USIS Washington File

07 March 2000

Byliner: Secretary of State Albright on the NPT

(Op-ed from March 7 International Herald Tribune) (860)

(This column by Secretary of State Madeleine Albright first appeared
in The International Herald Tribune March 7 and is in the public
domain, no copyright restrictions.)

Time to Renew Faith in the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty
By Madeleine K. Albright

Sunday was the 30th anniversary of the landmark Treaty on the
Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, perhaps the most important
multilateral arms control agreement in history. It is the bedrock of
global efforts to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons.

Under the nonproliferation treaty, 182 non-nuclear-weapon states
agreed to forgo any pursuit of nuclear weapons, and the five
nuclear-weapon states agreed not to help others acquire nuclear arms.

All parties to the treaty agreed to facilitate peaceful nuclear
cooperation and to pursue good faith negotiations toward nuclear

This is a treaty that by all accounts works. It has had many successes
in preventing proliferation, facilitating nuclear cooperation and
promoting arms control and disarmament.

In the last 10 years, Argentina, Brazil and South Africa all renounced
their nuclear ambitions and joined the treaty, providing assurances
that their nuclear energy programs were peaceful.

When the Soviet Union dissolved, only one nuclear-weapon state
emerged, Russia. All the other newly independent states joined the
treaty as non-nuclear-weapon states, and all nuclear weapons in
Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan were returned to Russia.

Today all but Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan are parties to the

The past decade, however, has not been trouble-free. The most serious
challenge to the regime came in 1991 with the discovery that Iraq, a
party to the treaty, had a secret program to develop nuclear weapons.
Just a few years later the International Atomic Energy Agency
discovered that North Korea was concealing the full extent of its
nuclear program.

The nonproliferation treaty weathered both those storms, including
North Korea's attempt to withdraw from the treaty. Instead of
abandoning the fight, member states rallied together to strengthen the
system of nuclear inspections.

Most importantly, treaty parties agreed in New York in 1995 to extend
the treaty, without conditions, indefinitely.

Permanent extension of the treaty opened a new and more hopeful
chapter in our history. It reminded us, despite our varying views on
how well we have implemented our commitments, that we share a common
goal - to make every effort to avert the danger of a nuclear war.

Next month the parties will meet again to review progress in achieving
the goals set outby the treaty. There is likely to be much debate on
the effectiveness of the nonproliferation norm and the pace of nuclear
disarmament. A thorough, balanced debate can reaffirm the importance
of the treaty as a whole.

We have had some setbacks since the last review in 1995- from the
Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests to continued Iraqi defiance of the
UN Security Council and aggressive procurement efforts by some
determined proliferators.On the other hand, we have made clear
progress in helping to keep the ex-Soviet stockpile under control, in
implement-ing modern systems of export controls, in freezing North
Korean plutonium production, in strengthening compliance mechanisms,
in establishingadditional regional nonproliferation arrangements and
in expanding adherence to the treaty. We have also made steadyprogress
toward the ultimate goal of eliminating nuclear weapons.

In 1997, Presidents Bill Clinton and Boris Yeltsin agreed on the
outlines of a START-3 treaty that would cut arsenals by 80 percent
from their Cold War peaks. Independently of those negotiations, both
countries continue to dismantle their nuclear arsenals. Since 1988,
the United States has dismantled more than 13,000 nuclear warheads -
more than half of the U.S. nuclear warhead stockpile.

The United States is also working closely with Russia on ways to
dispose of military plutonium and on the shutdown of military
plutonium production reactors. The United States itself has not
produced fissile material for nuclear weapons since it unilaterally
halted production in 1992.

In that year, the United States also stopped testing nuclear weapons,
even before negotiations began for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban
Treaty. And it will continue to work for negotiations on a treaty that
would ban for all time the production of fissile material for nuclear

At the review conference in New York, the U.S. failure to ratify the
test ban treaty will surely be held up by some states as a misstep on
the road toward disarmament. The United States, however, remains
committed to bringing the test ban treaty into force and to
maintaining its test moratorium.

We are seeking a constructive dialogue with the U.S. Senate which we
hope will eventually lead to the treaty's ratification.

Looking forward, the nuclear danger clearly has not ended. We have a
long way to go on the road to disarmament, to universal acceptance of
nonproliferation norms and full compliance with nonproliferation
commitments. But we cannot get there without a strong nonproliferation
treaty. We urge all nations to help preserve and reinforce this
important treaty.

(Madeleine K. Albright is the U.S. Secretary of State.)

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