing a nuclear weapon free zone in Latin America and the Caribbean. The United States will soon sign the three protocols to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty (Treaty of Rarotonga) along with France and the United Kingdom. This past fall, the United States joined in consensus support on a UN General Assembly resolution recognizing the recently concluded African Nuclear Weapons Free Zone Treaty. A signing ceremony for the Treaty of Pelindaba has been scheduled for early April in Cairo. The United States is studying the final text carefully to determine its final position. Finally, the United States is prepared to consider positively the South-East Asia Nuclear-Weapon Free Zone (SEANWFZ) Treaty signed last December in Bangkok, provided it conforms to our aforementioned long-standing criteria for supporting such zones. We have explained to the ASEAN states that the treaty and protocol still raise significant problems for the United States and does not meet all of our fundamental concerns; however, we are prepared to work with ASEAN states to ensure that these concerns will be adequately addressed.
Universal Adherence to the NPT
The 1995 NPT Conference emphasized the importance the parties attach to making the Treaty a universally accepted legal instrument. The United States has long supported universal adherence to the NPT and has continued its efforts to promote this objective. Since the conclusion of the 1995 NPT Conference, four additional countries have joined the Treaty: Chile, the Comoros, UAE, and Vanuatu. There are now fewer than 10 countries that have not joined the NPT, including India, Israel and Pakistan. It will be important to make every effort to reduce this number of non-parties further by the next Review Conference. The closer the NPT moves to universal membership, the greater the pressure on those outside the regime to conform with its principles.
Strengthening IAEA Safeguards
One of the clearest benefits for the nonproliferation regime is that the great majority of IAEA safeguards agreements will now, for all practical purposes, be of indefinite duration since their duration is linked to the duration of the NPT. The strong support by the Conference for strengthening IAEA safeguards is also of major importance. In addition to the areas highlighted in the "Principles and Objectives" decision, NPT parties endorsed the general direction of the IAEA's Programme 93+2 for a strengthened and cost-effective safeguards system and urged the IAEA to proceed expeditiously with consideration and decision on all aspects of 93+2.
The parties also emphasized that the further strengthening of safeguards was essential to an enhanced NPT verification regime. In this regard, the IAEA Board of Governors has accepted Part I measures -- measures that can be implemented under the IAEA's existing legal authority -- and states are beginning to implement these safe-guards-strengthening measures. Measures requiring additional legal authority, termed Part II measures, are being discussed next week at the March Board of Governors meeting with a view toward consideration at the June Board meeting. The United States has strongly supported this enhancement of the safeguards regime, and is working actively to encourage Part II support in other capitals. We believe that the lessons of Iraq should not be ignored and that it is essential that the members of the IAEA incorporate into the safeguards system the measures needed to increase the IAEA's capability to detect undeclared nuclear activities. We are satisfied that the 93+2 program has identified the necessary additional access and information required for this purpose and that the time is right for the Board of Governors to approve these measures.
These measures will impose some additional burdens on states and, in some instances, may require additional legal authority. Nevertheless, we believe that it is politically imperative for the IAEA to act and for States to play their part in ensuring that the nonproliferation regime remains not only strong, but also adapted to meet the challenges of a well-concealed clandestine nuclear weapon program.
Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation
Of course, not all challenges will be new. There will be continuing tensions between States that assert that nuclear cooperation is being unfairly denied to developing countries and others that believe that nuclear cooperation should be promoted only when it conforms fully to the objectives of the NPT -- i.e. to promote the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under circumstances where the supplier, in the words of the Nuclear Suppliers Group nonproliferation principles "is satisfied that the transfers would not contribute to the proliferation of nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices."
In the view of the United States, such caution is required by the NPT and fully justifies refusal to cooperate with States, like Iran, that are conducting a nuclear weapon development program, even a nascent one. It is no coincidence that Iran was one of the States at the NPT Conference most critical of the nuclear suppliers and multilateral nuclear supply arrangements, such as the Zangger Committee and the NSG. In reality, of course, with the exception of a few states outside the NPT and a few within that are suspect, nuclear cooperation is almost invariably forthcoming across the board -- in nuclear energy programs, which only a few states are pursuing; in nuclear uses for medicine and agriculture; and in the transfer of nuclear related dual-use commodities. Regarding the last point, my delegation brought to the NPT Conference in New York data showing that for a cluster of 11 non-aligned states, including for example, Indonesia, Mexico, Singapore and the Phillipines, the United States had exported roughly a billion dollars worth of NSG controlled dual-use goods in the preceding four years and had done so without a single license denial.
Despite the facts, nuclear suppliers will need to pay more attention to the complaints that have been issued. Even if in some cases the motives are dubious, such complaints resonate in many quarters. We need to work harder to demonstrate to others that the benefits of nuclear energy have been and continue to flow to states with good nonproliferation credentials. This would be one form of transparency in nuclear related export controls that would be well worth pursuing. On the other hand, we cannot permit others to dictate our export control policies or practices or to insist that it is the duty of suppliers to make transfers on concessionary terms.
Remaining Challenges Internal and External Proliferation Threats
There is an obvious remaining challenge in the fact that several nuclear capable states, namely India, Israel, and Pakistan, remain outside the NPT and unwilling to make a binding commitment against nuclear proliferation. What will it take for these states to join the NPT? And if that is not plausible, then what are the alternatives that would minimize the risk that the existence of nuclear capable states outside the treaty will not undermine its integrity? Some have suggested that the answer to this question lies in fundamentally altering the NPT itself by allowing them to join as nuclear weapon states or by creating a new member category for threshold states. Neither is acceptable. Given the issues at the heart of the reluctance of these states to give up the nuclear option, it seems clear that simply insisting on NPT adherence will not be enough and that as already suggested a regional approach may offer the best prospects for dealing with the challenge they present. One thing is certain -- as we progress toward universal adherence to the NPT, their continued non-participation will take on even greater significance.
Just as there are external challenges to the NPT, so too are there continued internal challenges. We have experienced in Iraq and North Korea the near-successful efforts of two non-nuclear-weapon state parties to the NPT to develop a nuclear weapon capability clandestinely in violation of their solemn undertakings. There are today indications that Iran seeks to pursue a nuclear weapons capability in spite of its NPT obligations. Much has been done and much more is underway at the IAEA to ensure that future malevolent intent on the part of NPT parties will not go undetected. These steps are necessary, but not necessarily sufficient. What additional steps should be taken to strengthen compliance with the NPT? Should NPT parties consider creating an internal enforcement mechanism to deal with treaty compliance problems, particularly those that are not the responsibility of the IAEA, as was proposed in the Sri Lankan speech before the 1995 NPT Conference? These important questions are ones which we and other NPT parties will need to consider carefully as we look toward the 2000 NPT Review Conference.
Cooperation with Russia and the Disposition of Fissile Material
Finally, cooperation with Russia and the disposition of fissile material pose two additional challenges to our work. A great deal of success in nonproliferation over the last five years stems from the breakup of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. The United States and Russia have been engaged in a breathtaking multifaceted program to reduce the number of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems; to end the production of fissile material for weapons purposes; to reduce the total amount of HEU by blending it down to LEU for power reactors; to place our nuclear facilities under IAEA safeguards, to transfer fissile material from military to civilian purposes; to improve transparency, physical protection, and fissile materials accounting at Russian facilities; to improve the safety of some Russian reactors and to study alternatives to their continued operation; to ensure that Russian scientists don't export their skills to countries of nonproliferation concern; to transfer nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan to Russia and finally, to prohibit any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.
Cooperation with western countries has been criticized by both the left and the right in Russia. Only time will tell whether this unparalleled program of U.S. and Russian cooperation will go on.
A second area of concern is what to do with the hundreds of tons of weapons-useable fissile material that exist in the world today and that increases daily from nuclear power reactors. While HEU can always be blended down to LEU, the international community has never reached a consensus on what to do with plutonium.
U.S. policy has been for decades not to encourage the civil use of plutonium and, accordingly, we do not ourselves engage in civil plutonium reprocessing. At this time, in fact, we have also ceased reprocessing for nuclear explosive purposes. The United States, however, maintains existing commitments regarding the use of plutonium in civil nuclear programs in Western Europe and Japan. For example, we have just concluded a new 30-year agreement with the EURATOM countries that gives them long-term and predictable consent rights for the reprocessing of U.S.-origin fuel for power reactors.
Our allies and Russia see the situation differently. To them, plutonium is a valuable resource that should be used both to produce electricity and to reduce the total amount of weapons-useable fissile material. Despite the increased terrorist threat and the decreased economic justification for reprocessing because of low uranium prices, these countries are going down the road to the plutonium economy. Addressing the risks associated with plutonium disposition and plutonium-based fuel cycles will remain a continuing challenge.
Fifty years ago, speaking before the United Nations Atomic Energy Commission, the U.S. Representative, Bernard Baruch, began his presentation with these words:
Baruch went on to outline the most ambitious arms control proposal ever designed by man to deal with a danger few could comprehend. Baruch's plan was rejected by the then-Soviet Union and we have been dealing with the ramifications of that rejection ever since.
During the run up to the 1995 NPT Conference, we told many nations that indefinite extension of the NPT would establish a stable strategic environment that would facilitate further progress on arms control. Taking us at our word, the NPT parties extended the Treaty indefinitely, but also created a standard against which this progress would be measured. The decisions from the 1995 NPT Conference were not an end, but rather a new beginning for the NPT. I began my presentation with a discussion of the challenges we faced in achieving the indefinite extension of the NPT. That challenge was successfully answered. We cannot afford to take the NPT for granted simply because its future is now secure. Indeed, taking it for granted could lead to an erosion of confidence and an eventual unraveling of the Treaty we have worked so hard to make permanent. We must now turn our energies to the new and daunting challenge of ensuring that progress continues. Bit by bit, day by day, step by step, agreement by agreement, we will be reaching for the goal that Baruch envisioned -- a world free of nuclear weapons.