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TEXT: CLINTON URGES CD ACTION ON FISSILE MATERIAL, LANDMINES (Ledogar reads statement to Conference on Disarmament)

TEXT: CLINTON URGES CD ACTION ON FISSILE MATERIAL, LANDMINES
(Ledogar reads statement to Conference on Disarmament) (1260)

Geneva -- President Clinton January 21 urged the Conference on Disarmament (CD) to adopt a ban on producing fissile material for use in nuclear explosives and to negotiate a global ban on anti-personnel landmines -- actions he described as "key steps to advance the process of nuclear and conventional disarmament."

Clinton's remarks were read at the start of the CD's 1997 session in Geneva by U.S. representative Ambassador Stephen Ledogar, who told the conference in his opening statement that a treaty banning the production of fissile material suitable for nuclear weapons purposes should be the CD's "first priority in the field of nuclear disarmament."

Ledogar also read a statement issued January 17 in Washington by White House Press Secretary Michael McCurry, who said that President Clinton -- in order to "give further impetus" to the CD effort on banning landmines -- "has decided that the United States will observe a permanent ban on the export and transfer of anti-personnel landmines (and)...to cap our anti-personnel landmine stockpile at the current level of inventory."

Following is the text of Ledogar's statement, as prepared for delivery:

(begin text)

Mr. President, as we begin the 1997 session of the Conference on Disarmament, it gives me great pleasure to read out a statement to this body from President Clinton. I quote:

(begin text Clinton statement)

In my message to the Conference on Disarmament three years ago, I urged the negotiation of a comprehensive nuclear test ban at the earliest possible time. Your success in that negotiation, and the subsequent adoption of the Treaty by the United Nations General Assembly, will help create a safer world. The successful conclusion of the negotiation is evidence of the Conference's potential to respond to the challenges it now faces.

Now the Conference on Disarmament should take the next steps on the road to a more secure world:

-- prompt conclusion of a ban on producing fissile material for use in nuclear explosives. Effectively cutting off the spigot for more nuclear weapons is a necessary step toward, and would greatly contribute to, the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament.

-- negotiation as soon as possible of a comprehensive, global ban on anti-personnel landmines. These weapons of war have caused terrible suffering to innocent civilians and represent an enormous obstacle to restoring a more hopeful life after a conflict has ended. All the children of the world deserve to walk the earth in safety.

I call on the Conference to press forward with a renewed sense of purpose, to demonstrate to the world its capability to take these key steps to advance the process of nuclear and conventional disarmament.

(end text Clinton statement)

Mr. President, as I and many of my colleagues have stated, the CD's first priority in the field of nuclear disarmament should be to negotiate a treaty to ban the production of fissile material that could be used for nuclear weapons purposes. Such a negotiation would fulfill not only the requirement set forth in the Principles and Objectives document approved by consensus at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, it would also represent a major step forward in the on-going process of reducing the number of nuclear weapons as well as in preventing their proliferation in the world. Clearly it would be another major step in the continuum of actions that has been underway for some time now to make progress toward the ultimate goal of the elimination of nuclear weapons. For these reasons, I hope we all will be able to re-establish, as was approved by this body almost two years ago, an ad hoc committee to negotiate a treaty on banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons.

As you heard in his statement to the CD which I just read out, President Clinton has also proposed that, in the field of conventional disarmament, this body begin the negotiation of a comprehensive, global ban on anti-personnel mines. In this regard, I would like to read out another statement -- this by the Press Secretary of the White House, issued in Washington on January 17, 1997. I quote:

(begin text Press Secretary's statement)

President Clinton today announced that when the Conference on Disarmament opens its 1997 session in Geneva on Monday, the United States will seek to initiate negotiations on a worldwide treaty banning the use, production, stockpiling, and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. As the President said before the U.N. General Assembly in September, 'Our children deserve to walk the earth in safety.' The United States hopes that the nations of the world will work with us to create that safety and ban the scourge of landmines, which every year kill or wound more than 25,000 civilians.

To give further impetus to this effort, the President has decided that the United States will observe a permanent ban on the export and transfer of anti-personnel landmines. This action builds on the Landmine Export Moratorium Act sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy, which has temporarily prohibited the export and transfer of these weapons since 1992. We urge all other nations to join us in stopping the export and transfer of these mines, which will both hasten the completion of a comprehensive ban and save many innocent lives. As another step toward a ban, the President has decided to cap our anti-personnel landmine stockpile at the current level of inventory.

President Clinton last May announced the United States's intention to achieve as soon as possible a worldwide ban on landmines. In December in the U.N. General Assembly, nations voted 155-0 in favor of the U.S.-initiated resolution urging states to pursue such an agreement.

After extensive consultations with many countries, the President believes that the Conference on Disarmament offers the most practical and effective forum for achieving our aim of a ban that is global. Both the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the Chemical Weapons Convention were successfully negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament.

The United States looks forward to the opening of the Conference on Disarmament...as an opportunity to begin discussion of these initiatives and to make early progress on starting negotiations. At the same time, the United States welcomes efforts outside that forum, including the free-standing process initiated by Canada, that can help provide momentum to our common goal.

(end text Press Secretary's statement)

Mr. President, the two statements I have just read indicate that this body has essential work to be done, work that my country hopes the CD will be able to take up forthwith. In essence, we are challenged with the opportunity to negotiate global disarmament agreements in both the nuclear and conventional fields in two specific areas, in addition to the more traditional agenda items on which the CD has been working in the past. I and my delegation hope that we all can set aside the politics of delay that have hamstrung the CD in its non-CTBT work for the past two years and that we move forward on our agenda, especially in the two areas mentioned in President Clinton's Statement to the CD.

Mr. President, I look forward to working closely with you as we try to achieve these crucial objectives. I will ask that you circulate as official CD documents President Clinton's statement as well as the White House Press Secretary's statement and a Fact Sheet on U.S. Initiatives on Anti-Personnel Landmines. Thank you.

(end text)
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