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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 27, June 1998

A Diplomatic Framework for Disarmament: Speech by US Secretary of State

Speech by US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, The Henry L. Stimson Center, Washington, US Department of State text, 10 June 1998

"Today, I want to set out the diplomatic framework guiding our efforts to prevent the spread and limit the dangers of the world's deadliest weapons.

In fulfilling this mission, diplomacy is an important, but not our only, tool. When we negotiate arms control and non-proliferation agreements, we hope others will act in good faith. But we never count on this. We insist instead on the most thorough possible verification measures. We exercise our treaty rights to the full. And we maintain the world's strongest, best-prepared and best-equipped armed forces.

We pursue arms control because our citizens and military will be more secure if certain weapons are eliminated or at least kept out of the wrong hands. Consider, for example, that millions of Americans and Europeans sleep safer every night because the START and INF Treaties have eliminated thousands of Russian nuclear weapons.

Consider that Saddam Hussein has been kept in a strategic box because UNSCOM has ferreted out and destroyed more weapons of mass destruction capacity than was destroyed in the entire Gulf War.

Consider that 37,000 American troops in Korea are safer and Asia is more stable because the Agreed Framework has frozen North Korea's dangerous nuclear program.

And consider what the modern world would be like if poison gas and deadly viruses were viewed as legitimate weapons.

Former Secretary of Defense William Perry had it right when he said that effective arms control is 'defense by other means.'

Through the decades, we have served this goal through formal Treaties such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention. We have pursued agreements to limit the transfer of dangerous technologies, while maintaining rigorous controls on our own exports.

We have developed early warning and detection capabilities - which we are always striving to improve.

We have backed fully the inspection activities of the IAEA and the UN Special Commission.

And we have worked steadily to expand the circle of nations that abide by the rules of non-proliferation, while not hesitating to expose and confront those who cheat.

Especially in recent years, we have made great progress. More nations in more parts of the world have been signing up and following through. Increasingly, countries that had been contributing to the proliferation problem are becoming part of its solution. More and more, the understanding has spread that a world in which the most dangerous weapons are under, not out of, control, will be more secure for all.

Unfortunately, that understanding has not taken sufficient hold in South Asia.

The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests dealt a blow to the non-proliferation regime. But let me be clear. Those senseless blasts beneath the ground do not, as some suggest, discredit that regime. To the contrary, they illustrate its logic and its necessity.

Indian leaders, especially, predicted that the decision to test would make their country more respected, more secure, and more firmly, in control, of events in South Asia. Those leaders were wrong.

A month ago, India and Pakistan could look forward to improved relations with the United States and other major powers; to steadily increasing outside investment and beneficial trade; and to serious consideration of their membership on the UN Security Council. Today, those prospects have been demolished.

A month ago, the people of India and Pakistan were living - as they had lived for decades with bitter tensions over Kashmir. But those tensions did not pose a clear and present danger to most of either nation's population. Today, both Indians and Pakistanis are less safe. In 1993, a devastating earthquake claimed 20,000 lives in central India; it was an unforgettable tragedy. But a nuclear exchange of even a limited nature would kill not thousands, but millions. Depending on the winds, even a unilateral attack could destroy untold lives on both sides of the border.

For both nations, the strategic environment is now far more complicated and grave. Both face the prospect of an arms race neither can afford. Each faces the risk of nuclear missiles being pointed at their cities. Neither can be confident it will have early warning of what the other will do. And the risk of misinformation leading to miscalculation leading to disaster is high. For both India and Pakistan, then, this is the payoff for exploding a nuclear device: mutual insecurity, decreased prosperity, a harvest of fear at home and condemnation abroad. They really hit the jackpot, didn't they? Obviously, the nuclear tests cannot be undone. But the resulting risks and disruptions can be minimized if cooler heads and clearer thinking now prevail.

We hope that is beginning to occur. The rhetoric in New Delhi and Islamabad seems to be quieting. Calls for renewing their bilateral dialogue are increasing. And both sides say they have no present plans for further nuclear tests. But these steps are nowhere near enough.

The world community is urging leaders in New Delhi and Islamabad to forswear any future tests, and to refrain from deploying nuclear weapons or from testing missiles capable of delivering them.

Further, we have called upon both countries to join the CTBT, without conditions; to stop producing fissile material and join in negotiating a worldwide pact; to refrain from deploying missiles; and to formalize their pledges not to export any materials or technology that could be used to build nuclear weapons or their delivery systems.

India and Pakistan should take such measures not as a favor to the world community, but because it is in the security interests of each to do so. And in considering their next steps, they should realize that the NPT will not be amended to include them as nuclear-weapon States.

That is fundamental - for the NPT is fundamental to nuclear non-proliferation. A generation ago it was predicted the world would have twenty to thirty nuclear States. No measure has done more than the NPT to prevent that. If we were to allow India and Pakistan to test their way to nuclear status under that agreement, we would create an incentive for others to follow their misguided example.

Moreover, we would break faith with those countries - such as South Africa, Brazil, Argentina, South Korea, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan - that have understood the importance to their own interests of forgoing the nuclear option.

The nuclear tests in South Asia present us with a fateful choice. Some now say that nuclear non-proliferation is doomed, and the sooner we accept that, the better off we'll be. Because a standard has been violated, they would have us accept a world with no standards at all.

I say that is dangerous nonsense.

Efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons do not come with a guarantee. But to abandon them because they have been dealt a setback would be a felony against the future. And there are steps we can take to regain the momentum we have lost.

Step one is to gain Senate approval of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. ...

This Treaty has been a goal of US Presidents since Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy. If approved and enforced, it will arrest both the development and the spread of new and more dangerous weapons. It has been widely endorsed by our military and scientific leaders. And it has consistently commanded the support of no less than seventy percent of the American people.

Now more than ever, the CTBT is relevant to American security and world peace.

Now more than ever, we need to get the Treaty's monitoring and detection system up and running.

Now more than ever, we need to declare that testing is not smart, not safe, not right and not legal.

Now more than ever, we need to demonstrate that the world has entered a new era, in which the greatness of nations is measured not by how much they can destroy, but by how much they can build.

So I ask the Senate, as the President has asked the Senate, 'Do not stall, do not delay; approve the CTBT.' On this critical measure, at this perilous time, American leadership should be unambiguous, decisive and strong. In particular, I urge Senator Helms to bring the CTBT before his Committee. Examine it on the merits. And if the Chairman wants me to testify, all he has to do is say the word and I'll be there.

Of course, our strategy for reducing the nuclear danger involves far more than the test ban. We are working across the board to ensure that the American people never again have to bear the costs and risks of a nuclear arms race.

Many Americans assume our arms control relationship with Russia no longer matters. But it does matter; it matters a lot.

For until we bring our nuclear arsenals and postures into line with post-Cold War realities, each of us will be forced to maintain larger arsenals at higher states of alert than would be ideal. And though we are slicing apart weapons as fast as we can - with START I eliminations running two years ahead of schedule - we cannot move beyond START II until that Treaty is ratified.

All we can do is prepare the ground for START III negotiations with preliminary experts' meetings to frame issues. That kind of planning has begun; but planning is not enough.

Unfortunately, I must report that the Duma today voted to postpone consideration of START II. I deeply regret that decision, and I hope that the majority of the Russian legislature will come to understand what its clearest thinkers already have - which is that, in light of the South Asia tests, START II ratification is now more urgent than ever.

As President Yeltsin has said, START II is manifestly in Russia's interest as well as our own. It will eliminate the deadliest weapons ever pointed our way. And it will set the stage for START III cuts in strategic arsenals to 80 percent below Cold War peaks.

That would be a remarkable achievement in its own right. It would also provide further evidence that we are serious about meeting our NPT commitment to move toward the elimination of nuclear weapons. That is a worthy goal, embraced by Presidents of both parties - including President Clinton. But we cannot build that kind of world alone. And sadly, it seems more distant today than only a month ago.

START III will be more than a sequel to START II. It will mark a major qualitative as well as quantitative step forward. For the first time, it will address destruction of warheads and bombs, not just the missiles and planes that deliver them.

This past September, we completed the ABM Treaty succession and demarcation agreements. The Senate will have every opportunity to examine them closely when they are presented as a package with the START II extension protocol. Meanwhile, these accords will not impede our efforts to develop the capable theater missile defenses we need. And we know that for Russian strategic reductions to continue, the ABM Treaty must remain in place.

START III is a vital goal. As we pursue it, we will bear in mind the need for strict verification, improved intelligence, and greater transparency. These advances, in turn, will give us a leg up on the 'loose nukes' problem that rightly worries us all.

We are working hard to keep the critical ingredients of nuclear weapons - plutonium and highly enriched uranium - out of the wrong hands. It is this fissile material, not the basic design information for a nuclear device, that is the biggest hurdle facing those who seek to build nuclear weapons. That is why we are insisting that North Korea adhere to its commitments under the Agreed Framework - and why we are working so hard with the Congress to ensure that we live up to ours.

That is why our strategy includes working with the New Independent States to secure nuclear materials - as we did in transporting HEU out of Kazakhstan and Georgia to safe storage.

That is why it includes efforts, through the G-8 nuclear smuggling program, to deal with excess plutonium and make cuts in nuclear arsenals irreversible.

And that is why the Administration seeks more funding for Nunn-Lugar-Domenici programs - to keep Russian weapons and nuclear materials secure, and atomic scientists engaged in their home countries, not in business with rogue regimes.

We are pressing every country in the Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiating a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. We are pleased that India has now said it is willing to participate in these negotiations. We believe Pakistan should follow suit.

I am also directing US negotiators to conclude agreements by the year 2000 to make 'excess' US and Russian plutonium permanently unusable for weapons. Finally, we should convene a conference this year to amend the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material - to increase accountability, enhance protections, and complement our efforts to strengthen IAEA safeguards.

The nuclear menace has long been familiar to Americans. But other dangers, no less real, confront us in the form of chemical, biological, and destabilizing conventional weapons. Against these threats, as well, our strategy is to employ a full-court press.

Last year, with bipartisan support from the Senate, America joined the Chemical Weapons Convention as an original party. Other key countries, such as Russia, Iran and Pakistan, have since joined, as well.

This year, we are asking Congress to approve legislation to implement that Convention, and thereby make it harder for terrorists to concoct, conceal, or conspire to use poison gas in our own country.

This measure is supported by US industry and would bring us into full compliance with the Convention. While moving forward with it, Congress should not at the same time move backward by adding provisions that are not consistent with the Convention and would diminish its effectiveness. The Biological Weapons Convention...has stigmatized the use of dread diseases as instruments of war. And its implementing legislation has helped our law enforcement officials block attempts to acquire or produce biological weapons.

But the BWC needs enforcement teeth if we are to have confidence it is being respected around the world. Under President Clinton's leadership, we have redoubled our efforts to negotiate a compliance protocol in Geneva this year.

Ideological opponents of arms control say treaties lull us into a false sense of security. But look at the facts. This Administration has increased funding for defense against chemical weapons. And the President has announced a plan to inoculate our troops against biological threats.

Global conventions are not silver bullets that can stop terrorists in their tracks. But they are a valuable tool, and we would be foolish not to use them. For they make the terrorist's task harder and the law enforcement job easier. They also heighten police and public awareness - which can lead to tips that foil plots and save lives. ...

Finally, let me address a subject whose inherent difficulties make it more, not less, worthy of attention - and that is conventional arms control. Legitimate exports of conventional arms can support our interests and foreign policy goals. But in the wrong hands, such exports can endanger our people and empower our adversaries.

A prime example is the growing threat to civil aviation posed by shoulder-fired missiles. Today, I am calling for negotiation of an international agreement to place tighter controls on the export of these portable, easily concealed weapons.

I welcome the European Union's recent decision to adopt a Code of Conduct for arms transfers, and will work to ensure better coordination of out respective policies.

I also want to strengthen the Wassenaar Arrangement, which has not yet reached its potential. We want that arrangement to be recognized as the institution where responsible nations take practical steps to prevent and address the dangers arising from irresponsible arms exports. Lastly, I am proposing that we broaden our efforts to crack down on illicit firearms trafficking. Through the OAS, we have negotiated a landmark agreement to combat such trafficking in our own hemisphere. We are now pursuing a global agreement, which we aim to conclude by 1999. …"

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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