USIS Washington File

07 April 2000

Transcript: Arms Control Advisor Holum April 5 on Non-Proliferation

(Worldnet Dialogue with Sydney and Canberra, Australia)  (8660)

The United States is still committed to arms control as part of its
security policy, says President's Senior Advisor for Arms Control,
Non-Proliferation and Security Affairs John Holum.

In an April 5 Worldnet Dialogue with Sydney and Canberra, the
presidential advisor stressed the point that "despite the setback of
the Senate's failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," the
Clinton Administration still "believes in and relies upon arms control
as a central element in our international security policy."

On the issue of whether the United States should proceed with a
national missile defense (NMD), Holum stressed that "the decision to
proceed with national missile defense has not yet been made" by
President Clinton.

If President Clinton does decide to move forward with NMD, Holum said,
the United States would "deploy no more than 100 interceptors in
Alaska, and one ABM radar, and then some upgrades of existing early
warning radars -- five of them."

The Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) treaty, Holum said, "already provides
for 100 interceptors. They can be in a regional defense as opposed to
a national defense." However, Holum added, "they do require an
amendment to the treaty."

Beijing, Holum conceded, is "vocally and actively opposed to any
adjustment to the ABM Treaty, and to any U.S. deployment of a national
missile defense."

While the United States can make the case to Russia that the proposed
NMD "would not have any capability against their strategic forces,"
Holum said, "that case is harder to make with respect to China."

But, Holum added, the United States can show China that the proposed
system "is not aimed against them, that we have no interest in an arms
race with China."

China's primary concern, he suggested, whether it is looking at
"national missile defense, theater missile defense, or other aspects
of our relationship, is Taiwan."

"To the extent that the Taiwan issue is more difficult, the national
missile defense will loom larger as a complication in our
relationship. To the extent that the Taiwan relationship can be
restored to a more stable path, then I think NMD won't be that
complicated," he said.

Holum called attention to the conference beginning April 24 in New
York to review, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. The conference,
he said, will "seek to strengthen and preserve and protect the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty as a central instrument for all of its
members, as a means of ensuring that their neighbors and rivals won't
acquire nuclear weapons, thereby serving the safety of all of the
world's people."

Holum acknowledged that there is "a great deal of disappointment"
among countries that believe the disarmament process "hasn't lived up
to their expectations" following the Cold War's end.

Part of that, he suggested, is that it's proved "considerably more
difficult than anticipated to move rapidly toward lower numbers of
nuclear weapons."

However, Holum emphasized, there has been progress. "More than 13,000
U.S. warheads have been destroyed, and that work continues," Holum
said. "It's taxing the capabilities of our facilities. We are
eliminating roughly 100 nuclear weapons a month. So the numbers are
coming down," Holum told his Australian audience.

"Both the United States and Russia," he added, "are ahead of the
timetable for reductions under START I. We negotiated START II. Russia
I think is close to ratifying it," Holum said.

India, Israel and Pakistan, he confirmed, are the three countries "who
have made the choice not to enter the treaty and to preserve their
nuclear options."

But, on the other side of the ledger, Holum observed, "several former
states of the former Soviet Union -- Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan
-- had nuclear weapons on their territory. They gave those up and
joined the NPT as non-nuclear states."

South Africa, he added, "had a nuclear weapons program, but gave that
up and joined the NPT.

"Brazil and Argentina were considering nuclear options -- they gave
those up," Holum said.

The Non-Proliferation Treaty, he stressed, "has really reached into
all corners of the world with very important and worrisome

The treaty, Holum added, "has served more and more countries as a
security instrument."

The United States, Holum said, is hopeful "India, Pakistan and Israel
will also over time come to join this regime and move off the path of
nuclear capability."

Following is a transcript of the program:

(begin transcript)


GUEST:    John Holum, President's Senior Advisor for
Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Security Affairs

TOPIC:    Non-Proliferation Issues

POSTS:    Canberra, Sydney

HOST:     Ken Richards 

DATE:     April 5, 2000

MR. RICHARDS: Good day, and welcome to a special edition of DOS TV's
"Dialogue." I'm your host, Ken Richards.

In October 1999, the United States Senate failed to approve the
Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty or the "CTBT." In Europe and
elsewhere, the United States Senate's action shocked many of the
U.S.'s closest friends and allies. But despite this setback, top U.S.
officials have emphasized that America remains strongly committed to
the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

(Begin videotape.)

ANNOUNCER: In 1996, President Bill Clinton became the first world
leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Following the Senate
vote, he vowed that efforts to bring the CTBT into force will

PRESIDENT CLINTON: Today I say again on behalf of the United States we
will continue the policy we have maintained since 1992 of not
conducting nuclear tests. I call on Russia, China, Britain, France,
and all other countries to continue to refrain from testing. I call on
nations that have not done so to sign and ratify the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty, and I will continue to do all I can to make that case
to the Senate. When all is said and done, I have no doubt that the
United States will ratify this treaty.

ANNOUNCER: Meanwhile, the United States is pressing ahead on all
fronts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. A leading means is
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, and its system of
strengthened safeguards.

In keeping with their disarmament obligations under the NPT, the
United States and Russia have made massive reductions in their nuclear
arsenals. Since 1988, America alone has dismantled more than 13,000
nuclear warheads. And with both countries ahead of schedule in their
START reductions, U.S. and Russian officials have begun to discuss a
START III treaty, which would cut both countries' strategic arsenals
even more deeply, to 80 percent below their Cold War peaks.

But the path to further reductions is hardly straightforward. Russia,
China, and even some of America's allies in Europe and elsewhere, have
expressed concern that U.S. missile defense plans will upset the
strategic balance and break the momentum of nuclear disarmament.

And, more broadly, developments around the world show that the global
non-proliferation consensus is in constant need of tending. These
include: Saddam Hussein's continued defiance of United Nations weapons
inspectors; nuclear tests on both sides of a disputed border in South
Asia; serious questions about North Korea's military intentions; and
concerns about the vulnerability of civilian populations to chemical
or biological attacks.

Now with the growing availability of mass weapons and missile
technology, some in the international community question whether the
United States continues to value international arms control
arrangements -- including the Non-Proliferation Treaty coming up for
review in April -- as a key first line of defense.

(End videotape.)

MR. RICHARDS: We are fortunate to have with us today a senior
government official who has been at the center of these issues since
President Clinton's first term, John D. Holum, the administration's
senior advisor for arms control, non-proliferation and security
affairs. Previously he was the director of the U.S. Arms Control and
Disarmament Agency. Mr. Holum, welcome to DOS TV "Dialogue." We are
delighted you could be with us this afternoon. And, Mr. Holum, I
understand you have a few brief remarks.

MR. HOLUM: I would like to make a few opening comments, particular
since our program is being broadcast in Sydney and Canberra, two
cities that I find most beautiful and welcoming. I have been in both,
and it's especially valuable for me to engage in a dialogue with
Australian colleagues on arms control and non-proliferation issues,
because I so admire Australia's leadership in these areas. I have
worked very closely with your representatives to the Conference on
Disarmament and to other bodies. In fact, I was in Geneva last week,
and Ambassador Les Luck (ph) hosted a lunch where we were able to
discuss new initiatives to try to move the Biological Weapons
Convention compliance protocol forward. And I've always thought
Australia took a particularly compelling approach in these areas, both
practical and visionary. And so I am happy to be with this group.

And I want to especially begin by reaffirming what was stated in the
film, that the United States, despite the setback of the Senate's
failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, still strongly
believes in and relies upon arms control as a central element in our
international security policy. We have a joint effort coming up in the
review conference, which begins April 24th in New York, to seek to
strengthen and preserve and protect the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty as a central instrument for all of its members, as a means of
ensuring that their neighbors and rivals won't acquire nuclear
weapons, thereby serving the safety of all of the world's people. This
is going to be a challenging review conference, but I think we have a
good story to tell, and I am looking forward to undertaking that work
in New York beginning on the 24th of April. Thank you.

MR. RICHARDS: I'd now like to welcome our friends in Canberra and
Sydney for the interactive portion of our broadcast, as well as the
rest of our viewing audience. So let's begin. Please go ahead,
Canberra, with your first question.

Q: Geoffrey Barker (ph) from the Australian Financial Review, Mr.
Holum. Last month the senior Australian Foreign Service official told
a Senate committee here in Canberra that Australia's objectives at the
NPT review conference were essentially in the nature of damage
limitation. He said, "I would have to say the outlook is not
particularly positive." Was he being too pessimistic?

MR. HOLUM: Well, I think it would be overly optimistic to say that
this conference is likely to produce far-reaching, positive steps in
support of the NPT. There is a great deal of disappointment among a
number of countries who feel that the disarmament process hasn't lived
up to their expectations following the end of the Cold War. It's
proved considerably more difficult than anticipated to move rapidly
toward lower numbers of nuclear weapons.

But I think we also can make headway by emphasizing the positive. The
fact of the matter is that more than 13,000 U.S. warheads have been
destroyed, and that work continues. It's taxing the capabilities of
our facilities. We are eliminating roughly 100 nuclear weapons a
month. So the numbers are coming down. Both the United States and
Russia are ahead of the game, ahead of the timetable for reductions
under START I. We negotiated START II. Russia I think is close to
ratifying it. I think they'll do that this year -- or at least I am
hopeful they will -- and we can get on to the next phase of
reductions. We have negotiated, though haven't yet brought into force,
a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- that was one of the objectives of
the '95 review conference. So there are positive elements.

But I'm also impatient. I don't think we have moved as fast as we like
to. We like to have pursued the START process, the strategic arms
reduction process, more rapidly than we have. We would like to have
negotiations underway in the Conference on Disarmament on the fissile
material cut-off treaty. But I think it's a balance -- if we have a
balance review the treaty will come out in good shape.

I think the key element to keep in mind is that Article 6 of the
treaty, dealing with disarmament, is only one of the treaty's
purposes. That should certainly be addressed, and we should be
prepared to answer for success and lack of success in disarmament. But
we also want to address the proliferation aspects of the treaty, and
look at cases where there are compliance problems, where the treaty
isn't fully universal, but also where the treaty has made enormous
achievements; and also look at the treaty's value as a means of
sharing peaceful nuclear technology. So we want to look at all
elements of the treaty. If we do that, then I think we will come out
of the New York conference in relatively good shape -- but certainly
not with a booming success.

MR. RICHARDS: Thank you, Canberra. Let's now move on to Sydney. Please
go ahead, Sydney, with your first question.

Q: Mack Colvin (ph) here from the ABC. The second sentence in the
piece of paper that I've got here says, "The NPT is nearly universal,
with only Cuba, India, Israel and Pakistan outside the pact." Only
India, Pakistan and Israel?

MR. HOLUM: Well, that's true. There are three countries who have made
the choice not to enter the treaty and to preserve their nuclear
options. Cuba is also outside the treaty, but is bound as a signatory
to a regional nuclear weapons free zone not to acquire nuclear

Now, the three exceptions are certainly significant ones, particularly
given India and Pakistan's nuclear tests this past year. But at the
same time, I think it is important that in the run-up to the 1995
review conference and in the years immediately following that we made
some great strides in broadening the treaty with a number of countries
that potentially could have developed nuclear weapons. Several former
states of the former Soviet Union -- Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan
-- had nuclear weapons on their territory. They gave those up and
joined the NPT as non-nuclear states. South Africa we've now learned
had a nuclear weapons program, but gave that up and joined the NPT.
Brazil and Argentina were considering nuclear options -- they gave
those up. So the treaty has really reached into all corners of the
world with very important and worrisome exceptions. But it has served
more and more countries as a security instrument. We are obviously
hopeful that India, Pakistan and Israel will also over time come to
join this regime and move off the path of nuclear capability. But I
don't think the fact that they are outside the treaty undermines the
value of the treaty for its members.

MR. RICHARDS: Thank you, Sydney. Let's now return to Canberra for more
questions. Please go ahead, Canberra.

Q: Mr. Holum, my name is Pete Van Ness (ph). I am from the
Contemporary China Center at Australian National University. I'd like
to ask you about the implications of the ballistic missile defense
initiative in the United States for U.S. relations with China, and
most particularly for China's participation in arms control
agreements. And, if I may, I would like to put it in a little bit of
context. We have been following the debate in the United States on the
issue of, Is arms control dead? -- for example in Washington Quarterly
in winter of this year. And when we look at what's been happening --
for example, your agency being folded into the Department of State,
the Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty that has
been discussed, and now the Clinton administration's efforts to revise
very substantially the ABM Treaty in negotiations with Russia --
increasingly people wonder whether the ABM or rather the ballistic
missile defense initiative in the United States is really -- whether
it's undermine arms control commitments by the United States.

With regard to China, it seems to me that through six administrations
the effort has been to bring China bit by bit into agreement on the
key arms control agreements, and by and large that's been successful.
But now with the American commitment to the national missile defense
program, plus the theater missile defense program, as you know China
is very unhappy about both, and organizations like the International
Institute for Strategic Studies in London have confirmed that if the
United States goes ahead with a national missile defense program that
this would potentially very much undermine the Chinese nuclear
deterrent. Obviously they're also concerned about the theater missile
defense idea as it relates to Taiwan. I am wondering if you could
discuss for us the implications for China of these ballistic missile
defense initiatives by the U.S.

MR. HOLUM: Yes, thank you. I would like to put the answer also in
context, because it's important to note that we are not proposing a
substantial revision of the ABM Treaty. I just want to lay that on the
table, because here's what we are proposing to do, if the president
decides to proceed: to deploy no more than 100 interceptors in Alaska,
and one ABM radar, and then some upgrades of existing early warning
radars -- five of them. Now, the treaty already provides for 100
interceptors. They can be in a regional defense as opposed to a
national defense. So they do require an amendment to the treaty. But
we don't regard this as a major alteration of the treaty but rather a
very modest one that can take into account new international
realities, new potential threats, without undercutting the core
purpose of the treaty for strategic stability and permitting continued
reductions of offensive forces.

And I also want to emphasize the decision to proceed with national
missile defense has not yet been made by the president. What he has
done, and what we have agreed upon, is on notional architecture that I
just described, if the president were to decide to go ahead. And the
reason we have made that decision is so we have a basis for
negotiating with the Russians. What we are trying to do is to amend
the treaty to allow this defense rather than walk away from the
treaty. The decision will be based on four criteria -- this is a long
way of getting to your question. One is cost, one is threat, one is
technology, and the fourth is something we've called the fourth
criteria because it's rather broad -- it includes arms control, the
strategic environment. It also includes our relationships with our
allies, the overall arms control impact, and of course our
relationship with China, which is an extremely important relationship.
And one of the things we'll do is make sure that when the president
approaches this decision some time this summer that he will have
before him all of the potential implications for all of those

Now, as to China, it is clearly the case that they are vocally and
actively opposed to any adjustment to the ABM Treaty, and to any U.S.
deployment of a national missile defense. We can make fairly easily
the case to Russia that this system would not have any capability
against their strategic forces. That case is harder to make with
respect to China. But what we can point out to the Chinese is that
this system is not aimed against them, that we have no interest in an
arms race with China. My own estimate or calculus is that China's
primary concern, whether it looks at national missile defense, theater
missile defense, or other aspects of our relationship, is Taiwan. To
the extent that the Taiwan issue is more difficult, the national
missile defense will loom larger as a complication in our
relationship. To the extent that the Taiwan relationship can be
restored to a more stable path, then I think NMD won't be that

Remember that China over the course of its entire nuclear experience
has not had in place a quick response retaliatory capability. Its
limited number of ICBMs are deployed in such a way that they couldn't
retaliate promptly were there to be an attack. I don't think China
anticipates a first strike by the United States, and hasn't maintained
forces to deal with that eventuality. I also believe that it's
unlikely that this system would have a significant capability against
the forces that China is likely to have deployed in any case, with or
without national missile defense, because of its strategic
modernization program.

But you raise a very important point. This is a complicated set of
questions, one that the president will have to weigh very carefully,
because it certainly is something the Chinese have been very adamant

Q: Geoffrey Barker (ph) again, Mr. Holum. Can I play the devil's
advocate for a minute here and put it to you that disarmament is an
issue on which Australia's and the United States' interests diverge
quite sharply? As an economic and military superpower, the U.S. can
and does -- does, and can afford, to pursue unilateral or bilateral
solutions to its security concerns, including nuclear security;
whereas Australia, at best a regular middle-sized power, has the
difficult balance of needing to seek security both with its U.S. ally
and within global multilateral regimes in which all players agree to
forgo certain weapons to enhance their mutual security. Would you
comment on where you think Australia's interests lie in this?

MR. HOLUM: Yes. I would differ I think with the notion that our
interests diverge. We share, I believe, an interest in multilateral
regimes, and a dependence on them. Our security would not be secure or
wouldn't be assured in the absence of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty. In other weapons of mass destruction, we and Australia have
worked shoulder to shoulder to negotiate a stronger Biological Weapons
Convention. We worked together on the Chemical Weapons Convention. I
think we have a common interest in curtailing the spread of missile
technology around the world.

To be sure, the United States is a nuclear weapons state I hope on the
path toward disarmament, and Australia is a non-nuclear weapon state.
But it seems to me that our interests are converging more than they
are diverging because of the difference in circumstance.

I also think that we have a great many values in common in terms of
trying to achieve a more stable international order through arms
control and non-proliferation. So I think we approach these issues in
a very similar way.

Australia, as the Canberra Commission made clear, would like us to
pursue these issues more rapidly and with some refinements beyond what
we pursued. But I think our interests are comparable.

Your question also raises I think a point that an earlier question
alluded to, and that is the U.S. current attitude toward arms control.
And I do think that the test ban vote suggests the need for us in the
United States to step back and remind ourselves in our political
debate our basic interests here. I think there is a temptation to
think that we can go it alone, that global regimes are problematic,
that we can't be sure that countries won't cheat, that they can't be
absolutely verified. So I think we need to, and both domestically and
internationally, return to basics and remind ourselves of the
fundamental security values of these treaties. And I think that's one
of the messages of the test ban vote. I think that's a temporary
rather than a permanent detour from the path of arms control and

Q: If I could follow up, isn't there -- as you have discussed these
questions with us, I wonder if there isn't a fundamental contradiction
between the whole concept of arms control and ballistic missile
defenses? I mean, the ballistic missile defenses seem to have their
roots in a notion that somehow we are going to be able, or you are
going to be able in the United States to be able to defend yourself
against any eventuality, whereas arms control is a notion of trying to
make a safer world for everybody, and particularly in the presidential
election context, and the positions taken by the Bush campaign. At
least here some of us get the impression that if Bush is elected
president that arms control, if not totally discarded, will be very
much secondary to this concern about defending the United States with
ballistic missile defenses.

MR. HOLUM: Well, I don't want to get into electoral politics, but I do
think it's important to see national missile defense in a context that
prefers arms control solutions. We have worked very hard -- through
the Perry initiative -- to try to curtail North Korea's WMD and
missile capabilities. Prevention is our first preference and priority.
Arms control is more reliable -- it's certainly much less expensive
than defense. And so that is our first preference, and we are not
neglecting it, either with respect to North Korea or with respect to
Iran, which are the two more immediate or near-term risks of WMD,
weapons of mass destruction, and missile, inter-continental range

Now, the way I see missile defense fitting into this is as when arms
control doesn't entirely succeed, then what do you do? Well, the first
thing we rely on is deterrence. But there are reasons to believe, in
the case of a country like North Korea or Iran, that the traditional
notions of deterrence might not work. And I'm not thinking here that
North Korea would launch an attack on the United States out of the
blue. We have an alliance relationship with South Korea. North Korea
might believe that if they had a nuclear and missile capability that
could wipe out a U.S. city that in an emergency we would be less
likely to come to the aid of our ally. So it's a reverse deterrence --
an effort to deter us from living up to our security commitments that
we're concerned about.

Now, some would argue that if you are in that circumstance you have
that concern, why not preempt? Why not attack this capability rather
than let it emerge? I don't like that option very much, and I don't
think it would be acceptable internationally, although it's something
that some would advocate. It seems to me under those circumstances
that defending is a reasonable option, so long as you can have some
confidence that it will work, that it's affordable, and that it won't
upset the arms control and strategic structure that you want to
preserve internationally. That's the kind of analysis that we are in
the process of going through here.

There is nothing inherently negative or evil about defense. If it
weren't for the role that the ABM Treaty plays in the arms control
process between the United States and Russia in particular, I think
people generally would say defense is a good thing. It doesn't
threaten anybody except someone who wants to attack you. It doesn't
strike anyone or anything except an incoming missile or warhead.

But I think so long as we can fit it within the context of a workable
security strategy and arms control strategy that defense is something
that merits looking very carefully at.

MR. RICHARDS: Thank you for your thoughtful questions in Canberra.
Let's now return to Sydney for some additional questions. Please go
ahead, Sydney.

Q: Mr. Holum, Mack Colvin (ph) again from the ABC. If I may, I would
like to ask you several questions in a row and ask you to go slightly
more into sound bite mode, because I want to transmit this as a
five-minute interview on the radio tonight.

MR. HOLUM:  Okay.

Q:  You know what I mean anyway.  (Laughter.)

MR. HOLUM:  Sure.

Q: I'm not asking you to give me five-second politician sound bites,
but just a little more concise.

MR. HOLUM:  Okay.

Q: If I can go back to the question I asked you before about India and
Pakistan in particular, if you look at the situation with India and
Pakistan, a number of countries in our region may be looking at that
situation and saying, Well, they got away with it -- why can't we?
What do you say to that?

MR. HOLUM: I don't think they have got away with it. Certainly the
United States maintains very strong sanctions -- economic sanctions
against both India and Pakistan. And those will persist. There is a
degree or a character of a relationship that will never be possible so
long as they pursue a nuclear capability.

Plus -- and I think this is the most important thing -- they have lost
security as a result of pursuing nuclear capabilities. They are now in
a circumstance where both are more vulnerable, at a greater risk of
nuclear attack from the other. I think over time they'll come to
recognize that. So I don't think they got away with it. And I think
anybody looking at their situation has to wonder, Do I really envy the
situation that India put itself in by virtue of conducting nuclear
tests in 1998?

Q: But for the moment they don't seem to be listening. They didn't
seem receptive to Bill Clinton when he visited Delhi the other day.
They haven't been receptive for instance to Australian diplomacy. How
to get through to them?

MR. HOLUM: I think it's going to take some time. Our intermediate goal
in the near term has to be focused on steps that will prevent the
situation from becoming more dangerous. That means trying to curb
production of fissile material, trying to prevent more tests, trying
to deal with the export problem, and working on -- particularly on the
deployment of their capabilities or a reserved approach, so that they
don't put a hair trigger on the potential for a nuclear war.

Their decision-making in terms of becoming non-nuclear I think is a
longer-term project.

Q: On a more general basis, the number of Third World countries, if
you like, developing countries, have a tendency to look at the
non-proliferation process and to oversimplify it if you like, see a
situation where the United States and some other countries already
have large nuclear arsenals and are essentially entrenching themselves
in that position, and in that view of the world keeping others back.
How do you answer that?

MR. HOLUM: I just think it misperceives the facts. In fact, there is a
steep downward ramp in U.S. nuclear weapons capabilities. We agreed
through the Helsinki process in principle to reductions that it will
take us down as far as 80 percent below Cold War peaks. We are
destroying nuclear weapons at the rate of 100 a month. We are paying
large sums of money to help Russia dismantle its nuclear arsenals and
to see to the disposition of the material coming out of those weapons
that could otherwise be used for weapons by others; and also to make
the reductions permanent and irreversible. So there is a rapid process
of disarmament underway now, and I am expecting it will continue. You
can't do it instantaneously. It took many years to build up these huge
stockpiles. We are taking them down more rapidly than we built them
up, and I think there is a good story to tell in disarmament.

Q: But when the Senate refuses to ratify the CTBT, when you are
improving -- when you have these new ballistic defense initiatives, it
must be very difficult for you to make that case persuasively.

MR. HOLUM: Well, let me just focus on the Comprehensive Test Ban for a
minute. We -- the Senate did fail to act through an abbreviated debate
on the treaty, but the president has made clear that the United States
will not conduct nuclear tests, that we intend to continue the
moratorium, that we intend to renew the effort to ratify the treaty.
And former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, John Shalikashvili,
has become a senior advisor to the president and the secretary to help
in that process. We are continuing to urge other countries to ratify
the treaty, particularly among the necessary 44 -- one of which is the
United States -- in order to allow the treaty to enter into force. So
we continue to be engaged in the test ban process, and we'll continue
to work on it, and we will not test -- and I don't think the United
States ultimately will hold up the entry into force of this treaty. It
won't be the last, I would expect, of the 44 necessary countries for
the treaty's entry into force.

Q: Lastly then, how difficult is it going to be in this election year
for you to go into these non-proliferation treaty negotiations in a
situation where you obviously can't bind whoever is going to be the
next president?

MR. HOLUM: Well, that's true. The arms control tends to slow down in
an election year, although not always. For example, President Bush at
the very end of his administration, in January of 1993, when he had
already been defeated for reelection, concluded the START II treaty,
which President Clinton then endorsed and pursued. Also at the end of
his term, President Bush in 1992 completed the Chemical Weapons
Convention negotiations, which was a multilateral effort. And we have
subsequently ratified that treaty and brought it into force. So I
don't think it's necessary that these things stall. But in areas where
there are sharp divergences of opinion, that certainly is a

Q:  Thank you very much.

Q: Secretary Holum, it's Tom Switzer (ph) from the Australian
Financial Review in Sydney. Just to step back a little bit, can I ask
a general question about nuclear disarmament? You may well these
fellows, but prominent scholars in the States, like John Michheimer
(ph) from the University of Chicago; John Lewis Geddes (ph), prominent
diplomatic historian from Yale University -- and they have been
harshly critical of the NPT and nuclear disarmament generally. And
they make somewhat of a valid point, and that is that nuclear
deterrence was a major contributing factor to keeping the long peace
in the Cold War -- in Europe. Why can't that principle be applied to
other states with nuclear capacity?

MR. HOLUM: Well, first of all, I think the horizontal spread of
nuclear weapons to more and more countries increases the likelihood
that they'll be used. One of the blessings, if you will, of the Cold
War was geography that separated the United States and Russia from the
Soviet Union by sufficient distance so that there was at least some
warning time available before a retaliatory strike would have to be
launched. And I think that simple fact had a lot to do with the reason
why there was no nuclear exchange, even during periods of high
tension, such as the Cuban missile crisis -- although frankly the
subsequent reporting of classified information from that period should
give us all a great deal of pause -- we were much closer than anyone
thought to an actual nuclear exchange.

But if you compare that 30 minutes of warning time as between the
United States and the Soviet Union to essentially zero warning time
between, say, India and Pakistan, you realize that the possibility of
an accidental or an unintended, or an attack based on misperception,
grows dramatically. A country feeling itself under attack potentially
would want to launch its weapons under warning, or even in advance of
clear warning in order to avoid being struck on the ground.

So if we spread -- if nuclear weapons spread to more and more
countries, I think the effect would not be increasing stability in the
world, but in fact increasing instability and risk of use. Certainly
nuclear weapons have played a role, a significant role, in preserving
the peace over the years of the Cold War. But I prefer to think that
we no longer have to rely on those capabilities. They play a smaller
role than ever before in our security strategy and in the security
strategy of our alliances, and I can envision the day when they are
gone, and I think we will be well rid of them.

Q: In that regard, to be the devil's advocate, between 1947 and the
early '70s, I think India and Pakistan fought three conventional land
wars. But since the early to mid '70s, when both countries have had
the capacity to develop nuclear weapons, there's been relative peace
-- there's been no conventional war -- I know they have had some
skirmishes in Kashmir, but on balance then doesn't that argument, the
Geddes (ph), Michheimer (ph) argument have some validity?

MR. HOLUM: There is a -- the opposite conclusion has been drawn by a
number of analysts in connection with the most recent dust up in the
Kargil region, in part based on the premise that Pakistan concluded,
or may have concluded, that its nuclear capacity made it less
vulnerable in a conventional context, and therefore enabled
conventional conflicts, which could of course in a more heavily armed
situation escalate to nuclear war. So I don't think in that region we
should take any comfort from the nuclear developments on both sides.

Q: Many prominent Republican senators as you know, like Senator Warner
and Senator Lugar, who are widely regarded as strong
internationalists, a way of putting it, were labeled "isolationists"
when they voted down the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by the
administration. "Isolationist" -- which is such a dirty word -- it's
like being called a racist in some respects. Are they justified to
call them isolationists given their strong internationalist

MR. HOLUM:  No --

Q:  -- their strong international --

MR. HOLUM: No, I don't think they were labeled isolationists. I think
there were some descriptions of the effect of the vote as suggesting
unilateralist or isolationist tendencies. But I don't think anybody
was trying to single out individual senators, and certainly not those
you've named.

I think the real implication of the vote was that the treaty was not
brought up for a long enough period of time in the Senate. It wasn't
well prepared. And I think the administration needs to take some of
the blame for that circumstance. So we didn't have the time, and
didn't effectively address a number of genuine concerns that senators
have about maintaining the stockpile without testing, about the
verifiability of the treaty, in particular down to very low yields,
because it's a zero-yield treaty. A number of legitimate questions
were raised, and there wasn't time to answer them effectively. And
that's why I think it's very important that General Shalikashvili, who
has enormous credentials and respect for understanding the security
implications of this treaty, will be joining the administration. He
has already spent time going to Capitol Hill and listening to the
concerns that senators raise during the debate, and new concerns that
they may have had since -- and is collecting information and trying to
conduct a fairly quiet, low-key effort to address those concerns and
to bring the administration and members of the Senate closer together.
And I think that ultimately will be successful. I don't think it's
likely to be successful during President Clinton's presidency. I
frankly think the likelihood of a renewed ratification effort this
year is low or zero. But I do think we can start a process that will
help bring the treaty up in a much more conducive environment for its

MR. RICHARDS: Thank you, Sydney. Let's now return to Canberra for
another round of questions. Please go ahead, Canberra.

Q: Geoffrey Barker (ph) again, Mr. Holum. You said earlier that there
was nothing -- I think the terms you used were "negative or evil"
about defenses. But why isn't it reasonable to conclude that the
development and deployment of TMD or NMD would at least risk starting
a new arms race just because countries like China and Russia and
possibly others might be moved to develop new offensive weapons
capable of penetrating the limited shield envisaged by the United

MR. HOLUM: No, I said nothing inherently -- or at least if I didn't
use that qualifier, I should have -- nothing inherently bad about
defending. In fact, over the long term -- and this is truly a
visionary concept -- not originating with me -- but over the long term
I suspect that as we get down to zero nuclear weapons in the world,
which is our ultimate objective, that there will be a very strong
argument for defenses that will be available to every country, just in
case someone cheats or someone develops an offensive capability.
That's what I mean by not inherently negative. But certainly we have
to take into account the implications of moving ahead with defenses
for the strategic balance and for the possibility of an
offense-defense arms race. The entire premise of the ABM Treaty, as
you know, is to facilitate reductions in offensive arms, because
nobody things the other -- neither side thinks the other will gain an
advantage. And that aspect of the issue will have to be considered
very carefully when the president addresses this issue later this

But, again, I believe that it is possible to proceed with a very
limited system, very limited capabilities aimed at third country, very
primitive offensive systems, without undercutting the basic purposes
of the ABM Treaty or provoking an arms race with either Russia or

Q: A couple of questions from the audience, Mr. Holum. The first is
about Iraq: How serious is the U.S. on WMD inspections in Iraq? Is not
the U.S. momentarily satisfied with its sanctions containment policy
of Iraq? And has UNMOVIK being stillborn if Saddam continues to reject

MR. HOLUM: Well, we are certainly not satisfied with the sanctions
policy, because until inspectors are allowed back in there is the
possibility that Iraq could reconstitute its capabilities, in
particular I think in the chemical and biological area, and in
pursuing missile capabilities using the technology from shorter-range
systems that are permitted under the U.N. resolutions.

Now, I hope UNMOVIK is not stillborn. I think it's significant that
Hans Blix has agreed to take on this responsibility. He is a very
knowledgeable and determined individual. We have worked closely with
him in the past, as have all countries who have experience with the
International Atomic Energy Agency. It is very important to know -- to
underscore that UNMOVIK has essentially the same mandate in Iraq that
UNSCOM had before. Now, a number of countries abstained on the
establishment of UNMOVIK, but those same countries have all insisted
that Iraq should comply with its requirements and to allow inspections
to proceed. We don't prefer the sanctions course. But the sanctions
need to remain in place until Iraq complies with the reason why the
sanctions were in place to start with; and that is not to be -- to
await the passage of time, but to come into compliance with the U.N.
Security Council resolutions. And we'll continue to insist on them.

Q: There's another question from the audience about subcritical
nuclear tests, pointing out that the U.S. conducted its eleventh
subcritical test a few days ago, and sees these as not violating the
CTBT because there aren't any explosions. From the NPT point of view,
what is the significance of these tests? The questioner also asks that
Russia has also conducted these tests several times, and how does the
U.S. see the Russian tests?

MR. HOLUM: Well, so long as they remain subcritical, whether they are
conducted by Russia or the United States, they are consistent with the
limitations of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It was made very
clear during the negotiations that we were pursuing a zero-yield
treaty, which meant that there should be no nuclear explosions. But
what we did permit, what the treaty allows, is experiments below the
level of a nuclear explosion that would allow the maintenance of
stockpiles until such time as there are further steps to accomplish
their elimination.

I would emphasize that these subcritical experiments are a very small
portion of the stockpile stewardship program. the major components of
that program are simply to surveil, to examine, the stockpile, to take
out of a warhead periodically of each time, disassemble it, examine
all the parts, replace those that are worn out or not working and
return it to the stockpile. Subcritical tests are one way to ensure
that the weapons remaining, the limited numbers of different types,
smaller numbers overall, remain safe and reliable. But that was all
contemplated when the treaty was negotiated, and we think are
consistent with the treaty.

MR. RICHARDS: Thank you, Canberra. We now return to Sydney for more
questions. Please go ahead Sydney.

Q: Mr. Holum, my name is Jeff Mulhearn (ph) from Sydney University
Research Institute for Asia and the Pacific. Going back if I might to
the NMD issue, in particular the proposal for a limited capability --
I think you mentioned 100 interceptors, a radar center in Alaska, that
would hopefully be able to be fitted within the other regime of the
ABM Treaty and so forth. Is it not true though that one of the major
concerns of China and Russia is that if the U.S. is going to spend the
money, the time, the effort to invest in a limited capability that
inevitably as technology changes, as the perceived need changes, these
third states, these states that aren't part of the proliferation NPT
regime continue with their development, that inevitably after you have
reached that limited state you will want to go further and do further
enhancing, further development, and hence basically that China and
Russia's and others perhaps maybe don't trust that U.S. intent? How do
you answer that question?

MR. HOLUM: Well, it certainly is a point that they have raised. I
don't think that the military experts in Russia fear this initial
deployment. Frankly, I don't even think they're concerned about the
phase two that may come not as part of this initial negotiation, but
is certainly something the defense experts are looking ahead to. I
don't even think the Russians are concerned about that -- that would
go up to as many as 250 interceptors, and more ABM radars. But their
missile forces are clearly capable of overwhelming or defeating a
system of this kind.

What they are concerned about is precisely what you say: that this
permits the infrastructure for a larger system that would provide a
hot production capability for interceptors.

One answer, and I think a fundamentally important one, for that is
that we are prepared to pursue in the context of adjustments to the
treaty additional confidence-building and verification measures that
would confirm that those steps aren't happening and aren't imminent.

The ABM Treaty, as you know, was negotiated in 1972, that relies
entirely on national technical means of verification. No intrusive
on-site inspections -- anything of that kind.

Now, when the treaty was amended to clarify the dividing line between
permitted theater missile defenses and prohibited national missile
defenses, we included some new verification measures, and we
contemplate doing the same thing. So one answer is that they can have
assurance based on new confidence-building and verification measures
that such steps are not being taken.

Another argument is sort of a negative one, not one I prefer, and that
is to say this treaty has been amended before, we should be able to
amend it consistently with its purposes to allow limited national
missile defense. And what's the alternative? Is it a good idea to
force the president of the United States to choose between a limited
defense that he thinks based on good intelligence is necessary for the
defense of the country -- to choose between that and the treaty -- to
force the president to choose, if he decides he has to proceed, to
abandon the ABM Treaty. I am not saying the president would decide
that. I don't know what he would decide. He will have all the
information in front of him when he confronts that decision. I hope he
doesn't have to. I think it's in both the United States' interests and
Russia's interests to avoid forcing that choice by making a reasonable
accommodation so that defenses can proceed, but nonetheless remain
constrained by the treaty.

And I frankly think that any president would look very hard, if we are
allowed to proceed under the treaty with the kind of defenses that are
justifiable in the near term -- I think any president of either party
would respect the arms control commitments of the United States. I am
not pretending to speak for a new administration of either party, but
looking at history recall that President Reagan was very anxious to
deploy a national missile defense. Yet during all of the years of that
administration in the pursuit of research and development on Star Wars
and other concepts, President Reagan never abandoned the ABM Treaty.
He proposed dramatic amendments to the treaty in the Standing
Consultative Commissions, but never proposed to abandon the treaty. I
think the United States will take its arms control commitments
seriously, so long as they serve its security interests.

MR. RICHARDS: We have just a minute or two left, so we have time for
one quick question from Sydney and a brief response from Mr. Holum.

Q: Mr. Holum, a quick question for you. It's Briany Griffith (ph) from
the Australian Institute of International Affairs. Looking at a
different level of cooperation on the globe, do you value, and what
steps would you propose to build a regional security organization
dedicated to arms control? Thank you.

MR. HOLUM: Well, I think there are a great many possibilities at the
regional level that might not be possible at the global level. For
example, I think, although it's in the early phases, that the ASEAN
Regional Forum has enormous potential for developing an arms control
component in the Asian region. I have been particularly struck by the
potential for approaching missile capabilities on a regional level.
When I was director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency I was
interested in exploring a demand side ban on missile capabilities --
didn't find much interest in that internationally, but we did conclude
that it is something that could be pursued on a regional basis quite
effectively. So I am very much in favor of regional approaches, and we
tried to advance them in the Western Hemisphere, in the ASEAN region
and elsewhere.

MR. RICHARDS:  Mr. Holum, any closing thoughts?

MR. HOLUM: Well, I'd just like to compliment the questioners for the
probing and detailed character of their questions. I think this has
been a very useful discussion. I have heard some new and more
penetrating questions than I have had in some of the previous
discussions. That reflects I think the broad character of or
relationship and our dialogue through the United States and Australia
on arms control and non-proliferation issues. I hope we can do this

MR. RICHARDS: I am afraid we have run out of time, even if we haven't
run out of questions. I'd like to thank our distinguished guest here
in the studio for joining us on this afternoon's program, and Canberra
and Sydney for some great thoughts. From Washington, I'm Ken Richards.
For everyone here in Studio 48, thanks for watching. We hope to see
you again next time for another edition of State Department's

(end transcript)

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