BIPARTISANSHIP IS KEY TO FURTHER U.S. ARMS CONTROL SUCCESSES

(Holum says CWC and CTBT must be ratified) (940)
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
USIA Security Affairs Writer

Washington -- U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Director John Holum says successful U.S. arms control policy "is a joint endeavor requiring statesmanship at both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue."

The Democratic president and Republican Congress must work together, Holum said January 10, so that the United States can "lead global efforts against proliferation and terrorism and restore our full presence and voice abroad."

In remarks to the State Department's Open Forum, Holum said obtaining Senate approval for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) will be at the top of the Clinton administration's arms control agenda in its second term.

The CWC, he noted, is now entering its fourth year of review by the U.S. Senate, which already has held 13 hearings on the treaty. Further postponement "is no longer an option," Holum stressed. The 65th ratification of the CWC in October 1996 "set in motion an irrevocable six-month timetable for entry-into-force" of the treaty, he explained. The United States must ratify the treaty within the first four months of this year, Holum said, in order "to be an original party, and thus guide rigorous implementation."

U.S. ratification is needed to make the treaty viable, Holum said, and "the worst" rogue states will never join the convention if the United States remains outside it, "keeping them company and giving them cover."

The Executive Branch also will be looking to the Senate to ratify the protocols for the South Pacific and African Nuclear Free Zones which the United States signed last year, Holum said.

Another critical challenge, he said, will be to follow through on the 1995 arms control victory of making the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permanent. That victory "may be imperiled," he warned, if Congress "dissipates our momentum on matters integral to the NPT extension decision."

Although dramatic progress has been made on the arms control and disarmament agenda established in the "Principles and Objectives" document agreed upon at the NPT extension conference, Holum noted that legislative action is required to complete the process.

Since the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature in September 1996, 137 nations have signed the nuclear test ban. The United States must join Fiji in ratifying the treaty, he said, noting that if the CTBT "is ever to enter into force, the U.S. must continue to lead through our own ratification."

While the burden of START (Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) II ratification now resides with the Russian Parliament, Holum said, U.S. congressional actions in the 105th Congress "will influence Russia's behavior." In particular, he pointed out that continued bipartisan support for the Nunn-Lugar security assistance program "can help dispel genuine concerns about the burgeoning costs of fulfilling arms control commitments."

In addition, congressional actions to abandon the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty and build a U.S. national missile defense, he warned, "translate directly into more pressures in Moscow to turn down START II."

Congressional action also will be needed on the landmine and other protocols to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and CFE (Conventional Armed Forces in Europe) flank agreement, and possibly on ABM Treaty demarcation, Holum said. Action on arms control and non-proliferation is moving to the U.S. Senate, he stressed, and no matter how committed President Clinton may be, failure of the Senate to take action "could stop these endeavors in their tracks."

When faced with new dangers of proliferation, terrorism, and convulsive nationalism, Holum said, the United States cannot let internal partisan political bickering "call our international commitments and standing into question."

Asked how he expects the administration's relations with Congress to evolve during Clinton's second term, the official said it will depend largely on Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott's approach to leadership and his perception of his role. Lott must play a role not only as Republican Party leader but as "an international political figure," Holum said.

He said it also will be incumbent upon the Clinton administration to answer all of the concerns raised on Capitol Hill about the treaties and protocols for which it is seeking ratification. "We have to look for a way to solve problems," he said, and avoid confrontation on arms control issues.

Asked about Secretary of State-designate Madeleine Albright's interest in arms control, Holum noted that she had been deeply involved in the indefinite extension of the NPT and provided stalwart support for the CTBT. Her work at the United Nations, he said, accounted, in large part, for the fact that there were only three dissenting votes against the U.N. resolution for the test ban.

The official also pointed to Albright's direct involvement in the full diplomatic process leading up to the Nuclear Framework Agreement concluded with North Korea. Holum said that Albright's vast multilateral diplomatic experience equips her well to deal with arms control issues.

Asked about the possibility of additional nuclear disarmament in the next four years, Holum said he believes the U.S. is committed to the elimination of nuclear weapons but that the process must be achieved through a series of incremental steps.

Asked about the administration's position regarding the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the official said the treaty deals with "a particularly perverse set of weapons" which would keep alive and disperse diseases the world has sought to eliminate. Obtaining a BWC verification regime, he said, is one of the administration's highest arms control negotiating priorities.