31 August 2000
Text: U.S. Says Fissile Material, Outer Space Talks Should Not Be Linked
(Amb. Grey calls National Missile Defense land, not space-based)
Geneva -- The U.S. representative to the Conference on Disarmament
(CD) in Geneva says that holding the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty
(FMCT) hostage to negotiations on outer space "is simply a poorly
disguised effort to block FMCT negotiations altogether."
Ambassador Robert Grey told conferees August 31 that FMCT negotiations
be should resumed independent of discussions on outer space and
continued "on their own merits." Member states that call for outer
space negotiations "are putting the cart before the horse," he said.
"We believe the decision to negotiate a Cutoff Treaty should not be
linked to anything else," Grey said.
"We also agree that the CD work program should include a range of
other topics," he said, such as "negative security assurances,
anti-personnel landmines, (and) transparency in armaments" as well as
procedural questions such as agenda reform and membership expansion.
For those who have suggested that there may be a risk of an arms race
in outer space if the United States pursues a limited National Missile
Defense (NMD) system, Grey said, "The weapons of the ballistic
national missile defense systems that the U.S. is considering are
terrestrial, not space-based." The NMD system, as proposed, would use
land-based interceptors, launchers, and radars, he said, and
satellites "only to provide early warning and data on threat
The 1967 Outer Space Treaty has served the international community
well, Grey said, and what has occurred as a result is "unprecedented
cooperation," rather than a threat of an arms race in space.
Following is the text of Grey's remarks:
Ambassador Robert T. Grey, Jr.
United States Representative to the Conference on Disarmament
August 31, 2000
Mr. President, may I congratulate you as you assume the presidency for
the final month of our session this year. My delegation and I look
forward to working with you as you guide us in the drafting of our
Conference's annual report, and later on, as we begin our preparations
for the 2001 session. You also have our sympathy that the luck of the
alphabet has placed you in the longest presidency of the year.
Mr. President, I would like to speak today on outer space, a topic of
great interest to all members of this Conference.
The American space program was born at the height of the Cold War amid
a looming rivalry for supremacy in missiles and space. Even then, much
of our space effort was directed toward strictly scientific
exploration and international cooperation. The plaque left behind by
the crew of the Apollo 11 -- the first men on the moon -- said "We
came in peace for all mankind." Now more than ever, with the Cold War
a part of history, we still view our space activities primarily as an
instrument of human advancement and international cooperation.
Having sent astronauts to the Moon, robots to Mars, and spacecraft to
the farthest reaches of our solar system, we are today engaged in a
partnership of 16 nations to build an International Space Station.
Permanent Space Station crews will perform long-term research in a
range of scientific disciplines, seeking to advance understanding of
life sciences, earth sciences, and materials processing. The
International Space Station will provide a focal point for space
operations among the partner nations well into the new century, while
serving as a steppingstone for potential exploration of the solar
Current uses of outer space involve an unprecedented degree of
cooperation. There is a growing marketplace in space for commercial
services, including telecommunications, weather forecasting, and
imaging of the earth's surface globally. The United States is pleased
to have contributed substantially to these efforts, and we will
continue to pursue greater levels of partnership and cooperation in
Mr. President, free access to and use of space for all are central to
the preservation of peace and the protection of every nation's
security, civil, and commercial interests. The United States strongly
endorses Articles I and II of the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which
expressly allow for the free exploration and use of outer space and
celestial bodies by all nations. The United States sees no
justification for limitations on the right of sovereign nations to
acquire data from space, and we consider purposeful interference with
space systems an infringement on sovereign rights.
The United States is committed, through its National Space Policy, to
the exploration and use of outer space by all nations for peaceful
purposes and for the benefit of all humanity. For us as for others,
"peaceful purposes" does of course allow for activities that support
defensive purposes and serve national security goals. Improving our
ability to support military operations worldwide, monitor and respond
to military threats, and monitor arms control and non-proliferation
agreements and activities are key priorities for our national security
These activities, moreover, strengthen international stability and
Like others, we rely heavily on satellites to provide early warning
against missile attack. Satellites are also indispensable in
monitoring arms control agreements. Verification of compliance with
the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty, the 1972 SALT I Agreements --
including the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile) Treaty -- and the START
(Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty) I and II Treaties is highly
dependent on remote sensing satellites to monitor activity. In the
future, verification of CTBT compliance will depend in significant
respects on our satellite-based national technical means of
verification. These treaties acknowledge the legitimacy of this use of
space as "national technical means of verification."
Lawful military uses of space can enhance international peace and
security in significant ways and provide broad benefits to the
international community. Examples include communications, global
positioning, navigation, environmental monitoring, and the ability to
track movements of large groups of refugees and displaced persons.
Other examples include helping states to monitor treaty compliance,
combat terrorism, and cooperate in enforcing UN Security Council
A number of standing agreements regulate military activities in outer
space. The Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963 requires parties not to
conduct nuclear weapon tests or other nuclear explosions in outer
space. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 puts celestial bodies off limits
to all nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction and
prohibits placing in orbit or stationing such weapons in outer space
-- a far-reaching non-proliferation measure in itself. It also limits
the use of celestial bodies exclusively for peaceful purposes and
prohibits their use for military establishments or maneuvers, or for
testing any type of weapons. This regime provides the basis for
keeping outer space free from the most threatening weapons. The ABM
Treaty of 1972 prohibits space-based anti-ballistic missile systems or
components. In addition, in the 1997 Demarcation Agreements -- which
have yet to enter into force -- the United States, Kazakhstan, Russia,
and Ukraine agreed that, to preclude ambiguous situations or
misunderstandings related to compliance with that ABM Treaty
provision, they would not develop, test, or deploy space-based
components based on other physical principles that are capable of
substituting for such interceptor missiles.
The activities of the Committee on the Peaceful Uses of Outer Space
(COPUS), a standing body of the UN General Assembly, are also germane
to our consideration of outer space in this body. While it does not
deal with disarmament and arms control aspects of outer space, COPUOS
is concerned with promoting international cooperation in the peaceful
uses of space.
In sum, we can conclude that there already exists an extensive and
comprehensive system for limiting the uses of outer space to those
that are peaceful and providing a framework for the legitimate
military uses of outer space. We are therefore not persuaded that the
multilateral arms control regime as it impacts on outer space requires
Why, then, do we hear calls for the immediate negotiation of a new
outer space treaty?
Certain Member States have insisted that the Conference on Disarmament
should not and cannot resume negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff
Treaty unless it also conducts negotiations on outer space issues.
This is inappropriate. Member States have agreed on terms of reference
for FMCT negotiations, and they have committed themselves in this
Conference and in other fora to the immediate commencement of FMCT
negotiations. By contrast, they are far from agreement on terms of
reference for any possible negotiations on outer space. In fact, even
among those who favor negotiations on outer space, there is
substantial disagreement on what should be covered.
Those who call for outer space negotiations are putting the cart
before the horse. The next logical step would be for Member States to
conduct a thorough discussion of possible measures related to outer
space, to identify proposals for further protections -- if there are
any -- that may be desirable and feasible. Such discussion would have
to take into account the need to enhance international peace and
security while simultaneously protecting the security interests of
states that have substantial assets in outer space and that carry out
important activities there. Unless and until there is a convergence of
interests and views on this issue, it is impractical to insist that
the Conference must negotiate a treaty.
Thus, we do not understand how the objective of such calls can be to
bring about negotiations on a topic that is far from ripe and that has
not benefited from thorough discussion by this Conference. We are,
rather, of the view that that holding FMCT hostage to negotiations on
outer space is simply a poorly disguised effort to block FMCT
On two previous occasions, the Conference, acting by consensus,
established an Ad Hoc Commit-tee mandated to conduct negotiations on a
Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty. In 1998, the UN General Assembly, also
acting by consensus, adopted a resolution that called on the
Conference to reestablish its FMCT Ad Hoc Committee at the beginning
of its next session. Furthermore, at the May 2000 Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, the 155 participating NPT
Parties urged this Conference to agree on a work program that would
include the immediate commencement of FMCT negotiations, "with a view
to their conclusion within five years."
If we combine these commitments with the assurances that we are all
aware of in our discussions, it is clear that all of the Conference's
Member States have agreed to support FMCT negotiations. Many
delegations, including my own, believe the Conference needs to resume
the negotiations independently, on their own merits. In other words,
we believe the decision to negotiate a cutoff treaty should not be
linked to anything else. A case-by-case approach is how the Conference
has conducted business when it really meant business, and we believe
Member States should return to that practice.
Others, however, have argued that the Conference must address three
priority topics -- FMCT, nuclear disarmament, and outer space -- and
that the Conference's decision to resume FMCT negotiations should be
accompanied by parallel decisions to establish subordinate bodies that
will deal with nuclear disarmament and outer space.
Although the United States remains skeptical that Conference work on
these subjects will prove productive, we have made a serious effort to
find a middle ground in order to get FMCT negotiations started. With
this goal in mind, we have stated that the United States could agree
to simultaneous establishment of subordinate bodies to discuss nuclear
disarmament and outer space issues under appropriate mandates. We also
agree that the CD work program should include a range of other topics:
negative security assurances, anti-personnel land-mines, transparency
in armaments, and three procedural questions -- agenda reform,
membership expansion, and "improved and effective functioning."
What more must Member States do before the Conference on Disarmament
can get down to work? It is no secret to any in this room that this
Conference is facing a crisis of credibility. To us, the way ahead
seems simple: get to work in areas where there is agreement to do so.
Do not hold everything hostage to everything else.
Mr. President, many of your predecessors have wrestled with the
challenge of developing appropriate mandates that would permit
organized discussion of nuclear disarmament and outer space issues. In
June 1999 we all benefited from insightful proposals by Algerian
Ambassador Mohamed-Salah Dembri -- influential ideas even though they
remained entirely informal. In June 2000, Ambassador Jean Lint of
Belgium, proposed wording refinements that drew on Ambassador Dembri's
efforts and adopted the same fundamental formula: FMCT negotiations
plus discussions on nuclear disarmament and outer space. It is
significant that Ambassadors Dembri and Lint both reached the same
conclusion: FMCT is ripe for negotiations in the Conference, while
nuclear disarmament and outer space are not. Your immediate
predecessor, Ambassador Celso Amorim of Brazil, also reached an
identical conclusion after yet further work.
With regard to a mandate for discussions on nuclear disarmament, I
believe Member States have come very close to agreement. A few words
remain to be worked out, but I am confident that if the terms of
reference for consideration of nuclear disarmament were the only
outstanding issue, Member States could resolve it expeditiously.
Unfortunately, however, the principle of outer space discussions has
not been accepted. To the contrary, we continue to hear calls for
immediate negotiations. These are urgently required, we hear, to
prevent several grave consequences that might result from U.S. plans
for a National Missile Defense (NMD): 1) the possibility that NMD
would upset strategic stability, leading to a new arms race here on
Earth; 2) the risk of an arms race in outer space; and 3) the
potential for disruption of the arms control process. It is important,
Mr. President, that we be perfectly clear about what the U.S. is
proposing and why these concerns are groundless.
The U.S. NMD system under consideration is not designed against Russia
or China but to defend against a limited ballistic missile attack from
certain countries of concern. A system capable of defending against a
large-scale attack with sophisticated weapons would be both
qualitatively and quantitatively different from that which the U.S. is
considering. Moreover, we believe that confidence-building and
transparency measures will provide added assurance that the U.S. is
not contemplating a "rapid breakout" to attempt to build a complete
Regarding the risk of an arms race in outer space, as I mentioned
earlier, the Outer Space Treaty and the ABM Treaty already prohibit
key activities associated with many concerns about putting "weapons"
in outer space. The U.S. fully respects those treaties' constraints.
The weapons of the ballistic national missile defense systems that the
U.S. is considering are terrestrial, not space-based. The proposed
U.S. NMD system would use land-based interceptors, launchers, and
radars. It would use satellites only to provide early warning and data
on threat missiles. This is a far cry from the "weaponization" of
outer space. Satellites belonging to a number of countries here,
including those strongly supporting outer space negotiations, already
orbit the earth by the dozens, providing various types of data for
military purposes to ships, aircraft, and ground forces worldwide.
Should we prohibit these, too?
The U.S. remains committed to the arms control and disarmament process
and sees no contradiction between that process and pursuit of a
limited NMD system. The ABM Treaty is an integral part of our mutual
efforts with the Russian Federation to reduce offensive nuclear arms.
Twenty-eight years after entry into force of the Treaty, the United
States and Russia are convinced that the ABM Treaty re-mains an
important element in our plans for further reductions. Representatives
of our two countries have been discussing how to preserve and
strengthen the Treaty in ways that will maintain its fundamental
effectiveness under strategic and political circumstances that have
changed dramatically in the last three decades. During these
discussions, the United States has proposed modifications to the
Treaty that would permit the deployment of the initial NMD system. The
United States remains firmly committed to these bilateral discussions.
As I mentioned earlier, the objectives of the ABM treaty are to ensure
that each party's strategic nuclear deterrent is not threatened by the
missile defenses of the other party and to promote reduction of
offensive nuclear arms. The limited NMD that we are developing would
not threaten Russia's strategic deterrent and will promote further
nuclear arms reductions. The arms control process would not be
The U.S. is convinced that the existing treaty regime for outer space
has served the international community well. There is no arms race in
outer space -- rather, there is unprecedented cooperation.
Nonetheless, we are aware of the concerns expressed and we are
prepared to exchange views on this issue. We are not opposed to the
establishment of an appropriate subordinate body for such discussions,
in the context of active negotiations on a Fissile Material Cutoff
The U.S. is also convinced that an agreed work program along the lines
proposed by Ambassadors Dembri, Lint and Amorim is supported by the
vast majority of the Conference and provides the best way - and
perhaps the only way - to get this Conference back to work. Those who
are not prepared to accept reasonable compromises will bear a heavy
responsibility if this Conference continues to be prevented from
negotiating multilateral arms control agreements.
Mr. President, I am confident that in your efforts to lay the
groundwork for an overall agreement on a work program at the beginning
of the 2001 session, you will continue to promote the same fundamental
approach as your distinguished predecessors. In expressing great hope
for the success of your efforts, I pledge the active cooperation of my
Thank you, Mr. President.