Title:  TEXT: U.S. STATEMENT TO NPT PREPARATORY COMMITTEE MEETING (U.S. "strongly committed" to Non-Proliferation Treaty)

Date:  19970411


New York -- The United States is "strongly committed to all of the decisions" agreed at the 1995 international conference indefinitely extending the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), according to Lawerence Scheinman, the U.S. representative to the First Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) Meeting for the 2000 NPT Review Conference.

Speaking April 8 to the PrepCom meeting in New York, Scheinman said the "basic task before us is to define priorities for the 'strengthened treaty review process' and to determine how it will operate."

A second priority, he added, is to ensure "a balanced and thorough treatment of all aspects of the treaty -- both in our deliberations during the PrepCom meetings, and at the 2000 NPT Review Conference itself."

The preparatory committee meetings are set to discuss the agenda for the next NPT Review Conference, to be held in the year 2000. Two additional meetings are scheduled for 1998 and 1999.

Following is the text of Scheinman's statement:

Mr. Chairman, the United States strongly supports the NPT, which is the vital and irreplaceable cornerstone of the international nuclear nonproliferation regime, providing important benefits not only to all its parties but to the international community at large. By indefinitely extending the NPT in 1995, the parties made a calculated and critically important decision to ensure that the treaty continue to benefit its parties and the international security system.

The accompanying decisions on "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament" and "Strengthening the Review Process for the Treaty" were another "milestone" for the Treaty and its future. With these two decisions, we have identified guiding principles and objectives that reflect the collective interest and commitment of NPT parties in implementing the treaty, and have created a process to facilitate further strengthening treaty implementation.

The United States is strongly committed to all of the decisions agreed at the 1995 NPT Conference. We recognize that, because of these decisions, the PrepCom process leading to the 2000 NPT Review Conference will be qualitatively different from the past, and that it will require careful deliberations and focused efforts by us all. My delegation is fully prepared to contribute to this effort and to work toward a successful conclusion of this process. The agenda before us is ambitious, but we have ample time to do justice to our task, not only in the coming two weeks, but also during the PrepCom meetings that will take place in 1998 and 1999.

A basic task before us is to define priorities for the "strengthened treaty review process" and to determine how it will operate. In the view of the United States the first priority must be to ensure the continued vitality and strength of the NPT. There should be no doubt of the benefit that accrues to us all from a strong and sound NPT or the consequences we would have to endure if the treaty were to be weakened. Not only does the NPT ensure against further proliferation of nuclear weapons, but it is the foundation upon which the process of nuclear disarmament is based and the opportunity for international nuclear cooperation predicated.

In any consideration of review of the treaty, we believe it is essential to bear in mind that it is the treaty that is the source of our obligations and that we should therefore be guided first and foremost by the treaty itself. In particular, Article VIII.3 provides for periodic conferences to review the operation of the treaty "with a view to assuring that the purposes of the Preamble and the provisions of the treaty are being realized." Toward that end we are assisted by the guidance provided in paragraph 4 of the decision on Strengthening the Review Process of the Treaty, which calls for the PrepCom to consider "principles, objectives, and ways in order to assure the full implementation of the treaty, including its universality, and to make recommendations thereon to the Review Conference." It is critically important that the process remain true to its fundamental purpose and that inclinations to deviate from what was agreed in 1995 through creative interpretation, however well meaning, should be resisted to the extent that they could harm the integrity of the NPT regime.

The NPT is more than the sum of its parts. Its three main goals -- preventing the spread of nuclear weapons; promoting nuclear disarmament; and promoting cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy under an effective safeguards system -- are mutually reinforcing and cannot be considered in isolation. This perspective defines what we believe should be a second priority, namely that there be a balanced and thorough treatment of all aspects of the treaty -- both in our deliberations during the PrepCom meetings and at the 2000 NPT Review Conference itself. To this end, Mr. Chairman, my delegation has come fully prepared to deliberate on all substantive issues related to the operation of the treaty.

We are also fully prepared to discuss the procedural issues related to preparing effectively for the 2000 Review Conference. We recognize the importance that an in-depth and candid discussion on these issues has for assuring an effective and meaningful process.

Balanced and comprehensive consideration of the NPT and its components is not the responsibility of a select few, but of all of the parties. The United States believes that a criterion for effective review under the "strengthened review process" will be the extent to which all parties are prepared to discuss their efforts to implement their obligations under the treaty. Treating the process as a referendum on the efforts of any less than all parties, or giving unequal emphasis to any of the treaty's goals, would be neither productive nor constructive and certainly would not serve our shared interests in creating a meaningful and effective process.

Mr. Chairman, pursuant to what I have just said, I would like to briefly mention some of the steps the United States has taken since the conclusion of the 1995 NPT Conference to fulfill its obligations under the NPT. Given the constraint of time, I will give only a few "highlights."


The 1995 NPT Conference decisions called for the completion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty "no later than 1996." Achievement of a CTBT has long been recognized as a key step in achieving the full implementation of Article VI of the NPT. The successful completion of the CTBT last September is an historic accomplishment that not only completes an arms control quest spanning more than 40 years, but also helps wall off nuclear dangers today and henceforth. On September 24, 1996 President Clinton was the first leader to sign the CTBT. The United States is committed to the CTBT and to achieving its entry into force at an early date.


The United States is strongly committed to nuclear disarmament and to the goal of the ultimate elimination of nuclear weapons. Since the 1995 NPT Conference the U.S. has continued to take steps in support of this commitment. This includes implementation of the START I Treaty; ratification of START II; and very importantly a commitment reached with Russia to begin negotiations on a START III Treaty immediately after START II enters into force.

During the Helsinki Summit Meeting last month Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin reaffirmed a shared commitment to further reduce the nuclear danger and to strengthen strategic stability and nuclear security. The U.S. and Russia have agreed that START III will establish by December 31, 2007 a ceiling of 2,000-2, 500 strategic weapons for each country. In a significant new development promoting the irreversibility of deep reductions the U.S. and Russia also agreed that START III will be the first strategic arms control agreement to include measures relating to the transparency of strategic nuclear warhead inventories and the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads. When completed the United States will have reduced its total deployed strategic warheads by more than 65 percent of warheads permitted under START I.


Beyond its efforts related to the START treaties, the United States has taken a number of steps unilaterally to reduce the roles and risks associated with nuclear weapons, to modify the nuclear force posture associated with the Cold War, and to ensure that excess nuclear material from dismantled nuclear weapons is not returned to military use. This includes not only de-targeting, and removing strategic bombers from alert status, but also cancellation of a number of strategic modernization programs and reduction of non-strategic nuclear forces.

In support of its commitment to nuclear disarmament, the United States has already eliminated nearly 10,000 strategic and non-strategic nuclear warheads and will continue to do so at a safe and effective rate. At this point in time, the U.S. has reduced from its Cold War peak 90 percent of its non-strategic nuclear stockpile and 47 percent of its strategic nuclear stockpile. In addition, the United States has unilaterally removed more than 225 metric tons of fissile material from its nuclear stockpile and has voluntarily offered to place this excess material under IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) safeguards. Twelve tons of HEU and PU are already under IAEA safeguards.


Effective international safeguards are understood to be a sine qua non for effective nonproliferation. Just last week in Vienna negotiations were completed on a Model Protocol that will strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of safeguards and complete the crucial work on Program 93+2 undertaken in the aftermath of the Gulf War and the discoveries related to Iraq's clandestine nuclear program. The United States has been actively involved in helping to move this process forward and is pleased to see that the work of the committee has been completed. I must underscore that the United States will accept the Protocol in its entirety and apply all of its provisions. We will treat it as an integral part of our existing voluntary offer and make our commitment legally binding.


In the past two years the United States has signed the protocols to the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone and to the African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, thus bringing to three the number of nuclear weapon free zone treaties with which the United States is now associated. Through these protocols, the U.S. has provided negative security assurances to the roughly 90 non-nuclear-weapon states parties to these treaties. The assurances contained in these protocols complement assurances provided through our national statements and reaffirmed in UNSC RES 984 of April 1995.


We continue to support the objective of universal adherence to the NPT, recognize this as an important goal, welcome the addition of eight states to treaty membership since 1995, and are committed to continuing efforts to achieve a truly universal treaty.


The United States is no less committed to peaceful nuclear cooperation than to nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament goals of the treaty. We remain the leading supporter for the technical cooperation program of the IAEA, which has a central role in implementing Article IV of the NPT, both in terms of direct financial support and support "in kind" such as training, fellowships, and cost-free experts. And we continue to provide significant nuclear assistance on a bilateral basis. Of course, our ability to do these things is predicated on a safe and secure nuclear nonproliferation regime and treaty compliance by recipient states.


Mr. Chairman, even this brief review indicates how much has been accomplished. Much more, of course, remains to be done as we continue to move down the path toward a world ultimately free of nuclear weapons. I have already spoken to how this must be a collective effort. One of the measures that requires our urgent attention is the achieving of a fissile material cut-off convention that will put a quantitative cap on the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons and bring all fissile material production capacity everywhere under IAEA safeguards, complementing constraints on the improvement and development of nuclear weapons resulting from the CTBT.

The United States ceased production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons in 1992 and since 1993 has worked tirelessly to initiate negotiations on an international treaty on this matter. President Clinton cited a cut-off treaty as one of his administration's highest arms control and nonproliferation priorities and has urged the immediate commencement of negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. Regrettably, the actions of a few countries have precluded this. We hope that NPT parties will work with us in support of the mutual commitment we all made in 1995 to commence FMCT negotiations at the CD on the basis of the Shannon mandate and without conditions.

Mr. Chairman, nonproliferation, nuclear disarmament and ensuring that nuclear energy and technology are dedicated to exclusively peaceful purposes under effective international controls is a full-time, long-term proposition. For this, the NPT is the legal and political cornerstone. We have made it a permanent feature of the international security architecture that sustains international peace and security. We have before us the opportunity and the responsibility to ensure that we succeed in consolidating our gains and fulfilling our nonproliferation and disarmament mission.

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