Title: "US Rejects Deadline for Elimination of Nuclear Weapons." The US representative to the Conference on Disarmament (CD) Ambassador Stephen Ledogar firmly rejected the idea
that the conference was obligated to negotiate a "time-bound framework" for the elimination of nuclear weapons. (960208)
02/08/96 U.S. REJECTS DEADLINE FOR ELIMINATION OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS (Text: Ledogar speech to Conference on Disarmament) (3310) GENEVA -- Ambassador Stephen J. Ledogar, U.S. representative to the Conference on Disarmament (CD), firmly rejected February 8 the notion that the conference was obligated to negotiate a "time-bound framework" for the elimination of nuclear weapons.
In a speech to the CD, Ledogar urged the multilateral arms control body to focus on the work at hand: negotiating the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) -- which would end nuclear testing for all time -- and the Fissile Material Cut-off Convention -- which would halt the production of fissile materials for use in nuclear weapons worldwide.
He stressed that the completion of the two treaties would contribute to the overall goal of nuclear disarmament and the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear arms.
On January 25, India's Ambassador to the CD called for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to be "linked through treaty language to the elimination of all nuclear weapons in a time-bound framework." Many members of the "Group of 21" non-aligned nations have called for separate negotiations within the CD on nuclear disarmament.
Ledogar said some of the countries which seek such a linkage add nothing but "pieties and rhetoric" to the on-going disarmament negotiations in the CD which could end nuclear testing. He also pointed out that some CD members are not obligated by Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) commitments to undertake steps leading to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons.
Ledogar did not rule out the possibility of a "later role" for the CD or another larger forum in negotiating further reductions in nuclear arsenals, but he said that initial negotiations on reductions would have to take place among the five declared nuclear weapon states and that, subsequently, all states with nuclear stockpiles and programs would have to put them on the table.
Despite the differences on how to pursue nuclear disarmament, the ad hoc committee to negotiate a CTBT was re-formed on January 23, the first day of the 1996 CD session, and the CD has made "notable progress" on the treaty, Ledogar said. Work on the details of the treaty text is continuing in the committee, even as the political debate is waged in the conferences' plenary sessions.
But Ledogar pointed out that the CD's "linkage-meisters" have stymied the CD agreement to negotiate a fissile material cut-off convention. The Conference on Disarmament voted unanimously in March 1995 to establish a committee to negotiate the so called "Fizz Cut-off Treaty," but the committee was never formed due to political differences over the linkage of cut-off and nuclear disarmament, and negotiations remain blocked to this day.
"The linkage-meisters chose to ignore the specific, concrete aspects of the traditional terminology and began saying that CTBT and "Fizz-Cut-off" no longer qualified as nuclear disarmament measures," Ledogar said. He urged CD delegations to get on with negotiation of both treaties "while the window of political opportunity to accomplish them is open."
Both treaties are strongly supported by the United States, which has made their completion a priority of its non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament agenda and wants to see the CTBT completed by June so that it can be presented to the 50th U.N. General Assembly in early September.
In January, President Clinton sent a message to the Conference on Disarmament stating that the CTBT was "vital to constrain both the spread and further development of nuclear arms" and would help progress toward the "ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear arms."
Ledogar questioned the meaning of the term "time-bound framework," suggesting that could potentially have an adverse affect on the current trend toward deep nuclear weapons reductions.
Emphasizing the U.S. commitment to the goal of nuclear disarmament, Ledogar pointed out that under START I the United States and Russia are already removing from deployment thousands of nuclear warheads each year and will further reduce those warheads under START II.
France and Britain have also undertaken a number of important nuclear disarmament steps, he noted. China, however "continues nuclear weapons testing and the build-up of its nuclear arsenal."
"Some say the stockpiles of the nuclear weapons states with the largest holdings must be brought down by almost an order of magnitude before they, with smaller holdings, could consider reductions themselves," Ledogar added. "In other words, the five declared nuclear weapons states are obviously not all ready to respond now to the challenge of multilateral negotiations," he said.
"The United States will be right there when all the nations of the world with nuclear weapons stockpiles and programs are ready to sit down and negotiate reductions, not on the basis of "lets just talk about what you should do," but on the basis of "what's mine is also negotiable," he said.
Following is the text of Ledogar's speech, as prepared for delivery: (BEGIN TEXT) Mr. President, Last week you asked all CD members a number of questions about the CD's role regarding "the question of nuclear disarmament." I responded to you bilaterally, but I think your questions and, I would like to think, my responses are important enough that they should be elaborated on the record.
All countries represented in the Conference on Disarmament agree on the need for discussions on nuclear disarmament which could lead to the ultimate goal of a world free of nuclear arms. For decades, the American people have supported the U.S. government's nuclear disarmament efforts, of which START II ratification is the latest example. The START Treaty is resulting in very deep reductions -- nearly 75 percent -- in the nuclear arsenals of the Russian Federation and the United States, and removal of all nuclear weapons from Ukraine, Kazakstan and Belarus. Entry into force of START II will result in even deeper reductions. Nevertheless, views differ among CD states on where, at what pace, and how best to pursue broader efforts on nuclear disarmament.
The Non-Proliferation Treaty Review and Extension Conference last spring resulted in the indefinite extension of that treaty, and was an historic accomplishment for all mankind. It is from the NPT and the NPT process that the United States derives its international commitments on nuclear disarmament. The Preamble and Article VI of the NPT state: "Desiring...the elimination from national arsenals of nuclear weapons and the means of their delivery pursuant to a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control (Preamble para 12) ... each of the parties to the treaty undertakes to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control" (Article VI). These treaty commitments are also binding on all other nation states in the world, except for those very few -- the current number is nine -- who are not parties to the NPT. Several of that small and still-diminishing number are members of the CD. That's an important factor to which I will return.
The principles and objectives document for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament adopted at the NPT Review and Extension Conference last May stated that "the conference affirms the need to continue to move with determination towards the full realization and effective implementation of the provisions of the treaty...." That document, under the heading of "Nuclear Disarmament," states further that: "...The undertakings with regard to nuclear disarmament as set out in the Treaty of Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons should thus be fulfilled with determination. In this regard, the nuclear-weapon states reaffirm their commitment, as stated in Article VI, to pursue in good faith negotiations on effective measures relating to nuclear disarmament."
The document continues by pointing out that three measures noted in a "program of action" are important "in the full realization and effective implementation of Article VI." The first item is the completion by the CD of Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations no later than 1996. The second item is the immediate commencement and early conclusion by the CD of negotiations on a convention on banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. The third item is "the determined pursuit by the nuclear-weapon states of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons, and by all states of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." Please note that the CD was recognized by the NPT parties as being responsible for negotiation of a CTBT and of a fissile material cutoff convention, but the CD was not accorded the same responsibility on efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally. Please also note that the third item details disarmament commitments by both the five nuclear weapon states and all other parties to the treaty.
These clear and circumscribed NPT commitments notwithstanding, following our return to Geneva from New York, more emphasis was applied by some in the CD to the general concept of "nuclear disarmament." Linkage was created between getting on with the negotiation of a convention on the cutoff of the production of fissile material, and an issue called "nuclear disarmament" by which its proponents seemed to mean nuclear arms reductions only by the five nuclear weapon states, but under the supervision of all the members of the CD. Various CD members stated a rationale for such linkage; the motives of some were unstated.
The linkage-meisters chose to ignore the specific, concrete aspects of the traditional terminology, and began saying that CTBT and "Fizz Cut-off" no longer qualified as nuclear disarmament measures. In any case, fissile material cut-off negotiations were stymied, even though the CD had already established for this purpose an ad hoc committee and adopted an appropriate mandate. These negotiations remain blocked to this day. Indeed, Mr. President, it is fashionable this year in the CD to obscure the fact that the conference agreed in 1994 to negotiate "Fizz Cut-off" in 1995 but then reneged on its commitment. Those responsible for that reversal owe the rest of us an explanation for their escalated demands.
Also notwithstanding the language in the NPT Review and Extension Conference principles and objectives document, to the dismay of my government and many others, the Non-Aligned Movement summit in Cartagena in October called on the Conference on Disarmament "to establish, on a priority basis, an ad hoc committee to commence negotiations early in 1996 of a phased program of nuclear disarmament and for the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons within a timebound framework...." The overwhelming majority of the participants at the NAM summit were NPT adherents; a few were not. This Cartagena non-aligned concept was then included in a U.N. General Assembly resolution which was "adopted" last December but with a large number of abstentions, and 39 "no" votes including that of the United States.
Since the beginning of the 1996 Conference on Disarmament there have been several national statements calling for negotiations on nuclear disarmament in the CD. These individual statements, together with the G-21 collective statement delivered here by the Ambassador of Peru on January 23, suggest that the CD has an obligation under the NPT principles and objectives document to negotiate on nuclear arms reductions leading to the eventual elimination of nuclear weapons within a timebound framework, according to the aforementioned non-consensus U.N. General Assembly resolution on this issue. Mr. President, the persistent repetition of this distortion does not, in fact, change the reality of what was actually agreed to in the NPT and the NPT review process, any more than persistent repetition of the desire of NPT parties for NPT universality could impose obligations on those few states which persist in their determination not to assume them.
The idea of discussing nuclear disarmament and a program of reduction and elimination of nuclear weapons in a timebound framework raises several questions. What does "timebound framework" mean? Dramatic reductions in nuclear weapons are taking place according to changed political circumstances and the driving force of specific state interests in lessening the nuclear weapons threat.
Mr. President: Let me quickly recount a number of nuclear disarmament examples, which, according to fashion, are conveniently overlooked in this forum: The SALT negotiations between the United States and the former Soviet Union in the 1970's attempted, with some success, to halt the arms race; the INF agreement with the former Soviet Union in the 1980's eliminated an entire class of nuclear weapons; the U.S.-Soviet Threshold Test Ban Treaty limited the yield of nuclear test explosions; the recent unilateral assurances by nuclear weapon states to non-nuclear-weapon states not to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons (UNSC Resolution 984); the protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco, the Antarctica Treaty, and the announced intention by the United States and other Nuclear Weapon States to sign this year the protocols of the South Pacific Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty; U.S. unilateral measures in the early 1990's to remove thousands of warheads from aircraft and ships; U.S. and Russian detargeting of thousands of nuclear warheads; unilateral measures by several states to curtail fissile material production; the transfer by the United States of vast stockpiles of such materials irrevocably out of military programs; and finally the START I and START II treaties. As a result of START I, the United States is removing from deployment thousands of nuclear warheads a year and will ultimately reduce its strategic forces by 9000 warheads. START II will target another 3000 warheads for reduction by each party.
How could we be sure that the instituting of a "timebound framework," dictated by those who bring nothing but pieties and rhetoric to the dialogue, would not be an artificial mechanism affecting adversely the current trend I just described toward deep nuclear weapons reductions? Incidently, there is also a practical and limiting reality: the maximum capability of the United States to destroy the thousands of nuclear warheads resulting from the START treaties is already totally saturated well into the 21st century. How would a "timebound framework" apply to this process?
Another question is how negotiations leading to the elimination of nuclear arms in a "timebound framework" would relate to the diverse situations of various states with varied nuclear holdings. As I have said, the Russian Federation and the United States are engaged in bilateral, and quite successful, efforts mutually to reduce their nuclear arsenals. Two other nuclear weapon states, France and the United Kingdom, have undertaken a number of important unilateral nuclear disarmament steps. Unfortunately, the fifth nuclear weapon state, China, continues nuclear weapon testing and the build-up of its nuclear arsenal. Some say the stockpiles of the nuclear weapon states with the largest holdings must first be brought down by almost an order of magnitude before they, with smaller holdings, could consider reductions themselves. In other words, the five declared nuclear weapon states are obviously not all ready to respond now to the challenge of multilateral negotiations.
Thus, Mr. President, it seems logical to us that negotiations about reductions would in the natural course of events have to be among the five, initially. Of course, a later role for a larger forum, possibly the CD, could not be ruled out.
There is also the question of whether and how nuclear reductions "in a timebound framework" would affect certain nuclear capable or "threshold" states which, unlike NPT states, have no solemn treaty commitments -- not even regarding the existence and continuation of their nuclear weapon programs, much less in regard to nuclear reductions and non-proliferation. How would this body deal with this ambiguous and tricky issue?
Mr. President, as I told you in our bilateral meeting, I think we have a problem in terminology. My delegation thinks the CD has been doing little else but nuclear disarmament since we completed the Chemical Weapons Convention in 1992. CTBT and "Fizz Cut-off" are the first two concrete steps. When those tasks are accomplished and other conditions are propitious, we must ask ourselves: What is the best place to discuss those aspects of nuclear disarmament that will begin to address weapon reductions on a multilateral basis?
We can foresee advantages and disadvantages to possible future use of the CD for negotiations on nuclear disarmament. One question which immediately arises and which we believe would have to be overcome is this: How would we go forward on this important issue in the CD -- a body which operates by consensus -- when a few of its important members not only are free to manufacture or otherwise acquire nuclear weapons, but do not even have the NPT commitment "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control?"
Mr. President, happily, negotiations on a CTBT have been progressing and the CD has made notable progress. As the director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, Mr. John Holum, pointed out at this year's inaugural CD Plenary, the CTBT is both a disarmament and non-proliferation measure. However, recently the ghost of nuclear disarmament linkage has been evoked in connection with CTBT negotiations and threatens to impede progress. Mr. Holum warned that the threat of linking the CTBT to a time-bound framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons wears a benign face and masquerades as deep devotion to arms control. He added that holding one important goal hostage for another is a sure way to fail at both.
Nuclear disarmament -- together with non-proliferation issues -- will certainly be discussed at the NPT Review Conference in 1997 by the vast majority of states who are Parties to the Treaty. By that time, we hope that CD participants will be able to report the completion not only of a CTBT but also of a convention on the cutoff of production of fissile material, the two goals agreed for the CD by the NPT Review and Extension Conference. The United States will also be prepared to report on and discuss its performance, under the review and extension conference mandate, to pursue as a nuclear weapon state systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally, with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons. All NPT parties will have the opportunity to report on their efforts to pursue general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control.
As I told you privately, Mr. President, the United States will be prepared to play an active and constructive role in discussions and negotiations on nuclear disarmament wherever they are agreed to take place. We are willing to talk -- without preconditional structures and frameworks -- about the common zeal to make progress toward this shared goal. The United States has made great progress in this field in the recent past, and my government is convinced and determined that we will continue to do so in the future.
Mr. President, we all agree that completion of a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty will be a critical move toward the objective of nuclear disarmament. Completion soon thereafter of a ban on the production of fissile material for weapons purposes would be another such important contribution. Let us get on with these tasks now while the window of political opportunity to accomplish them is open. The United States will be right there when all the nations of the world with nuclear weapon stockpiles and programs are ready to sit down and negotiate reductions, not on the basis of "let's just talk about what you should do," but on the basis of "what's mine is also negotiable."