USIS Washington File

24 April 2000

Text: Albright Remarks to NPT Review Conference April 24

(Says U.S. believes NPT Treaty "is doing its job") (2270)

The United States believes that, "on balance," a "fair reading of the
record will affirm that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is doing
its job," says Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.

"And therefore, that far from any radical changes of course, what we
need now is more hard work, good faith, and patient political will
from every country represented here," Albright told the opening of the
NPT Review Conference at the United Nations April 24.

The United States wants "the tide of history to keep running in the
Treaty's direction -- toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, not
their spread," Albright said. "For this reason, the United States
continues to seek universal adherence to the NPT in South Asia and

Outlining objectives of the conference, she said the review will focus
on three principal issues: "how the Treaty is working to prevent
nuclear proliferation, to advance nuclear disarmament, and to enhance
cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy."

Following is the transcript of Albright's remarks, as delivered:

(begin transcript)


Office of the Spokesman

As Delivered

April 24, 2000 2000/468




United Nations New York

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Mr. President, distinguished delegates, it gives
me special pleasure to return here as head of the U.S. delegation to
the opening NPT Review Conference of the new century. As Secretary of
State, I wanted to come here on this first day because this Treaty and
the shared aims it represents are deeply important to me and to the
United States.

Ambassador Baali, let me join in congratulating you on your selection
to preside over this important Conference. We have admired your
leadership and look forward to working with you.

Five years ago, we gathered here to decide the fate of the
Non-Proliferation Treaty. We faced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to
make the NPT permanent, and we gave a priceless gift to our children
and ourselves by safeguarding this indispensable agreement for all
nations, for all people, for all time.

This gift had several facets. First, by extending the Treaty
indefinitely, we bolstered countries' confidence that a decision to
forgo nuclear weapons would not put them at a disadvantage some years
down the road.

Second, by rejecting the risks of conditionality, we avoided a
situation where the entire edifice of non-proliferation could collapse
if a specific arms control objective was not achieved by a certain

Finally, by reaching all our decisions without a divisive vote, we
signaled the strength of the Treaty and marked the right path toward
realizing its goals. And in the past five years, nine new states
parties have joined, leaving only four countries outside the NPT

Our wise and shared decisions in 1995 ensured that the Treaty will
remain at the center of our nonproliferation and disarmament efforts.
Over the next four weeks, we have an opportunity to ensure that the
center will hold. And through our mutual efforts, to make the NPT even

Our review here will focus on three key issues: how the Treaty is
working to prevent nuclear proliferation, to advance nuclear
disarmament, and to enhance cooperation in the peaceful uses of
nuclear energy. In each of these areas, I am sure that each of us can
point at minimum to lost opportunities. Perfection is rarely possible
in human affairs involving complexity so great, stakes so high and
passions so deep.

But on balance, the United States believes that any fair reading of
the record will affirm that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is doing its
job. And therefore, that far from any radical changes of course, what
we need now is more hard work, good faith, and patient political will
from every country represented here.

There is little doubt about the Treaty's success, for example, in
fostering peaceful uses of the atom. Both bilaterally and through the
IAEA, countries are working together to treat cancer, improve infant
health, meet power needs, increase food production and stretch scarce
supplies of clean water.

It is impossible to put a price tag on all the peaceful nuclear
cooperation facilitated by the NPT. But that only underscores its
value in this area.

More substantial questions have been raised about the Treaty's ability
to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The Indian and Pakistani
tests of May 1998 were a serious challenge to the global
nonproliferation regime.

But the world's response to those tests revealed the strength and
resiliency of the NPT and the global norm it has established. In UN
Security Council Resolution 1172 and elsewhere, the international
community spoke with a single, clear voice. Because the Treaty has
transformed acquiring a nuclear weapon capability from an act of
national pride to a cause for international alarm.

There is no provision in the Treaty for new nuclear weapon states; nor
will there be one. For we will not break faith with all the states --
from the former Soviet republics to South America to South Africa --
who made good decisions to strengthen their own security and the cause
of nonproliferation by joining the NPT. We want the tide of history to
keep running in the Treaty's direction, toward the elimination of
nuclear weapons, not their spread.

For this reason, the United States continues to seek universal
adherence to the NPT in South Asia and beyond.

In the Middle East, our 1995 Resolution recognized that it is the
broader peace process which improves prospects for the zone free of
all weapons of mass destruction that each of us would like to see take
shape in the region. And I have seen President Clinton strive
tirelessly to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors. So while
the United States does not oppose attention in this year's Conference
to universal adherence in the Middle East, we believe it should be
fair and balanced within the region and with other serious issues
outside the region.

Finally, Cuba stands alone in the Americas outside the NPT. And its
leadership knows that there is no embargo on Cuba joining the most
broadly-shared arms control agreement in history.

Of course, even universal adherence to the NPT cannot guarantee
universal compliance with the Treaty. And it is actions on the ground,
not commitments on paper, which we prize most highly for their
contributions to peace.

That is why the United States strongly supports the IAEA's new
strengthened safeguards to deter and detect cheating, and urges all
parties to adopt them. It is why we will continue to insist that Iraq
not be allowed to dictate the terms of its compliance with NPT
obligations or with UN resolutions. And it is why we welcome the
partial progress made with North Korea and remain grateful to
inspections under the NPT for first bringing that country's suspicious
activities to light.

In many quarters, however, we know that the sharpest suspicions under
the Treaty are directed to whether the five nuclear weapon states are
doing enough under Article VI to bring about nuclear disarmament.
There is concern that the United States is turning its back on arms
control. And there are persistent calls for a "new agenda" to force
faster progress in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

But although such views are well-meaning and strongly held, let's look
carefully at the facts.

First, the Russian Duma's recent action on START II undercuts the
claim that the bilateral strategic arms reductions process has no
future. The United States Senate did its part to endorse this process
in an overwhelming vote approving the Treaty more than four years ago.

Some think that Russia's recent steps on START II and the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are a double-edged sword. But we welcome
good news from Moscow. This is the kind of arms race America likes to

As for the broader concerns raised by missile defenses, if the Clinton
Administration were bent on sabotaging the ABM Treaty and strategic
arms control, we have surely gone about it in a strange way -- in the
open, with care, and in consultation not only with Congress, but after
extensive discussions with our allies and other countries, Russia and
China emphatically included.

The world has changed dramatically in the almost three decades since
the ABM Treaty was signed. That Treaty has been amended before, and
there is no good reason it cannot be amended again to reflect new
threats from third countries outside the strategic deterrence regime.

And please remember that we are talking about a system capable of
defending against at most a few tens of incoming missiles. It is not
intended to degrade Russia's deterrent. Nor will it have that result.

Wherever our upcoming strategic negotiations with Russia may lead,
since the Cold War's end, we have already made remarkable progress in
nuclear disarmament. Under START II, the United States and Russia have
committed to reduce deployed strategic warheads by some two-thirds
from Cold War levels. And we agreed in 1997 to a START III framework
that would cut these arsenals by 80 percent from those peaks.

Russian ratification of START II will give new impetus to our START
III efforts. And as Presidents Clinton and Putin recently announced,
progress toward continued strategic reductions will be one of the
major goals of their upcoming summit.

The nuclear arsenals of the United States and Soviet Union had four
decades to grow in size and sophistication. Since the fall of the
Berlin Wall less than eleven years ago, the United States alone has
dismantled about 60 percent of our nuclear weapons. Simple math and
common sense both suggest that it is folly to give up on a START
process which is doing exactly what is called for in Article VI.

Speaking of math, the American taxpayer has already provided over $5
billion for many of the costs associated with nuclear disarmament in
the former Soviet Union. These programs of cooperative threat
reduction represent real arms control -- destroying missiles, securing
fissile material, peacefully employing nuclear scientists, ending
plutonium production for weapons. We consider it a wise continuing
investment in global security. And we consider it a credit in the U.S.
ledger under Article VI, as well.

We have also worked with our allies to reduce the number of nuclear
weapons within NATO by 85 percent since 1991. Such weapons now play a
smaller role in our defense posture than at any time since the advent
of the Cold War.

These accomplishments -- and many others there is no time to mention
-- are summarized in a booklet we are releasing today on how the
United States is meeting our commitment to Article VI. I commend it to
you. For the story it tells is more compelling than most people

President Clinton has contributed a Foreword to this publication.
There he states, and I quote:

"The United States has devoted more time, effort, and resources to
nuclear arms control and disarmament than any other country. I am
certain this will continue. As we enter this new millennium, we should
all commit ourselves anew to achieving a world free of nuclear
weapons. The United States remains committed to this goal and will
work tirelessly toward its ultimate achievement."

These are the words of the President of the United States. And that is
the policy of the United States toward a goal we all share.

Finally, let me briefly discuss the U.S. and the Comprehensive Nuclear
Test Ban Treaty. President Clinton has appointed General John
Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to help
advise us on how best to respond to Senators' concerns about the CTBT
so we can build support for its eventual ratification.

Meanwhile, we have made it clear that the United States will not
resume testing and are urging other nations to do the same, and to
sign and ratify the Treaty. And our work and support for the Treaty's
Preparatory Commission have continued.

For all these reasons, like the President, I am convinced that America
will ratify the CTBT, and thus help to ensure that the nuclear arms
race becomes a relic of the 20th Century, not a recurring nightmare of
the 21st.

Mr. President, the United States is part of the international
consensus on nuclear disarmament. We share the frustration many feel
about the pace of progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons. But
we also know that if countries demand unrealistic and premature
measures, they will harm the NPT and set back everyone's cause.

Unfortunately, none of us has it within our power to create overnight
the conditions in which complete nuclear disarmament is possible. But
in our own regions, and in our own ways, we each have a contribution
to make.

We know the path toward our shared destination. The hard work of peace
requires putting one foot patiently in front of the other. It means
finally taking such familiar and achievable steps as the Fissile
Material Cutoff Treaty and adhering to the course so wisely charted at
the NPT Conference five years ago.

This is a road we can all walk together. And I am confident that if we
are together, we will succeed with the help of this irreplaceable
Treaty in building a world that is safer and more secure for us all.

Thank you very much.

(end transcript)

(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S.
Department of State. Web site: