USIS Washington File

17 February 2000

Text: Speech by U.S. Envoy Robert Grey to Conference on Disarmament

(Warns against seeking "perfect" solutions to disarmament) (2,650)

Geneva -- The U.S. representative to the Geneva-based Conference on
Disarmament (CD) urged delegates "to focus on what is possible now"
rather than trying to "seek perfect, all-encompassing solutions to

In a statement to the CD on February 17, U.S. Ambassador Robert Grey
said the first priority for the United States in this session will be
negotiating a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). He pointed out
that the United States has removed unilaterally hundreds of tons of
fissile material from military stockpiles and has pledged voluntarily
to make it available for International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)
safeguards "as soon as practical." Highlighting another priority, Grey
said the United States is seeking a role for the CD in negotiating a
comprehensive ban on the transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APL).

The ambassador also put the U.S. effort to adapt the 1972
Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty into context. The international
environment has changed dramatically in the nearly 28 years since the
ABM Treaty was signed, he said, and the threat from the proliferation
of weapons of mass destruction using advanced delivery mechanisms is
now "real, growing and increasingly unpredictable." Grey said the
United States is considering a limited defense against such threats.

"We have made clear that we are committed to work with Russia, in a
spirit of cooperation against a threat we both face," he said, "to
identify adaptations of the ABM Treaty that would make its provisions
consistent with a limited National Missile Defense." Grey also pointed
out that the United States and Russia have amended the ABM before.

On the theme of disarmament, Grey underscored the fact that the United
States has dismantled 7,000 nuclear warheads since 1993 and 13,000
during the past decade. He also said that NATO has reduced its
reliance on nuclear forces radically since the end of the Cold War. He
noted, for example, that the number of nuclear weapons for
sub-strategic forces in Europe has gone down by 85 percent.

Grey said the United States is working with Russia and others to
ensure that nuclear materials are safe and secure, to enhance
transparency, and to transform excess weapons plutonium "irreversibly
into forms that cannot be used in nuclear weapons."

On the recent setback for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in
the U.S. Congress, Grey said a CTBT task force has been formed, with
former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman John Shalikashvili at its helm,
to work to "encourage the Senate ultimately to give its advice and
consent to ratification." Senate ratification of the CTBT, he said, is
something that President Clinton is convinced will happen.

Following is the as delivered text of Grey's statement:

(begin text)

Madame President,

As your country begins its service in the Presidency of the Conference
on Disarmament (CD), let me assure you of my delegation's full support
in the difficult job you have undertaken. As your predecessor just
over a year ago, I faced many of the same challenges that still
confront you. It is undoubtedly a great frustration for both of us
that the CD remains deadlocked in its efforts to agree on any elements
to include in our work program.

Some of the previous speakers during this session have claimed that
the state of multilateral disarmament in the world at large does not
give cause for optimism. That is too negative an appraisal. Even if
one were to accept that the international community is not making as
much progress as we would like, we in the CD need to remember that the
picture outside our halls is not entirely bleak. The full record
includes many practical achievements, and the international community
continues to consolidate them today.

The United States and Russia, for example, are ahead of schedule in
making START I reductions, and our two countries have agreed to seek
even lower levels of deployed warheads in START III. The United States
continues to dismantle nuclear warheads; we have dismantled 7,000
since 1993 and 13,000 over the past decade. The U.S. has unilaterally
removed hundreds of tons of fissile material from military stockpiles
and has voluntarily pledged to make this material available for IAEA
safeguards as soon as practical. We continue to work with Russia and
others to ensure that nuclear materials are safe and secure, to
enhance transparency, and to transform excess weapons plutonium
irreversibly into forms that cannot be used in nuclear weapons.

In the non-nuclear field, the global regime established by the
Chemical Weapons Convention continues to be strengthened. A wide range
of countries have intensified their cooperation aimed at discouraging
missile tests and the export of destabilizing missiles and related
technologies. The UN is negotiating a global protocol to combat the
illicit manufacturing of and trafficking in small arms, which often
pose a danger to regional stability. On the Korean peninsula, efforts
to reduce tensions continue under a broad initiative developed by
former Secretary of Defense William Perry. The U.S. and other
countries are actively seeking to promote strategic restraint in South
Asia, and there have been hopeful developments in negotiations to
secure a just and lasting peace in the Middle East.

Undeniably, the U.S. Senate's failure last October to agree to ratify
the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was a setback.
However President Clinton made it abundantly clear that the fight is
not over. He is convinced that, in the end, the United States will
ratify the CTBT, and the Administration has already taken steps to
secure this outcome. A CTBT task force has been established, and the
President has appointed General John M. Shalikashvili as a special
adviser to reach out to members of the Senate, seek to bridge
differences, and encourage the Senate ultimately to give its advice
and consent to ratification.

Madame President,

Here in the CD, my country's first priority remains negotiation of a
Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). This goal was identified in the
Principles and Objectives document of the 1995 NPT (Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty) Review Conference as the next practical step
in multilateral efforts leading toward nuclear disarmament. One
speaker, however, whose country subscribed to the NPT Principles and
Objectives document, has now stated that his country will not permit
the CD to negotiate on FMCT unless there are parallel negotiations on
nuclear arms reductions and outer space.

But there is a broad understanding in this body that these two topics
are not ripe for treaty negotiations in the CD. The United States for
its part is prepared to discuss, in a suitable context, outer space
issues and questions related to the long-term goal of nuclear
disarmament; but proposals for CD negotiations now in these fields are
clearly not a basis for consensus.

It would be even more problematical to go in the other direction and
downgrade CD work on FMCT from negotiation to discussion. A
negotiation on FMCT is not new to the CD. In 1995 and 1998 the CD
established ad hoc committees with just that task. To do anything less
now would be a step backward. If we cannot move forward on the basis
of a solid international consensus formally endorsed by the member
states of the CD, all the Parties to the NPT, and at the UN General
Assembly, then no agreement is safe. Succumbing to the temptation to
reopen previously agreed issues will only slow the disarmament process
even further and increase the obstacles to the achievement of our
shared goals.

My delegation is concerned that we are headed in the wrong direction
again this year. We began this session with an implicit understanding
that two main issues remained to be resolved before we could agree on
elements of a work program and get down to business. Yet so far we
seem to be increasing rather than decreasing our areas of

What happens next is up to us. The CD will have no trouble maintaining
its role as the world's single multilateral negotiating body if we do
what is expected of us: negotiate multilateral arms control and
disarmament agreements that contribute to the security and well being
of humankind. We need to focus on what is possible now, not seek
perfect, all-encompassing solutions to disarmament. We also need to
resist the urge to score political debating points or involve the CD
in issues it cannot address effectively. If we can do this, members of
the CD will have no trouble keeping it relevant and engaged. If not,
those who seek progress on disarmament will look elsewhere.

In my remarks today, I have focussed primarily on FMCT negotiations as
a first priority for the CD. The United States continues to seek a CD
role in negotiating a comprehensive ban on transfers of anti-personnel
land mines (APL). We realize that the CD has never taken a formal
decision to negotiate on APL, but it has on FMCT. We are deeply
concerned that one or two countries are now calling this consensus on
FMCT into question.

Madame President,

On another issue, I am obliged to comment on the remarks made recently
in this hall by the distinguished representative of China. Aside from
the erroneous impressions they created, these remarks involved the
kind of name calling on issues extraneous to the CD that complicates
our mutual efforts to get practical work done.

It was implied that the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) was
little more than a tool of the United States, available on demand for
enforcing hegemonism, intervening in countries' internal affairs, and
practicing the unauthorized use of force.

As for seeking hegemony, the record speaks for itself. Americans are
not interested in that sort of thing. One of our founding fathers and
early Presidents, John Quincy Adams, got it right when he wrote this
about the United States of America and her policy:

"Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall
be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions, and her prayers
be. But she goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is
the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the
champion and vindicator only of her own."

That having been said, vindicating our national freedom and
independence in today's world means accepting responsibilities far
different from those we were willing to accept in Adams' time. The
United States is now a main actor on the world stage-not the main
actor, but a main actor.

This is an important and crucial distinction, for, as a distinguished
historian, Eugene Rostow, who was my old boss at the Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency, pointed out:

"[Though] American pride resists it, the United States is not strong
enough, and cannot make itself strong enough, to protect its security
interests in world politics with its own efforts alone. Our dependence
on alliances and coalitions will necessarily continue in the years

The point is clear: America looks for peace and security in
partnership with like-minded nations. We don't seek domination, we
seek balance. Just as we govern ourselves with a series of checks and
balances, we embrace the same idea in international affairs. In short,
we don't seek hegemony. We don't have the temperament or the
inclination for it, nor do we have the means.

In addition, the assertion that our NATO allies are manipulated with
impunity by the United States simply isn't true. Defensive, democratic
alliances don't work that way, either in Europe or elsewhere.
Democratic alliances reach agreement collectively after much give and
take. Massachusetts people like me learn very early in life that
people who live north of us in Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire, and our
Canadian cousins as well, are just like us. They don't take orders
from anyone. Neither do democratic allies like the Norwegians, the
Dutch or the Australians, to name but a few. If there are any doubts
on that score, just check with anyone who ever negotiated a NATO
communiqué together with our French allies.

Far from exacerbating international tensions, the United States and
its alliance partners in Europe and elsewhere have worked very hard to
reduce them. In addition, since the end of the Cold War, NATO has
radically reduced its reliance on nuclear forces. The number of
nuclear weapons for sub-strategic forces in Europe has gone down by
over 85 per cent. The readiness posture of alert forces is now
measured in weeks rather than minutes, and in 1996 NATO ministers
announced that NATO has "no intention, no plan, and no reason to
deploy nuclear weapons on the territory of new member countries." All
the allies are parties to the NPT, and all NATO members are committed
to early entry into force of the CTBT.

The distinguished representative of China also implied that the United
States practiced a double standard toward arms control agreements and
was trying to weaken or abolish the ABM Treaty. I reject this
assertion. There has already been substantial public discussion of
this issue, so the facts should be clear by now. The international
environment has changed dramatically in the nearly 28 years since the
ABM Treaty was signed. The threat of proliferation of weapons of mass
destruction using advanced means of delivery is real, growing, and
increasingly unpredictable. The spread of these technologies should
not have happened, but regrettably it did. Those who allowed it to
happen should have known what the consequences would be.

The United States is considering a limited system to defend against
such threats. We have made clear that we are committed to work with
Russia, in a spirit of cooperation against a threat we both face, to
identify adaptations of the ABM Treaty that would make its provisions
consistent with a limited national missile defense. Our two countries
have amended the ABM Treaty before, and bilateral discussions on START
and ABM issues are continuing, including here in Geneva, even as the
CD continues to squander its time.

There are reasons to wonder at the source of this criticism. Four of
the five nuclear weapon states have reduced their holdings of these
weapons and increased transparency. The other nuclear weapon state is
modernizing its forces and is not increasing its transparency. This
same state decided to "test" fire missiles in 1996 in response to
political developments of which it did not approve, and it has been
building new missile fields in locations that raise concerns. Yet this
state's representatives accuse the United States of practicing
hegemonism and seeking unilateral security at the expense of the
security of other states. And they call into question an open, orderly
process aimed at finding necessary adaptations that can keep a
long-standing arms control agreement relevant and effective.

Madame President,

The United States has a long history in arms control and disarmament.
We have negotiated and implemented many agreements and continue to do
so. Here in the CD the U.S. has already shown considerable flexibility
on important elements of our program of work. In the spirit of making
practical progress in areas where we know consensus exists, it is time
for other CD members to show similar flexibility. If the CD does not
get down to work, it will confirm my authorities' suspicions that this
is because some governments don't want it to work.

The U.S. supports the efforts your delegation will be making to reach
consensus on the CD's program of work. We are ready to work closely
with you, and your successors if need be, to create the conditions
that will allow the conference to resume negotiations on FMCT.
Conducting negotiations is the CD's main business, and the world at
large will judge our success or failure by how well we do that job.

Thank you, Madame President.

(end text)

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