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U.S. Statement to NPT Review Conference UN, NY

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright U.S. Statement to NPT Review Conference United Nations New York, New York, April 24, 2000

As released by the Office of the Spokesman U.S. Department of State

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Mr. President, distinguished delegates, it gives me special pleasure to return here as head of the U.S. delegation to the opening NPT Review Conference of the new century. As Secretary of State, I wanted to come here on this first day because this Treaty and the shared aims it represents are deeply important to me and to the United States.

Ambassador Baali, let me join in congratulating you on your selection to preside over this important Conference. We have admired your leadership and look forward to working with you.

Five years ago, we gathered here to decide the fate of the Non- Proliferation Treaty. We faced a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make the NPT permanent. And we gave a priceless gift to our children -- and ourselves -- by safeguarding this indispensable agreement for all nations, for all people, for all time.

This gift had several facets. First, by extending the Treaty indefinitely, we bolstered countries' confidence that a decision to forgo nuclear weapons would not put them at a disadvantage some years down the road.

Second, by rejecting the risks of conditionality, we avoided a situation where the entire edifice of non-proliferation could collapse if a specific arms control objective was not achieved by a certain date.

Finally, by reaching all our decisions without a divisive vote, we signaled the strength of the Treaty and marked the right path toward realizing its goals. And in the past five years, nine new states parties have joined, leaving only four countries outside the NPT regime.

Our wise and shared decisions in 1995 ensured that the Treaty will remain at the center of our nonproliferation and disarmament efforts. Over the next four weeks, we have an opportunity to ensure that the center will hold. And through our mutual efforts, to make the NPT even stronger.

Our review here will focus on three key issues: how the Treaty is working to prevent nuclear proliferation, to advance nuclear disarmament, and to enhance cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. In each of these areas, I am sure that each of us can point at minimum to lost opportunities. Perfection is rarely possible in human affairs involving complexity so great, stakes so high and passions so deep.

But on balance, the United States believes that any fair reading of the record will affirm that the Non-Proliferation Treaty is doing its job. And therefore, that far from any radical changes of course, what we need now is more hard work, good faith, and patient political will from every country represented here.

There is little doubt about the Treaty's success, for example, in fostering peaceful uses of the atom. Both bilaterally and through the IAEA, countries are working together to treat cancer, improve infant health, meet power needs, increase food production and stretch scarce supplies of clean water.

It is impossible to put a price tag on all the peaceful nuclear cooperation facilitated by the NPT. But that only underscores its value in this area.

More substantial questions have been raised about the Treaty's ability to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. The Indian and Pakistani tests of May 1998 were a serious challenge to the global nonproliferation regime.

But the world's response to those tests revealed the strength and resiliency of the NPT and the global norm it has established. In UN Security Council Resolution 1172 and elsewhere, the international community spoke with a single, clear voice. Because the Treaty has transformed acquiring a nuclear weapon capability from an act of national pride to a cause for international alarm.

There is no provision in the Treaty for new nuclear weapon states; nor will there be one. For we will not break faith with all the states -- from the former Soviet republics to South America to South Africa -- who made good decisions to strengthen their own security and the cause of nonproliferation by joining the NPT. We want the tide of history to keep running in the Treaty's direction -- toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, not their spread.

For this reason, the United States continues to seek universal adherence to the NPT -- in South Asia and beyond.

In the Middle East, our 1995 Resolution recognized that it is the broader peace process which improves prospects for the zone free of all weapons of mass destruction that each of us would like to see take shape in the region. And I have seen President Clinton strive tirelessly to achieve peace between Israel and its neighbors. So while the United States does not oppose attention in this year's Conference to universal adherence in the Middle East, we believe it should be fair and balanced within the region and with other serious issues outside the region.

Finally, Cuba stands alone in the Americas outside the NPT. And its leadership knows that there is no embargo on Cuba joining the most broadly-shared arms control agreement in history.

Of course, even universal adherence to the NPT cannot guarantee universal compliance with the Treaty. And it is actions on the ground, not commitments on paper, which we prize most highly for their contributions to peace.

That is why the United States strongly supports the IAEA's new strengthened safeguards to deter and detect cheating, and urges all parties to adopt them. It is why we will continue to insist that Iraq not be allowed to dictate the terms of its compliance with NPT obligations or with UN resolutions. And it is why we welcome the partial progress made with North Korea -- and remain grateful to inspections under the NPT for first bringing that country's suspicious activities to light.

In many quarters, however, we know that the sharpest suspicions under the Treaty are directed to whether the five nuclear weapon states are doing enough under Article VI to bring about nuclear disarmament. There is concern that the United States is turning its back on arms control. And there are persistent calls for a "new agenda" to force faster progress in ridding the world of nuclear weapons.

But although such views are well-meaning and strongly held, let's look carefully at the facts.

First, the Russian Duma's recent action on START II undercuts the claim that the bilateral strategic arms reductions process has no future. The United States Senate did its part to endorse this process in an overwhelming vote approving the Treaty more than four years ago.

Some think that Russia's recent steps on START II and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are a double-edged sword. But we welcome good news from Moscow. This is the kind of arms race America likes to see.

As for the broader concerns raised by missile defenses, if the Clinton Administration were bent on sabotaging the ABM Treaty and strategic arms control, we have surely gone about it in a strange way -- in the open, with care, and in consultation not only with Congress, but after extensive discussions with our allies and other countries, Russia and China emphatically included.

The world has changed dramatically in the almost three decades since the ABM Treaty was signed. That Treaty has been amended before, and there is no good reason it cannot be amended again to reflect new threats from third countries outside the strategic deterrence regime.

And please remember that we are talking about a system capable of defending against at most a few tens of incoming missiles. It is not intended to degrade Russia's deterrent. Nor will it have that result.

Wherever our upcoming strategic negotiations with Russia may lead, since the Cold War's end, we have already made remarkable progress in nuclear disarmament. Under START II, the United States and Russia have committed to reduce deployed strategic warheads by some two-thirds from Cold War levels. And we agreed in 1997 to a START III framework that would cut these arsenals by 80 percent from those peaks.

Russian ratification of START II will give new impetus to our START III efforts. And as Presidents Clinton and Putin recently announced, progress toward continued strategic reductions will be one major goal of their upcoming summit.

The nuclear arsenals of the United States and Soviet Union had four decades to grow in size and sophistication. Since the fall of the Berlin Wall less than eleven years ago, the United States alone has dismantled about 60 percent of our nuclear weapons. Simple math and common sense both suggest that it is folly to give up on a START process which is doing exactly what is called for in Article VI.

Speaking of math, the American taxpayer has already provided over $5 billion for many of the costs associated with nuclear disarmament in the former Soviet Union. These programs of cooperative threat reduction represent real arms control -- destroying missiles, securing fissile material, peacefully employing nuclear scientists, ending plutonium production for weapons. We consider it a wise continuing investment in global security. And we consider it a credit in the U.S. ledger under Article VI, as well.

We have also worked with our allies to reduce the number of nuclear weapons within NATO by 85 percent since 1991. Such weapons now play a smaller role in our defense posture than at any time since the advent of the Cold War.

These accomplishments -- and many others there is no time to mention -- are summarized in a booklet we are releasing today on how the United States is meeting its commitment to Article VI. I commend it to you. For the story it tells is more compelling than most people realize.

President Clinton has contributed a Foreword to this publication. There he states, and I quote:

"The United States has devoted more time, effort, and resources to nuclear arms control and disarmament than any other country. I am certain this will continue. As we enter this new millennium, we should all commit ourselves anew to achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. The United States remains committed to this goal and will work tirelessly toward its ultimate achievement."

Those are the words of the President of the United States. And that is the policy of the United States toward a goal we all share.

Finally, let me briefly discuss the U.S. and the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. President Clinton has appointed General John Shalikashvili, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to help advise us on how best to respond to Senators' concerns about the CTBT so we can build support for its eventual ratification.

Meanwhile, we have made it clear the United States will not resume testing -- and are urging other nations to do the same, and to sign and ratify the Treaty. And our work and support for the Treaty's Preparatory Commission have continued.

For all these reasons, like the President, I am convinced that America will ratify the CTBT. And thus help to ensure that the nuclear arms race becomes a relic of the 20th Century, not a recurring nightmare of the 21st.

Mr. President, the United States is part of the international consensus on nuclear disarmament. We share the frustration many feel about the pace of progress toward a world free of nuclear weapons. But we also know that if countries demand unrealistic and premature measures, they will harm the NPT and set back everyone's cause.

Unfortunately, none of us has it within our power to create overnight the conditions in which complete nuclear disarmament is possible. But in our own regions, and in our own ways, we each have a contribution to make.

We know the path toward our shared destination. The hard work of peace requires putting one foot patiently in front of the other. It means finally taking such familiar and achievable steps as the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. And adhering to the course so wisely charted at the NPT Conference five years ago.

This is a road we can all walk together. And I am confident that if we are together, we will succeed -- with the help of this irreplaceable Treaty -- in building a world that is safer and more secure for us all.

Thank you very much.

[End of Document]

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