JAMES B. STEINBERG
DEPUTY ASSISTANT TO THE PRESIDENT
FOR NATIONAL SECURITY AFFAIRS
CARNEGIE ENDOWMENT FOR INTERNATIONAL PEACE
JUNE 9, 1997
Acknowledgments: Sandy Specter, Jessica Mathews
Some people mark the passage of time by candles on a cake; others by presidential elections or
the return of the Capistrano swallows. In the nonproliferation business, we mark the passage of
time by the Carnegie Endowment's annual conference -- a chance to review where we are, and
where we need to go, on the critical issues of the day. Your advice and expertise help shape the
world's understanding of these important but extremely complex challenges, and we in our
Administration have profited greatly from your good counsel over the past four years. Since we
are fast approaching the turn of the century -- only two more conferences to go -- I wanted to
discuss our long-term strategy for dealing with the proliferation threat as we enter the new
[Structure of the Problem]
I want to begin by saying a few words about the nature of the nonproliferation challenge we face
in the wake of the end of the Cold War and on the threshold of this new century. As my good
friend Mitchell Reiss has remarked, there is a "Tale of Two Cities" quality to today's
proliferation environment: It is the best of times and yet the worst of times.
On the positive side, you've heard Sandy describe some of the remarkable accomplishments: the
end of the Cold War also ended the nuclear arms race between Washington and Moscow and
created unprecedented opportunities for nuclear arms control -- including a potential START III,
which would cut U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals 80% from their Cold War heights, eliminate
warheads for the first time, and increase transparency. Last year we successfully concluded a
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which President Clinton plans to submit to the Senate for
ratification in the very near future -- and we are committed to trying to achieve the Treaty's
envisioned entry into force by September 1998. The CTBT is a landmark achievement in a
remarkable period, which has seen the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT, and the
entry into force of the CWC -- with the United States as an original party. After decades of hard
work, much of it by many of the people here today, it is fair to say that we have put in place the
essential building blocks for an international normative structure against the spread of nuclear,
chemical and biological weapons, and we are elaborating new, more sophisticated multilateral
mechanisms for controlling the spread of dangerous technology.
The Cold War's close also freed up diplomatic, institutional, and financial resources which we
can now devote to meeting the challenge of proliferation. We are better positioned than ever to
give non-proliferation the priority it deserves in our national security policy.
There is also good news on the regional front. Political developments in Latin American and
Africa have made it possible for Argentina, Brazil, and South Africa to give up their nuclear
weapons programs and ballistic missile programs, and to join the international regime. Today,
there are fewer countries on the watch list for nuclear proliferation than at any time since
President's Kennedy's famous warning more than thirty years ago.
At the same time, the collapse of the Soviet Union has presented a new set of risks.
American diplomacy helped avert the most serious threat, by persuading Ukraine, Kazakstan, and
Belarus to join the NPT as non-nuclear weapons states and helping them transfer nuclear
weapons from their territory to Russia for dismantling. This is a signal accomplishment when
you consider the potentially destabilizing consequences of additional nuclear powers in Central
But a longer term concern -- and in some ways much harder to address -- is the danger that
Russia and the NIS could become sources of materials, equipment, and know-how for would-be
proliferators. In a world where barriers are coming down and control systems are imperfect, the
risk of smuggling goes up -- thus raising the chance that a rogue state or even a terrorist group
could obtain the materials necessary to build a bomb.
Even more dangerous, the global diffusion of technological capability and scientific knowledge
is eroding technical barriers to proliferation and threatens to outpace multilateral control efforts.
Compounding the problem, some key countries are not fully participating in these efforts. Thus,
while we strengthen our efforts to solve the supply side of the proliferation equation, we must
continue to focus on the demand side as well.
In particular, persistent regional conflicts and the ambitions of rogue states create an all-too-
thriving market for destabilizing WMD systems and technologies, especially in the Gulf, South
Asia, and the Korean peninsula. The horses of low-tech proliferation -- chemical and biological
weapons and short-range ballistic missiles -- are virtually out of the barn. And the relative
accessibility of chemical and biological weapons increases the danger they could be used in a
Clearly, there is no single policy, no silver bullet, that can tackle today's complex and varied
proliferation challenges. But President Clinton has made clear that we have no higher priority.
I would like to focus today on the three primary elements of our strategy. First, establishing and
strengthening international treaty regimes; Second, dealing with the supply side of the problem
though multilateral mechanisms to control the spread of proliferation-related technologies,
equipment, and material; and finally, addressing the demand side by designing and implementing
regional approaches to reduce incentives for proliferation.
Strengthening the International Regimes
Our first line of defense is international treaties, which establish both the normative and legal
structures to address the proliferation threat. As I have said, the past four years have capped a
remarkable, decades-long effort to put in place the key elements of a global framework -- the
NPT, CWC, and BWC. The challenge now is two-fold: first, to ensure the widest possible
membership in these regimes; and second, to design and implement effective verification and
The nuclear regime has made the greatest strides forward. With the help of our leadership, the
NPT is a permanent feature of the international framework and adherence is almost universal --
we are hopeful that Brazil will join us soon. The UN Security Council has created a solid
precedent for taking action against countries that have violated the treaty, such as Iraq and North
The NPT's legal status is bolstered by the IAEA, and its comprehensive safeguards inspections.
The international community received a sobering wake-up call when we discovered Iraq's
clandestine nuclear weapons program. We responded by strengthening the IAEA's role and
resources, culminating last month with the approval of the new model protocol. The protocol
will substantially fortify the IAEA's authority and ability to detect secret nuclear weapons
activities in NPT parties. President Clinton intends to submit this protocol for Senate ratification
early next year.
The success of the global NPT regime is enhanced by regional nuclear weapons free zones, such
as those in Latin America, Africa, and the South Pacific. The United States is now working with
the parties to the Southeast Asia nuclear free zone to resolve issues that stand in the way of U.S.
adherence, and we look forward to learning more about the proposed nuclear free zone in Central
Asia. We also hope that discussions among appropriate parties for establishing nuclear free
zones in South Asia and the Middle East can begin in the near future.
President Clinton has also called for negotiating a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty -- a treaty of
special value in regions where destabilizing arms races are jeopardizing security and drawing
resources away from social needs. We believe the negotiations should proceed without delay and
on their own merits. No matter how attractive in theory, linkage to a timebound, comprehensive
nuclear disarmament scheme simply isn't practical. And the stakes are too high to allow the
perfect to become the enemy of the good.
In contrast to the nuclear regime, international efforts to prevent the spread of chemical and
biological weapons are less well-developed. Now that the CWC has entered into force, we must
ensure that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has the resources and the
political support for implementation. CWC members will need to work together to expand
adherence to the CWC. In particular, we hope that the Russian Duma will ratify the CWC as
soon as possible.
In some respects, the BWC regime poses an even greater challenge. Although the treaty has
been in force since 1972 and membership is nearly universal, the regime lacks any compliance or
enforcement mechanisms. At the United Nations last year, President Clinton called on the
international community to complete, by 1998, a legally binding protocol to the BWC that would
establish tough compliance procedures, including appropriate on-site inspections. We look
forward to working to achieve this objective when negotiations begin in Geneva next month.
[Engaging Russia and China as Suppliers]
Our second major nonproliferation tool is promoting cooperation among suppliers to control the
export of technology, equipment, and materials that can contribute to the development of
weapons of mass destruction and missile delivery systems. This is a challenging prospect. The
new market democracies of Central Europe and the former Soviet Union are struggling to
overcome economic hardship and create effective export control systems. And except for some
very specialized technologies, a long-term strategy of technology denial has real limits. In
today's increasingly open societies, it will become more and more difficult to regulate the
transfer or indigenous development of the basic industrial infrastructure and technical know-how
necessary for weapons of mass destruction.
Nonetheless, there are important steps the international community can and must take to address
this challenge, both through national and multilateral mechanisms. Most Western suppliers have
tightened domestic controls of dual use commodities and increased information sharing and law
enforcement cooperation to fight the smuggling of dangerous technologies. Now, we need to
expand membership and refine the multilateral export control efforts in the Zangger Committee,
the Nuclear Suppliers Group, the Australia Group, and the MTCR. The 33-country Wassenaar
Arrangement offers a unique vehicle for strengthening responsibility and transparency in the sale
of conventional arms and dual-use goods, and for mobilizing international support for restraining
trade to pariah countries.
Ultimately, the effectiveness of these multilateral efforts depends on the full participation of all
potential suppliers. In particular, Russia and China are key to meeting the supply challenge.
We have a strong national interest in working with Russia to ensure that its future lies in closer
relations with the West. The new NATO-Russia agreement is but one example of our broader
strategy to increase Russia's political and economic integration. Nonetheless, there are economic
and political fears stemming from Russia's loss of traditional markets that create pressure for
developing a supply relationship with countries of concern. I want to mention, in particular, the
issue of nuclear and missile assistance to Iran. While we value President Yeltsin's assurances
that Russia will limit its nuclear assistance to Iran, we remain concerned that Iran will seek to
exploit Russian construction of a nuclear power plant to acquire expertise and infrastructure that
can support its nuclear weapons ambitions, even though President Yeltsin has made clear that
this is not Russia's intent.
We are also troubled by recent reports that Russian entities are providing assistance to Iran's
long range ballistic missile program. Obviously, it is not in Russia's long term interests to help
create a missile force that could threaten Russia itself. President Yeltsin has stated that Russia
opposes such assistance, and we will continue to work closely with the Russian government to
ensure the implementation of that policy.
China also presents a mixed picture. On the one hand, China has played an increasingly helpful
role in supporting the international regimes, including adoption of the CTBT and extension of the
NPT, and working with us to resolve specific nonproliferation concerns, such as the North
Korean nuclear threat. On the other hand, we remain deeply concerned about some of China's
weapons supply relationships and the limitations of its inadequate, although improving, system
of export controls to prevent unauthorized sales.
Over the past year, we have made some progress in dealing with these issues. China has
curtailed its nuclear cooperation with Iran -- especially in areas that might contribute to Iran's
nuclear weapons capability -- and China is taking steps to fulfill its pledge not to assist
unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. By putting in place an effective export control system, China
can help establish a basis for activating the 1985 Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation Agreement
between our two nations.
At the same time, problems remain. We recently imposed sanctions against several Chinese
individuals and private companies for contributing to Iran's chemical weapons program. We are
also concerned by continued reports of Chinese missile-related exports to Pakistan and Iran. We
will continue to use all the tools we have -- cooperation... persistent diplomacy... targeted
sanctions when appropriate -- to encourage improvements in China's nonproliferation efforts.
We believe China must increasingly come to see that it is in China's own interest not to aid the
spread of dangerous weapons or to fuel instability in its own neighborhood.
[Into the Proliferation Zones]
The third major component of our nonproliferation strategy is to address the underlying conflicts
and tensions that drive proliferation in three key regions: the Korean peninsula, the Middle East,
and South Asia. In these regions, the international treaties and multilateral export control
agreements may help to slow proliferation, or at least create barriers that deter countries from
openly challenging nonproliferation norms. But substantial progress will require a change in the
security calculation of the states in question.
On the Korean peninsula, the 1994 Agreed Framework has frozen North Korea's program to
produce nuclear material and established a plan for eventual North Korean compliance with
IAEA safeguards, removal of nuclear materials and dismantling of North Korea's nuclear
facilities. At the same time, the Agreed Framework is potentially vulnerable to political
pressures and regional tensions. Moreover, we remain concerned by North Korea's chemical
weapons capabilities and missile program, including exports. To meet these threats, our broader
security strategy in the region includes maintaining a strong alliance with South Korea and
beginning the four-party talks to establish a permanent peace on the peninsula, as well as our
direct contacts with North Korea on missile and CW issues.
In the Middle East, proliferation is driven by the strategic rivalry between Iran and Iraq for
supremacy in the Gulf and by the absence of a comprehensive peace between Israel and its
neighbors. Our strategy has three main elements: First, we must remain vigilant about Iraq's
efforts to revive its weapons programs, by maintaining Security Council restraints on Iraq's
military capabilities and supporting the intrusive inspection regimes conducted by UNSCOM and
the IAEA. Second, we are seeking to strengthen the international effort to deny Iran the means to
develop nuclear and chemical weapons and ballistic missiles. Finally, we remain deeply
committed to continuing an active role to helping to reduce tensions and resolve the Arab-Israeli
conflict, which would allow regional arms control and security talks to resume and ultimately
remove incentives for proliferation.
In South Asia, India and Pakistan have acquired nuclear and missile capabilities and continue to
expand their programs, although each side has avoided acknowledging its capabilities and
deploying such weapons. A near term political solution to proliferation in South Asia is
But there are hopeful signs that the new governments in Delhi and Islamabad are genuinely
interested in pursuing dialogue and improving bilateral relations, which may reinforce the de
facto restraints that both sides are observing. The United States will continue to encourage India
and Pakistan to settle their differences at the negotiating table. We also continue to urge both
sides to move in the right direction on CTBT and the Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty, and to
freeze and eventually eliminate their nuclear and missile arsenals.
I know the focus of your conference this week is to enhance the tools we need to meet the varied
threats we face that we outlined today. Our administration will continue to look to all of you to
help us make these truly the best and not the worst of times. And I hope we can continue to work
together in the coming years as we take on the proliferation challenges of the next century.
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