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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 41, November 1999

Canadian Foreign Minister Makes Major Speech on Nuclear Policy

Speaking in Boston on October 22, soon after the US Senate rejected the CTBT, Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Lloyd Axworthy delivered an address devoted largely to issues of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation:

"By far the greatest threat to our children - indeed, to all humanity - remains the spectre of nuclear annihilation and the hazards posed by other weapons of mass destruction. ... The need for a strong global non-proliferation regime is...vital. ... For the past half-century, the United States has provided global leadership and moral authority in moving us in the right direction. Yet precisely when we need this global engagement most, Canadians are greatly concerned about momentum in the opposite direction.

The US Senate's rejection [of the test ban]...is a significant step backwards - a repudiation of 50 years of US leadership...and a devastating blow to global nuclear arms control efforts. ... [T]he Senate's decision not only jeopardises the CTBT but risks derailing the larger...agenda. ... It is therefore essential that the United States restore its traditional leadership role and recommit itself to real progress in nuclear disarmament efforts. We believe there is scope for action both bilaterally and multilaterally.

The United States could begin with [the] START [Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty] process. As it has been more than six years since its signature, perhaps the time has come to subsume the START II Treaty, which the Russian Duma has not ratified, into a new, broader and deeper process of strategic arms reduction that would have greater acceptance in both countries. The United States and Russia could also begin to address the arsenals of tactical nuclear weapons that both states have removed from operational status.

Respect the ABM Treaty. Both Russia and the United States say this is the cornerstone of strategic stability. It should not be undermined with changes that are incompatible with its intent. In the effort to accommodate the possibility of an eventual National Missile Defence, great care should be taken not to damage a system that, for almost 30 years, has underpinned nuclear restraint and allowed for nuclear reductions.

On the multilateral front, the United States could help break the gridlock at the Conference on Disarmament. ... A package solution is at hand. It would comprise initiating negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, exploring measures to prevent an arms race in outer space, and providing for discussion of nuclear disarmament. The impasse is partly a result of US opposition to discussion in the last two areas. Greater flexibility would go a long way to re-energizing the multilateral nuclear arms control agenda.

The United States should also support NATO's revision of its arms control and disarmament policy. In April, NATO leaders tasked Foreign Ministers with examining non-proliferation, arms control and disarmament options, given 'the reduced salience of nuclear weapons.' Canada has been a strong advocate of this review. We believe it is crucial for NATO to have an arms control and disarmament policy that reflects the next decade - not the last. NATO should also review its policies relating to weapons of mass destruction to ensure that they are consistent with the arms control and disarmament aims we wish to advance. One possible output would be a revised version of the Alliance's 1989 Concept of Arms Control and Disarmament.

US support for a substantive review is critical to the success of this Allied effort. It will enable NATO Ministers, this December, to send a reassuring message to the world community that the Alliance is part of the solution to global non-proliferation and disarmament issues."

Report: Notes for an Address by the Honourable Lloyd Axworthy, Minister of Foreign Affairs, Canadian Department of Foreign Affairs and International Trade transcript, Statement 99-54, October 22.

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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