Title: "Indefinite NPT Extension Will Have Good SpilloverEffect." Remarks by senior US arms control official John Holum regarding the positive influence the indefinite extension
of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) would have on other arms control negotiations. (950411)
Translated Title: Prorroga indefinida del TNP tendra efecto secundario positivo.; La prorogation illimitee du TNP et ses avantages. (950411)
INDEFINITE NPT EXTENSION WILL HAVE GOOD SPILL OVER EFFECT (NPT: USIA Interview with ACDA director John Holum) (2560) Washington -- U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Director John Holum says indefinite extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) next month will have a positive "spill over effect" on arms control negotiations.
In a recent interview with USIA Security Affairs writer Jacquelyn Porth, Holum said making the NPT permanent will accelerate negotiations for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in Geneva as well as a fissile materials cut-off treaty. It will also "strengthen the international climate for continued progress" for U.S.-Russian strategic arms reductions.
He also noted the positive benefit the Treaty has in dampening regional arms races. The greatest value of NPT is as a "shield," the arms control official said.
Following is a transcript of the Holum interview, which was given in conjunction with the forthcoming NPT review and extension conference in New York April 17 to May 12:
(begin transcript) QUESTION: What do you think are the most compelling reasons for indefinite extension of the NPT?
HOLUM: The strongest argument of all, particularly for the non-nuclear weapons states, is the security shield...that gives them assurance that their neighbors and regional rivals won't develop nuclear weapons. This protects them from the dangers and costs of a nuclear arms race.
It is the basis for cooperation of peaceful uses of atomic energy, and it is the way in which the world community has a handle on and can continue to foster the reductions of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction that the nuclear weapons states are addressing. But the overriding value is not as a lever but as a shield. That's why I think ultimately a majority of countries will come to vote for indefinite extension.
Q: The United States is leading the effort on indefinite NPT extension, but do you think our allies are doing enough or should do more to garner support?
A: I think our allies and others are doing more and more as time goes on. We have been engaged in this process...for several years. We have intensified our efforts in the last few months as countries begin to focus on this. And we're finding that the same thing is true among other countries. A number of states like Japan, Australia (and) New Zealand have really made very strong efforts over a period of many months. And others, like Argentina and some of the non-aligned (nations), are joining those efforts.
Q: Among some of the nations that you have mentioned here as taking a strong role, what exactly are they doing?
A: They are doing essentially the same thing that we are, and that is to undertake a methodical country-by-country canvass of a set of contacts to underscore the importance of the treaty to the international security structure. And, of course, working in the region where they may have particularly strong influences, such as France and francophone states in Africa.
Q: Are you still optimistic that a majority vote will be achieved for indefinite NPT extension?
A: I am. I think part of the reason for optimism...as far as the United States is concerned is that the president has made some fundamentally important decisions. One was the step to continue our moratorium until a (nuclear) test ban is negotiated, which essentially amounts to a statement that if the world cooperates we are prepared for the conclusion that we have conducted our last nuclear test. That is a very important decision; probably historic.
In addition to that, the president withdrew the controversial proposal that we had advanced in the test ban negotiations for a 10th-year withdrawal right. We did that not because the provision wasn't of value to us but because he wanted to give greater impetus to the test ban negotiations -- recognizing that the negotiations are important to the many countries who are considering how they are going to vote on NPT.
In addition to that we have had three major speeches by the secretary of state, the national security adviser and then by the president himself underscoring both the size of the U.S. arms control agenda, which is the most ambitious...in history, and the depth of our commitment and the importance we attach to...indefinite extension.
Finally, the president has asked Vice President Gore to head our delegation to the NPT conference and (this) will lift the level of attention to this process in every country in the world because countries will...as they calculate the level of their own delegation...consider in their own case that it should be a high-level representation. That makes every government focus more carefully on its decision.
Q: You just mentioned that if the world cooperates the U.S. may have had its last nuclear test. Do you think the world has really absorbed that, and if so will it have an impact on the NPT extension process?
A: I can say that one of the most valuable things we have done, and that Ambassador Tom Graham and others have done, in all of these bilateral contacts around the world is to explain what the record has been. What has actually been going on.
This isn't something that every country in the world follows on a daily basis and so there has not been a full realization of the fact that we and the Russians have basically ended the arms race and now are racing to reduce the number of weapons.
We have already eliminated in the United States almost 60 percent of all the warheads, the weapons, in our nuclear stockpile. It is now down to less than half of its greatest size. And under the treaties that we have agreed to with the Russians...we have agreed we will reduce to approximately 80 percent of the weapons. So there is an enormous amount happening in the field of disarmament, and as countries focus on...and recognize it and combine it with the fact that we are negotiating for a serious test ban, (that) we are urgently seeking a cut-off of fissile material for weapons on a worldwide basis, they (will) recognize that the record is quite good....
Q: Would you name some of the countries that have recently joined the NPT regime?
A: We have had Argentina, the Marshall Islands, Tajikistan, Algeria, Kazakhstan, Belarus and Ukraine. But there has been quite a trend in recent years; in addition to those...we have had in the last five or six years China, North Korea, France, South Africa. So the regime has been steadily expanding....
Q: Does the growing number of NPT parties make the job of getting indefinite extension that much harder?
A: Well, there are some...new members who are not yet committed to indefinite extension, so in that sense I suppose you could say it's harder, but I think...to the extent that that is a concern it is way outweighed by the fact that this (treaty) has become more broadly subscribed (by)...more and more countries.
That is one of the benefits of having this (NPT) decision, because it has focused global attention on the Non-Proliferation Treaty in a way that has been hard to do in the past and has brought more countries into the regime.
Q: Is it fair to say that the number of NPT parties is escalating as the conference approaches?
A: Yes. Q: And is that coincidental? A: No, I think there is a connection. I think countries are signing on because of the conference. Not only because they want to play a role in the conference but, more generally, because the fact that the conference is approaching has focused attention on the NPT and brought more worldwide interest....
Plus, there has been a growth in membership as the new countries of the Newly Independent States have individually joined.
Q: What are some of the most recent countries which have come out in favor of indefinite extension?
A: I don't want to put countries on the spot, (but) Argentina is important. In the case of the Central American countries, Honduras, at the United Nations Security Council, announced on behalf of all the Central American countries that they would be supporting indefinite extension.
We are being very cautious about announcing on other countries behalf that they are in support. We are letting them do that themselves.
But we are comfortable now that we are in the high 70s (in terms of nations who support the U.S. position; indefinite extension requires a majority vote of all NPT members).
I think once we clearly have majority support that that number will increase....
Q: Apparently, the non-aligned countries are urging NPT members to vote against the U.S. position. What is their rationale for that, and how do you turn it around?
A: There are a variety of arguments that are being raised. They all amount to linking the future of the NPT to some other issue such as the (Comprehensive) Test Ban (Treaty)...reductions in nuclear weapons by the nuclear weapons states...the issue of whether Israel should become a (NPT) member.
I think what will become the deciding factor here is a recognition that the NPT is too important to be...risked for the sake of other, even very important, objectives because you really don't advance the cause of arms control by jeopardizing a global treaty that makes arms control...and disarmament more likely. So it is an inappropriate linkage.
The same thing is true with the test ban. We are firmly committed to a test ban. It is very important in its own right to the United States. But saying that the NPT should be jeopardized for the sake of the test ban, we think is...self-defeating because it endangers both....
Q: Why is the NPT extension conference a month long? A: Because there is more that will happen than the vote....There is a great deal of interest now...in strengthening the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards....It is both a review and extension conference.
Q: What other results are you hoping for? A: In our case, a very important focus will be the safeguards regime and how we can make the safeguards more effective. The International Atomic Energy Agency has been for the past couple of years working on a program we call "93-plus-two" to broaden and strengthen safeguards agreements and technologies. And a report on that will be heard.
Q: You just mentioned strengthening safeguards and other (U.S.) government officials have too, but beyond that phrase do you have any proposals or suggestions?
A: Part of it is to enhance technologies and to have the IAEA make greater use of and have more access to: for example, advanced sensors that can detect nuclear materials in places that shouldn't be....They've been incorporating some of these (sensors) all along....What they need to do is a fairly deliberative process of incorporating new techniques into...their safeguards agreements (after having been approved by the IAEA Governing Board).
Q: What impact will the NPT review conference have on other (U.S.) arms control objectives?
A: I think a positive outcome will give us an impetus...(regarding) things we are trying to accomplish. It will certainly preserve and strengthen the international climate for continued progress for the strategic arms reductions that we and the Russians are pursuing....
I would think that it would also have a spill over effect in encouraging more ratifications of the Chemical Weapons Convention to bring that into force, which is another very high priority. Because, again, countries are thinking about weapons of mass destruction.
I am very confident it will help us accelerate the negotiations in Geneva on the test ban and also, hopefully, the cut-off of fissile material for weapons. So, I think it will have a valuable spill over effect in advancing those other efforts.
Q: You alluded to this earlier; what are the advantages of indefinite NPT extension for small non-nuclear states?
A: If there is a nuclear war anywhere, nobody is safe. So, if these (nuclear) weapons get out of hand and they are spread as a preventive, the world becomes a much more dangerous place for everybody. The more weapons there are, the more likely...they will be used. That would have catastrophic environmental consequences, both in the immediate vicinity but also more widely.
In addition to that, the NPT prevents regional arms races, prevents rivalries from becoming deadly dangerous, potential conflicts. I think of this in terms of South Asia and the fact that I don't think any two countries in the world who have a dispute on their border would want to repeat the circumstances that India and Pakistan have gotten themselves into where they're risking an arms race....So avoiding that kind of danger, is the principal benefit of NPT.
Q: What are some of the positive benefits of the treaty in terms of diplomatic steps or psychological gains?
A: It is certainly something that is important in our bilateral relationships....It is also important that the peaceful uses of atomic energy are manifested in small and accessible ways. We often think of peaceful uses of nuclear energy in power generators. Many countries have chosen not to pursue that....There are enormous benefits to peaceful uses of atomic energy in health, agriculture, those kinds of activities....
Q: Are those arguments working in diplomatic circles? A: Some countries have a very strong interest in the peaceful side of nuclear energy and recognize that those programs are all conducted...and made possible under a safeguards agreement whose life depends on the Non-Proliferation Treaty. All the safeguards with the...(IAEA) are linked to the...treaty.
Q: Do some of these countries fall into the category of the Non-Aligned Movement?
A: Quite a number of them. Q: What about negative consequences tied to non-indefinite extension of the treaty?
A: The main problem would be uncertainty. If the long-term future of the NPT is invalid then there is a concern that countries would start to think twice about their own commitments. (They) would worry that their own neighbors may develop a (nuclear) capability and, once the treaty expires, declare...and develop it for nuclear weapons.
So it is the uncertainty and the risk associated with uncertainty about the long-term viability of the treaty.
That's why I keep saying there is a very great difference between a permanent extension and an extension even for a long, fixed period of years....This is the one chance in the life of the treaty when we have a chance by a simple majority vote, without amending the treaty, to make it permanent.
If we try to do that after a fixed term of extension, it won't be within the terms of the treaty and there will have to be an amendment. Then it would take...a specialized majority of states, including all of the members of the IAEA Board of Governors...and all of the P-5 (nuclear weapons states) and then it will have to be ratified by every country in order for the amendment to be effected as to them.
(end transcript) NNNN