FILE ID:95042505.POL




(NPT: See it principal barrier to nuclear expansion) (790)

By Jacquelyn S. Porth

USIA Security Affairs Writer

Washington -- Three U.S. arms control experts expressed agreement on

April 25 that the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) will be

indefinitely extended before the month-long NPT review and extension

conference ends in New York on May 12.

U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Director John Holum,

syndicated columnist and former ACDA Director Kenneth Adelman, and

Leonard Spector of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace

predicted the 1968 treaty will be made permanent after the 178 members

vote in the coming weeks.

Treaty members must vote to extend the NPT indefinitely, which would

give the arms control agreement permanent status, or to extend it for

a fixed or fixed periods. Venezuela, for example, has proposed a

25-year extension of the treaty, while Indonesia favors fixed periods

of extension. The United States, meanwhile, for several years, has

been urging indefinite extension.

As of April 24, the Campaign for the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which

represents 18 private U.S. arms control and disarmament organizations,

had counted more than 97 nations that have publicly expressed support

for indefinite extension of the NPT. That is more than the minimum

number of states required to carry the vote.

In an April 25 interview on National Public Radio's, "The Diane Rehm

Show," Holum pointed out that the NPT has been the "principal barrier"

to the growth of nuclear weapons states. There are currently five

nuclear weapons states -- Britain, China, France, Russia and the

United States -- and three threshold states -- India, Pakistan and

Israel. South Africa renounced its nuclear weapons in 1992.

The NPT has worked "quite well," Holum said, noting that without it

there could be as many as 40 states with the technological capability

to produce nuclear devices if they chose to do so. At the same time,

he said, the treaty has not been an "entire barrier" to states with

nuclear ambitions. The NPT, he said, has not yet succeeded in reigning

in the threshold states.

The treaty should be supplemented with appropriate nuclear export

controls, the ACDA official said. Without the NPT, he indicated, some

900 nuclear facilities around the world would be unregulated.

The NPT should be made permanent, Holum argued, not as "a favor" to

the United States or other nuclear weapons states but because it is a

"security instrument" for its members.

Spector, asked about prospects for the forthcoming vote, said there

appears to be majority support for indefinite extension assuming

conference attendees successfully solicit response from the nuclear

weapons states on a "formula" for future nuclear arms reductions.

Adelman said "it is really wrong" for non-nuclear weapons states to

complain that the nuclear weapons states have not lived up to their

commitments under the terms of the treaty, and Holum called arms

reduction efforts "very dramatic."

The United States, he pointed out, has committed to eliminate 80

percent of its peak nuclear arsenal. The United States is also taking

the lead in trying to achieve an early conclusion of a Comprehensive

Test Ban Treaty and a nuclear fissile material cut-off convention.

While a number of Third World countries complain about the NPT,

Adelman said, the treaty is a "good bargain" for them because they

benefit from having non-nuclear neighbors.

Spector, who is one of the authors of a new Carnegie Endowment book

titled "Tracking Nuclear Proliferation," suggested that a notable fact

about the NPT is that, despite considerable "grousing" about the

treaty, more and more countries are joining all the time.

Holum said Iraq's previously unknown nuclear efforts have been "a wake

up call" for the international community and the special inspections

carried out by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the

post-Persian Gulf conflict era have helped bring "to light" the

potential nuclear problem in North Korea.

Spector warned that Iraq would like to "restart" its nuclear program

if it could. International dismantlement, monitoring, and inspection

efforts make this unlikely, he said, noting that there is much more

sharing of intelligence information on nuclear activities in the

post-Gulf war period through the IAEA. He did not reveal the source of

that information.

Holum said the IAEA is taking steps to assert its rights "more

forcefully" to inspect undeclared nuclear facilities in the wake of

its experiences in both Iraq and North Korea.

Adelman argued that the possibility of IAEA inspectors detecting NPT

violations through unannounced inspections is frequently oversold, but

Holum said the existence of the NPT and associated international

safeguards makes clandestine nuclear activities considerably less

possible than in the past.