Tracking Number:  387721

Title:  "In Meetings, Christopher Urges Indefinite NPT Extension." As the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference began, Secretary of State Warren Christopher met with several officials to build support for the indefinite extension of the accord. (950418)

Translated Title:  M Christopher et le traite sur la non-proliferation nucleaire.; Christopher urge prorroga indefinida TNP. (950418)
Date:  19950418

IN MEETINGS, CHRISTOPHER URGES INDEFINITE NPT EXTENSION (NPT: Calls treaty "absolutely essential") (1104) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Correspondent New York -- Secretary of State Christopher says he and Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono are working together to try to achieve indefinite extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) because they both believe that it "is absolutely essential for a solid path to the future."

At an April 18 press conference with Kono, the secretary stressed that the treaty has been at "the cornerstone of our global security" for 25 years. Following a bilateral meeting between the two, a senior U.S. official said both men pledged to work for a permanent NPT.

On another issue, Christopher said any steps which North Korea might take to break the nuclear freeze would be a matter of "the most serious concern to the United States." He expressed the hope that the North Korean nuclear freeze will "be extended into the indefinite future."

Christopher said the North Korean problem can be resolved in the near future if the North Koreans exhibit "some flexibility." He warned against setting artificial deadlines and said it is better to reach an agreement which is agreeable to all concerned parties.

Earlier in the day, Christopher expressed hope that Mexico will "ultimately join the international coalition in support of the objective of the indefinite extension" of the NPT.

"Mexico," he said prior to an April 18 bilateral meeting with Mexican Foreign Minister Jose Angel Gurria, "certainly shares our strong interest in avoiding a proliferation of weapons of mass destruction."

Christopher, Gurria and representatives of more than 170 other nations are in New York for the month-long NPT review and extension conference which opened at the United Nations on April 17. In addition to reviewing the 1968 treaty, member nations must also decide whether to renew the treaty indefinitely and make it permanent or renew it for a fixed period or periods of time.

Christopher noted the "important role" Mexico has played in non-proliferation, including its leading efforts to put the Treaty of Tlatelolco in place in Latin America and the Caribbean.

On economic issues, Christopher noted that the United States has "a very important stake" in Mexico's prosperity and stability. He also observed that "there are difficult days for Mexico ahead." But the secretary also stressed that the United States remains "steadfast" in its support of Mexico.

Following Christopher's remarks, Gurria noted that his country has had a long history of being a "champion" of non-proliferation and disarmament issues. He pointed out that even Cuba has joined the Tlatelolco Treaty capping membership by all nations in the region. That treaty, he said, commits member states not to obtain nuclear weapons, and the five existing nuclear nations have agreed not to introduce nuclear devices into the region.

Gurria said Mexico is a "keen participant" in the NPT conference and he described it as an "appropriate moment" to pursue non-proliferation and disarmament issues. He urged participants to "seize" the moment to make as much progress on these issues as possible.

"Mexico is not anti-anything," Gurria said in apparent reference to criticism from some quarters that Mexico has not been supportive of U.S. efforts to obtain permanent treaty status for the NPT. "Mexico is pro-non-proliferation and pro-disarmament as much as any other country in the world," he stressed.

A senior U.S official who attended the U.S.-Mexican meeting described the meeting between Christopher and Gurria as "very positive," with the Mexican foreign minister specifically mentioning elements of Christopher's April 17 U.N. speech on NPT.

Referring to the need for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a fissile materials production cut-off and a stronger International Atomic Energy Agency, the official said Gurria considered them important to Mexico as it considers its position on NPT extension.

The official said the Mexican foreign minister expressed his desire to work with the United States on extending the treaty and indicated that he wanted to use the conference period as "a serious time" to see what elements can be incorporated into the review process.

During Christopher's meetings with other conference delegates, including a group from eight southern African countries on April 18 and a group from a number of South Asian and Middle Eastern countries on April 17, most non-nuclear states there conveyed their understanding of how important indefinite NPT extension is to the United States, the official said.

At the end of two days of bilateral and other large meetings, he said, Christopher will have met with representatives of more than 30 countries on NPT-related issues. Most of them, the official said, have told the secretary that the NPT vote is still three weeks away and they would like to use the intervening time as a proper treaty review period and as an opportunity to develop ways to support an endorsement package. As a result of their expressions, he said, the United States is confident that the conference will have "a positive outcome."

Another U.S. official, who briefed reporters April 17 following Christopher's meeting with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), noted that more non-aligned nations "have come out in favor of indefinite extension than have come out opposed." However, he also noted that the "vast majority are undecided." The secretary listened to "constructive" ASEAN suggestions on "how to extend the treaty," he added.

Christopher tried to assure representatives that even when the NPT is made permanent, the review process will continue. There is interest, the briefer said, in looking at continuing five-year treaty reviews as "a way of giving the non-aligned (nations) an opportunity to convey their views about how the treaty is operating" and of holding "everyone accountable."

The secretary told them the United States is committed to the arms control and nuclear disarmament process.

In a meeting with representatives from Yemen, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Morocco, Jordan and Bahrain, the official said, Christopher was told they believe that "a viable, strong treaty is best for us" because of instability and risk of proliferation in the region and the best way to deal with it "is to have a permanent treaty."

Another official, who was present for the session with Arab countries said, "They recognize indefinite extension to be in their own security interests." At the same time, however, he said they would like "to find a way to support indefinite extension and to bring Egypt along (with them) if they possibly can."