Tracking Number:  323203

Title:  "US Stresses Need to Extend Nuclear Non-Proliferation Pact." ACDA Deputy Director Thomas Graham says the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the "cornerstone of the entire international arms control regime" and should be extended indefinitely and unconditionally. (940125)

Date:  19940125


(Graham calls NPT cornerstone of arms control regime) (750) By Judy Aita USIA United Nations Correspondent United Nations -- The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) is the "cornerstone of our entire international arms control regime," and it should be extended indefinitely and unconditionally, says U.S. arms control official Thomas Graham.

The NPT -- "the most widely-adhered-to" arms control treaty -- is crucial to existing and future international arms control accords, Graham, acting deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), said January 21 at the end of a preparatory meeting for the NPT review conference slated for 1995.

"On its foundation rest all our efforts for nuclear disarmament and the other arms control regimes we have developed," such as the START One and START Two Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, he said.

The NPT, which entered into force March 5, 1970, stipulates that its parties will meet 25 years after that date to decide whether the treaty should continue in force indefinitely or be extended for additional fixed periods. A majority vote of the parties can extend the treaty for any period of time -- including indefinitely -- and that decision is binding on all parties whether or not they voted for the particular outcome.

"The United States believes that proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- particularly nuclear weapons -- is the principal national security threat that exists for the United States and, indeed, the principal threat for the entire world," Graham said. "Therefore, what happens to this all important, cornerstone treaty in the spring of 1995 is of immense political, security, and historical significance."

U.S. officials believe the accord "should be made a permanent treaty so that it becomes a permanent part of the international security environment," Graham stressed. "We think it's very important to send the strongest possible signal that we can to the world to support the international non-proliferation regime."

The 1995 NPT review conference will be a very important means of advancing regional and global security and the NPT should become a permanent part of that framework, the U.S. official said.

The parties to the NPT held their second meeting to continue preparations for the 1995 treaty review conference January 17-21. The Preparatory Committee (PrepCom), which is open to all 157 parties to the treaty, focused primarily on procedural issues such as establishing the date, location, length, agenda, background documentation, and rules for the conference. Two more preparatory meetings are scheduled before the review conference is held from mid-April to mid-May 1995 at U.N. Headquarters in New York.

Graham acknowledged that "it is going to take a lot of hard work and a lot of discussions with many countries" to achieve indefinite extension of the treaty.

"Many countries share our view," he said. "Other countries have not made up their minds yet. For 20 years some of the non-aligned states have been telling us that if we wanted the treaty extended in 1995, something needs to be done about nuclear arms control."

Graham said the United States listened closely to these viewpoints, which influenced the administration's decisions to support and extend the nuclear testing moratorium, to pursue a comprehensive treaty banning nuclear test explosions (CTB), and to propose a cutoff agreement to end the production of fissile material for weapons programs.

"The U.S. is committed to achieving a CTB in the shortest possible period of time," Graham added.

"We believe that these concerns (of the non-aligned countries) have been responded to and have been met," especially concerning Article 6 of the NPT in which the treaty parties, including the nuclear weapons states, agree to take every measure to pursue nuclear arms control, Graham said.

Graham said that the PrepCom made "significant progress" during its five-day meeting, agreeing on the rules of procedures, who -- in addition to the treaty parties -- will be able to attend, and what documents will be prepared for the conference.

With the end of the Cold War, Graham said, "much is possible today that was not possible before" in disarmament negotiations.

"We had very close cooperation with Russia and also China and many other countries. We look forward to the process as it unfolds. We believe we will have success in 1995," he said.