USIS Washington File

17 December 1999

Wulf: Non-Proliferation Treaty Drew Inspiration from Tlatelolco

(U.S. non-proliferation efforts are ongoing) (840)
By Susan Ellis
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) -- to which
the United States is one of 187 signatories -- drew inspiration from
the 1968 Treaty of Tlatelolco, signed by Latin American and Caribbean
countries in the Mexican city bearing that Aztec name more than 30
years ago, says President Clinton's special representative for nuclear

Ambassador Norman Wulf told Latin American correspondents at the
Foreign Press Center December 16 that the "United States is a party to
the NPT and a party to the protocols to the Treaty of Tlatelolco."

In response to questions about Cuba's objections to becoming a "full
party" to Tlatelolco, he said "we heard the same reasons from Cuba why
it couldn't sign Tlatelolco as they are now using for why they cannot
ratify Tlatelolco. And my message to Cuba (at a recent meeting in
Lima, Peru) was to urge them to put this part of the U.S.-Cuban
differences aside and to focus on the overall good, which is to make
Latin America free of nuclear weapons in a legally binding manner."

On regional security efforts, addressed by a conference and a seminar
in Lima rededicating the regional United Nations Disarmament Center
there, Wulf said, "Latin America is a very unique continent in many
ways. The governments of Peru and Ecuador have recently reached an
agreement settling a longstanding border dispute...with the assistance
of guarantor states like Brazil. And the whole history of Latin
America, by and large, has a lot of good examples that the rest of the
world could well emulate." In this respect, he named Tlatelolco,
saying it served as a pattern for later non-proliferation efforts.

Asked whether recent Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT) came up during his recent trip to Lima earlier this
month, Wulf said, "Absolutely. That was the one topic that was brought
up most often." He stressed that while there were concerns that it
signaled a "new way" in the direction of the United States toward
disarming, "the United States has been pursuing the question of
nuclear disarmament since 1946 when we put forward the Baruch Plan. I
believe President Clinton and Secretary (of State Madeleine) Albright
have made clear that the Senate vote is a detour, but not a
fundamental change in direction." Rather, he added, "I think you're
seeing an ill-advised decision and I would commend to you...Secretary
Albright's speech that she gave in Chicago last month to the Council
of Foreign Relations.

"Importantly, the president has said that the United States will not
resume nuclear testing. Even during the course of the debate in the
Senate, none of the opponents of the treaty advocated the resumption
of nuclear testing now," Wulf said.

When asked about a new National Missile Defense (NMD) program, Wulf
said it "would be adequate to deter (a) limited threat or what the
president has referred to as 'rogue state threat.' It is not
designed...(to) build an umbrella over the United States that would
protect us against any and all threats." President Clinton will decide
next summer whether to proceed with deployment.

Wulf said the president's decision will be based on four factors: the
existing threat; whether the system is capable of doing the job; cost;
and the effect the NMD program will have on U.S. arms control

The assumption that nothing is happening because the START strategic
arms reduction treaties have not been ratified is wrong, he said,
pointing to the fact that "the number of nuclear weapons the United
States possesses has been reduced by 60 percent in the last 11 years.
The United States and Russia have an extensive series of agreements
that are continuing to be negotiated and implemented dealing with
trying to ensure, in the first instance, fissile material in Russia is
kept under safe control, and to the maximum extent possible, that
fissile material in the United States and Russia is altered so it can
no longer be used for weapons purposes."

Wulf offered an example of a purchase agreement "where the United
States is purchasing 500 tons of highly enriched uranium that was
useable for weapons purposes. That is being blended down into low
enriched uranium, and will be used in civil power reactors.

"It's only one example of a really extensive exchange of activities,"
he said. "The United States has spent, thus far, something in the area
of $3 billion on these programs and the president has committed us to
another $4.5 billion. So this is a very major extensive operation, and
my message is that despite some of the doomsayers who look at the CTBT
vote or the NMD, and say somehow that this means nuclear
non-proliferation has come to a halt, my answer to that is, they could
not be more wrong."

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)