USIS Washington File

16 February 2000

U.S. Intends to Remain Leader in Arms Control, Holum Says

(Preparations under way for NPT Review Conference) (880)
By Judy Aita
Washington File United Nations Correspondent

New York -- Despite recent setbacks, the United States intends to
remain a leader in pressing for more nuclear arms control and is
looking forward to a balanced Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)
Review Conference in April that affirms the importance of the treaty
for all countries around the world, John Holum, U.S. senior adviser
for arms control and international security, said February 16.

Holum called the NPT Review Conference, which will be held at United
Nations headquarters beginning April 24, "an extremely important
international event." The review is the first since the 1995 NPT
conference decided that the treaty should become permanent with
periodic reviews held every five years.

The United States has been underscoring three main points in the NPT
review preparation sessions, he said.

"One is that arms control remains vital as a security instrument for
all countries in the world," Holum said. "Second, the United States
intends to continue leading this effort despite setbacks, and we
consider ourselves part of the international consensus in favor of
further steep reductions in nuclear arms.

"Third: Although the pace of disarmament will be an important issue to
consider in the context of the review conference, it is also vitally
important that we all understand that the main reason the NPT was made
permanent in 1995, and the main reason it remains so important now, is
that it is a security instrument for all of its members," he said.

Acceptance of the NPT "is not a favor by the non-nuclear weapon states
to the nuclear weapon states," Holum said. The treaty "is an
instrument by which the non-nuclear weapon states can avoid the costs
and dangers of their own participation in a nuclear arms race,
confident in the knowledge that their neighbors and rivals also are
not pursuing nuclear weapons," he said.

"It would be self-defeating for countries to jeopardize either their
own relationship with the NPT or the NPT itself because they are
dissatisfied with the pace of disarmament, because the treaty is
valuable to them," he said.

The 187 nations that have ratified the NPT "did not do so on the
grounds that they liked what the United States and the other nuclear
weapon states were doing. They did it because they saw a security
value for themselves," Holum said.

But he added that for the conference to be "balanced" there must also
be discussions on the benefits of the treaty, such as strengthened
safeguards and the benefits of peaceful uses of atomic energy in such
areas as health and agriculture.

The United States also wants any discussion about the countries that
are not members of the NPT regime to focus on all four countries --
Cuba, Israel, India, and Pakistan -- and not become a Middle East
debate on Israel, he said.

"It is striking that this is the most widely accepted nonproliferation
arms control agreement in the history of the world. There are 187
countries that are members; only four remain outside. All four deserve
a coaxing," he said.

"The most serious threats in the most recent past have been in South
Asia, where India and Pakistan have tested nuclear devices," Holum

In a press conference at the Department of State's Foreign Press
Center, Holum stressed that the strategic arms reduction process has
continued on the ground despite the fact that the START II Treaty has
yet to be ratified by Russia.

"Weapons are continuing to be dismantled at a rate in the United
States of about 100 a month -- taken apart and forever removed from
our strategic arsenal," he said.

"Similarly in the former Soviet Union the number of warheads are
coming down. Both countries are ahead of schedule," he noted.

Holum also emphasized that even though the U.S. Senate did not ratify
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999, "President Clinton
has made clear that the United States will continue the effort to
ratify the treaty."

"In the meantime, we will not conduct any more nuclear tests and
(will) continue to support the CTBT organization," Holum said. "We
will continue to encourage other countries to ratify the treaty so it
can come into force at the earliest possible date."

Holum also confirmed reports that the United States has presented to
Russia its ideas on a START III treaty and amendments to the ABM
(Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty.

"The numbers we have been talking about for START III are consistent
with the agreement of the two presidents in Helsinki -- that is, a
range of 2,000-2,500 warheads," he said.

On the ABM, the U.S. "provided ideas and some details that essentially
come down to a proposal to adjust the treaty only so much as to allow
for the very limited national defense...taking the 100 interceptors
that are already allowed by the treaty for regional defense and saying
those 100 interceptors can be based and configured in such a way as to
provide limited coverage for the entire national territory," Holum

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web Site: