Tracking Number:  391656

Title:  "US Officials Say NPT Decision Surpassed All Expectations." US officials expressed surprise at the overwhelming consensus decision to permanently extend the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). (950516)

Translated Title:  La decision prise a propos du TNP excede tous les espoirs. (950516)
Date:   19950516

U.S. OFFICIALS SAY NPT DECISION SURPASSED ALL EXPECTATIONS (NPT: See it moving treaty closer to universality) (880) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Writer Washington -- The overwhelming consensus decision making the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permanent "surpassed...everyone's expectations," says U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency Director (ACDA) John Holum.

The extent of support demonstrated for indefinite extension at the recent NPT review and extension conference, he says, also had the side effect of bringing additional countries closer to joining the non-proliferation regime. With Chile planning to deposit its instrument of ratification shortly and Brazil signaling that it too may soon accede to the treaty, Holum says the treaty has moved "closer to universality."

ACDA's Deputy Director Ralph Earle dismisses the idea that action taken at the conference had the effect of weakening the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). He disputes some post-conference press reporting suggesting that the "back" of the NAM was "broken" by the extension decision. He points out that the NAM countries were not united on the extension issue and that national opinion was "all over the spectrum."

Ambassador Thomas Graham, another key member of the U.S. delegation to the month-long conference, says the consensus decision finally emerged because "everyone wanted the same result, which was the strongest possible NPT regime." Consensus emerged, he says, after Indonesia was willing to support indefinite extension if future treaty reviews are strengthened and made more substantive.

The three arms control officials assessed the outcome of the conference at an ACDA briefing May 16. The conference, Graham said, was not a victory for "any one country, or...region" but "a victory for the whole world that will add to peace and stability for everyone in the future."

By endorsing the principles and objectives on nuclear non-proliferation, he said, the nuclear weapons states have, in effect, signed an "IOU" to the rest of the world. They are now "further committed," he said, "for the indefinite future to the process of nuclear disarmament."

Graham expressed hope that all nations will now join the NPT regime. There are currently 185 members of the United Nations, and arms control experts count 178 of them as parties to the NPT.

Holum reported that the United States is "very disturbed" by China's underground nuclear test, which was detonated only days following the May 12 conclusion of the NPT conference. When the world is already tending toward nuclear weapons reductions, he stressed, "there is no reason for any country to be engaged in any further refinements or modernization of nuclear weapons."

The United States has registered its objections to China regarding its testing program, he said, but he also noted that China has committed itself, along with the other nuclear powers, to embrace a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by 1996.

Holum said the agreement by Russia to forego selling gas centrifuge enrichment equipment to Iran "is an important step against the nuclear weapons ambitions of Iran." The Russians' decision, he said, reflects "their acceptance of the U.S. view that there is a danger of nuclear proliferation in Iran." The recent Moscow summit, he said, made clear that arms control is "a very important element of U.S.-Russian relations."

U.S. officials are convinced, Holum said, that the Iranians are "hell-bent on acquiring a nuclear weapons capability," although they are still "some years from success."

On May 15, Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs Lynn Davis warned of Iranian nuclear intentions. She noted that U.S. policy "is designed to keep Russia from cooperating" in civil or military nuclear areas with Iran "because we believe, in each and every case, it helps contribute to what it is we believe Iran is all about -- and that is to develop nuclear weapons."

Davis also expressed U.S. concern about Chinese assistance to Iran. "We have also sought to convince the Chinese that it is not in their interest to go forward with any peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran," she said.

China's "continued support" of Iran is an obstacle to expanded peaceful nuclear cooperation with Beijing, she said, adding: "We are asking nothing of the Russians that we are not asking of the Chinese, and not asking either country more than we do ourselves. That is, the United States and the other G-7 countries do not cooperate or engage in peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran." The United States is seeking to prevent the transfer of nuclear technology, by any nation, to Iran, she pointed out.

While presidents Clinton and Yeltsin made considerable progress on implementation issues regarding strategic arms, Holum said, the Joint Compliance and Inspection Commission will be the place to work out "remaining details." On the subject of ratification of the second Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), he said the United States is pushing to conclude the formality quickly, but the issue is "more problematic" on the Russian side because they intend to ratify the international chemical weapons convention before START II.

Davis also indicated that the Russian decision on START is "still some time away." But she noted that once START II is ratified, U.S. and Russian officials will be prepared to discuss additional reductions in strategic weapons.