USIS Washington 

07 April 1998


(Says U.S. leadership is crucial to CTBT success) (3020)

Washington -- A key U.S. arms control official says U.S. leadership is
crucial to the success of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The sooner the U.S. Senate ratifies the CTBT, Under Secretary of State
for Arms Control and International Security Affairs John Holum says,
"the sooner we set the rest of the world on the same path."

In remarks delivered at a press briefing at the State Department April
7, Holum said the United States "should be in the business not of
complicating arms control, but of making it happen."

He also pointed out that President Clinton has written to Senate
Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms expressing his desire
to have the ratified CTBT in place when he travels to South Asia in
the fall.

Following is the transcript of Holum's briefing:

(begin transcript)

I have a few short remarks that I'd like to begin with, even though
you've already heard some remarks from me.

The Senate has an historic opportunity to complete an effort this year
that began during the Eisenhower administration, and that's to finally
ban nuclear weapons testing of any size by anyone, anywhere forever.
In pursuing this effort, we have the overwhelming support of the
American people - some 70% according to recent polls -- including
roughly the same proportion of both parties, support this step. Only
13 percent oppose this treaty. That's an extraordinary level of public
support for any public issue.

I want to underscore here the importance of ratifying this treaty for
one of our most important international security challenges, and
that's to intercept and prevent the spread of nuclear, chemical and
biological weapons and missiles to more countries. This helps us in
two ways to do that. One is a ban on nuclear testing is another tall
obstacle for any aspiring nuclear weapons state. You can make a
nuclear weapon without testing, but it's a much bigger challenge, much
more difficult to make weapons of small enough size to be of great
danger to us. We had to dig a trench under a B-29 bomber to put our
first nuclear weapons on board. Without testing, it's an
insurmountable challenge, virtually, to get them down to the sizes and
weights that would be of particular danger to us.

Then second, the treaty also, in a very important way, fortifies our
diplomacy. You've seen in the last several months that the United
States is the leading advocate in the world of strong
non-proliferation enforcement in Iraq; and now especially, when we are
trying to pursue that effort, when we're at the same time working to
support enhanced safeguards on nuclear weapons with the IAEA
(International Atomic Energy Agency), when we're trying to negotiate a
compliance protocol for the biological weapons convention, when we're
actively engaged all over the world in efforts to intercept and
prevent the shipment of dangerous goods to the wrong destinations, we
can't afford any suggestion that the United States is not itself
committed to strong non-proliferation standards.

Here, in my mind, is what the issue comes down to, what the issue for
the Senate really is: the Cold War is over; nuclear arsenals are
shrinking; we are not testing; we can keep our dramatically smaller
stockpiles of weapons safe and reliable without tests. We don't need
tests; the proliferators need tests. The American people
overwhelmingly want testing stopped. Under these circumstances, who
would want to argue that we should make the Nevada desert start
shaking again with nuclear explosions, thus ensuring more such events
at Russia's Novayazemlya test site, at China's Lop Nur, or at other
sites known and unknown around the globe?

The Senate has very little time left in this legislative year. It
should use that time well, and as the President said yesterday and the
Secretary of State argued last week before the American Society of
Newspaper Editors and as other administration leaders have argued over
the past months, it should ratify the Test Ban Treaty before it goes
home this fall.

Thank you.

Q: How successful have you been so far, convincing (Senate Foreign
Relations Committee Chairman) Jesse Helms to move on this? I mean, his
argument is, this isn't going to go into force for quite a while, they
should do the ABM protocols first, and he even wants to do climate
change. So how are you going to get him off of this square one?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: One of the things we're going to do is
keep making the case. I think if this is handled as an inside issue
without public awareness or involvement, it could well be
side-tracked. But one of the things we need to do and will continue to
do is make the case for this treaty publicly, to let the public know
that it has been negotiated, that it's now up to the Senate, that we
have an opportunity to complete this decades-long task. I think it's
interesting -- you will find that no one who argues against the
treaty, at least no one that I've heard, says, I think there should be
nuclear tests. People are generally, in the Senate and the Congress,
aware that this is something that should be stopped. It's something
that the Americans want banned.

So then the argument becomes, well, if we're not going to test anyway,
why not hold the rest of the world to the same standards? There are
complex arguments about verification and other aspects -- the timing
and so forth, stockpiled stewardship -- but the real question is
basically one of, are we going to lead or trail behind the
international effort to control weapons of mass destruction? We're
constantly being pressed to deal with this or that proliferation
problem, and the administration is as intensely engaged as any in
history in trying to prevent the spread of weapons of mass
destruction, both in general through treaties and in specific cases
through demarches and other steps. This treaty is essential to our
efforts to make that happen.

Q:  Do you think you have the votes, if it gets to the floor?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: If it comes to a vote in the Senate, I
think we'll have the votes; but there are a lot of steps between now
and then, including a lot of debate that has to be had. We've had a
number of hearings -- so far none in the Foreign Relations Committee
-- and briefings, hearings in the Energy Committee last year that
Senator Dominici chaired. So I think the issues are being ventilated.
I testified a couple of weeks ago before the Government Operations
Committee on the test ban. We need to get hearings in the Foreign
Relations Committee, obviously.

Q: Do you have a little bit of trouble making your voice heard
internally at a time when the administration is trying to get NATO
expansion through and the IMF (International Monetary Fund) and UN
funding -- these seem to be the three top priorities?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: Those are obviously leading priorities,
and I'm not trying to get in the way of any of them. I don't think
this is a matter of competition; it's more a matter of sequencing.

The President, in the State of the Union Address, the Secretary of
Defense, the Secretary of State and others have made the case for the
treaty repeatedly in their testimony on the Hill. They've called for
action on the treaty. I don't think we're in competition with these
other priorities. Clearly, the NATO enlargement will come first. I
don't think the problem with UN arrears and NATO enlargement is one
that requires hearing time on Capitol Hill or floor time. Those are
issues that require political decisions and then they can happen very
quickly. So the test ban is not in competition with those issues.

Q: What are the dangers or dangerous consequences of putting it off
until next year?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: Well, one very serious concern I have is
that the treaty itself provides for a review conference. If it hasn't
gone into effect by September 1999, then there is a conference of the
countries who have ratified by then provided for, under which they
will plan a strategy for how to proceed. If we haven't ratified, we
can't attend that conference. I can't imagine the United States
continuing to proclaim its international leadership on arms control
and non-proliferation being excluded from a conference of that kind.
That's one practical consequence of delay.

More immediately, over the course of the last four or five years since
the Gulf War in 1991, we've been in the thick of working in the
International Atomic Energy Agency to gain approval of enhanced
safeguards that would learn the lessons of Iraq and take advantage of
advances in technology and political momentum to give the
International Atomic Energy Agency more access to ensure that it can
find and root out nuclear weapons programs. Those safeguards were
finally approved last year, but every state party has to negotiate a
new safeguards agreement. We're going to be in the vanguard of efforts
to try to get those agreements negotiated.

It's very difficult for us to advance that particular cause if we
haven't ratified the Test Ban Treaty, if we're holding back on efforts
of this kind. It's difficult for us to make our case internationally
on Iraq, on a whole range of other things. Remember that the
non-nuclear weapons states have considered, since the time the
Non-Proliferation Treaty was negotiated in the 1960s, that part of the
bargain was an agreement on the part of the nuclear weapons states to
engage in good-faith efforts towards disarmament; and the Test Ban
Treaty was specifically mentioned at the time in the late 1960s as
part of the bargain. So, in order for us to make our case effectively
for non-proliferation, we need to hold up our end of the bargain; and
the Test Bban is part of it.

Q: This is related somewhat. During your speeches in the NRRC, you and
Strobe both made points about partnership with Russia on nuclear
non-proliferation efforts. Yet apparently, the new head of MINATOM has
now said that he is actively looking at going forward with a contract
with Iran on a research reactor. This doesn't sound very much like a
partnership. But I wonder, (a), what you think about that; and (b),
the fact that U.S. relations with Iran seem to be improving - is this
going to make it more difficult for you to hold the line on preventing
countries from participating with Iran on nuclear issues?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: We don't think, as you know, that any
country should be engaged with Iran even on safeguarded, peaceful
nuclear activities because it's clear that Iran is interested in
developing a nuclear weapons potential. We've not seen, in the context
of signals, that they may be interested in a more normalized
relationship with the United States -- any indication that they're
giving up that nuclear ambition. So, we'll continue to raise this
issue with the Russians; but we'll raise it as partners who, I think,
have parallel concerns, parallel interests in preventing nuclear
weapon capabilities in Iran or elsewhere. They take a different view,
particularly as to the Bushehr reactors; and some of them seem to take
a different view on the possibility of a research reactor, but I don't
regard that as a settled question.

Q: Another sort of related question. Russia's military keeps cutting
back, and the latest defense doctrine puts greater dependency on
nuclear weapons to defend Russia in the event of attack. Have there
been any practical changes as a result of that, perhaps, that cause
you any concerns?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: I would be concerned about a Russian
interest in reversing the arms control process; but everything that
we've seen thus far in all of our inter-relationships with Russia on
the Test Ban and in other areas suggest the opposite -- that they are
committed to this process. They, we are hopeful, will ratify START II
this year -- earlier, we hope, rather than later, so we can get on to
negotiating the next step in which they profess a deep interest.

They have played an active role in negotiating the Comprehensive Test
Ban and have given every indication that they plan to ratify and
comply with it. So, I think the arms control process continues. The
Russians will obviously have to speak for themselves on this, but
probably their increased reliance on nuclear weapons proportionately
is a result of efficiency in their conventional forces. But I don't
see it as a major change in direction, at least from the arms control

I want to go back to your question, Carol, earlier, because I didn't
mention that Senator Helms had embodied those arguments on ABM and
Kyoto in a letter to the President. And I wanted to make sure that you
are aware that the President had written back to Senator Helms and
said that he believes it's essential that the United States
demonstrate leadership with regard to the crucial treaties and regimes
that strengthen our global non-proliferation system, emphasizing the
testing. He said that rather than waiting to see if others will
ratify, he believes America must lead in bringing the CTBT into force,
and he said the Senate should afford it the very high priority that he
thinks it warrants.

He also indicated in this letter that he thought it would be very
important for him, when he travels to South Asia later this year, to
have the ratified Comprehensive Test Ban in place. So, I wanted you to
be aware that the President -- and I guess this relates to several
questions, including the one whether this is a priority -- the
President had been directly and actively engaged in pressing the case
with the Senate.

Q:  Do you know when that letter was sent?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: It was delivered, I believe, by
Secretary Albright, when she testified, and the date was --

Q:  February 24?


Q: John, what happened with the missile testing in India yesterday?
India and Pakistan appear to be going back in the opposite direction
of you all's goals here. They aren't signatories. What sort of
strategy are you hoping to pursue with them?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: You mean the missile test in Pakistan?

Q:  I'm sorry, Pakistan.

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: We'll continue to urge both countries to
exercise restraint. This is a particularly sensitive time when the new
government in India is formulating itself and developing and
clarifying its policies in all of these areas. The tests by Pakistan
won't help the process of restraint. We think both countries should,
especially now, not take steps that are provocative.

Q: Back on the CTBT, you spoke earlier about a review conference in
September 1999, if you can't get all 44 countries to ratify the
treaty. Assuming that conference becomes necessary, what specific
options are available at that time to bring the treaty into force? My
understanding is that the conference would not be able to waive the
original requirements stating that all 44 countries would have to
ratify it. What is the current thinking about what measures could be
taken to accelerate the ratification conference if that becomes

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: You're getting a little ahead of the
game, I think, because we need to ratify first before we can even go.
So if we're not going, it won't be fruitful to develop a strategy.

One thing that such a conference would do is presumably talk about a
political strategy. The test ban, as most of you probably know, takes
44 specifically named countries before it can enter into force; 41 of
those 44 have signed the treaty, and we expect they'll ratify. Three
-- India, Pakistan and North Korea -- have not signed, and I'm sure an
intense focus of the conference, assuming the other 41 have ratified
by then, will be, what is the right political strategy to engage the
other three, to bring them on board?

Some people have suggested that the countries who are present there
could make a decision to adopt a different test ban treaty. They
couldn't amend this one, but they could adopt on their own a test ban
treaty that would have all the same provisions but a different entry
into force provision. That's a theoretical possibility, I suppose. Or
they could decide on provisional application. I think any of those
kinds of options would be very difficult to pursue because the entry
into force provisions of the treaty were the product of very intense
negotiations and they wouldn't be likely adjusted by countries that
presumably will have ratified by then. Certainly, the two who ratified
last week, who have just ratified -- the UK and France -- have strong
views on that question.

Q: Just one China-Taiwan-related question -- this is not exactly your
area, but I heard in your news briefing in Beijing, your comment on
Taiwan arms sales was somewhat misreported in Taiwan.


Q:  So would you mind to clarify what you intended to say?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: I think the simplest way to say it is
there's been no change in our approach on arms sales to Taiwan; that
the Taiwan Relations Act, as well as the three communiques, are the
basis of our relationship.

Certainly, there was no intimation that this is something that would
involve pre-notification or pre-clearance with China.

Q:  Do you know why it was misreported?

ACTING UNDER SECRETARY HOLUM: No, I can't figure it out, because I've
read the transcript and others have. It wasn't widely misreported; it
was reported by one correspondent, apparently.

Q:  Thank you.


(end transcript)