Tracking Number:  392065

Title:  "Extension of NPT a Major Step Toward Nuclear Disarmament." Speaking before a group of international security experts, Ambassador Thomas Graham said the permanent extension of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) is a major step toward the ultimate goal of total nuclear disarmament. (950518)

Date:   19950518


05/18/95 EXTENSION OF NPT A MAJOR STEP TOWARD COMPLETE NUCLEAR DISARMAMENT (5/17 Ambassador Thomas Graham speech) (1200) By Bruce K. Byers USIA Staff Writer Washington, May 17 -- "Complete nuclear disarmament remains the ultimate goal of the United States."

Speaking to a group of international security policy experts in the Regents' Room of the Smithsonian Institution's Castle, Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr. stressed that this is the bedrock of U.S. nuclear disarmament policy as he reviewed the outcome of the international NPT review and extension conference which ended May 12 with a consensus decision to extend the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty indefinitely and without conditions. Most significantly, in Graham's view, the decision for indefinite and unconditional extension was achieved through collaboration rather than competition and focused participants' attention and efforts on the need to create a centerpiece of international peace and security. Graham praised the leadership of conference president Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala who achieved a greater general agreement among the participants than anyone thought possible at the outset.

As a result of these efforts, according to Ambassador Graham, Deputy Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, all the nations of the world are winners. This is because the participants of the conference also adopted a set of principles and objectives of non-proliferation and a framework which strengthens the review process, putting in place a foundation by which nations can judge future progress and success of non-proliferation efforts.

Ambassador Graham reiterated that the United States is fully committed to the implementation of the documents resulting from the conference, and he also praised the efforts of South Africa which provided the impetus for the set of principles and the strengthened review process. South Africa, which only recently signed the NPT, proved to be one of the stars of the conference. Its delegation played an instrumental role in supporting the principle of universality of the NPT and in bringing to consensus many non-nuclear states. This, Graham said, appeared to be a conscious decision of South Africa's leaders and contributed decisively to the May 11 NPT outcome. The indefinite extension now stands as a permanent landmark on the highway to complete, worldwide disarmament.

Moreover, Graham said, the parties to the NPT agreed at the New York conference to pursue the creation of additional nuclear weapons free zones such as the emerging African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. The breakthrough of the NPT review and extension conference was to create new, forward momentum to achieve this and other steps which will make the world safer from nuclear weapons, the technologies to make them, and the materials needed in their manufacture. In this achievement the United States and all of the parties to the conference have taken a giant step forward towards a world without nuclear weapons.

Graham said that South Africa's unprecedented dismantling of its nuclear weapon program has cleared the way for an African Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Treaty. The U.S. has supported the denuclearization of Africa since 1964 and supports the achievement of this goal through such a treaty. It would be similar to the Treaty of Tlatelolco which created a nuclear weapon free zone in Latin America. Graham also pointed out that President Clinton has informed President Soeharto of Indonesia that the U.S. would support, in principle, the creation of a Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon Free Zone, assuming that it meets longstanding U.S. criteria for such zones.

The United States will now redouble its efforts to achieve a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and a fissile material cut- off agreement by 1996. Specifically, Graham stated, "the United States is prepared to conclude that we have already conducted our last nuclear test." The realization of a CTBT, a U.S. goal since the 1950s, will "close and double lock the tomb of the Cold War forever," he continued. As part of this effort, the United States will push for the conclusion of a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapon purposes. He stressed: "The United States no longer produces fissile material for nuclear weapons purposes and is working to help Russia obtain alternative power sources for its three remaining military production reactors." Equally significant, the U.S. placed 10 tons of highly enriched uranium from the Department of Energy's Y-12 facility and other fissile material under International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards in 1994. As a next necessary step, Graham emphasized, "a fissile material cut-off treaty would cap the amount of material available for nuclear explosives and it would bring the unsafeguarded nuclear programs of certain non-NPT states under some measure of international restraint for the first time." He added that such a treaty would also prevent the further production of separated plutonium and highly-enriched uranium for weapons or other explosive purposes.

What does the indefinite extension of the NPT mean in the near term? One needs only to think of recent events involving nuclear materials and reactors: During the past year world attention has been focused on North Korea's nuclear program, on the smuggling of fissile materials out of the former Soviet Union, and on the apparent decision by the government of Iran to seek its own nuclear weapons capability. All of these threaten the continued stability of international security and impose heavy, unnecessary burdens on the continued efforts to achieve total nuclear disarmament. According to Ambassador Graham, the indefinite extension of the NPT demonstrated not only that a great family of nations can cooperate in reaching a common victory; it also sends a strong signal to those states which would continue to pursue independent plans to develop nuclear weapons capabilities that they will become increasingly isolated and rejected. At the same time the victory tells all states that they are welcome to join in the efforts to achieve total nuclear disarmament and that their participation in this endeavor strengthens international peace and security.

The conference was not without problems and conflicting perspectives, and its outcome is all the more remarkable. For many states the first concern was not an immediate security threat posed by the existence of nuclear weapons. Rather, many expressed greater concern that steps be taken to achieve a "START III" treaty. Many states expressed their growing rejection of hazardous waste dumping in poorer, non-nuclear states, especially in Africa. They were willing to work for a consensus document and make known that their support should also achieve constructive responses from the five declared nuclear states toward ending regional security threats and problems such as waste dumping.

The problem of verification of the NPT also remains, even with indefinite extension. There is growing concern that it is increasingly difficult to determine the exact quantities and locations of all fissile materials. The ideal of complete nuclear disarmament will run up against the probability that 100 per cent verification can not be achieved. The U.S. has a major role to play in overcoming these problems and in strengthening international safeguards. The indefinite extension of the NPT makes the likelihood of progress much greater than would have been the case, had there been no consensus and agreement on indefinite extension.