Thomas Graham, Jr.: Preparing for the 1995 NPT Conference

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With attention increasingly focused on the critical nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) extension and review conference beginning in April 1995, Thomas Graham, Jr. plays a key role in negotiations to gain indefinite treaty extension during voting at the conference. He has been Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) general counsel since 1983, served as acting director from January to November 1992 and since November 23, 1992, has been acting deputy director. Among other assignments, he served as legal adviser to the U.S. SALT II delegation and senior ACDA representative to the U.S. Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces delegation in 1981-82. He was interviewed May 26 by Jack Mendelsohn and on B. Wolfsthal.

Arms Control Today: What is your responsibility over the next few months as we lead up to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review and extension conference?

Thomas Graham, Jr.: I was asked by ACDA Director John Holum to head the U.S. effort to obtain extension of the NPT at the conference of the parties scheduled, pursuant to the terms of the treaty, for 1995. It is a very strongly held U.S. view that it is essential to achieve the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT in 1995 to make this treaty a permanent part of the international security environment, one which all states understand is around to stay and on which they can rely. I will be heading the U.S. delegation to all the Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meetings. ACDA has the lead in the U.S. government for NPT extension, which is how I came to be selected by Director Holum for this job.

I also have been, and will be, conducting bilateral discussions in key capitals around the world, and with representatives of various countries in New York, as we proceed toward the conference of the parties in 1995. I will also be very much involved in managing U.S. efforts at the conference itself.

ACT: What do you see as the current prospects for achieving indefinite treaty extension?

Graham: I think there is a reasonable chance to achieve indefinite extension, but it is far from assured.

ACT: Why does the United States consider it so important to achieve indefinite extension of the NPT?

Graham: The NPT is the cornerstone of the international non-proliferation regime, the basis on which all international arms control agreements are built. But it is the only international arms control agreement of significance that does not have unlimited duration. So it is important to make the NPT, which is the foundation of our efforts to make the world a safer place, a permanent part of the international security structure. Indefinite extensionmaking the treaty permanent--would be the strongest signal that the world community could send to would-be proliferators that their actions will not be tolerated.

It is important to make this treaty permanent so as to eliminate the tendency for countries to do worst-case planning and, as a result, possibly pursue nuclear weapons programs because they assume that the treaty might someday end. I we truly want to achieve a nuclear-free world, if we truly want to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, if we truly believe in arms control, there is only one way and that is to make permanent this treaty on which all our non-proliferation efforts are based. To suggest otherwise is to suggest playing around with the basis of our security. Weakening the NPT could weaken not only the all-important limitations that we now have against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, but all other forms of arms control as well.

ACT: Any extension has to be made by a majority of parties to the treaty. If faced with a choice between achieving only the bare majority for indefinite treaty extension or a larger majority for some other fixed period or periods of extension, has the United States decided which it would choose? …