August 1, 1996

The Honorable John D. Holum, Director
U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Statement to the Conference on Disarmament

Geneva, Switzerland

The United States congratulates you on your assumption of the chair at this critical time for multilateral arms control. Peru has long supported the work of the Conference on Disarmament. Your leadership will be vital as the CD completes its work on arms control's longest sought, hardest fought goal -- a comprehensive test ban treaty.

I have had the opportunity this week to meet with many of you in smaller sessions, and to consult how we might promptly conclude the CTBT. Today it is my privilege to address you formally. I want to begin by recalling key elements of President Clinton's statement just a few days ago, on July 26. The President declared that:

"Today I am proud to tell you that when the Conference on Disarmament reconvenes in Geneva on Monday, we will be one step closer to realizing President Kennedy's vision of a safer world.

"The United States will support without change the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty that the chairman of the negotiating committee proposed when the negotiations adjourned last June."

The President then called upon all CD members to "forward the chairman's text without change to the United Nations so that the General Assembly can approve the Treaty and open it for signature in September." And he concluded, "what a remarkable thing that would be."

Mr. President, throughout the 1980's the United States was not ready to move swiftly on a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Since 1993, though, President Clinton has confirmed that we are ready to achieve this historic goal. Is this Conference ready?

The text President Clinton endorsed is that put forth by the distinguished Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on a nuclear test ban, Ambassador Ramaker of the Netherlands, on June 28. I congratulate Ambassador Ramaker on a job well done, and in particular for his diligence and care in drawing from this body a balanced and fair agreement, one that distills our disparate views in a way that allows us all to declare a victory, to claim this agreement as a success. Ambassador Ramaker has taken care to avoid presenting this Treaty on a "take it or leave it" basis. Rather, he has offered it to the Conference as his best effort to reflect consensus, where consensus can be discerned, and as a reasonable compromise where there is no common view.

Nevertheless, we must all recognize that as a practical matter, it still comes down to a choice between this Treaty and no Treaty at all. This is dictated not by the chairman, but by objective conditions.

To take the present draft Treaty text only as the starting point for further negotiations, rather than as our best achievable result, might make sense if national positions had a flexibility which Ambassador Ramaker failed to apprehend. But they do not. We know this. We have explored it. We could spend more days, more months, more years searching for the perfect Treaty. But we will never do better.

So whether it is called "renegotiation" or merely "refinement," the most probable result of further negotiation is to doom this treaty -- and once more to turn back a 40 year effort to ban nuclear explosions.


Mr. President, since the United States strongly supports it, I would like to address briefly the leading criticisms of the chairman's proposed text.

First, there is the claim that the draft does not contribute sufficiently to nuclear disarmament, in particular because it does not contain a commitment to a specific end point when disarmament will be complete.

But the draft CTBT is fully consistent with the nuclear disarmament process. No less than five preambular paragraphs address the connection between the two -- and the preamble, with the rest of the Treaty, is subject to review.

Of course, the fundamental commitment of all parties to pursue disarmament derives from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons -- and was reaffirmed in the principles and objectives adopted by the review and extension conference last year. That same document called for conclusion of the CTBT as the first priority, no later than 1996. Last fall the United Nations General Assembly, by consensus, advanced that deadline to this September.

Some member states obviously want even more. But we would all do well to consider where we would be today if President Kennedy and our other predecessors in these ventures had adopted the principle that no worthy step should be taken until everything can be achieved.

Under such a rule, nuclear testing in the atmosphere would still be allowed, because we could not have agreed to prevent it. There would be no Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The dramatic steps in nuclear disarmament that are now underway -- taking down two-thirds of U.S. and former Soviet strategic warheads, and thousands more intermediate and short-range systems -- would have been nullified, because we could not yet clearly envision the next step, much less the final one.

Clearly, overloading the CTBT with distinct goals not now achievable is a formula not for progress, but for paralysis -- a search not for what is possible, but for what is not, to stop this work in its tracks.

A second criticism is that the Treaty's scope should be broader, to include non-explosive experiments involving nuclear warheads, or even mathematical calculations as to how nuclear explosives might behave.

Leaving aside the difficulty of verifying such constraints, the United States has made clear that steps to maintain the safety and reliability of remaining weapons, not involving nuclear explosions, must continue. But we have also made it crystal clear, as long ago as President Clinton's message to this Conference in January 1994, that this Treaty will stop new generations of nuclear weapons as well as constraining the spread of nuclear explosive capabilities to other states.

This is sometimes referred to as halting both vertical and horizontal proliferation. Let me repeat: United States stockpile stewardship activities will not give us the means in the absence of nuclear testing to frustrate the comprehensive test ban, to discover technological alternatives, or to build new types of nuclear weapons.

In this way, the CTBT will in fact halt the vertical proliferation of nuclear weaponry. As President Clinton put it on May 22, "we have got to stop an entire new generation of nuclear weapons by signing a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty this year."

Another criticism is that the verification regime reaches too far.

United States views on verification are well known: we would have preferred stronger measures, especially in the decision-making process for on-site inspections, and in numerous specific provisions affecting the practical implementation of the inspection regime.

I feel no need to defend this view. The mission of the Conference on Disarmament is not to erect political symbols, but to negotiate enforceable agreements. That requires effective verification, not as the preference of any party, but as the sine qua non of this body's work.

Indeed, some four years ago, when the Chemical Weapons Convention was completed, the consensus was that the equivalent of a sub-majority of one-fourth of the Executive Council was enough to authorize an on-site inspection.

Nevertheless, the United States has made a difficult decision -- that, on balance, it will accept the positions embodied in the draft Treaty, recognizing that in so doing it has stretched itself to the limit in what is provided for effective verification, both for the discovery of cheating, and for its deterrence.

On the other hand, the United States has no less need than anyone else for confidence that facilities unrelated to the scope of this Treaty will not be subject to unwarranted scrutiny. But we believe the draft Treaty leans farther toward the "defense" than is necessary. If we seek to verify a true zero yield Treaty, we cannot do without at least the Treaty's modest provisions to support verification in places where nuclear explosions reasonably could occur.

It is argued that the entry into force provision brings into question both the utility of the Treaty and the sovereignty of states.

On this issue the United States would have preferred a number of outcomes over the one we are prepared now to support. And we are well aware of the anxiety voiced by many states and groups that the present provision is tantamount to neutering the Treaty.

The United States does not share that assessment. For we know -- indeed, from our own experience, on this Treaty -- that the views of governments evolve. We thus are confident that the Treaty will not only be signed immediately by the great majority of nations, but that before too long those not presently in a position to adhere will be able to reconsider.

This confidence follows from our conviction that the CTBT will in fact serve the basic security objectives of all states; that it will in fact be the next milestone on the path toward nuclear disarmament; that it will be an important stabilizing factor in all regions of the world; that it in fact satisfies the aspirations member states of the United Nations voiced so strongly over the past four decades to put a stop to all nuclear explosive testing.

The CTBT will serve its ultimate goals even before its entry into force. The actions of this body, in agreeing to forward the Treaty to the United Nations General Assembly; the actions of the assembly, in agreeing to endorse the Treaty and request that it be opened for signature; and the actions of states, in signing it, will establish a powerful norm against nuclear explosions.

From the time of decision, that near-consensus of the international community will serve as a mighty barrier against testing. As proof, I would point out that even before the negotiations are completed, but in their light, all the nuclear weapon states have already stopped nuclear weapon testing.

The term "sovereignty" has been invoked in connection with the entry into force provision. No one denies the sovereign right of a state to choose to endorse this Treaty or not, to sign or not, to ratify or not.

But we should also consider the sovereign rights of all the other states in these negotiations to decide collectively upon the conditions for the Treaty's full effectiveness. And we should consider as well the authority of the Conference on Disarmament, and how it will suffer if it is unable to complete this historic negotiation.

Finally, we hear complaints about process -- that there has been too little negotiation, or that the Treaty has been somehow "pre-cooked" by Ambassador Ramaker or one or another group of states.

That is answered in both the text and the process that yielded it.

As for whether the text has been "pre-cooked," I can only tell you that if the United States had been engaged in such activity, we would have consulted a much different cookbook. Among many other things, the Treaty does not contain:

Certainly, we all have disappointments in this Treaty. And that is the case precisely because it has emerged from a negotiating process, which has had to account for a wide variety of national interests and perspectives.

The current text manifestly is drawn from two and one-half years of all delegations' efforts -- from the rolling text, from alternative drafts or segments introduced by several delegations, from the working groups, from intense work by numerous friends of the chair who focused on particular issues, and then from the chairman's meticulous consultations and distillation of reactions to successive drafts. Every nation that wanted it, and every group, has had a part in those procedures.

The vast bulk of the text, perhaps 90 or 95 percent, faithfully represents the true state of the negotiations, where consensus has been achieved. The remainder -- which to be sure includes some of the most important and sensitive issues -- bespeaks a search for a fair middle ground between strong, irreconcilable differences of view. As to these provisions, such as on the trigger mechanism for on-site inspections, we must recognize, first, that they are largely "zero sum" matters, so that the text cannot be moved toward one side without moving away from the other. Even more importantly, it is clear that in crafting solutions the chairman has been scrupulously fair and reasonable in his judgments. He has consulted widely. He has done his best to measure both the content and the intensity of views. He has considered the national security interests and the global precedents involved.

As a result, he has produced a draft Treaty that none of us, despite our disappointments, can claim is unrepresentative or unfair. Indeed, if such claims are still made, then we would have to question seriously whether a multilateral body of this kind can ever both negotiate properly and reach final results.


Therefore, this is the text that should be forwarded to the United Nations General Assembly for its endorsement, and opened for signature by the outset of the 51st General Assembly.

The obvious remaining problems notwithstanding, I still have faith that can happen -- for two very basic reasons.

The first comes from contemplating what happens if we fail.

No one can guarantee that if the Conference on Disarmament forwards this Treaty to the United Nations, then by a date certain the world will be free of nuclear weapons. But all can fully understand that such a day will be long delayed, perhaps indefinitely, if after four decades of effort we now falter in taking the next concrete step down that road.

If we fail now, no one will remember that it was for the sake of greater glory, more progress all at once, a more perfect agreement. They will simply remember that the member states had the opportunity to take a profoundly valuable step, and could not bring themselves to do so.

But we can act now not only to escape that dismal fate, but to seize an alternative future brimming with hope.

For this Treaty truly achieves a long-standing and lofty goal -- to end nuclear explosions of any size, by anyone, anywhere, for all time.

For this Treaty's scope truly embodies the objective envisioned for the comprehensive test ban since the earliest days, in the middle of the 1950s, when world leaders of great vision saw that ending all nuclear explosions would sharply constrain the further development of nuclear weapons.

And this Treaty truly has a place in the process of disarmament -- representing a giant step toward the day when nuclear weapons will themselves be a memory.

The time of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has at last arrived. Let all the nations represented here, and their distinguished representatives, be remembered as the ones who finally claimed it -- and so earned an honored place in history, and served a waiting, grateful world.