Current as of: May 21, 1996
Created April 5, 1995


In an address on March 1, the President declared that nothing is more important in this critical year of decision for arms control and nonproliferation than to achieve the indefinite extension of the NPT without conditions. In that connection the United States last year reviewed its policies on providing security assurances to NPT non-nuclear-weapon states and began consultations with other nuclear-weapon state NPT parties for the purpose of arriving at a common position.

Today the Secretary of State issued a statement on security assurances which includes the first comprehensive declaration by any President of the United States on this important topic, and one which we believe represents important progress. The release of the Presidential Declaration was announced this afternoon by Secretary of State Christopher.


Beginning with the negotiations on the NPT in the 1960s, many non-nuclear-weapon states made clear that in exchange for commitments not to acquire nuclear weapons they expected certain assurances from nuclear-weapon states. It was not possible to include such a provision in the NPT, but in 1968 the United States, United Kingdom and Soviet Union each announced that they would seek immediate Security Council action to provide assistance in accordance with the United Nations Charter to any NPT non-nuclear-weapon state threatened with aggression involving nuclear weapons, or which is the victim of such aggression. These so-called positive security assurances were "welcomed" in U.N. Security Council resolution 255 which was adopted on June 19, 1968.

To further address concerns in this area, the United States, United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union each declared in 1978 a policy against the use of nuclear weapons toward NPT non-nuclear-weapon states. Russia adopted a new negative security assurance in 1993 which was closer in substance to the policies of the United Kingdom and United States.

France and China joined the NPT in 1992 and about a year ago all five NPT nuclear-weapon states began to address the security assurance issue during consultations on the margins of the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. One outcome of that effort was an agreement that each would issue a national statement with their release planned for this week.

Presidential Declaration

The statement by the Secretary of State begins with a reaffirmation of the Administration's commitment to the NPT and to its indefinite extension without conditions. It also highlights the importance of compliance with the NPT and of the need to address ways to alleviate the legitimate security concerns of NPT non-nuclear-weapon states. It notes that the President directed a review of U.S. policy on security assurances and introduces the declaration.

The President declares that the United States will not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon States Parties to the NPT except under certain circumstances. This declaration reaffirms long-standing U.S. policy in this area and is fully compatible with U.S. alliance obligations. Notably, the language of this negative security assurance is virtually identical to that which is scheduled to be released today by the United Kingdom, France, and Russia. Many NPT non-nuclear-weapon states have long urged the nuclear-weapon states to achieve a common formula on negative security assurances. The fact that four of the five have done so is an important achievement. China will issue its own statement.

The President also declares that the United States intends to provide or support immediate assistance, in accordance with the United Nations Charter, to any NPT non-nuclear-weapon state threatened with aggression involving nuclear weapons or which is the victim of such aggression. This declaration reaffirms and makes more explicit the U.S. commitment first made in 1968. This revised U.S. positive security assurance underscores the 1968 pledge by elaborating on the type of assistance the U.N. Security Council could consider in these circumstances. Some NPT non-nuclear-weapon states have long urged such an elaboration as a way to make these assurances more credible. This positive security assurance language is included in a draft Security Council resolution supported by all five nuclear-weapon states that is under consideration in New York. France and China are also providing positive security assurances for the first time in national statements scheduled for release this week.


It is the Administration's view that the national statements being issued by all five NPT nuclear-weapon states, their co-sponsorship of a Security Council resolution on security assurances which is under consideration in New York, and the common negative security assurance achieved by four of the five -- together comprise a substantial response to the desire of many NPT non-nuclear-weapon states for strengthened security assurances. This outcome reinforces the international nuclear nonproliferation regime and deserves the support of all NPT Parties.