eagle.gif (7106 bytes) Ambassador Robert T. Grey, Jr.
United States Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
Statement in the First Committee of the General Assembly on Draft Resolutions concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Compliance with Arms Limitation and Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Agreements, and on Bilateral Nuclear Arms Negotiations and Nuclear Disarmament
October 26, 1999

October 26, 1999


Statement by Ambassador Robert T. Grey, United States Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, in the First Committee, on Draft Resolutions concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, Compliance with Arms Limitation and Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Agreements, and on Bilateral Nuclear Arms Negotiations and Nuclear Disarmament, October 26, 1999

Mr. Chairman,

I have asked for the floor today for two purposes. First, I will address Resolution L.1 on the "Preservation of and Compliance with the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty," tabled by Russia, Belarus, and China. Second, I will provide clarification on U.S. intentions vis-a-vis its own traditional resolutions.

I particularly want to take this opportunity to respond to the October 21 statement by the Deputy Representative of the Russian Federation regarding this draft resolution. Many of you already know that the U.S. is deeply concerned by this resolution and the rationale offered to support it.

There are certainly parts of the Russian Deputy's statement with which the U.S. agrees. For example:

  • The U.S. firmly believes that the ABM Treaty remains a cornerstone of strategic stability and that it continues to provide the essential foundation for achieving further reductions in strategic offensive arms.
  • Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin have repeatedly reaffirmed their commitment to the ABM Treaty and to continued efforts to strengthen it.

However, my Government takes strong exception to the Deputy Representative's statement that the draft resolution "follows the mainstream of agreements between the Presidents of Russia and the United States reached in Cologne" in June of this year. In our view, the draft resolution is inconsistent with the commitments made by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin in Cologne.

The Russian Deputy stated that the Cologne Joint Statement does not contain any agreement to review the ABM Treaty. He then went on to quote the Joint Statement language, which says that "both Sides affirm their existing obligations under Article XIII of the ABM Treaty to consider possible changes in the strategic situation that have a bearing on the ABM Treaty and, as appropriate, possible proposals for further increasing the viability of the Treaty." What does this obligation in the ABM Treaty mean if it is not a commitment by the Parties to review the Treaty in light of changes in the strategic situation?

The Cologne Joint Statement goes on to note that "Discussions on START III and the ABM Treaty will begin later this summer." These discussions have in fact already begun. Several meetings with our Russian counterparts have already been held on START III and the ABM Treaty. In fact, after delivering his speech to the UNFC last Wednesday, October 20, Under Secretary of State (Designate) John Holum departed New York to travel to Moscow to continue discussions on the ABM Treaty and START III.

Finally, I want to take strong exception to the characterizations in the Deputy Representative's statement that the U.S. is seeking to "undermine" or "liquidate" the Treaty or that any changes to its provisions "would deprive the Treaty of any sense."

Let me make clear that the United States has not made a decision to deploy a limited National Missile Defense; such a decision will not be made until the year 2000 or later. In any case, we do not believe the deployment of a limited NMD system would change the basic strategic calculus underlying the ABM Treaty or be incompatible with its central purpose, that is, to maintain strategic stability and enable further reductions in strategic offensive arms.

Draft Resolution L.1 appears to be based on the premise that adapting the ABM Treaty to meet the emerging threat posed by long-range ballistic missiles under development and testing by certain states necessarily means destroying the Treaty. Further, this also ignores the strong view of the U.S. that the adaptation we envision would not threaten the stability of mutual U.S.-Russian deterrence. In our ongoing discussions with Russia, there are shared common views, including: the need for further reductions in offensive forces beyond START I and START II; the need for stability in our strategic relationship; and the need to preserve the ABM Treaty, which provides stability and opens the way to further reductions.

We have made clear to the Russian side that we want to work cooperatively on the issue of missile defense and the ABM Treaty as we also continue our discussions on START III. We believe our bilateral efforts are the only way to achieve success. As I have noted, the process of discussion is well underway, and is continuing. The draft resolution on the ABM Treaty, however, seeks to prejudge this process and would undercut it. This is not in the interest of the U.S., nor of Russia, nor of the world community, nor of anyone who wishes to see real progress on nuclear disarmament. The United States recognizes that the international community has an interest in the progress of bilateral arms control. At the same time, we do not believe it is appropriate for the UNGA to be placed in the position of having to take sides in ongoing bilateral negotiations, or that the UNGA can or should make judgments about specific substantive, negotiating issues in such negotiations.

Consequently, we would strongly urge Russia, Belarus, and China to refrain from proceeding with their draft.

Mr. Chairman,

It is also with regret that I wish to inform members of the First Committee that the U.S. has decided not to pursue its two traditional resolutions, namely one on "Compliance with Arms Limitation and Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Agreements," and one on "Bilateral Nuclear Arms Negotiations and Nuclear Disarmament." Both resolutions, in our view address important and relevant issues. Both resolutions, in our view, would have been particularly timely this year. However, it appears that these two resolutions ran the risk of being subjected to a campaign of amendment designed to introduce contention over the ABM Treaty in every possible context. These resolutions have important points to make, and deserve better than to be treated this way. As a result, the U.S. will not pursue these resolutions this year. On Compliance, we have tabled instead a decision in Document L.13 to keep the issue on the agenda and we hope that the traditional consensus enjoyed by the Compliance resolution will apply to the Compliance decision.

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