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International Non-Proliferation Conference

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Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate Release January 12, 1999
As Prepared for Delivery


Washington, D.C.

January 12, 1999

Thank you, Jessica. You are an inspiration to everyone at the NSC, for you are proof that it is possible to make something of oneself after working on our staff. Joe Cirincione, thank you for putting together this outstanding program, the first of these conferences not run by a guy named Sandy. And let me say a word of thanks to Sandy Spector for building this empire and for now applying his talents and energies to the work of our Administration.

I also want to say something about the distinguished people participating in this conference. Many of you have given all or virtually all of your careers to the cause of global security, and a large number of you have focused particularly on seeking ways to prevent the spread and use of weapons of mass destruction. This is demanding and often frustrating work -- whether you are a government official, a scholar, or an activist. You have chosen to do good, sometimes at the expense of doing well. But as you understand, and I believe the public appreciates, this work is vitally important to the future of our world, to the safety of our citizens. On behalf of President Clinton and our entire national security team, I want to thank you very much for all your efforts.

I would note that since virtually everyone in the room deserves this thanks, there is no one to clap for you. That's why we sometimes speak before broader audiences. In great venues like the basketball arena at Ohio State University.

Every year, the nonproliferation community eagerly awaits the Carnegie nonproliferation conference, an opportunity to take stock, and renew commitment to the cause. Renewing our commitment to curbing weapons of mass destruction is ever more important this year, as the conference title, “Repairing the Regime,” suggests. 1998 was a troubling year -- a year of living dangerously. There was some significant progress, but several problems took a turn for the worse, and perilous new trends have emerged. All of you here know well what the key developments were:

In May, India, and then Pakistan, conducted nuclear tests that blew the lid off South Asia's long-simmering nuclear rivalry. These explosions threaten to trigger a full-fledged nuclear and missile race in the region. Also ominous was some of the early rhetoric surrounding the blasts -- suggesting that many politicians and citizens in India and Pakistan believed that a nuclear weapons capability provided instant great power status.

In July, Iran's test of the Shahab-3 missile -- its version of the North Korean No Dong -- extended Teheran's capability to target U.S. friends and allies in the Middle East, as well as our forces in the region. Combined with Iran's continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, this missile development threatens the stability of the region -- as if the stability of that region needed any further threatening.

In August, North Korea tested its Taepo-Dong missile over Japan. This test, and the revelation that North Korea is constructing a suspicious underground site, have raised questions about North Korean compliance with the 1994 Agreed Framework, which aimed at bringing stability and discouraging proliferation on the Korean Peninsula. If the agreement unravels, we could quickly return to an environment like the 1993-94 crisis, with increased risk of war and North Korean resumption of plutonium production.

By August, Russia's economic crisis heightened the challenge for Russia to control the leakage of sensitive weapons-related materials and technology beyond its borders. Weapons scientists and institutes face increased financial pressures to sell their wares to whomever is in the market, including rogue states.

Finally, in December Saddam Hussein once again broke his commitments to cooperate with U.N. inspectors, ignoring our warnings. The United States, together with our British allies, responded with military force. We attacked Iraq's program to develop and deliver weapons of mass destruction and his capacity to threaten its neighbors. But we have not eliminated the danger, and our resolve to curb the threat Saddam poses will not diminish.

In addition to these specific developments, two broad and dangerous trends have emerged.

First, as the President has repeatedly warned, the risk is increasing that terrorists will acquire and seek to use chemical or biological weapons as weapons of terror.

Second, ballistic missile proliferation has intensified, as demonstrated by the Iranian and North Korean missile tests and advances in the missile programs of India and Pakistan. While the technology to develop intercontinental range missiles remains out of reach for a large number of countries, shorter-range missile capabilities – based on liquid-fueled SCUD technology – are widely available. The Missile Technology Control Regime helps to limit the spread of missile technology, but several key suppliers, such as North Korea, are outside the MTCR. Unfortunately, in regions like the Middle East and South Asia, ballistic missiles are increasingly seen as essential to national status and security, and political dynamics weigh against agreements to limit these missiles.

Not all the news on non-proliferation was bad last year. There were several encouraging developments. Brazil ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty -- as did 17 other nations -- and joined the Non-Proliferation Treaty, completing a remarkable process that has almost eliminated the threat of nuclear proliferation in Latin America. The multinational Conference on Disarmament, based in Geneva, agreed to arrangements to begin negotiations on a global Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, which would halt the production of additional material for nuclear weapons. China agreed in June to seriously study joining the MTCR. At home, our Congress passed critical legislation to implement the Chemical Weapons Convention, which the Senate ratified in 1997.

Also encouraging was the global reaction to the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan: They were condemned in nearly every corner of the world. Here was an issue where the U.S., China and Russia found a common voice. Where nuclear powers agreed with many nations of the developing world. Far from demonstrating the death of international norms against proliferation, the international reaction to the tests showed the resilience of these norms.

But these positive signs were overshadowed by the mounting challenges. We need your commitment, the public's commitment, our Congress's commitment, the commitment of responsible nations more than ever to build a safer future. Let me outline America's policy initiatives for preventing and addressing proliferation as we reach a new century.

The United States will redouble existing efforts and seek new approaches and solutions -- this year and beyond -- on multiple fronts.

First, we will move aggressively to strengthen the non-proliferation regime, by which I mean international consensus and the international agreements and structures aimed at curbing weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles. Bolstering this regime is critical if we are to give nations greater confidence that they can forego or limit weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles without finding themselves at a disadvantage against rivals brandishing such weapons. The regime is also essential for isolating nations outside the regime and pressuring them to restrain their programs and eventually to join.

With respect to strengthening the regime, let me say that President Clinton will make one of his top priorities for 1999 obtaining advice and consent to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the United States Senate.

The President has called the CTBT the “longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control.” It bans all nuclear explosive tests. We should pause and contemplate this development: 151 nations have signed an accord to never, or never again, test a nuclear device. We must not let this extraordinary opportunity slip away.

By its terms, the CTBT cannot enter into force until the United States and other key designated nations ratify it. If we fail to ratify, we will undercut our own efforts to curb further nuclear arms development, particularly in South Asia, where India and Pakistan each have announced an intention to adhere to the CTBT by this coming September. That is the right choice for those countries, one we have been urging for some time. Senate action on the CTBT before September will greatly strengthen our hand in persuading India and Pakistan to fulfill their pledges.

The Treaty is in America's national interest. Four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- Shalikashvili, Powell, Crowe, and Jones -- plus all six current members of the JCS -- agree on that. The directors of our three national nuclear weapons labs and numerous outside experts have said we can maintain a reliable deterrent without nuclear explosive testing. Polls show that 75 to 80 percent of all Americans support the Treaty. Indeed, public support has been strong for more than 40 years, ever since President Eisenhower first proposed a test ban treaty.

The Treaty will constrain the development of more advanced nuclear weapons by the nuclear powers -- and limit the possibilities for other states to acquire such weapons. It will also enhance our ability to detect and deter suspicious activities by other nations. As the experts assembled here well know, with or without a CTBT, we must monitor such activities. The Treaty gives us new tools to pursue this vital mission: a global network of sensors to supplement our national intelligence capabilities and the right to request short-notice, on-site inspections in other countries.

If the Senate rejected or failed to act on the Test Ban Treaty, we would throw open the door to regional nuclear arms races and a much more dangerous world. Ratification will take a serious effort from all of us. But it would be a terrible tragedy if our Senate failed to ratify the CTBT this year.

In addition to the CTBT, we want to make rapid progress on the treaty I mentioned earlier to ban further production of fissile materials. Last fall, we called on all countries that have tested nuclear devices to adhere to a voluntary production moratorium. In fact, the U.S., U.K., France, Russia and China have all stopped producing fissile material, and we hope they, along with India and Pakistan, will formally join this moratorium while we seek a treaty through the Conference on Disarmament.

We will also work to strengthen other components of the nuclear nonproliferation regime, including the safeguards applied by the International Atomic Energy Agency. And we will implement the initiative Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin announced in Russia to dispose safely of 50 tons of plutonium each that is no longer needed by our military programs -- enough to make literally thousands of nuclear weapons.

Another strong catalyst for convincing nations to forego nuclear weapons would be continued progress in the START process -- the effort by the United States and Russia to reduce our nuclear arsenals. We hope the Russian Duma will promptly ratify START II, which will clearly benefit Russia's security, as well as ours. And we remain committed to concluding a START III Treaty for even deeper cuts based on the agreement reached by Presidents Clinton and Yeltsin at Helsinki in 1997.

Our commitment to strengthening the global nonproliferation regime extends, of course, beyond nuclear weapons. I am proud that this Administration obtained ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. This year, we will continue to pursue aggressively another key priority, announced by the President in last year's State of the Union address: strengthening our ability to determine whether nations are complying with the Biological Weapons Convention. We will push to obtain international agreement this year on compliance and inspection measures, making it much more difficult for nations to cheat and thereby increasing our safety from the threat of biological weapons. Under Secretary of State John Holum, who is leading our diplomatic efforts, will be in Geneva next week to explore ideas for pushing the negotiations to a successful conclusion.

The chemical and biological conventions are vital not only to preventing states from acquiring weapons of mass destruction but also, in combination with law enforcement and intelligence, to keeping these weapons away from terrorists. Yes, the conventions are focused on the obligations of states, not substate actors. But virtually every state on our State Department's list of terrorism sponsors has weapons of mass destruction programs. As potential suppliers of such weapons to terrorists, there is no more worrisome source than these state sponsors. Under a strong nonproliferation regime, states that fail to join or comply with the conventions will be isolated, cut off from weapons materials, and thus hindered from assisting terrorists with WMD activities.

Our second set of priorities focuses on the most pressing regional proliferation challenges.

With respect to South Asia, we have pressed for a strong international response to deter India and Pakistan from additional testing. Secretary Albright and Deputy Secretary Talbott have engaged in intense diplomatic efforts to move India and Pakistan away from nuclear confrontation. In 1999, we will further intensify our diplomacy and encourage Indo-Pakistani dialogue in pursuit of concrete results: adherence to the CTBT, establishment of strong export controls, and restraint on fissile materials production and ballistic missile development and deployment. I hope that by the end of the year sufficient progress will have been made to enable the President to travel to the subcontinent to hail a more stable and secure South Asia.

Dealing with North Korea -- the most isolated nation in the world -- is a delicate balancing act that requires a judicious mix of deterrence, diplomacy, and aggressive non-proliferation efforts. To preserve the Agreed Framework, we must work toward arrangements with the North to resolve our concerns about the underground activity. We must intensify our efforts to dissuade and deter the North from conducting additional long-range missile tests and continuing its missile technology exports. We are working closely with our allies the Republic of Korea and Japan, and with China, to achieve these goals. We are also conducting an overall review of U.S. policy, with the help of former Defense Secretary Bill Perry, to develop a sustainable long-term strategy towards North Korea beyond the Agreed Framework.

As we work with China on common nonproliferation goals, we will continue to express our hope that it will join the Missile Technology Control Regime -- and do so this year.

On Iraq, the Administration will use all means -- including, if necessary, additional military force -- to obtain Saddam's compliance with Iraq's commitments regarding weapons of mass destruction and with the relevant Security Council resolutions. We will adhere to our position that disarmament under these resolutions is the only pathway to sanctions relief. And we continue to believe that UNSCOM is the appropriate entity to verify and monitor Iraq's disarmament. It is up to Saddam to decide whether he wants sanctions relief by giving up his weapons of mass destruction. In the meantime, we will be ready to act again if we see Iraq rebuilding a WMD capability.

We will also continue to offer humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people, and, most importantly, work toward the day when Iraq has a government that respects its people and lives in peace with its neighbors. It is clear that real disarmament in Iraq will come only when there is a new government in Baghdad.

As to Russia, we will continue to work aggressively with the Russian leadership to halt Russian entities' cooperation with Iran's missile and nuclear weapons programs. This issue has been at the top of our agenda with the Russian government. We continue to urge Russia to enforce and strengthen its export controls and take actions against Russian entities that violate those controls, selling out Russia's own nonproliferation and security interests for their own financial gain.

We will continue to take action against these entities ourselves. In that regard, I want to announce that today the United States is imposing economic penalties against three additional Russian entities -- the Moscow Aviation Institute, Mendeleyev University, and NIKIET, or the Scientific Research and Design Institute of Power Technology -- for providing sensitive missile or nuclear assistance to Iran. Last July we took action against seven others. Let me be very clear: The Administration has authority to act against entities that violate international nonproliferation standards, and we will use this authority to protect our security.

In the end, though, the most effective shield against proliferation from Russia is not U.S. penalties, but a Russian export control system that is designed to work and does so. Only Russia can police its own borders, factories and technology institutes. That is why President Clinton and President Yeltsin agreed at last year's Moscow summit to create seven export control working groups to improve Russia's capacity to stop the flow of sensitive technology and equipment. It is also why we are funding the International Science and Technology Center in Moscow and other initiatives to help thousands of weapons scientists apply their skills to civilian purposes. It is why we are funding the Nuclear Cities Initiative, announced by Energy Secretary Richardson last September, to help Russia convert its nuclear weapons production facilities to peaceful uses.

We currently are considering enhancement of existing threat reduction programs -- to work together with Russia to secure and dispose of dangerous materials, convert WMD resources to peaceful use, tighten export controls, and help ensure that Russian scientists are engaged in work other than proliferation activity. We hope to be able to say more on this in the near future.

Our third set of priorities recognizes that, despite our efforts to strengthen the international regime and resolve regional issues, we cannot prevent all forms of proliferation in all cases -- and that weapons of mass destruction already are out there, in the hands of dangerous actors. So we must devote sufficient resources to develop defensive capabilities to protect the United States and our allies in the event these weapons are used.

To deal with the spread of ballistic missile technology in key regions, we have stepped up our Theater Missile Defense programs, including with Israel and Japan. We are also committed to the development of a limited National Missile Defense system that could, if we decide, be deployed to counter the emerging ballistic missile threat from rogue nations. In the next budget we present to Congress, we will propose to include funds -- approximately $7 billion over the next six years -- that would be necessary if we later decide to deploy a limited National Missile Defense system. Let me be clear: We remain strongly committed to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty -- a cornerstone of our security -- and we would seek agreement with the other Treaty parties if any missile defense activities necessitated modifying the ABM Treaty.

To be ready to protect our citizens from the threat of terrorist use of chemical and biological weapons, we have launched a robust program under our new National Coordinator for Security, Infrastructure Protection and Counterterrorism. We have created a National Office of Domestic Preparedness to train and equip fire, police and medical personnel across the country to deal with chemical, biological and nuclear emergencies. We are readying National Guard units in every region to meet this challenge. We have begun the work necessary to improve our public health surveillance system -- so that if a biological weapon is released, we can detect it and save lives. We have begun the effort to create the first-ever civilian stockpile of needed medicines. We have increased funding for research and development on medications. And I am confident that in the budget the President will submit next month, we will deepen our efforts on the public health front. We also hope to make progress at the NATO summit here in April to better equip our Alliance to deal with this growing threat.

All of these efforts -- strengthening the nonproliferation regime, addressing regional threats, and bolstering defenses -- are absolutely essential. And the Clinton Administration is committed to making 1999 a year of progress and achievement on each front.

The President's continuing focus on these matters -- in talks with world leaders, meetings with experts, policy sessions with his national security team, and speeches to the public -- makes plain that the United States will not shrink from the fight against weapons of mass destruction. By your presence here, you show that you have not given up on this most important of causes. Together, let us do all we can so that the next time we assemble we can find renewed cause for hope -- hope for a safer future for all peoples.

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