Title: "Effort to Extend NPT Indefinitely Is Global, Holum Says." Senior US arms control official John Holum says many nations share America's goal of indefinitely extending the
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). (950413)
Translated Title: Esfuerzo prorrogar TNP indefinidamente es mundial, dice Holum. (950413)
Author: PORTH, JACQUELYN S (USIA STAFF WRITER)
EFFORT TO EXTEND NPT INDEFINITELY IS GLOBAL, HOLUM SAYS (NPT: Conference will review all aspects of treaty) (610) By Jacquelyn S. Porth USIA Security Affairs Writer Washington -- The director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) says making the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) permanent is not only a "central element" of all U.S. bilateral diplomacy but also "the centerpiece" of international arms control efforts.
Achieving indefinite extension of the NPT is "very high" on the U.S. diplomatic agenda, John Holum said April 13, and there also are many other countries -- among them Argentina, the Philippines, Japan, and European nations -- that "are very actively engaged in the effort to achieve indefinite extension" of the accord.
At a briefing at the U.S. Information Agency Foreign Press Center in Washington, Holum emphasized that the NPT issue does not represent a debate of "the United States versus the world." On the contrary, he said, "a large global effort is underway" to obtain a permanent NPT regime.
The ACDA official said nations are coming to realize that the NPT "as a shield, as a protection against nuclear dangers, is very effective and should be continued."
Some 175 NPT members will convene at the United Nations for a month beginning April 17 to decide by majority vote whether to extend the 1968 treaty indefinitely -- or for a fixed period or periods of time.
In a question-and-answer session with reporters, Holum noted the NPT is not necessarily "a complete instrument." It represents a regime that requires "a great deal of vigilance" as well as strong export controls, he explained.
The NPT safeguards regime has improved with a dramatic increase in the capabilities of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Holum said, and also with recent improvements made in nuclear security assurances for non-nuclear weapons states.
A recently adopted United Nations Security Council resolution refers to specific steps which the five nuclear weapons states -- the United States, Britain, Russia, France and China -- would take if countries were threatened or attacked by nuclear weapons while members in good standing of the NPT. "There has been significant harmonization among the five nuclear weapons states," the official said, "and the security assurances that they have provided."
Four of the five nuclear powers -- excluding China -- also recently confirmed their support for a test ban treaty as well as a treaty to cut off the production of fissile materials. They also affirmed their commitment to nuclear disarmament.
Holum cited several factors that have contributed to the growing support for the indefinite extension of the NPT: increased knowledge of other nations about the deep nuclear weapons reductions that have been taken by the United States and Russia, "the harmonization and increased prominence for security assurances," and President Clinton's withdrawal of a U.S. proposal from the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty negotiations that would require that the United States retain the right to withdraw from the treaty after 10 years to conduct nuclear tests.
At a second briefing April 13, Holum told reporters at the State Department that the NPT conference affords "the only chance available under the terms of the treaty to make it permanent by a simple majority vote. This chance will never come again."
The ACDA official said the United States will not compromise on its position seeking indefinite NPT extension. "We are not looking at alternatives," he stressed.
Besides voting on NPT extension in mid-May, conference participants also will discuss all other aspects of the treaty, including safeguards, disarmament progress called for under Article Six of the treaty, and peaceful nuclear assistance in fields such as health and agriculture.