USIS Washington File

21 April 2000

Interview: Wulf Details Hopes for Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference

(Chief U.S. delegate seeks, as minimum, consensus on goals) (3070)

The Clinton administration's lead official on non-proliferation
matters says he hopes that the upcoming Non-Proliferation Treaty
Review Conference will produce, at the minimum, an agreement on goals
for the next five years.

Ideally, Ambassador Norman Wulf says, participants in the Conference
can reach consensus on both a backward and forward look -- "that is,
the review of the last five years and setting the goals for the

Wulf, who is Special Representative to the President for Nuclear
Non-Proliferation, will represent the United States at the month-long
multinational conference, opening in New York April 24.

He acknowledged, in a recent interview, that U.S. officials "expect
this to be a difficult conference." That is true, he said, in light of
some unrealistic expectations created at the last conference, in 1995,
and "external factors," like the crisis in the Balkans and tensions
between India and Pakistan, that have slowed progress toward

Following is the transcript of the interview conducted by Washington
File Staff Writer Ralph Dannheisser:

(begin transcript)

Question: As the Review Conference delegations are preparing to
convene in New York, what are the key U.S. goals for the month-long

Wulf: What we seek out of that Conference is to demonstrate to the
world community that the United States continues to implement its
obligations under Article Six -- Article Six is the article that deals
with nuclear disarmament -- and, if it is possible, to see if we can
produce a consensus final document.

Q: What advance preparations has the administration made for the
Conference toward these ends?

Wulf: A number of things. Secretary Albright sent out a cable to all
of our embassies in countries that are NPT parties, asking them to
make this a priority in their dealings with their host governments;
she has published an op-ed piece in the International Herald Tribune;
the President on March 6 issued a statement in connection with the
30th anniversary of the entry into force of the NPT; we have conducted
extensive bilateral consultations with a whole cross-section of NPT
parties, and, lastly, we are in the process of putting together a
series of booklets that will explain what the United States has done
in the area of nuclear disarmament, what we are doing in the area of
technical assistance for peaceful uses of nuclear energy, and a
generalized pamphlet on the NPT itself.

Q: All this having been done in advance, what do you now expect to be
the general content of the Conference, and are there areas in which
you expect controversies to arise?

Wulf: Well, certainly we expect this to be a difficult conference. I
think great expectations were created in 1995 about the steady pace of
progress toward nuclear disarmament, and many of those expectations
were unrealistic and have not been met. Other expectations were
realistic, and some of them also have not been met. The result is a
fair level of frustration, some aimed at the United States, but
certainly not aimed exclusively at the United States. It goes to
underscore the basic fact that arms control does not occur in a
political vacuum. It is subject to the pressures and political
exigencies that exist over time, and this last five-year period has
been a time when there have been external factors that have slowed the
process of nuclear disarmament. I would cite one external factor --
the crisis in the Balkans, the Kosovo war. Another external factor was
the decision by India and Pakistan to conduct nuclear tests. All those
issues have an impact on the political environment and in turn have an
impact on the arms control process.

Q: One issue you mentioned was the developments in India and Pakistan.
Do you expect any document coming out of the Conference to address
that matter specifically?

Wulf: We believe it would be a very big mistake if the NPT parties met
as a review Conference for the first time in five years -- in a
situation in which the Indian and Pakistani tests occurred -- and said
nothing. We think it is important that the Conference address that and
we, for our part, will be urging that the final documentation include
a call upon India and Pakistan to comply with UN Security Council
Resolution 1172. That resolution, adopted immediately after the Indian
and Pakistani tests, sets forth a series of steps that the Security
Council believes India and Pakistan should take to, number one,
de-escalate nuclear tensions, and ultimately to become parties to the
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty as non-nuclear weapons states.

Q: So clearly the production of fissile materials and ballistic
missile development in those two countries is a matter of great

Wulf: Continuing great concern. The President has characterized the
India-Pakistan region as the most dangerous place in the world, and
certainly it's a view, I think, widely shared. The fact that both have
demonstrated a nuclear capability, the fact that both have refused
thus far to halt production of fissile material, and the fact that
both are engaged in testing ballistic missiles is an extremely
unstable development and creates real concerns over time.

Q: Do you expect any consensus agreements to be achieved on any of the
subjects under discussion at the Conference?

Wulf: "Expect" versus "hope" is the way I'd have to answer that
question. We certainly hope there will be consensus on the two aspects
that the Conference will be addressing. Those two are the so-called
review of the past five years and the so-called forward look at
objectives and the agenda for the future. We hope there can be a
consensus on both of those. The history of the NPT is that in the five
conferences held to date, only two have succeeded in producing a
consensus review and the likelihood of success with 150 countries
participating in a process that operates by consensus has to be viewed
as small. But certainly our objective, and what we will be working for
and seeking, would be a consensus document that does both a forward
look and the backward look.

Q: In terms of that forward look, what would you like to see in it?

Wulf: Among the unfinished business from the 1995 forward look was the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. In 1995, the parties called upon the CD
(Conference on Disarmament) for negotiations there to be concluded by
1996. That objective was met, but now the objective has to be entry
into force of the CTBT. Certainly we would expect that the final
document would say something calling upon the states necessary to
bring the CTBT into force to ratify as early as possible. Another
objective that was set in 1995 was the negotiation of a Fissile
Material Cutoff Treaty. To date the CD has been unable to even start
the negotiation because of procedural wrangling. We think it's time
that the CD got on with it and put aside this procedural nonsense and
got to work. Presumably the Conference will call for that. Lastly, the
Conference in 1995 called for systematic and progressive efforts
toward nuclear disarmament, and clearly among the steps that the
United States can and should be taking is, first, entry into force of
START II; secondly, negotiation and rapid conclusion of START III, and
third, a number of interim steps that could lead to more nuclear
disarmament and fewer nuclear weapons.

Q: One of the objectives you mentioned related to the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty. Is that going to be more problematical to get
accomplished, given the U.S. Senate's own failure to bless the Treaty?

Wulf: Certainly the fact that the Senate did not give its consent to
ratification will be a subject that we expect to arise, and it was
certainly a matter of great disappointment, not only to the
administration, but to many countries who expected the advice and
consent to be given to ratification. We have pointed out that while we
failed in that round, there is no diminishment of the administration's
expectation and hope to see CTBT ratified. Very recently we have
sought the assistance of General (John) Shalikashvili to work with the
Senate to see if we could address Senate concerns. I think the most
important fact is that, even though the Senate did not give its
consent to the CTBT, no testing is under way and the United States has
no plans to conduct nuclear tests. So the purpose of the CTBT is being
met. In addition, the United States is continuing to pay its
assessment to the CTBT organization that is setting up the network
that would verify the CTBT once it enters into force. One of the
Senate's criticisms of the CTBT was that the verification network was
not complete. The fact that we're able to continue paying our dues
will allow the CTBT organization to go forward with the verification
network and this, in turn, could make it easier for the Senate to give
its consent when it next takes up the issue.

Q: To what extent do you believe that the deliberations might be
affected by the U.S.-Russian talks on amending the Antiballistic
Missile Treaty and, related to that, the upcoming decision by
President Clinton on possible deployment of the limited National
Missile Defense system?

Wulf: Certainly, the question of possible deployment is an issue that
is of deep concern both to Russia and China and, I might add, even to
a country like France. How the Russian and Chinese governments will
bring those differences into the NPT remains unclear. We are
discussing with both governments this issue as it relates to the NPT,
and trying to see if we can find an approach that would allow us to
leave our differences on this issue outside the conference room. This
does not mean that they will not publicly criticize the NMD decision
that is pending, but certainly we hope that we can find a way to deal
with this issue that would not make it, shall we say, a deal buster at
the Conference itself.

Q: How can the United States best answer other countries who ask why
they shouldn't be allowed to develop nuclear weapons when we and the
other nuclear powers are permitted to keep ours?

Wulf: The reality is that at the time the NPT was negotiated, there
were five states that had conducted nuclear tests and therefore were
referred to as nuclear weapons states and were not required to
foreswear those weapons. Everybody else who signed the NPT -- and at
this point there are 182 countries who have signed as non-nuclear
weapons states -- foreswore nuclear weapons. They did so, I believe,
with the understanding that the others countries in their regions were
undertaking a similar obligation, and that their interests were best
served by not pursuing nuclear weapons themselves and thereby setting
off an arms race with their neighbors. A classic example of this is
Brazil and Argentina, both of whom had nascent nuclear weapons
programs going into the end of the 1980s. Both concluded that they
were not going to be better off at the end of the day with each of
them possessing nuclear arms, and doing so with substantially reduced
funds available for social costs. Both concluded that if they joined
hands and became parties to NPT together that this was a far better
way to advance their national security interests than engaging in
competition like India and Pakistan. It is quite clear that neither
India nor Pakistan is more secure today than it was before they sought
nuclear weapons.

We believe that the other part of the deal, from the negotiating
history, is that the United States, as a nuclear weapons state, has an
obligation to continue working toward the elimination of all nuclear
weapons, including its own. We are engaged in that process. We don't
know how long it's going to take to complete that process, but we
certainly believe that the NPT, as a confidence-building device for
regional issues, has been extremely successful and will continue to
serve the interests of all countries. We know of no country that
joined the NPT because of Article 6 -- that is, the article in the
Treaty that says nuclear weapons states shall work toward nuclear
disarmament. They joined for the security benefits offered by the
Treaty. This does not mean nuclear weapons states can ignore Article
6, but it does mean that the Treaty has intrinsic value for the
security of individual countries and individual regions.

Q: And what can be done to persuade additional countries to join the

Wulf: At this point we have only four countries that remain outside
the regime. I'll start with the easiest one: Cuba. Cuba, unlike the
other three, has no unsafeguarded nuclear facilities nor, to our
knowledge, are we concerned about Cuba having a nuclear weapons
program. Cuba is staying out primarily, they claim, as a protest
against the presence of the United States Navy at Guantanamo Bay. What
the real reason is, we're not totally sure, but that's their stated
reason. The remaining three countries are much more difficult: Israel,
India, and Pakistan. Israel has unsafeguarded nuclear facilities;
India and Pakistan have a demonstrated nuclear potential. Israel has
stated that it is prepared to surrender its nuclear weapons in the
context of a just, stable, and enduring Middle East peace. The United
States is making every effort we can to bring about just such a peace,
and we believe once that is achieved, that Israel can and should join
the NPT as a non-nuclear weapons state.

The situation in South Asia obviously is much more difficult; neither
is going to be prepared to give up unless both give up their nuclear
weapons programs. Theoretically, one ought to be able to replicate the
experience of Brazil and Argentina, but China adds a complicating
factor. India claims, and indeed stated immediately after its nuclear
test, that the reason they needed nuclear weapons was the Chinese
threat. Whatever the reality is, that ends up making the problem a
three-cornered shot, as opposed to just a two-party process, and that
in turn makes it much more difficult to see how one can get these two
countries to surrender their weapons. What we will be working for, and
what the President's trip to South Asia and Strobe Talbott's diplomacy
has been designed to do, has been, number one, to get the parties to
stop where they are and not continue expanding their capabilities and,
number two, to begin addressing the problems that they have so that
India and Pakistan no longer have the reason to feel threatened. Our
objective is to see India view its Pakistani neighbor in the same way
that we view our Canadian neighbor, and to have a border that is no
more armed than the U.S.-Canadian border is. If that were to come
about, one could clearly envisage a situation in which Pakistan would
be prepared to surrender its nuclear weapons. Similarly, if India and
China were to resolve whatever differences India believes may exist,
one at least should be able to envisage a situation in which India is
prepared to surrender its nuclear weapons. So those are the issues we
see at this point: we will have to address the question of trying to
get these three countries with unsafeguarded nuclear facilities as
parties to the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states.

Q: For both the countries that are in the regime and those you were
talking about that you would like to get into it, is there any sort of
enforcement mechanism needed that doesn't exist and, if so, what might
that be?

Wulf: One of the questions that has been raised occasionally is
whether the NPT, like the Chemical Weapons Convention, should have its
own institutional body that works with the parties and deals with
questions of noncompliance. For our part, we're not persuaded that
there is a need. First and foremost, the International Atomic Energy
Agency has the job of ensuring that any non-nuclear weapons state
party to the NPT has all its facilities under international
inspection. If, for any reason, the IAEA is unsure or has doubts about
whether a country is complying with its obligations, it can and has
referred the matter to the Security Council. The North Korean
situation back in 1993 and 1994 is a classic example. The IAEA became
convinced, and the Board of Governors agreed, that North Korea was not
complying with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA. The matter was
referred to the Security Council, which found North Korea to be
violating its NPT obligations, and called upon it to comply. We think
this mechanism is quite adequate for dealing with compliance questions
and see no need for a new international institution to add to the
multiplicity of international organizations that already exist.

Q: Do you expect the United States, at some point during the
Conference, to make a public reconfirmation of its strong commitment
to nonproliferation and nuclear disarmament as a concept?

Wulf: Absolutely. At this point, it looks like Secretary Albright will
be delivering the U.S. plenary statement, and we would expect in that
statement there to be such a commitment. Also I would note the
President's March 6 statement on the 30th anniversary of the NPT's
entry into force did contain such a public reaffirmation of our
commitment to nuclear disarmament.

Q: Summing up, what is your realistic assessment of what can be
achieved during these month-long deliberations?

Wulf: We hope that the Conference can do both the backward look and
the forward look -- that is, the review of the last five years and
setting the goals for the future. If it is unable to do both, we think
it extremely important that it at least try to set the goals for the
future. That is certainly what happened, in large part, in 1995, where
the Conference had to make a decision about the Treaty's future
duration. It was unable to reach agreement on the five-year review,
but it did reach agreement on the goals for the next five years. We
would hope, at a minimum, the Conference can agree to that.

(end transcript)

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