Tracking Number:  391417

Title:  "Achievement Overshadows Doubts at NPT Conference, Earle Says." US Ambassador Ralph Earle says the permanent extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) overshadows any differences member states might have expressed during the review conference. (950515)

Translated Title:  TNP: les resultats obtenus eclipsent les doutes.; Earle: lo logrado eclipsa las dudas en la conferencia TNP. (950515)
Date:  19950515

ACHIEVEMENT OVERSHADOWS DOUBTS AT NPT CONFERENCE, EARLE SAYS (NPT: Support for non-proliferation called worldwide) (1000) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Writer Washington -- The foresight of conference delegates in making the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permanent "is a gift to future generations" which "will long overshadow the differences or the reservations that may have arisen" during the month-long NPT review and extension conference, a leading U.S. arms control official says.

U.S. Ambassador Ralph Earle, deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), told the closing session of the May 12 NPT plenary that the outcome of the conference demonstrates "the intention of the international community to strengthen, make universal, and extend the principles and objectives on non-proliferation."

Even as conference delegates were mulling over the significance of their decision to make the treaty permanent, Chile announced its decision to become a party to the treaty. As soon as it completes its internal review, Chile is expected to become the next member of the 1968 treaty, further isolating the few states still standing outside the regime.

Chile's Foreign Minister Jose Miguel Insulza told participants in the closing hours of the conference that his country's accession to the NPT "will enable us to involve ourselves fully in the international community's efforts to achieve a world free from nuclear weapons." And Chilean Ambassador Juan Somavia expressed hope that "countries that are not yet members will recognize that this is now the shared feeling of the international community."

Conference president Jayantha Dhanapala told delegates there were no winners or losers at the parley because the treaty itself had won through its indefinite extension. Under his tutelage, the conference produced three official documents which were endorsed by consensus, without a vote:

-- the indefinite extension of the NPT; -- a strengthened review process for the treaty; and -- a set of principles and objectives for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Ben Sanders, who served as secretary of Dhanapala's drafting committee, said the decisions were not taken by "unanimous agreement" but reflected "uncontested agreement" that a majority of the delegations supported them.

Sri Lankan official Nihal Rodrigo called it a remarkable fact that delegations did not insist on pushing their primary national positions to a vote. Andrei Sannikau of Belarus noted that although not all delegates were satisfied with the extension decision, they recognized collectively that the decision on indefinite extension would serve the best interests of all treaty members.

The participants also endorsed a separate resolution submitted by Russia, Britain and the United States recognizing efforts regarding the Middle East peace process as well as those to establish "a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons as well as other weapons of mass destruction." This was essentially a re-write of an earlier submission by 14 Arab League nations, which had introduced a resolution calling on Israel to accede to the treaty and place its nuclear facilities under international safeguards.

Leonard Spector, of the Washington-based Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the conference produced "a rather strong and ringing endorsement for the treaty." It generated "a clear international consensus" for the NPT, he said, which has strengthened the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Ambassador Roland Timerbaev, of the California-based Monterey Institute of International Studies, said "a healthy decision" was taken at the conference which portends well for the future viability of the NPT. While no formal conditions were attached to the extension decision, he noted that there are "political" ones which call for treaty universality as well as ultimate nuclear disarmament.

But there were also criticisms of the treaty, conference rules and procedures, and the review process. In fact, shortly after the conference president brought down the gavel on the decision announcing the indefinite extension decision, a handful of countries made critical public statements.

Tanzania, for example, complained that more emphasis was placed on the extension than on the treaty review process. Iraq noted that it would have voted against extension, if there had been a formal vote, because the extension issue doesn't address the issue of Israel's refusal to accede to the treaty.

French diplomat Gerard Errera, speaking on behalf of the European Union, expressed regret that the conference could not adopt a final declaration. The drafting committee was unable to reach agreement on disputed text emanating from the three main committees.

And some non-governmental organizations observing the conference took issue with the fact that no progress was made on topics such as establishing legally binding security assurances or concrete, scheduled, disarmament efforts.

As U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright noted, "We successfully avoided language that ties the future of the NPT to a specific timetable for particular arms control and disarmament objectives."

Nevertheless, Earle said the United States committed itself "resolutely" to supporting "all of the articles of the treaty." That means "redoubling" efforts to achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a fissile materials cut-off accord, he said, as well as further strategic arms reductions which "move beyond" those concluded in two early START agreements. The U.S. delegate expressed the U.S. hope that all NPT members "will now work toward the treaty's ultimate goal: a world without nuclear weapons."

The United States reacted quickly when, only days after China stated at the May 12 conclusion of the conference that it was ready to join other NPT members to move toward the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, it conducted an underground nuclear test. The United States expressed "deep regrets" at the action and urged Beijing to refrain from further tests and "to join the other nuclear powers in a global moratorium as we work to complete (a CTBT) at the earliest possible time."

The German newspaper "Die Zeit" summed up the conference by pointing out that "the NPT's indefinite extension does not resolve the problem of how to prevent the spread of nuclear bombs. This task will have to be tackled over and over again."