USIS Washington 

21 January 1999


(Conveys Clinton message on treaty, landmine transfers ban) (2440)

Geneva -- Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International
Security Affairs John Holum says negotiating and completing the
Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT) "is the next practical step to
be taken in multilateral arms control."

Speaking to the opening session of the Geneva-based Conference on
Disarmament (CD) on January 21, Holum read an important message about
the treaty from President Clinton, who told the delegates, "Let us
devote our mutual and full support to advancing substantially the
Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiation this year and to completing
it at the earliest possible time."

Holum pointed out that completing a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty
"will also move the nuclear weapon states one step farther along the
road toward nuclear disarmament." The treaty will have the effect of
creating "a legal, verifiable ban on the further production of the
fissile materials for nuclear weapons," he said. It will impose "a
finite ceiling on the amount of material for nuclear weapons," the
under secretary added," and "help cement in place a ceiling on the
world's nuclear arsenals."

Holum said the FMCT "will complement, not replace or seek to
replicate" the Nuclear Non-Proliferation regime because the FMCT
"could not replace a document that is, in a word, irreplaceable -- and
vital to the security of all peoples.

Clinton's message also urged members to "initiate negotiations on a
ban on the transfer of anti-personnel landmines," in an effort that he
said "will substantially broaden the web of constraints on these

Following is text of Holum's remarks:

(begin text)

Mr. President, distinguished delegates, I am pleased to once again
have the honor to present to this body the views of the United States
as you open your 1999 session. As is customary in such an address, I
would like to express my pleasure at seeing the current chairman in
that position. I do so with genuine enthusiasm, based on personal
experience. Having worked closely with Ambassador Grey in various
capacities over many years, I can assure you, you are in good hands.

Before I begin my own remarks, however, it is a pleasure for me to be
able to deliver to the Conference on Disarmament a message from the
President of the United States, Bill Clinton. His message is as

"As the Conference on Disarmament begins its work in the new year, I
want to underline the strong commitment of the United States to prompt
resumption of
negotiations on the next key multilateral step in the nuclear
disarmament process: a treaty to ban the production of fissile
material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Only
your focused and energetic efforts can cap, for all time, the material
basis of nuclear weapons, thereby complementing your success in
concluding the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), and
moving another step closer to the eventual goal of nuclear
disarmament. Let us devote our mutual and full support to advancing
substantially the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty negotiation this year
and to completing it at the earliest possible time. At the same time,
the Conference should initiate negotiations on a ban on the transfer
of anti-personnel landmines, an effort that will substantially broaden
the web of constraints on these weapons. I pledge the full support of
the United States to Ambassador Grey and our delegation, in particular
in fulfilling their responsibilities as President of the Conference in
the session's opening weeks."

Mr. President, as foreshadowed by President Clinton's message, my
comments today will focus on the negotiation of a Fissile Material
Cutoff Treaty (or FMCT). How the Conference handles this issue will
affect its future role as well as the future of multilateral arms
control. Successful conclusion of a FMCT would bring us a large step
closer toward a world in which the risks and roles of nuclear weapons
are further diminished -- and toward our ultimate aim, the elimination
of these weapons.

The CD is now poised to begin FMCT negotiations. We urge you not to
delay. The sooner you re-establish the ad hoc committee (AHC) and get
down to work, the sooner we will realize this long-sought objective of
the international community.

The unanimous support for the cutoff resolution by the UN First
Committee (UNFC) last fall underscores the continued importance the
international community places on these negotiations. As recognized in
the 1995 Principles and Objectives document, the FMCT is the next
practical step to be taken in multilateral arms control, and will also
move the nuclear weapon states one step farther along the road toward
nuclear disarmament, in accordance with their commitments under
Article VI of the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty).

What would the FMCT accomplish?  How does it promote our goals?

A Cut-off Treaty would create a legal, verifiable ban on the further
production of the fissile materials for nuclear weapons. By imposing a
finite ceiling on the amount of material for nuclear weapons, we also
help cement in place a ceiling on the world's nuclear arsenals.

Skeptics may argue that Cutoff is too modest; the nuclear weapon
states have more than enough fissile material, and have halted its
production in any event. But this argument is based on the faulty
assumption that the current informal state of affairs is locked into
place. Who can say that the international political and strategic
situation will not reverse itself, creating new incentives for the
nuclear weapon states to re-embark on the production of nuclear

The CD can transform wishful thinking into reality. But to ensure
that, we must act now, when all states are prepared to negotiate this
treaty. The CD's strength and its value lies in the fact that you
craft treaties and establish global norms that endure for the

Just as important, the FMCT will prohibit the production of fissile
material for nuclear explosives by states not party to the NPT. This,
too, would be a major achievement. It would also open to strict
monitoring and verification the production facilities of all states
not now subject to such monitoring, and it would be a stabilizing
influence in otherwise unstable regions.

An FMCT would help produce a climate conducive to continued, long-term
progress on reducing nuclear weapons and nuclear weapon material.
Looking beyond START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) III
negotiations, it seems clear to us that the prospects for negotiating
deeper reductions would be enhanced if we have in place a dependable
cap on fissile material for weapons, as well as confidence that the
international community would detect illegal production.

An FMCT also would help make nuclear arms reductions irreversible. The
United States and Russia currently are pursuing verifiable means to
dispose of fissile material from nuclear weapons material stockpiles
and dismantled warheads, and to put such material under safeguards.
These efforts will have even greater impact if unmonitored production
of fissile material is banned.

But let us be frank. Reaching agreement on the benefits of an FMCT is
easy. The challenge before us is to reach agreement on the myriad of
issues involved in this complex, multilateral treaty. Many issues are
highly technical, many require excruciating attention to detail, and
most importantly, many involve delicate political and national
security concerns. The Conference on Disarmament has confronted
comparable challenges in the past -- most recently in its negotiation
of the CTBT -- and has demonstrated its ability to surmount them. The
U.S. is optimistic that, in an atmosphere of mutual respect and
constructive negotiations, the CD will again prove its value by
concluding an FMCT. The first obviously indispensable step is to get
started promptly.

Mr. President, I would like to address two key Treaty elements --
scope and verification -- on which there will undoubtedly be a variety
of positions. I will lay out U.S. views on these two issues and hope
that other states do likewise so that we can proceed to work to narrow
our differences.

Related to the scope of the Treaty, let me make clear at the outset
that the United States understands and shares the widespread concerns
about effectively managing and irreversibly reducing existing stocks.
We are taking important steps in this regard on our own, bilaterally
with Russia, and on a trilateral basis with the IAEA (International
Atomic Energy Agency).

The U.S. and Russia have each declared hundreds of tons of fissile
material in excess of defense needs. We are putting excess plutonium
under international safeguards and the IAEA is verifying the
down-blending of HEU (Highly Enriched Uranium). In cooperation with
the IAEA, we and Russia are working to ensure that such stocks will
never again be used in weapons. We also have agreements with Russia to
blend down excess high-enriched uranium for use in civil power
reactors, to convert old production reactors, to construct storage
facilities for weapons material and to dispose of excess plutonium.
The Cutoff will complement and enhance the prospects for success for
each of these initiatives.

But the cutoff itself cannot be a vehicle for addressing existing
stocks. The U.S. position is well-known -- we will not agree to any
restrictions on existing stocks in a cutoff treaty. The many
initiatives just described provide the best means to deal with
existing stocks issues.

We also note that several other key states also strongly oppose the
inclusion of existing stocks. To be sure, various proposals for
addressing existing stocks have been suggested, but it is hard to see
how any could command consensus. Where we can find common ground is on
a treaty that targets future production.

It is unrealistic to hope that a multilateral, non-discriminatory
treaty where all parties are to be treated equally can directly reduce
perceived regional or bilateral disparities. The U.S. and Russian
initiatives demonstrate that at this stage bilateral effort is an
effective way to address perceived imbalances.

I also note that including existing stocks could have consequences
that most of us would find troublesome. To include existing stocks in
any way, even if just declarations of existing military stockpiles,
could legally codify and recognize the right to have such stocks --
legitimizing the nuclear weapons programs of states outside the NPT
that made such declarations.

Likewise, the U.S. firmly believes that the proposal to place all
military stocks under comprehensive safeguards is also unrealistic and
beyond the scope of the mandate.

As with any negotiations, we must be realistic and aim for what can be
achieved. We have all agreed, in accepting the Shannon mandate, in
last year's UNFC resolution, and in the mandate to establish the AHC
last year, that the Cutoff should ban the production of fissile
material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices.
That's what we can achieve. That's what the market will bear. Let us
negotiate expeditiously such a treaty. We believe it is in all of our
interests to do so.

In addition to establishing the basic scope of the treaty, we must
consider how to verify that states are complying with the treaty's
basic obligations. As the mandate directs, the treaty will have to be
effectively verifiable. Different states may well interpret those
words differently.

It will be up to you to reach agreement on how much verification is
required and where to strike a balance between verification
intrusiveness and protection of sensitive information. CD precedent
tells us you will achieve this difficult task. But it will be a
challenging one that merits considerable and sustained attention from
the outset.

The mandate also says that the treaty should be non-discriminatory.
The United States considers this a key provision and would not accept
any arrangements that established new or special categories of

Also, as I have already emphasized, it should prohibit only the new
production of fissile material for nuclear explosive devices. Thus,
the treaty's verification provisions should focus on material produced
after the treaty's cutoff date.

From these principles of verification, let me turn to specifics. 

In our view, the verification regime should consist of routine
monitoring and inspections, using widely applied standards and
procedures and, where appropriate, standards and procedures tailored
to the objectives of the treaty and the kinds of facilities involved.
The regime should routinely monitor all enrichment and reprocessing
facilities, as well as all so-called downstream facilities -- that is,
those that use, process or store newly produced material -- when such
material is present. It should also cover all newly produced fissile

Following the example of other arms control agreements, an FMCT should
also include non-routine inspections with detailed managed access
provisions. Managed access and possibly other mechanisms for declared
and undeclared facilities and other locations will need to ensure
effective verification without compromising sensitive national
security information or providing information that could assist
potential proliferators.

We believe that the IAEA should have FMCT verification
responsibilities. But lest this causes confusion, let me make clear
that we believe an FMCT will complement, not replace or seek to
replicate, the NPT. It could not replace a document that is, in a
word, irreplaceable -- and vital to the security of all peoples.

The FMCT will comprise its own unique set of obligations involving
some states that have produced unsafeguarded fissile material and may
very well have such material on hand. Unlike the NPT, which imposes
upon states an absolute prohibition against nuclear weapons for
non-nuclear weapon states and a comprehensive safeguards regime
appropriate for that objective, the FMCT seeks to ensure that there
will be no further production of fissile material for explosive

The verification regime should be tailored to reflect the uniqueness
of this treaty. We believe that the most efficient way to do that is
to bring all enrichment and reprocessing facilities, as well as all
newly produced fissile material, under international verification and
monitoring for all time. Thus, any fissile material that is enriched
or reprocessed after the cutoff date would be subject to the treaty.
That will be the legacy of the FMCT and that is a legacy well worth

Mr. President, I am honored to have appeared before this Conference at
what we all expect to be the launching of the next major multilateral
negotiation on the road to the elimination of nuclear weapons. The
road may be rough in places, but hard work, dedication and a
willingness to find accommodation will bring us a valuable and
effective treaty that will make the world a safer place. Let us get
down to work.

(end text)