USIS Washington File

21 March 2000

Sixth Review Conference Must Strengthen NPT Treaty Regime, U.S. Says

(Spector: A sturdy NPT makes nuclear disarmament possible) (1030)
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Affairs Writer

Washington -- The international community needs a successful NPT
Review Conference outcome, that will preserve the integrity and
strength of the 1968 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), a senior
U.S. Energy Department official says.

"None of us will be better off with a weakened NPT," said Leonard
Spector, assistant deputy administrator for arms control and
non-proliferation in the Energy Department's Office of Defense Nuclear
Non-Proliferation. The United States, he added, is seeking "a balanced
assessment of the Treaty."

Spector made his comments March 17 at the annual conference on
non-proliferation sponsored by the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment
for International Peace. Speaking as part of a panel discussion on the
prospects for the sixth NPT Review Conference, scheduled to open in
New York on April 24, he said that "a sturdy NPT" is one of the
reasons that nuclear disarmament progress has been possible.

That progress has been "very substantial," Spector said, pointing to a
U.S. record of achievement that includes the dismantlement of 13,000
nuclear weapons during the past decade -- about 100 weapons per month.
He also said 80 percent of American tactical nuclear weapons have been
removed from service.

Energy Secretary Richardson also told conference participants that the
United States has eliminated more than a dozen types of nuclear
warheads and has pared down its nuclear weapons production
infrastructure dramatically. He said 226 tons of highly enriched
uranium and plutonium has been removed from the U.S. military

Former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman General John Shalikashvili told
the more than 400 conference attendees from Argentina, Australia,
Canada, China, Cuba, France, Germany, India, Israel, Italy, Japan,
South Korea, Mexico, the Netherlands, Nigeria, Pakistan, Poland,
Russia, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K. that U.S. nuclear weapons
"play a smaller role in our national security now than at any time
since their inception, and we have no plan to build new types of
warheads." The United States is moving in the opposite direction, he
said: "Where we once had dozens of different types of warheads in our
arsenal, we now have fewer than 10."

Spector said the United States believes that the 2000 Review
Conference should undertake a look both backward over the past five
years and forward to the 2000 to 2005 period in evaluating the process
of non-proliferation.

This will be the first review conference since the NPT was made
permanent in 1995. There was much discussion at the March 16-17
Carnegie conference about what would or would not constitute a
successful Review Conference. Ambassador Norm Wulf, special
representative to the president on non-proliferation, said the United
States would like to see a classic review document evolve from the
conference that at the same time is forward-looking.

Speaking from the audience, Wulf said that the odds of this actually
happening are not good at the moment. But even if no documents are
issued, he said, the review conference could still achieve a
successful conclusion on May 19 if there has been, at least, "a
genuine effort" to meet the needs of the States Parties.

The United States continues to support universal adherence to the NPT.
Wulf said that adherence to the treaty has increased to a total of 187
members. As NPT Review Conference delegations prepare for the
month-long deliberations, he emphasized that not all nuclear weapons
states are alike. Two nations have huge nuclear arsenals, he said, and
are in the process of dismantling them (the United States and Russia);
two other countries have small stockpiles (France and the United
Kingdom) and have taken a series of unilateral steps; and what he
described as the "group of one" (China) is in a category by itself,
not yet ready to be fully transparent on this issue.

While not supporting the dire forecast some have made about the
prospects for the Review Conference, Wulf also acknowledged that it is
likely to be "a very rough go" for the U.S. delegation, which faces
criticism on a number of fronts.

Georgetown University professor Robert Gallucci said the problem is
not that the U.S. Senate did not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty in October so much as it is a concern that the expectations of
the Non-Proliferation Regime have yet to be realized.

John Simpson, director of the Mountbatten Centre for International
Studies at the University of Southhampton, predicted that this Review
Conference will not be "business as usual." He emphasized, however,
that the NPT remains "a very robust structure" and that it is "the
only global game in town" with the capability to manage nuclear

The challenge of nuclear non-proliferation, Gallucci said, is that the
process of combating nuclear threats "will have to be continually
managed." One area of particular concern, he said, is the prospect
that the fissile material needed to produce nuclear weapons could be
spread not only to new nations, but also to non-national groups.

Ambassador Richard Butler, now a diplomat-in-residence at the Council
on Foreign Relations, emphasized the need for a reliable NPT
enforcement mechanism. Nations must know, the former chief United
Nations weapons inspector said, that any treaty infraction that may
occur would be addressed.

Rebecca Johnson, an analyst and editor with the British-based Acronym
Institute, told attendees that the NPT "is one of the most successful
treaties in history." Whether or not the Review Conference is deemed a
success, she said, the review process must still be carried out and
ways found to move forward to reinforce treaty compliance and to
establish measures that will set the stage for work ahead in the
coming five years.

She urged those who will gather in New York City next month to try to
agree on the problems and programs that can be tackled in the
short-term. The Review Conference will be described as successful, in
her view, only "if its outcome is taken seriously."

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