USIS Washington File

08 March 2000

Byliner: "The NPT: Advancing Global Security in the New Millennium"

(Op-ed column, by Ambassador Norman A. Wulf, cites NPT benefits)

[The following op-ed column is in the public domain, with no
republication restrictions. The author should be identified as
Ambassador Norman A. Wulf, special representative to the president for
nuclear nonproliferation.]

[Note: In the text, billion = thousand million.]

(begin text of op-ed column) 

Next month marks the first major worldwide gathering of nuclear
nonproliferation experts in the new millennium. Representatives from
virtually every country will meet in New York to review the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- a 30-year-old international
agreement with 187 parties. The NPT is nearly universal, with only
Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan outside the treaty. The United States
will be actively engaged in this review and looks forward to a full
debate, including highlighting the many impressive achievements of
this vital treaty.

The NPT is one of the great success stories of nuclear arms control.
It has made major contributions to global security and economic
well-being over the past three decades. The NPT:

-- is an indispensable tool in preventing the spread of nuclear
-- provides an essential foundation for the reduction of existing
nuclear arsenals and for continued progress toward nuclear
disarmament; and
-- promotes the peaceful uses of the atom for the generation of
electricity and for the many applications in medicine, industry,
agriculture and other areas.

Direct Security Benefits

There is a strong international consensus that the further spread of
nuclear weapons would endanger the security of all countries, and
threaten global and regional stability. The NPT and near-universal
support for nuclear non-proliferation are the primary reasons why
nuclear weapons have not spread as fast as many had predicted in the

The security benefitsof the NPT are evident in every region of the
world. South Africa's decision to abandon its nuclear weapons program
and accede to the NPT in 1991 enhanced the security of all African
states and led to the negotiation of a treaty to make Africa a
continent free from nuclear weapons. The NPT provided stability in the
midst of the great political and economic changes that occurred in
Europe and Central Asia over the past decade. All the newly
independent states of the former Soviet Union returned nuclear weapons
deployed on their territories to Russia and joined the NPT as
non-nuclear-weapon states.

There have been challenges to the NPT. The international community has
responded strongly to violations of the NPT by Iraq and North Korea.
The NPT is a critical tool in continued efforts to restrain the
nuclear programs of both countries.

Nuclear proliferation in South Asia poses a continuing challenge. But
the reaction to nuclear tests by India and Pakistan also reinforced
the NPT as nations around the world condemned these actions and
reaffirmed the critical importance of the treaty.

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is the primary mechanism
for verifying that NPT parties are living up to their obligations.
IAEA safeguards under the treaty, including international inspections,
help to deter the use of nuclear material for nuclear weapons. The
model safeguards protocol approved in 1997 gives the IAEA an even
stronger tool for this purpose.

Nuclear Arms Control and Reductions

The NPT limits nuclear-weapon states to those existing in 1968: United
States, Russia, United Kingdom, France, and China. Article VI of the
NPT calls on all parties to take effective measures relating to
nuclear disarmament and to work towards the objective of general and
complete disarmament. The NPT's role in checking nuclear proliferation
is critical in creating a climate in which major reductions in nuclear
arsenals can be pursued. A vast array of actions has been taken that
meet the objectives of Article VI.

The U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race is over. Both countries are seeking
further reductions in nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, and
taking other steps to reduce their nuclear-weapon infrastructures.

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, the United States has dismantled
approximately 13,000 nuclear warheads and bombs. We have reduced our
stockpile of strategic nuclear weapons by 80 percent. We have taken
our heavy bombers off alert and our strategic forces are not targeted
on any country. NATO has reduced the number of nuclear weapons for its
sub-strategic forces in Europe by over 85 percent and the reaction
time of the remaining dual-capable aircraft is now measured in weeks
rather than minutes. NATO nuclear forces are not targeted on any

Dismantlement of strategic ballistic missile launchers and heavy
bombers under the Start I agreement is ahead of schedule. There is
increasing hope that the Russian Duma will soon ratify Start II.
Meanwhile, discussions on Start III are occurring. When successful,
the cumulative effect of the three Start agreements would be an 80
percent reduction in the number of deployed strategic warheads since
the end of the Cold War.

We have spent 3.2 billion dollars to help Russia and others to
eliminate over 500 missiles and bombers, to ensure that nuclear
materials are safe and secure, and to promote other arms control and
non-proliferation objectives. We are also working with them to place
excess fissile material under international monitoring and to
irreversibly transform excess fissile material into forms unusable for
nuclear weapons. The United States has removed 226 tons of fissile
material from its military stockpile, and in 1992 announced a halt in
the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

The United States took the lead in negotiating the Comprehensive
Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and President Clinton was the first to
sign the treaty in 1996. The United States has not conducted nuclear
test explosions since 1992. President Clinton has made it clear that
the United States will continue this moratorium and encourage others
to do likewise.

President Clinton has called for a constructive bipartisan dialogue
with the U.S. Congress this year to lay the groundwork for eventual
U.S. ratification of the CTBT. We have formed a senior-level
governmental task force and enlisted former chairman of the joint
chiefs of staff General John Shalikashvili to help us build bipartisan
support for ratification.

Some have criticized U.S. policy on national missile defense (NMD) as
undermining arms control. It does not.

The ABM treaty could be amended to allow for a limited NMD capability
while preserving strategic stability and permitting continued
reductions in nuclear forces. The treaty has been amended before.
President Clinton is expected to make a decision this summer, at the
earliest, on whether to deploy a limited NMD system. He will take into
account the threat, technical feasibility, affordability, and national
security factors, including arms control and the views of U.S. allies.

Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation

The NPT creates a vital framework for peaceful nuclear cooperation
among nations by providing assurances that non-nuclear-weapon state
parties will not use their nuclear programs to acquire nuclear
weapons. The United States engages in substantial peaceful nuclear
cooperation with NPT parties.

U.S. assistance through the IAEA benefits many developing countries.
Among these projects are nuclear applications in the fields of water
resources, nutrition, agriculture, and human health. Under bilateral
agreements, the United States exports millions of dollars of fuel and
nuclear equipment to many countries with reactors producing


It is important that the 2000 NPT Review Conference in New York
reaffirm the treaty as an essential part of the international security
system. Preparations have been underway for several years, and we
expect vigorous debate and differences of view on key issues,
including on approaches to nuclear disarmament. We are working with
many other NPT parties to have a constructive and balanced conference,
marked by a healthy dose of realism about what the NPT review process
can achieve. By rededicating ourselves to the NPT, we can ensure that
this treaty will continue to play a vital role in the new millennium.

(end text of op-ed column)

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