USIS Washington File

09 December 1999

U.S. Arms Control Adviser John Holum gives 1999 Progress Report

(Year 2000 efforts to include push for CTBT, START III) (530)
By Susan Ellis
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- This year has been one of continued progress despite
some "all too apparent" setbacks, John Holum, the State Department's
senior adviser for arms control and international security, told
reporters at the Foreign Press Center in Washington December 9.

The most prominent setback of 1999, he said, was the failure of the
Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), "which had
profound reverberations both here in the United States and around the
world." The administration will continue its efforts next year, Holum
added, "to engage with the Senate to ratify CTBT" and meanwhile the
United States continues to refrain from testing nuclear weapons.

He also pointed out that, in "a profoundly important process in
disarmament," the United States has completely eliminated a total of
13,000 warheads since 1988, and approximately "60 percent of all the
nuclear weapons from the peak of the Cold War have gone out of

As warhead numbers plummet, the United States is "also pressing to
make the resulting materials, the highly enriched uranium and
plutonium, more secure both in the United States and in the states of
the former Soviet Union," Holum said.

In other successes, the arms adviser pointed to recent negotiations in
adapting the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe Treaty to bring it
into line with post-Cold War realities and allow it to continue as a
strong security instrument for all European countries.

Holum also cited U.S. regional non-proliferation efforts, including
small arms initiatives in Latin America and Africa, attempts to deal
with the nuclear potential in India and Pakistan, and "looking for
opportunities in the new positive environment in the Middle East to
advance the arms control cause there."

On next year's arms control agenda, he said, the United States will
continue its efforts to make the biological weapons convention
enforceable by strengthening the compliance process and providing for
on-site challenge inspections.

"We need to break the logjam in the Conference on Disarmament and
we're hoping we can do that in January with a work program that will
include the cutoff on the production of fissile material for weapons
purposes," Holum said, adding that the United States will also
continue discussions on START III and encourage Russian ratification

There is also the challenge of dealing with the Anti-Ballistic Missile
Treaty (ABM), he said, adding that while the ABM Treaty "remains a
cornerstone of our arms control efforts, the world has changed
dramatically since the treaty was negotiated in 1972."

However, "the threat of weapons of mass destruction and missiles to
carry them from a few rogue states is growing, it's real, it's
unpredictable, and it's in the near-term," he said. "And so we're
considering the possibility of deploying a National Missile Defense,
which would require changes to the ABM Treaty while still preserving
its essential purpose. And we're engaged in discussions with Russia on
that front."

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)