The United States and the Prospects for NPT Extension

By Graham, Thomas, Jr. | Arms Control Today, January 1995 | Go to article overview

The United States and the Prospects for NPT Extension


Graham, Thomas, Jr., Arms Control Today


I would like to thank the Arms Control Association, not only for inviting me to address you today, but also for its ongoing efforts to promote sound arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament policy. This organization's contribution to the policy debate over the years has been invaluable, and is perhaps more so now than it has been at any time in the past, with the NPT review and extension conference, scheduled to begin in less than three months. The decision taken at that conference on the extension of the NPT will have a determinant impact on the future of arms control.

Tomorrow I will lead my delegation to New York to participate in the fourth and final PrepCom meeting before the NPT review and extension conference convenes in April. Our goal is to convince states parties to the NPT that a prompt decision for its indefinite extension is the best way to protect their security. Our case is overwhelmingly strong, but it is not without challenge. The "hard questions" that we have encountered so many times must be answered definitively now, if our answers are going to mean anything. I would like to address some of these hard questions today.

Six "Hard Questions"

The Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) will be very important to the extension decision, not only because it includes a large number of countries, in fact the majority of NPT states parties, but also because it represents the interests of the developing, non-nuclear-weapon states. These states have consistently had concerns about the NPT that are becoming more clear as the time for decision nears. Acting on behalf of the NAM, Indonesia submitted a document to the third PrepCom that identified six areas in which "substantive progress" by the nuclear-weapon states would "contribute to the successful outcome of the review and extension conference of the NPT." Briefly, these six demands of the non-aligned states are:

1) agreement on a time-bound framework for the total elimination of all nuclear weapons;

2) adherence by the nuclear-weapon states to nuclear-weapon-free zone agreements, especially in the Middle East and Africa;

3) completion of a comprehensive test ban (CTB) treaty;

4) conclusion of a treaty providing legally binding positive and negative security assurances to non-nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT;

5) conclusion of a treaty banning the production and stockpiling of fissile material for nuclear weapons that is non-discriminatory, effectively verifiable and universally applicable; and

6) guaranteeing free and unimpeded access to nuclear technology for developing non-nuclear-weapons states.

While it is unrealistic to expect these demands to be wholly fulfilled before the extension conference begins, we have "hard answers" to each of these challenges; the "substantive progress" the NAM asks for is taking place in five of these areas, and the sixth we believe is a non-issue.

Ending the Arms Race

The first of the NAM demands addresses the core obligations undertaken by the nuclear-weapon states parties to the NPT in Article VI to end the arms race and seek general nuclear disarmament; and it is perhaps here that our record is most demonstrably strong. In recent years we and the former Soviet Union have eliminated over 2,500 intermediate-range missiles and taken an entire class of weapons system out of commission, decided unilaterally to withdraw and dismantle thousands more tactical arms, and in START I and START II, agreed to take more than 17,000 nuclear weapons off missiles and bombers.

The NPT's call for an end to the nuclear arms race has been met. Now, the race is on to bring nuclear force levels down as quickly, safely and securely as possible.

More recent events attest that this trend continues. The Clinton administration's Nuclear Posture Review has recently confirmed that nuclear weapons play a smaller role now in U.S. security strategy than at any time since their inception. …

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