President Clinton Remarks to Carnegie Nonproliferation Conference


Office of the Press Secretary

For Immediate ReleaseMarch 16, 2000


THE PRESIDENT: I am grateful for the opportunity to address theCarnegie Endowment's Annual Nonproliferation Conference. I thank you forcoming together again to focus on the crucial task of curbing the spread ofweapons of mass destruction. All of you know how serious this challengeis; from North Korea's nuclear and missile programs, to ongoing risks thatsensitive materials and technologies will spread from the former SovietUnion, including to Iran, to the imperative of bringing China into globalnonproliferation regimes, to the continuing need for vigilance againstSaddam Hussein.

Stemming this tide has been a critical priority for me for seven yearsnow, and it will be for this year as well. In a few days, I'll travel toSouth Asia. There are those in the region who hope we will simply acceptits nuclear status quo and move on. I will not do that. India andPakistan have legitimate security concerns. But I will make clear our viewthat a nuclear future is a dangerous future for them and for the world.And I'll stress that narrowing our differences on nonproliferation isimportant to moving toward a broader relationship.

I know there are some who have never seen an arms control agreementthey like -- because rules can be violated, because perfect verification isimpossible, because we can't always count on others to keep their word.Still, I believe we must work to broaden and strengthen verifiable armsagreements. The alternative is a world with no rules, no verification andno trust at all.

It would be foolish to rely on treaties alone to protect our security.But it would also be foolish to throw away the tools that sound treaties dooffer: A more predictable security environment, monitoring inspections,the ability to shine a light on threatening behavior and mobilize theentire world against it. So this year, we will work to strengthen theBiological Weapons Convention. We'll increase momentum for universaladherence to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. And as to theComprehensive Test Ban Treaty, I am determined that last year's unfortunateSenate vote will not be America's last word.

With the leadership of General Shalikashvili, we will work hard thisyear to build bipartisan support for ratification. I will continue to callon other nations to forgo testing and join the treaty. We must not losethe chance to end nuclear testing forever. We must also take the nextessential step: A treaty to cut off production of fissile material.

I know this conference will assess the potential impact of our programdirected at emerging missile threats, such as from North Korea, Iran andIraq. I've stressed that a U.S. decision on a limited missile defense willtake into account not only the threat, feasibility and cost, but also theoverall impact on our security and arms control.

The ABM Treaty remains important to our security. Today, dealing withdangerous new missile threats is also vital to global security. So we willcontinue to work with Russia on how to amend the treaty to permit limiteddefenses while keeping its central protections, and we'll continue to seeka START III treaty that will cut our strategic arsenals to 20 percent oftheir Cold War levels.

Let me conclude by wishing you a productive meeting. I value youradvice, I count on your dedication, and I thank you for all you're doing tobuild a safer world.  


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