November 29, 1998
THE HONORABLE JOHN D. HOLUM,
ACTING UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE,
ARMS CONTROL AND INTERNATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS AND
DIRECTOR, ARMS CONTROL AND DISARMAMENT AGENCY
Remarks to the Jefferson Literary and Debating
Society, University of Virginia
ARMS CONTROL: DEFENSE BY OTHER MEANS
It is my great pleasure to be here tonight. I am honored to number among your illustrious guests, and to participate in a program inspired by Thomas Jefferson's awesome contributions to the University of Virginia and American politics.
Historians and political theorists still grapple with the complexity of Jefferson's legacy and its enduring relevance to American politics. His career illustrates many of the most important themes in American history, as well as some of its central paradoxes and contradictions.
Author of the memorable phrase, "Entangling alliances with none," he nonetheless recognized the need for an assertive foreign policy to encourage agriculture, commerce and international cooperation.
He was an avowed critic of standing armies and navies in peacetime, and believed we could secure our objectives by economic and peaceful means, but was not averse to waving the threat of war before his adversaries. Although reluctant to resort to force, Jefferson nonetheless considered warring a part of human nature. He only hoped, and worked, to keep it as limited, short, and undestructive as possible.
Like most, probably all, Jefferson admirers, I like to believe that my work fits neatly in the Jeffersonian tradition.
As you've heard I am the Acting Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Policy and the Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, or ACDA, as it's called. My job is to protect U.S. national security by limiting, controlling, or even abolishing weapons -- particularly weapons of mass destruction - rather than by using or threatening to use them.
At first blush, the concept of arms control may appear to be an oxymoron, an internal contradiction. It combines the idea of "control," or restraint, with "arms" -- perhaps the ultimate signs that we have lost control, lost the ability to settle our differences with restraint. It requires cooperation from adversaries and a willingness to limit one's means of warfare.
Arms control restrains some of the worst impulses in human nature with some of the best. One thing it says is, if we must fight, let's at least rule out certain ways.
So arms control includes agreements about what constitutes "fighting fair," and what does not. This category includes the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), and our ongoing efforts to control the most indiscriminate landmines. They rule some types of arms completely out of bounds -- chemicals that kill and disable by blistering, choking and asphyxiating, designer "bugs" that cause horrible physical reactions, antipersonnel landmines that remain after a war, killing and maiming innocent civilians.
Arms control also can shift the balance against aggression. An example is the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, which sharply reduces certain offensive weapons such as tanks, helicopters and so has helped eliminate the threat of any large-scale attack in Europe. And it includes the Strategic Arms and Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaties, which make nuclear war less likely by removing potential advantages for the side striking first.
Arms control includes the full range of efforts, on both the demand side and the supply side, to limit the spread of especially destructive weapons -- such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, (or NPT), and the Missile Technology Control Regime.
It involves transparency and confidence-building measures, which can, for example, provide advance notice and observation of troop exercises, so neighboring countries can see that no attack is being prepared against them. Such measures shed light on -- and thus drain the danger from -- behavior that may seem threatening but in fact is benign. The belligerent reach for a weapon becomes the benign retrieval of the car keys. Thanks to far-reaching transparency agreements in Europe, we have done much to prevent the kind of misunderstanding and automatic escalation on both sides that led to the start of World War I.
Finally, arms control involves potential belligerents in a cooperative exercise, thereby pointing the way toward a peaceful resolution of conflict.
In short, arms control limits the disposition of weapons to reduce the likelihood of war and to make war less deadly and indiscriminate if it does come. It includes all of our efforts, by negotiated means, to have as few weapons in as few hands as possible -- and some kinds of weapons in no hands at all.
Let me now suggest to you two overriding principles for determining arms control's proper role in U.S. policy.
The first is that arms control is a pillar of our national security complementary to and no less vital than defense.
Accidents of history and politics have led some to the mistaken conclusion that arms control and defense are in opposition. But they are confusing a difference in means -- the negotiated versus the military -- with a difference in ends.
For the fundamental purposes of arms control and defense are exactly the same: to make us safer. Defense deters or defeats threats; arms control takes them away more quietly.
Consider, for example, Russia's SS-18 missiles -- the most devastating arms ever aimed at the United States. Each one carries up to 10 nuclear warheads. In the 1970s and 80s it was the SS-18s that fostered fears of a "window of vulnerability" to a Soviet first strike.
An American weapon system designed to take out the SS-18s would, optimistically, cost many billions of dollars, and could do the job only with limited confidence -- and, of course, only in the midst of a nuclear war. But thanks to the Strategic Arms Reduction, or START, treaties, all of those same SS-18 missiles are on their way to total extinction -- certainly and verifiably, and without a shot being fired.
So you can see that arms control is in fact threat control -- in the apt words of former Secretary of Defense William Perry, it is defense by other means.
My second principle is that, contrary to expectations, the arms control challenge is bigger and more complex after the downfall of the Soviet Union.
The Soviet-American nuclear standoff is largely over. Yet we are only now extracting its sharpest teeth -- by formally removing thousands of missiles and warheads under START I and pressing ahead to bring START II into force. We're hoping for Russian Duma approval in the next couple of weeks. But even that agreement will still leave each side with up to 3500 weapons -- leaving major bilateral arms control work to be done.
Meanwhile, the Soviet-American arms race has been overtaken by a danger perhaps even more ominous: proliferation of weapons of mass destruction -- whether nuclear, chemical or biological, or the missiles to deliver them -- to rogue regimes and terrorists around the world.
This danger is manifest in such events as the nuclear tests conducted last spring by India and Pakistan, shattering the quiet that had prevailed at the world's nuclear test sites ... in North Korea's provocative missile launch this summer, which passed directly over Japanese territory ... in Iran test firing the Shahab medium range ballistic missile, based mainly on a North Korean design, which that isolated, impoverished country is avidly marketing ... in Iraq's continuing resistance to international inspections to ensure the destruction of their weapons of mass destruction.
Simply put, much as street thugs have traded in brass knuckles for automatic weapons, so tyrants on the world stage are seeking far more dangerous weapons than ever before. Technological and Cold War constraints once served as steady, almost gravitational forces against the proliferation of the most destructive arms and means of delivery. But in the years to come, we will have to rely more and more on the barriers to proliferation that we build ourselves -- on arms control.
Accordingly, my job is to pursue what President Clinton has called "the most ambitious agenda to dismantle and fight the spread of weapons of mass destruction since the dawn of the nuclear age."
The arms control function can be separated into three tasks. First: advice and advocacy. Second: negotiation. Third: implementation and verification.
As to the first, because the stakes are so high, my office guarantees that arms control considerations -- instead of being compromised down or washed out by the time they reach the Cabinet level -- are injected into the decision-making process at the highest levels. When arms control issues are on the agenda -- as with North Korea, Russia, or China, for example -- the ACDA Director joins the National Security Advisor, the Secretaries of State and Defense, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the UN Ambassador, the Director of Central Intelligence, and the heads of other affected departments and agencies in so-called Principals' Committee meetings.
Moreover, the President needs to hear the case for arms control unfiltered -- presented by an advisor dedicated to arms control as his or her highest priority. In our agreement to merge ACDA into the Department of State, this same access, as well as participation in Cabinet level meetings, is preserved. The Under Secretary of State for Arms Control will also be a senior advisor to the President, in addition, of course, to the Secretary of State.
The second main mission is negotiation.
For example, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, or NPT, is the cornerstone of the world's nonproliferation architecture. It prohibits the further spread of nuclear weapons to nations beyond the five that had them when it was negotiated, while also committing all nations to seek to rid the world of nuclear weapons. The Treaty's future was up for grabs in 1995, on its 25th birthday. Largely through ACDA's advocacy, this issue was elevated to the center of U.S. diplomacy several years ahead of time. Though many saw the cause as hopeless, in May 1995, the Treaty's members decided to extend it forever.
Another top negotiating priority has been the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in arms control: a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing. In 1996, we finally got it, bringing to fruition a quest that began with President Eisenhower, advanced with President Kennedy's ban on testing in the atmosphere, and now, under President Clinton, will close the door on nuclear explosive tests of any size, anywhere, by anyone, forever.
The CTBT means that any new arms race among the nuclear powers couldn't get past the starting gate. It also means that rogue states or others won't have the means to develop anything but the most primitive, cumbersome, hard-to-deliver designs. You can make a rudimentary bomb without testing. We did. But remember that our first ones were so big they had to dig a trench under a B-29 bomber to load them. It's a far taller order to make weapons small and light enough to carry on a small airplane or missile, or in a terrorist's luggage.
The United States has conducted well over 1,000 nuclear explosive tests -- hundreds more than any other country. We are up toward the flattened far end of the nuclear weapons learning curve; others are on steeper parts of the slope. So it serves both our direct interest and our interest in international stability to arrest everyone's climb up that curve, including our own.
Now the negotiating task is domestic. We still need Senate consent to U.S. ratification. The Treaty was submitted in September 1996. Despite the Administration's urging, no formal action has been taken. We will keep pressing for approval as early as possible next year. U.S. ratification is critical to facilitating the Treaty's entry into force, and indeed, our ability to lead global efforts against nuclear proliferation. Until we ratify, for example, we'll be in the awkward position of pushing India and Pakistan to give up options we're still reserving for ourselves.
At the same time, we're pushing ahead on further challenges. The next logical step in multilateral nuclear arms control is the negotiation of an agreement that would prohibit further production of fissile material for nuclear weapons. The CTBT places a qualitative constraint on development of new nuclear weapons; a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty, or FMCT, would put a quantitative constraint on weapons' basic ingredients. Fissile material -- that is, highly enriched uranium and plutonium -- is both the engine and the fuel of nuclear weapons. A ban on further production would constitute, in effect, a global ceiling on weapon numbers. It would also promote stability in regions where there is a risk of an arms race -- in particular, South Asia.
Despite widespread international support for an FMCT, formal negotiations on cutoff were blocked for three years as a few states -- led by India and Pakistan -- tried to link negotiations to other issues or to prejudge results. In late summer of this year, those countries dropped their objections -- a small silver lining in their figurative mushroom clouds -- and the 61-members of the Conference on Disarmament finally agreed to begin FMCT negotiations. They'll restart in January, and we hope to conclude them soon.
Another of our most important negotiating objectives is a protocol to the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention, to help ensure compliance with one of the longest standing multilateral arms control agreements and the first to ban an entire category of weapons of mass destruction.
Most states agree that biological weapons, twisting the natural scourges of disease into heinous, unpredictable, and indiscriminate instruments of destruction, should be banned. Yet over the last decades, the Convention has not eliminated the danger. The problem is, it has broad prohibitions but no teeth -- no mandatory declarations of relevant facilities, no on-site inspections, none of the modern tools and techniques that have become routine in arms control. So the states parties are negotiating to make it truly effective. Our aim is to complete that work by the end of next year.
A third negotiating priority will be activated as soon as the Russians ratify the START II Treaty, and that will be to achieve further verified reductions in strategic offensive arms.
President's Clinton and Yeltsin agreed in principle to a level of 2,000 to 2,500 -- which would constitute an 80 percent reduction from Cold War peaks. For the first time, these negotiations will cover not only delivery systems -- missiles, launchers and bombers -- but the actual warheads and bombs as well. Meanwhile we are engaged with the Russians in a broad range of separate negotiations to make nuclear cuts irreversible, for example, by disposing of the HEU and plutonium that is released as weapons are dismantled.
In our third area, implementation and verification, our plate is full and growing even fuller. Realizing all the potential of arms control agreements is one of the central tasks of the future.
My South Dakota farm roots lead me to call this the arms control "harvest." With the CTBT, NPT, TTBT, CWC, CFE, Open Skies, INF, and the START Treaties already agreed, and a fissile material cutoff, and other initiatives on the way, we are piling up arms control implementation and verification requirements.
Rose Garden signing ceremonies are nice -- signifying the promise that a potential adversary's arsenals will be limited or destroyed. But it's not until implementation that the weapons which could be used against us are actually averted or finally taken down. Implementation is where arms control does much of its heavy lifting.
For example, the START I Treaty, which radically reduced U.S. and Russian nuclear forces, was a negotiating triumph of the Reagan and Bush Administrations. Implementation of its complicated provisions has been a quieter, but equally critical success, of the current Administration. Since the Treaty entered into force in December 1994, we have conducted over 190 on-site inspections in Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to verify that missiles have been eliminated or moved as they were supposed to be. We have received and confirmed over 3,700 notifications from the former Soviet Union of the disposition of their former strategic assets. We have received telemetry tapes for almost 60 flight tests of Russian missiles. Meanwhile, we have reciprocated by hosting inspections, providing notifications and other data, and above all, eliminating our own weapons in a safe and verifiable manner.
Verification and implementation of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the CTBT likewise are requiring large investments of U.S. resources -- financial, technical and intelligence assets. When you consider that we must be confident that no nuclear explosions are conducted anywhere on earth and that none of the nearly 100 parties to the CWC has produced or stored or used chemical weapons, the immensity of the challenge appears daunting.
I fear that if we neglect implementation, we may also neglect the diplomatic, legal, and physical assets -- especially verification assets like inspectors and their equipment, and radars, sensors and the like -- by which the promise of arms control is realized and confirmed. With budgets falling and isolationism rising, I have been fighting to make sure these vital assets do not fall through the cracks.
Implementation also includes country-specific strategies, employing the leverage of legally-binding treaties and a variety of other tools to avert or limit specific dangers. Our extensive intelligence apparatus is constantly on the watch to verify compliance with such key agreements. For example, close monitoring of purchases made around the world by Iran of sensitive technologies and various sub-components of weapons led to serious concerns about Iran's nuclear weapons ambitions and other weapons programs. We sometimes receive advance information about specific transactions that we use to try to prevent or intercept key shipments.
As those of you who are consumers of foreign policy reporting, we are continuing to work with Russia and China to discourage questionable exports to Iran and others. And we are mounting a vigorous effort to induce China to join the MTCR regime, so we will have its formal commitment to 32 other member countries to limit transfers of technology to countries like North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.
The threats are neither hypothetical nor marginal. Iraq and North Korea are two non-nuclear weapon state parties to the NPT to develop a nuclear weapon capability clandestinely in violation of their agreement. Does that mean the Treaty is irrelevant? No, only that some countries are cheaters, so the threat of sanctions and other enforcement action has to be real.
In response to evidence provided by the International Atomic Energy Agency (the IAEA) of anomalies in North Korea's supposedly-civilian nuclear program, the U.S. launched an innovative and daring effort to prevent N. Korea from withdrawing from the NPT and sinking into ever greater isolation. Negotiated under the threat of UN Security Council sanctions, the U.S.-North Korean Agreed Framework froze North Korea's nuclear program and provides for full North Korean compliance with its IAEA safeguards agreement. Most of North Korea's nuclear facilities are now closed, and the IAEA has a continuous presence at North Korean nuclear facilities. But if you read the papers at all, you know that full compliance remains in doubt, and implementation is an arduous endeavor.
Let me cite one last situation to illustrate the different challenges before us and the diversity of our response. When Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests last spring shook the South Asian desert, they also shook the global nonproliferation regime and stability in the region. Condemnation of these nuclear tests from the U.S. and the international community was swift.
The U.S. imposed economic sanctions on both countries as called for by law and helped to orchestrate an effective and unified international response. The UN Security Council and several other important groups of nations have called on India and Pakistan to turn away from the nuclear brink and join the agreements and instruments of the nuclear nonproliferation regime. The U.S. is deep in bilateral discussions with each country to steer them back into the mainstream and toward normalization of relations. Our efforts have yielded some limited progress in containing and addressing the dangers posed by these nuclear tests, but most of the work still lies ahead.
You have heard me advocate an enhanced role in America's national security strategy for the preventive medicine of arms control.
We have demonstrated in one hard-won agreement after another that when we control arms, we control our fate ... buttress our freedom ... enhance both our security and our prosperity. What we need to summon is the wisdom and will to pursue and support sound arms control as thoroughly as this new security era permits -- and demands.
If we do, I know we can build the kind of world that is in America's deepest interests: a safer world, where nations are respected not because they keep arms, but because they keep commitments -- to other nations, and their own people.
As befits a talk given in the name of Thomas Jefferson, I encourage all of you to be informed and be engaged in the quest for greater security for the United States and for the world. I look forward to your comments and questions.