Tracking Number:  387077

Title:  "Graham Reports Growing Support to Extend NPT Permanently." US Ambassador Thomas Graham says the already widespread support for indefinitely extending the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty will grow. (950412)

Translated Title:  Le mouvement de soutien a la prorogation illimitee du TNP se renforce.; Graham informa que existe creciente apoyo prorroga permanente TNP. (950412)
Date:  19950412

GRAHAM REPORTS GROWING SUPPORT TO EXTEND NPT PERMANENTLY (NPT: Graham, Leonard assess prospects for NPT) (550) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Writer Washington -- President Clinton's special representative for arms control and disarmament says there is already "very widespread support" for indefinite extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), and he predicts that backing will increase.

U.S. Ambassador Thomas Graham briefed journalists April 12 on prospects for the NPT review and extension conference which convenes at the United Nations on April 17. During the month-long meeting members of the NPT must decide by majority vote whether to extend the treaty indefinitely, as the United States favors, or for a fixed period or fixed periods of time.

Graham said he believed that if the vote on extending the treaty were held on the same day as his remarks, a majority of NPT states would support a measure for indefinite extension. At this point NPT experts are predicting that the vote will take place about May 9 or 10.

It is essential that there "never again be any doubt whatsoever that the NPT will survive" as a permanent arms control fixture, Graham said. The best way to deal with the nuclear weapons threat "which faces all civilized countries, is to make the regime that deals with it permanent," he told journalists at the U.S. Information Agency's Foreign Press Center in New York.

The U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) official stressed that the United States will not support any option other than indefinite extension. "The United States will not compromise on the question of extension," he said.

The United States regards the permanent extension of the treaty as "central to the national security of the United States," Graham said. Nothing could be more "damaging" to world security than termination of the NPT, he added.

He also acknowledged that the task of persuading countries to support the U.S. position on extending the treaty would have been much easier if work on a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) could have been completed by mid-April. "The U.S. really means it" when it says it wants the CTBT as soon as possible, Graham said, emphasizing that the CTBT cannot be concluded fast enough for the United States.

Former U.S. Ambassador James Leonard, head of the Washington Council on Non-Proliferation, told reporters that both the CTBT and the proposal for fissile material production cutoff are designed to reinforce the NPT.

He also praised Clinton administration accomplishments on non-proliferation and arms control measures, including the bilateral nuclear agreement with North Korea, pushing to obtain ratification of the treaty on strategic arms reduction, and persuading Ukraine to join the NPT.

Leonard, a former assistant director of ACDA, also warned that someone in Iran has embarked "on a shopping spree" for nuclear weapons technology. Ascribing to the NPT on the surface, while pursuing another agenda, can be very "misleading," he said.

Asked about China's position on NPT extension, Graham noted that the Chinese have said they favor a "smooth extension" of the treaty. He suggested that the Chinese will support whatever option garners the most support among NPT members, who now number more than 170.