USIS Washington 

25 June 1998


(Calls fissile material cutoff treaty a "top priority") (1820)

Geneva -- Along with a ban on the export and transfer of
anti-personnel landmines, "a fissile material cutoff treaty (FMCT)
remains the top priority for the United States" in the Conference on
Disarmament (CD), says Ambassador Robert Grey.

Noting that "all CD members have supported proposals of one kind or
another for FMCT negotiations," Grey, who is the U.S. representative
to the CD, said the United States hopes that negotiations will begin
"on the basis of the agreed mandate, when the CD reconvenes next

Grey also reviewed the "significant progress" on nuclear disarmament
made in recent years by the United States and the other nuclear
weapons states.

Citing apparent changes in "the dynamic in the CD" following "the
regrettable events last month in South Asia," Grey voiced the hope
that "we can channel the new energy in this body into a positive force
to do substantive work that can produce concrete results."

Following is the prepared text of Grey's June 25 statement to the
Conference on Disarmament in Geneva:

(begin text)

Mr. President,

Allow me to congratulate you on your assumption of the Presidency, and
to state that you have the full support of my delegation as you carry
out your important duties.

Mr. President, I would like to make a statement today concerning the
CD's work in the nuclear area. Along with a ban on the export and
transfer of anti-personnel landmines (APL), a fissile material cutoff
treaty (FMCT) remains the top priority for the United States in the
CD. We take satisfaction in the knowledge that we are not alone in our
support for a cutoff treaty. The parties to the Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) agreed in 1995 at the Review and
Extension Conference that a cutoff treaty was the next step in
multilateral nuclear arms control after a Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT). We believed that was the case then, we continue to
believe that today, and the NPT parties reaffirmed this commitment in
various ways at the recently concluded PrepCom here in Geneva. I would
also like to point out that the Canberra Commission report, which has
been so often cited in this chamber as a road map to a world free of
nuclear weapons, also cites FMCT as the next step in multilateral
nuclear arms control.

On June 6, the UN Security Council encouraged India and Pakistan to
"participate, in a positive spirit" in negotiations for an FMCT on the
basis of the agreed mandate, with a view to reaching "early
agreement." We note that all CD members have supported proposals of
one kind or another for FMCT negotiations. We hope the CD will
commence these negotiations, on the basis of the agreed mandate, when
the CD reconvenes next month.

Following the regrettable events last month in South Asia, the dynamic
in the CD seems to have changed. I agree with many of my colleagues
from the G-21 that the ill-considered decisions to conduct nuclear
tests on the subcontinent should galvanize the Conference into action.
But I have to say that I take strong exception to the statement at our
last plenary that the recent developments in South Asia were triggered
in "large measure" by a lack of substantive progress in nuclear
disarmament in recent years. While we can honestly disagree about the
scope of the work we should undertake in the Conference, we should at
least be able to agree on the facts regarding what has been achieved
so far in working toward nuclear disarmament.

Let's have a reality check. The United States and the other nuclear
weapon states, to varying degrees, have made significant progress both
before and since the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference. Recent
initiatives cover the gamut of nuclear weapons activities, -- testing,
production, and deployment. They also address all aspects of nuclear
weapons systems -- the missiles and aircraft equipped to carry nuclear
warheads and bombs, the nuclear weapons themselves, and the fissile
material needed to make those weapons. These actions speak louder than
words. A few examples:

-- By September 1996 all of the nuclear weapon states had declared
nuclear testing moratoria and signed the CTBT.

-- In March 1997 in Helsinki, Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin agreed to
negotiate a START III treaty that, once implemented, would reduce the
number of deployed U.S. and Russian strategic nuclear warheads by
approximately 80 percent from Cold War peak levels.

-- In September 1997, the U.S. and Russia signed the Plutonium
Production Reactor Agreement, under which Washington and Moscow will
work to convert by the year 2000 Russia's three plutonium production
rectors that remain in operation so that they no longer produce
weapon-grade plutonium. Both the U.S. and Russia announced a cessation
in the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium for weapons
years ago. The UK and France have publicly announced a cessation of
production as well.

-- As of January 1998, the U.S. had eliminated more than 900 heavy
bombers and missile launchers, which carried over 4,000 accountable
warheads. The physical destruction of strategic systems -- blowing up
ICBM silos, and slicing apart heavy bombers and ballistic missile
submarines -- is real disarmament, not just empty rhetoric.

-- As of May 1998, the United States and Russia were both almost two
years ahead of schedule in implementing START I.

-- And it is not just delivery vehicles that we are eliminating. Since
1988, the United States has dismantled more than 12,300 nuclear
warheads and bombs, averaging approximately 100 per month. We are
continuing to dismantle these weapons at the maximum rate consistent
with security, safety and environmental standards.

-- Since 1990, the United States has eliminated nuclear warheads for
more than a dozen different types of nuclear weapon systems.

-- Overall, 90 percent of the U.S. non-strategic nuclear stockpile has
been eliminated. All nuclear artillery, short-range tactical missile
warheads and nuclear depth bombs have been eliminated or will have
been by next year.

-- The U.S. also agreed with Russia that START III will include
measures relating to transparency of strategic warhead inventories and
the destruction of strategic nuclear warheads.

-- Furthermore, the U.S. Government is not just dismantling the
warheads but is taking steps to make sure that the fissile material
from those warheads is never used again in nuclear weapons. We have
declared more than 225 tons of fissile material as excess to our
national security requirements and have voluntarily pledged to make
this excess fissile material available for IAEA safeguards as soon as

-- Twelve metric tons of this excess material is now under IAEA
safeguards to ensure that it is never used again for weapons purposes.

-- Twenty-six metric tons has been committed for inspections by the
end of 1999 and additional 52 metric tons of excess material is being
readied for international inspection.

Mr. President,

All of this is significant progress. All of these accomplishments are
moving in the right direction and constitute a positive trend. And
this is hardly an exhaustive list of steps we have taken.

Let me point out a significant fact -- none of the nuclear weapons
states has tested in the last two years. Two of the states outside the
NPT have tested in the last two months. Thus, from the point of view
of nuclear disarmament, those two states are moving in the wrong
direction, while the nuclear weapons states are moving in the right

Mr. President, before moving back to the FMCT, I would like to make
four fundamental points about nuclear arms reductions and nuclear

First, the pace and scope of nuclear arms reductions depend largely on
the security environment and the level of international tensions.
Since we cannot predict what the security environment and the level of
tensions will be twenty years down the road, it is simply not
practical or feasible to sign up to a timebound approach or specified
time frame.

Second, history has shown that the incremental approach to reductions
works. The START process has already resulted in the elimination of
thousands of nuclear warheads. Sweeping proposals to eliminate nuclear
weapons on the other hand, do not have a stellar track record.

Third, asymmetries in the number and types of nuclear weapons
possessed by the nuclear weapon states make nuclear disarmament far
more complex than many would imagine. It would be easier if we could
say that each state would eliminate X warheads per year and we would
all arrive at zero at the same time. But, among other complexities,
the size, composition and structure of nuclear forces are different
and do not lend themselves to simple reduction formulas.

Fourth, verification of compliance with nuclear arms reduction
agreements is technically complicated and politically sensitive.
Trying to multilateralize verification of nuclear arms reductions at
this point would be a recipe for disaster. I exaggerate only slightly
when I tell you that the START I treaty, with its verification
provisions making up some 90 percent of its bulk, is the thickness of
a New York city telephone book. Thus, for practical reasons, it seems
self evident that if such an arcane process required the consensus of
60 or more countries rather than two, it would likely spell the end of

Mr. President,

In returning to my review of FMCT, I would like to take this
opportunity to clarify a point about the cutoff treaty. The FMCT will
be a multilateral, non-discriminatory treaty. It will make no
distinction between nuclear weapons states and non-nuclear weapon
states. All States Parties will undertake a commitment not to produce
fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive
devices. The FMCT will not bestow any new status on any state, but
rather constrain all parties equally by banning the production of
fissile material for nuclear weapons on a global basis.

The same concept holds true for the CTBT. It is a non-discriminatory
treaty in which each State Party makes the same legal commitment: not
to conduct nuclear explosions. The CTBT does not distinguish between
nuclear weapon and non-nuclear weapon states. Joining the test ban
does not mean joining a nuclear club -- it means joining the
international community in turning back the nuclear arms race and
nuclear proliferation.

In closing, I would like to say again that I believe that the dynamic
in the CD has changed. Let us hope that when we reconvene for the
third part of the session in late July, we can channel the new energy
in this body into a positive force to do substantive work that can
produce concrete results. The time for rhetoric that contributes to
divisiveness has passed. Let's get down to business here when we
return in July and begin negotiations on an FMCT.

Thank you.

(end text)