Today's date:
Summer 1995

Breaking Up the Nuclear Family

Non-Proliferation Shows America Can't Go It Alone

Madeleine K. Albright, the United States Ambassador to the United Nations, headed the American delegation to the recent UN conference that renewed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty.

UNITED NATIONS - After a long diplomatic campaign, led by President Clinton and Vice President Gore, the nations of the world agreed to make permanent the quarter-century-old and about-to-expire nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty - the NPT. In a world that sometimes seems ever more dangerous and uncertain, this decision is a milestone.

By making the NPT permanent, we have helped advance what is perhaps America's highest priority in foreign policy-preventing the spread of nuclear weapons into the hands of a hostile power or terrorists.

The NPT has not had a perfect record. But it has turned the development of a nuclear bomb from a celebration of nationalist pride and power, as it was threatening to become in the 1960s, into a violation of international law subject to inspections and condemnation. The treaty has prompted a number of countries that once planned to develop nuclear capabilities to give up that ambition. It has caused others to slow or freeze nuclear programs. It has deterred many others from starting down that road. Without the NPT, we would have seen new nuclear states emerge in troubled regions around the globe.

As a result of diplomatic determination, the treaty was extended forever. By avoiding a 10- or 20-year deadline, countries need not develop a nuclear program to hedge against the day that the ban would expire. Now, nearly all countries of the world have committed themselves never to obtain nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, the five "declared" nuclear powers (the US, Britain, France, China and Russia) have pledged to redouble our already-productive efforts to reduce nuclear stockpiles and nuclear testing, and to ensure that nuclear technology is made available to those who will use it only for peaceful purposes, such as energy and medical research.

To Americans, this diplomatic achievement shows the value of acting with others through the UN system. Like it or not, stopping nuclear proliferation requires the active support of other countries and international institutions. Indeed, we used every diplomatic tool and every international forum to convince individual countries of the benefits to them of a permanent treaty. America, or other nations, simply can't "go it alone" when it comes to key objectives like non-proliferation.

Of course, extending the treaty is only a first step. It will be up to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to ensure that countries that have signed the NPT meet their commitments not to develop nuclear weapons. Whenever countries receive nuclear technology, this specialized agency of the UN inspects facilities and monitors operations to see that the material is being used only for the purposes allowed.

The system is by no means foolproof, since countries can keep inspectors away from sites that would expose their duplicity. That is why the US will continue to rely on its own intelligence resources to alert us to nuclear dangers. Nevertheless, having a credible policing agency gives us a window on nuclear programs we would not otherwise have. Only the IAEA has the mandate to oversee the nuclear programs of countries like Iraq and North Korea, and to report violations that require international action.

Taken together, the NPT and the IAEA will help eliminate the uncertainty and fear that could turn regional rivalries into regional nuclear arms races. But we will not rest on our laurels. President Clinton intends to forge ahead with the most ambitious arms control program since the dawn of the nuclear age.

The challenges include a treaty ending nuclear testing once and for all, a ban on the production of fissile material, the agreement to stop the North Korean nuclear program in its tracks, as well as our efforts to stop the spread of chemical and biological weapons and the ballistic missiles that deliver them.

I will always remember the moment when the treaty was extended. The delegates of the world spontaneously applauded, for they knew that we had presented a gift to the next generation by forever reducing the risk that additional countries will become nuclear powers.

Nuclear Nervousness
P.V. Narashima Rao is the prime minister of India. He discussed India's stance on nuclear nonproliferation with NPQ editor Nathan Gardels. An excerpt of Prime Minister Rao's remarks appear below.

NEW DELHI - India decided not to sign the Non-Proliferation Treaty at the renewal conference this year because we want worldwide disarmament, not an attempt to perpetuate nuclear arsenals in the hands of a few countries that justify it on the basis of the need to "police" so-called "recalcitrant" Third World states.

As Rajiv Gandhi once observed, this is another one of history's prejudices paraded as an iron law, just like the old ideas that men are superior to women, or that whites are superior to the colored races.

Unless there is complete, global disarmament which eliminates the suspicion in anybody's mind that his neighbor or adversary might have the bomb, there will always be an incentive to reach for nuclear potential.

We can see that, after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, which has left nuclear arsenals in the hands of different republics, there is a scramble to acquire nuclear know-how and technology. Things are being bought and smuggled secretly. This comes from the feeling that "although I don't have it, my neighbor might have it, so I must get it." Part of the mind will always be worrying about this, and that worry can only be removed when all the weapons are removed.

Whatever the rhetoric, this nervousness in the minds of national leaders prevents them from discarding nuclear technology and diverting their energy to peaceful purposes.

India wants to break with this nervous logic of proliferation. Today, we remain committed to the essential elements of the action plan set out by Rajiv Gandhi at the United Nations disarmament session in Vienna in 1988, although the original timetable he proposed can be accelerated because of the end of the Cold War.

That plan encompasses all powers -those that have large arsenals such as the United States and the former Soviet Union; those that have a limited number of nuclear weapons, such as France, Britain or China; those that are about to have them and those that don't have them.

According to the Gandhi plan, the large and limited arsenals would be reduced in a phased manner with the aim of complete elimination by 2010. Then those that are at the threshold would have little motive to enter the club and would thus desist from realizing their potential.

Today, since confrontation between the blocs has dissipated and been replaced by cooperation, we think the goal of disarmament could be reached by the end of the century.

India's Smiling Buddha
Benazir Bhutto is the prime minister of Pakistan. Her comments here are adapted from an article for NPQ's weekly Global Viewpoint column and remarks she made at John Hopkins University during an April visit to the United States.

ISLAMABAD - Pakistan did not introduce the nuclear issue to South Asia. It was in 1974 that India produced and detonated a nuclear device which it ironically named the "Smiling Buddha." India remains the only nation in South Asia to have exploded a nuclear device.

As a matter of policy, Pakistan has neither made, nor tested, a nuclear device. We believe in nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction. Our nuclear program is entirely peaceful in nature. We do not have and do not intend to make nuclear weapons.

In the process of development of our peaceful nuclear program, we have indeed acquired a certain technical capacity. If the existence of our technology and perceived capability has served as a deterrent to India's a deterrent to a proven nuclear power that has gone to war against us three times in the last 48 years -I certainly have no apologies to make.

Compare our restraint to our neighbor's aggressiveness: India is now developing short range ballistic missiles which can target almost all our major cities. It has accelerated its intermediate-range ballistic missiles program and is proceeding on a network of intercontinental missiles as well.

We believe this is spurring an irrational technology race. That is why Pakistan has proposed a zero-misisle regime in South Asia and a nuclear free zone, underscoring our principled commitment to nonproliferation Pakistan is prepared to sign a treaty encompassing these areas: nuclear nonproliferation; a nuclear-free South Asia; a missile-free South Asia; and a regional cap on the production of fissile material.

Unfortunately, the US sanctions on Pakistan, embodied in the Pressler Amendment which prohibits US sale of conventional weapons to my country because of suspicions about our nuclear program, give India no incentive to respond to proposals for nonproliferation. The Pressler Amendment is, in effect, a veto in the hands of India. This statute has acted as an obstacle for a regional solution for nonproliferation

The end of the Cold War has created a propitious climate for achieving general and complete nuclear disarmament. Important agreements for the elimination and control of chemical and biological weapons are already in place.

The world community should show similar resolve in reducing and eliminating the vast arsenals of nuclear weapons that are still in existence. However, global efforts will only be successful if they are vigorously supplemented by nonproliferation measures at the regional level. Pakistan stands ready to do its part.

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