Remarks by the President
In Address to the
51st General Assembly of the United Nations
General Assembly Hall
THE PRESIDENT: Mr. President, Mr. Secretary
General, heads of government, foreign ministers, ambassadors,
your excellencies, distinguished guests: Three years ago, I had
the honor of being the first American President born after the
founding of the United Nations to address you. In its 51st year,
the United Nations has not yet realized all its founders'
aspirations, but the ideals of the U.N. Charter -- peace,
freedom, tolerance, prosperity -- these now touch more people in
more nations than ever before.
Now we find ourselves at a turning point in history,
when the blocks and barriers that long defined the world are
giving way to an age of remarkable possibility; a time when more
of our children and more nations will be able to live out their
dreams than ever before.
But this is also an age of new threats: Threats
from terrorists, from rogue states that support them; threats
from ethnic, religious, racial and tribal hatreds; threats from
international criminals and drug traffickers, all of whom will be
more dangerous if they gain access to weapons of mass
The challenge before us plainly is twofold -- to
seize the opportunities for more people to enjoy peace and
freedom, security and prosperity, and to move strongly and
swiftly against the dangers that change has produced. This week
in this place, we take a giant step forward. By overwhelming
global consensus, we will make a solemn commitment to end all
nuclear tests for all time.
Before entering this hall I had the great honor to
be the first leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. I
did so with some pride with this pen, for this pen is the very
one that President Kennedy used to help bring the Limited Test
Ban Treaty to life 33 years ago.
This Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will help to
prevent the nuclear powers from developing more advanced and more
dangerous weapons. It will limit the ability of other states to
acquire such devices themselves. It points us toward a century
in which the roles and risks of nuclear weapons can be further
reduced, and ultimately eliminated.
I want to thank all of those who helped to bring us
to this day, especially the Chairman of the Comprehensive Test
Ban Negotiating Committee, Netherlands' Ambassador Ramaker, and
the government of Australia, which took the lead at the U.N. I
thank the Secretary General for the remarks he made this morning
in establishing the criteria and standards and support of the
United Nations as a depository of the treaty.
The signature of the world's declared nuclear power
-- the United States, China, France, Russia and the United
Kingdom -- along with those of the vast majority of its nations,
will immediately create an international norm against nuclear
testing, even before the treaty formally enters into force.
The CTBT is the shared work of hard negotiation.
Some have complained that it does not mandate total nuclear
disarmament by a date certain. I would say to them, do not
forsake the benefits of this achievement by ignoring the
tremendous progress we have already made toward that goal.
Today, there are no Russian missiles pointed at
America, and no American missiles pointed at Russia. Through the
START treaties we are cutting our nuclear arsenals by two-thirds.
Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan are giving up the nuclear weapons
left on their land after the Soviet Union dissolved. We are
working with the New Independent States to improve security at
nuclear facilities and to convert nuclear weapons to peaceful
The United States and other nuclear weapons states
have embraced the South Pacific and African Nuclear Free Zones.
Now, half the world's land area is nuclear free by international
agreement. And the world community extended indefinitely the
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.
Yet, some of the very changes that have made this
progress possible have also created new risks. The breakup of
the Soviet Union left nuclear materials dispersed throughout the
New Independent States. As barriers have come down around the
world, the danger of nuclear smuggling has gone up. So even as
we reduce the global stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction,
we must also reduce the danger that lethal materials could wind
up in the wrong hands, while developing effective defenses for
our people if that should happen.
The United States has six priority goals to further
lift the threat of nuclear weapons destruction and the threat of
weapons of mass destruction, and to limit their dangerous spread.
First, we must protect our people from chemical attack and make
it harder for rogue states and terrorists to brandish poison gas
by bringing the Chemical Weapons Convention into force as soon as
I thank the nations here that have ratified the
Chemical Weapons Convention. I deeply regret that the United
States Senate has not yet voted on the Convention, but I want to
assure you and people throughout the world that I will not let
this treaty die and we will join the ranks of nations determined
to prevent the spread of chemical weapons.
Second, we must reduce the risk that an outlaw state
or organization could build a nuclear device by negotiating a
treaty to freeze the production of fissile materials for use in
nuclear weapons. The Conference on Disarmament should take up
this challenge immediately. The United States, Russia, France
and the United Kingdom already have halted production of fissile
materials for weapons. I urge other nations to end the
unsafeguarded production of these materials pending completion of
Third, we must continue to reduce our nuclear
arsenals. When Russia ratifies START II, President Yeltsin and I
are all ready to discuss the possibilities of further cuts, as
well as limiting and monitoring nuclear warheads and materials.
This will help make deep reductions irreversible.
Fourth, we must reinforce our efforts against the
spread of nuclear weapons by strengthening the Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty. We should give the International Atomic
Energy Agency a stronger role and sharper tools for conducting
worldwide inspections. Our law enforcement and customs officials
should cooperate more in the fight against nuclear smuggling.
And I urge all nations that have not signed the NPT to do so
Fifth, we must better protect our people from those
who would use disease as a weapon of war, by giving the
Biological Weapons Convention the means to strengthen compliance,
including on-site investigations when we believe such weapons may
have been used, or when suspicious outbreaks of disease occur.
We should aim to complete this task by 1998.
Finally, we must end the carnage caused by
antipersonnel land mines, the hidden killers that murder and maim
more than 25,000 people a year. In May, I announced a series of
actions the United States would take toward this goal. Today, I
renew my appeal for the swift negotiation of a worldwide ban on
the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of antipersonnel
land mines. Our children deserve to walk the Earth in safety.
Thirty-three years ago, at the height of the Cold
War, President Kennedy spoke at American University in
Washington. Peace was the topic of his address, but not an
abstract ideal of peace. Instead, he urged us to focus on,
quote, "a more practical, attainable peace, based not on a sudden
revolution in human nature, but on a gradual evolution in human
institutions; on a series of concrete actions and affirmative,
effective agreements which are in the interests of all
It was in that same speech that he announced that
talks would shortly begin in Moscow on a comprehensive test ban
treaty. President Kennedy's vision exceeded the possibilities of
his time. But his words speak to us still. As we sign our names
to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the longest sought, hardest
fought prize in arms control history, let us summon the
confidence of earlier pioneers and set our sights on the
challenges of the new century.
Over the past three years we have moved in the right
direction in meeting those challenges. In Bosnia, where the war
is over, and just 10 days ago its people went to the polls in
peace, we have moved in the right direction. Now we must help
Bosnia build a unified, democratic and peaceful future. In
Haiti, where the dictators are gone, democracy is back and the
exodus of refugees has ended, we have moved in the right
direction. Now we must help the Haitian people seize the full
benefits of freedom and forge a more prosperous future.
In the Middle East and in Northern Ireland, there is
progress towards lasting peace, and we are moving in the right
direction. Now we must support continued progress between Israel
and Palestinians, and we must broaden the circle of peace to
include more of Israel's neighbors. We must help to give the
children of Belfast a chance to live out normal lives.
In the fact that democracies opened markets and
peace are taking hold around the world, we are moving in the
right direction. Here in the Americas, every nation but one has
raised freedom's flag. In Central Europe, in Russia, Ukraine,
the other New Independent States, the forces of reform have
earned all our respect and will continue to have the support of
the United States. Now we must begin to welcome Europe's new
democracies into NATO, strengthen NATO's partnership with Russia,
and build a secure and undivided Europe.
In Asia, South Korea, Japan, China and America,
working together persuaded North Korea to freeze its nuclear
program under international monitoring. Now, in the wake of
provocative actions by North Korea, we must pursue a permanent
peace for all the Korean people.
Our planet is safer because of our common efforts to
close Chernobyl, to address the challenges of climate change, to
protect the world's forests and oceans. Now we must uphold our
duty as custodians of our environment, so that our children will
inherit an even healthier planet.
All of us must continue our historic efforts to
build a better, more global trading system for the 21st century.
We have made remarkable progress, but there is more to do in
opening markets, in creating millions of new jobs for all our
In this time of challenge and change, the United
Nations is more important than ever before, because our world is
more interdependent than ever before. Most Americans know this.
Unfortunately, some Americans, in their longing to be free of the
world's problems and perhaps to focus more on our own problems,
ignore what the United Nations has done, ignore the benefits of
cooperation, ignore our own interdependence with all of you in
charting a better future. They ignore all the United Nations is
doing to lift the lives of millions by preserving the peace,
vaccinating children, caring for refugees, sharing the blessings
of progress around the world. They have made it difficult for
the United States to meet its obligations to the United Nations.
But let me reassure all of you, the vast majority of
Americans support the United Nations, not only because it
reflects our own ideals, but because it reinforces our interests.
We must continue to work to manifest the support that our people
For the 51st year in a row, the United States will
be the largest financial contributor to the U.N. We are paying
our dues, and I am committed to paying off our accumulated
obligations. However, we also support the process of reform,
which has done great work in reforming and streamlining the
bureaucracy and reining in the budget, and it should continue.
We also believe that all of us, the nations of the
world working together, must do more to fight terrorism. Last
year I asked the nations assembled here to commit to a goal of
zero tolerance for aggression, terrorism and lawless behavior.
Frankly, we have not done that yet. Real zero tolerance means
giving no aid and no quarter to terrorists who slaughter the
innocent and drug traffickers who poison our children, and to do
everything we can to prevent weapons of mass destruction from
falling into the wrong hands.
Real zero tolerance requires us to isolate states
that refuse to play by the rules we have all accepted for
civilized behavior. As long as Iraq threatens its neighbors and
people, as long as Iran supports and protects terrorists, as long
as Libya refuses to give up the people who blew up Pan Am 103,
they should not become full members of the family of nations.
The United States is pursuing a three-part strategy
against terrorists -- abroad, by working more closely than ever
with like-minded nations; at home, by giving our law enforcement
the toughest counterterrorism tools available, and by doing all
we can to make our airports and the airplanes that link us all
together even safer.
I have requested more than $1 billion from our
Congress to meet these commitments, and we are implementing the
Vice President's Aviation Security Plan to make those traveling
to, from and within the United States more secure.
There are other steps we must take together. Last
year, I urged that, together, we crack down on money-laundering
and front companies; shut down gray markets for guns, explosives
and false documents; open more law enforcement centers around the
world; strengthen safeguards on lethal materials. In each of
these areas, we have made progress -- through the U.N., at the
Summit of Peacemakers in Sharm-el Sheikh, at the Paris Terrorism
Conference, and individually.
Now, we should adopt the Declaration on Crime and
Public Security I proposed last year. It includes a no-sanctuary
pledge, so that we can say with one voice to the terrorists,
criminals and drug traffickers: you have no place to run, no
place to hide.
I call on every member to ratify 11 international
conventions that would help prevent and punish terrorism and to
criminalize the use of explosives in terrorist attacks. To every
nation whose children fall prey to drugs, and every nation that
makes those drugs, we must do more to reduce demand and to take
illegal drugs off the market and off the streets.
The United States will do its part. Next week I
will target more than $100 million worth of defense equipment,
services and training to Mexico, Colombia and other South
American and Caribbean countries. These resources will help our
friends stop the flow of drugs at the source. Now I ask every
nation that exports the chemicals needed to make illicit drugs to
create an informal group whose members will work to deny these
chemicals to drug producers. We must not let more drugs darken
the dawn of the next century.
Our duty to fight all these forces of destruction is
directly linked to our efforts to reduce the threat of weapons of
mass destruction. We all know we are not immune from this. We
saw it when our friends in Japan were subject to the murderous
power of a small vial of sarin gas unleashed in a Tokyo subway.
We know a small lump of plutonium is enough to build a nuclear
bomb. We know that more dangerous people have access to
materials of mass destruction because of the rapid movement and
open borders of this age. The quest to eliminate these problems
from the world's arsenals and to stop them from spreading has
taken on a new and powerful urgency for all of us.
So let us strengthen our determination to fight the
rogue states, the terrorists, the criminals who menace our
safety, our way of life and the potential of our children in the
21st century. Let us recommit ourselves to prevent them from
acquiring weapons of mass destruction. Let us work harder than
ever to lift the nuclear backdrop that has darkened the world's
stage for too long now. Let us make these solemn tasks our
common obligation, our common commitment. If we do, then,
together, we will enter the 21st century, marching toward a
better, safer world; the very better, safer world the United
Nations has sought to build for 51 years.
Thank you very much. (Applause.)
New York, New York