Title: "Much of Nuclear Security Rests on NPT Extension, Graham Says." US Ambassador Thomas Graham says the upcoming Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review and Extension
Conference provides a chance to consolidate the progress made on global nuclear security. (941213)
Translated Title: Mucho de la seguridad nuclear depende prorroga TNP, dice Graham. (941213)
Author: PORTH, JACQUELYN S (USIA STAFF WRITER)
MUCH OF NUCLEAR SECURITY RESTS ON NPT EXTENSION, GRAHAM SAYS (Urges parties move to make it permanent) (1120) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Correspondent Washington -- The international community will have only "one chance to ensure that the benefits" of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) are available to future generations, according to a leading U.S. arms control official, and that is by agreeing in April 1995 to extend the life of the treaty indefinitely.
Ambassador Thomas Graham, special representative of the president for arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament, says the forthcoming NPT Review and Extension Conference provides the chance "to consolidate the progress fostered by the NPT "once and for all." He told reporters at USIA's Foreign Press Center in Washington December 13 that parties to the treaty "must not gamble with the permanence of this critical agreement."
The NPT has been the cornerstone of global efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, and Graham emphasized the need to make it permanent "like all other" arms control treaties.
The treaty commits and legally binds the nuclear powers to the task of disarmament, he said, and by strengthening it "through indefinite extension, this commitment will be likewise strengthened."
If the NPT crumbles, or if cracks in the agreement are detected, he explained, "a great deal of the nuclear security architecture painstakingly constructed by the international community may begin to collapse."
The agreement, which entered into force 24 years ago, "is an indispensable part of the superstructure that undergirds" the international security environment, according to Graham. "Global peace and prosperity can be built upon it," he said, "but only if it remains in place."
The treaty has two main goals beyond preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons: to promote peaceful uses of nuclear energy and general disarmament. Parties to the treaty must decide in New York next spring to keep the NPT in force indefinitely, as the United States proposes, or to extend its life for a fixed or fixed periods of time.
It is difficult to predict what would happen to the world in the absence of the NPT, the ambassador said, but he suggested it would likely "be considerably more dangerous." If the treaty is not extended indefinitely, Graham said, "the global norm against proliferation and the stigma attached to nuclear weapons, currently codified in international law by 167 countries, would disappear." He also indicated that the basis for denuclearization in the former Soviet Union "would be significantly eroded."
The NPT agreement, Graham said, has established "the global norm that nuclear proliferation is bad behavior" providing a mechanism to highlight potential problems as well as "a basis for action."
Asked about the recently concluded Framework Agreement between the United States and North Korea, the U.S. official said, "we got the best deal that we could" through difficult negotiations. Graham explained that the agreement commits North Korea "to full compliance with and continued adherence to the NPT," something that he says would not have been possible "without the NPT (already) in place."
North Korea has agreed, he said, to remain an NPT party; to comply with all inspection requests made by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including special inspections; and not to reprocess spent fuel already withdrawn from its reactor (which could be used to produce up to five nuclear weapons). The North Koreans also agreed, the ambassador said, "to completely terminate their existing nuclear program once the light water nuclear reactor systems are on the way."
Graham stressed that key components of the North Korean light water reactor will be withheld until after the IAEA special inspections take place. "There is a definite quid quo pro" within the Framework Agreement, he said, which will "maintain the viability of the NPT.
Asked about the prospects for new parties in the Middle East joining the NPT, Graham said the United States is committed to the objective of universality of treaty membership, "including Israel as well as any other country that still remains outside the NPT." He told a questioner that Israel "is not an exception" in any way to U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy and U.S. officials want Israel to join the NPT. The United States does not cooperate with Israel in the nuclear technology field, he added.
On the subject of a permanent nuclear test ban, Graham noted that achieving a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty as soon as possible is "an imperative for the Clinton administration." U.S. officials, he said, "want to ensure that the first half-century of nuclear explosions is the last."
Asked about a possible third round of Strategic Arms Reduction Talks (START Three), Graham said the United States will concentrate first on getting START Two into force "as fast as we can." He acknowledged that it may be necessary to hold "additional" U.S. congressional hearings on the subject while expressing the hope that the Russian parliament will look "favorably" on approving START Two.
The ambassador also said that there is already more nuclear disarmament underway than Russia and the United States can handle "in an expeditious way." The United States is currently dismantling 2,000 nuclear weapons annually, Graham said, and would boost that rate if it had the "technical capacity" to do so.
Still, he said the United States wants to pursue further reductions through a third round of negotiations, but he indicated that he had no idea "how fast it will happen or what the levels will be." Once START Two is "locked in and operating," the official said, "we will...work something out that will be called START Three."
Asked about the U.S. reaction to Russian efforts to amend the Conventional Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty, the ambassador said the Russian position is not new and it has been seeking to suspend certain provisions of the agreement for about one year (so that it might use armored combat vehicles for internal Russian security forces, for example). The United States currently opposes any changes to the treaty, he said, but wants to continue discussions with the Russians on the subject. Potential issues such as this, he said, should be addressed as part of the 1996 CFE Review Conference.
On the subject of ballistic missiles, Graham stated that such an arms race in South Asia would be "a disaster." In a regional context, he said, the problem with these types of missiles is their high degree of accuracy and the fact that they cannot be recalled once launched. The United States is "very concerned," the official said, about the prospect of ballistic missile proliferation in the region and wants to do everything possible to prevent it from happening.