I have asked for the floor today for two purposes. First, I will address Resolution L.1
on the "Preservation of and Compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty,"
tabled by Russia, Belarus, and China. Second, I will provide clarification on U.S.
intentions vis-a-vis its own traditional resolutions.
I particularly want to take this opportunity to respond to the October 21 statement by
the Deputy Representative of the Russian Federation regarding this draft resolution. Many
of you already know that the U.S. is deeply concerned by this resolution and the rationale
offered to support it.
There are certainly parts of the Russian Deputy's statement with which the U.S. agrees.
- The U.S. firmly believes that the ABM Treaty remains a cornerstone of strategic
stability and that it continues to provide the essential foundation for achieving further
reductions in strategic offensive arms.
- Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to the ABM
Treaty and to continued efforts to strengthen it.
However, my Government takes strong exception to the Deputy Representative's statement
that the draft resolution "follows the mainstream of agreements between the
Presidents of Russia and the United States reached in Cologne" in June of this year.
In our view, the draft resolution is inconsistent with the commitments made by Presidents
Clinton and Yeltsin in Cologne.
The Russian Deputy stated that the Cologne Joint Statement does not contain any
agreement to review the ABM Treaty. He then went on to quote the Joint Statement language,
which says that "both Sides affirm their existing obligations under Article XIII of
the ABM Treaty to consider possible changes in the strategic situation that have a bearing
on the ABM Treaty and, as appropriate, possible proposals for further increasing the
viability of the Treaty." What does this obligation in the ABM Treaty mean if it is
not a commitment by the Parties to review the Treaty in light of changes in the strategic
The Cologne Joint Statement goes on to note that "Discussions on START III and the
ABM Treaty will begin later this summer." These discussions have in fact already
begun. Several meetings with our Russian counterparts have already been held on START III
and the ABM Treaty. In fact, after delivering his speech to the UNFC last Wednesday,
October 20, Under Secretary of State (Designate) John Holum departed New York to travel to
Moscow to continue discussions on the ABM Treaty and START III.
Finally, I want to take strong exception to the characterizations in the Deputy
Representative's statement that the U.S. is seeking to "undermine" or
"liquidate" the Treaty or that any changes to its provisions "would deprive
the Treaty of any sense."
Let me make clear that the United States has not made a decision to deploy a limited
National Missile Defense; such a decision will not be made until the year 2000 or later.
In any case, we do not believe the deployment of a limited NMD system would change the
basic strategic calculus underlying the ABM Treaty or be incompatible with its central
purpose, that is, to maintain strategic stability and enable further reductions in
strategic offensive arms.
Draft Resolution L.1 appears to be based on the premise that adapting the ABM Treaty to
meet the emerging threat posed by long-range ballistic missiles under development and
testing by certain states necessarily means destroying the Treaty. Further, this also
ignores the strong view of the U.S. that the adaptation we envision would not threaten the
stability of mutual U.S.-Russian deterrence. In our ongoing discussions with Russia, there
are shared common views, including: the need for further reductions in offensive forces
beyond START I and START II; the need for stability in our strategic relationship; and the
need to preserve the ABM Treaty, which provides stability and opens the way to further
We have made clear to the Russian side that we want to work cooperatively on the issue
of missile defense and the ABM Treaty as we also continue our discussions on START III. We
believe our bilateral efforts are the only way to achieve success. As I have noted, the
process of discussion is well underway, and is continuing. The draft resolution on the ABM
Treaty, however, seeks to prejudge this process and would undercut it. This is not in the
interest of the U.S., nor of Russia, nor of the world community, nor of anyone who wishes
to see real progress on nuclear disarmament. The United States recognizes that the
international community has an interest in the progress of bilateral arms control. At the
same time, we do not believe it is appropriate for the UNGA to be placed in the position
of having to take sides in ongoing bilateral negotiations, or that the UNGA can or should
make judgments about specific substantive, negotiating issues in such negotiations.
Consequently, we would strongly urge Russia, Belarus, and China to refrain from
proceeding with their draft.
It is also with regret that I wish to inform members of the First Committee that the
U.S. has decided not to pursue its two traditional resolutions, namely one on
"Compliance with Arms Limitation and Disarmament and Non-Proliferation
Agreements," and one on "Bilateral Nuclear Arms Negotiations and Nuclear
Disarmament." Both resolutions, in our view address important and relevant issues.
Both resolutions, in our view, would have been particularly timely this year. However, it
appears that these two resolutions ran the risk of being subjected to a campaign of
amendment designed to introduce contention over the ABM Treaty in every possible context.
These resolutions have important points to make, and deserve better than to be treated
this way. As a result, the U.S. will not pursue these resolutions this year. On
Compliance, we have tabled instead a decision in Document L.13 to keep the issue on the
agenda and we hope that the traditional consensus enjoyed by the Compliance resolution
will apply to the Compliance decision.