Fulfilling the Promise of the NPT: The CTBT and Beyond
Dhanapala, Jayantha, Arms Control Today
On June 12, Jayantha Dhanapala, Sri Lankan ambassador to the United States, addressed the annual dinner of the Arms Control Association. Ambassador Dhanapala was president of the 1995 review and extension conference of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and is a member of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons. The following is an edited version of his remarks to the Association.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'm delighted to be here this evening, particularly I since it's the silver jubilee annual dinner of this great association. I would like to felicitate you and to wish the Arms Control Association many more years of dedicated service to the cause of arms control and disarmament, because we, in that esoteric trade, do make a distinction between arms control and disarmament. But it may be complicated if you convert yourself into the Arms Control and Disarmament Association because then the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency [ACDA] might get a little jealous.
Shai Feldman, the well-known Israeli expert on international security, whom many of you know, is not only an expert in his field but he's a great raconteur of jokes. And one of his jokes, which I've heard second-hand, was about an Israeli academic in the United States who was asked by somebody who wanted a soundbite what he would say if he had one word to describe the Israeli political situation. And he said, "Good." And then he was asked what would he say if he had two words to describe the Israeli political situation. And he said, "Not good."
I'm in a similar situation because if I had to describe what the prospect was for nuclear disarmament after the NPT review and extension conference in one word, I would say it was good; in two words I would say it was not good. But fortunately, I've been given half an hour in which I could make many qualifying statements.
It is 13 months since the conclusion of the 1995 review and extension conference of the Treaty for the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons-the NPT. Thirteen may be an inauspicious number in Christendom because of somber memories of the Last Supper. It is not so in other cultures, and this particular fault line between civilizations will not, as Samuel Huntington predicts in the case of others, cause any clash.
Coming as I do from Asia, I am therefore convinced that today the opportunities for nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament-two faces of the same coin-that were opened by the 1995 conference's decisions are being grasped by the international community, which will overcome the challenges that lie ahead. Proof of this is the fact that we now have nuclear-weapon-free zones in Africa and Southeast Asia; the protocols of the Treaty of Rarotonga were signed on March 25 of this year by France, the United Kingdom and the United States; and a comprehensive and verifiable ban on all nuclear explosions, including nuclear weapon test explosions, is a very likely possibility at the end of this month, paving the way to achieve the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons completely
But first, the achievement of the 1995 NPT conference needs to be restated accurately and clearly A year after the conference, the U.S. secretary of state, Warren Christopher, in a statement before a House of Representatives committee on May 15, 1996, refers twice to a U.S. achievement of "the indefinite and unconditional extension" of the NPT. I must disagree, with all respect, of course. I'm sure that ACDA did not draft that speech. The achievement of the 1995 conference was a collaborative effort by all the parties to the NPT. The treaty's indefinite extension-achieved without a vote-represented therefore an example of how multilateralism can and does work. Equally important is the fact that three inextricably inter-related decisions adopted in parallel at the conference constituted, along with the resolution on the Middle East, a package that has to be seen as representative of an indefinite but conditional extension of the NPT. …