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"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
United States

United States Regains No. 1 Position On UN Conventional Arms Register

Arms Control and the 1996 Election

Since 1976, the Arms Control Association has provided a “Candidates’ Forum” in Arms Control Today for the major presidential candidates to present their views on a range of important arms control and national security issues.
Their responses to the candidates’ questionnaire have provided ACT readers, the interested public and the media with the opportunity to assess the candidates’ detailed opinions and plans on some of the most crucial foreign policy questions facing the country today.
Invitations to participate in this year’s forum, the sixth to appear in ACT, were extended to both Bill Clinton and Bob Dole.  Unfortunately, ACA’s long tradition of providing the views of the main challenger ended this year when the campaign of Republican Party nominee Bob Dole declined to provide responses to any of the questions posed in the 1996 forum. 
In this issue of ACT, we present President Bill Clinton’s responses to the 10 questions comprising this year’s questionnaire.

ACT: Is a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the U.S. national interest? If so, what steps should be taken to bring it into force? If not, should the United States end its moratorium on nuclear weapon tests?

I am proud that on September 24, 1996, at the United Nations, I became the first world leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Within one week, almost 100 nations had followed suit— including the other four declared nuclear powers (Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom)—creating a compelling international norm against nuclear testing even before the treaty formally enters into force.

The CTBT will constrain the development and improvement of nuclear weapons and create a formidable barrier to the development of new generations of weapons. This quest is all the more urgent because of the efforts of rogue states and terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction. For the five nuclear-weapon states, there will be no way to test more advanced and more destructive devices. For states that do not possess nuclear weapons, the ban on testing will make it more difficult to develop reliable weapons and fit them for sophisticated missiles and bombers.

Signing the CTBT fulfilled a quest begun by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy—a quest I took up as president. In July 1993, my administration extended the moratorium on testing begun at the insistence of Congress the year before. This U.S. initiative energized the Geneva Conference on Disarmament (CD) to begin work on a CTBT. When negotiations reached an impasse over the scope of the treaty’s prohibition on testing, the United States broke the deadlock by announcing support for a true “zero-yield” ban— one that would forbid any nuclear weapons test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.

In order for the CTBT to enter into force—which cannot be earlier than two years after signature—all participating member- states of the CD with nuclear research and/or power reactors, a total of 44 countries—must ratify the agreement. Thus we will have two years to gather the necessary ratifications, and we will work hard to achieve that goal. If, three years after signature, one or more of the 44 states have not ratified the treaty, the CTBT provides for an annual conference to consider what measures may be taken to accelerate the ratification process and the treaty’s entry into force. These provisions provide an effective pathway to implement the treaty.

The United States will continue its nuclear testing moratorium pending entry into force of the treaty. We can meet the challenge of maintaining our nuclear deterrent under a CTBT through a Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program without nuclear testing. I directed the implementation of such a program almost three years ago so that we would be ready for the treaty’s implementation.

ACT: Should the United States seek strategic arms reduction agreements beyond those called for under START II? If so, what should be the scope and pace of such reductions?

President Boris Yeltsin and I have already agreed that we would discuss the possibility of strategic arms reduction agreements beyond those called for under the START treaties—including limitations on and monitoring of warheads and fissile material—once the Russian Duma ratifies START II.

In the meanwhile, our focus is on ensuring smooth implementation of START I and on achieving the ratification and implementation of START II. Once START II is ratified, we will work with Russia to deactivate all strategic delivery systems to be reduced under START II by removing their nuclear warheads.

ACT: Should the United States deploy a national missile defense system? If so, when should it be deployed and how capable should it be? Should such a system be compliant with the ABM Treaty? If not, should the ABM Treaty be repudiated?

A strong national missile defense (NMD) policy begins with an effective arms control and non-proliferation strategy. By cutting arsenals around the world and working to prevent weapons of mass destruction from falling into the hands of rogue states or terrorist groups, we minimize the risks to our troops and our people. That’s why the far-reaching arms control and non-proliferation agenda we have embarked on—including the START treaties; extending indefinitely the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); ridding Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan of the nuclear weapons left on their land when the Soviet Union dissolved; freezing North Korea’s dangerous nuclear program; signing the CTBT; fighting for the Chemical Weapons Convention; working with Russia and other former Soviet republics to safeguard nuclear materials and destroy nuclear weapons—is doubly important.

All of these efforts—and the overwhelming deterrent force of our own arsenal—focus on reducing the threat of weapons of mass destruction. But we also need to be prepared to defend ourselves in the event that preventive measures fail. That’s why my administration is spending $3 billion a year on a strong, sensible missile defense program based on real threats and pragmatic responses.
Our first priority is to defend against existing or near-term threats, like short- and medium-range missile attacks on our troops in the field or on our allies. We have requested over $1 billion for research, development and procurement of effective theater missile defenses, including the Patriot, PAC-3, MEADS, Navy Lower Tier, THAAD and Navy Upper Tier.

Our second priority is developing a capability to defend against ICBMs and cruise missiles which may threaten American soil in the future—a threat our intelligence has concluded is at least 10 years away. My administration is developing a national missile defense system that could be deployed as soon as the year 2003— well ahead of when we expect to see a long-range threat to the United States. Our program complies with the ABM Treaty, which has prevented and continues to prevent a costly and futile arms race in defenses against strategic ballistic missiles and has made deep reductions in strategic weapons possible.

The Republican leadership in Congress supports a different plan. They would require us to choose today a missile defense system that the Congressional Budget Office estimates will cost $30 billion to $60 billion (with billions more to operate) before it is proven to work and before there is a real threat to our country. Their system would violate the ABM Treaty that makes us more secure and jeopardize other arms control agreements like START II. That is the wrong way to defend America.

ACT: Should the United States seek an agreement clarifying what theater missile defense (TMD) systems are permitted under the ARM Treaty? What should be the capability, extent and pace of TMD deployments?

The danger to U.S. forces abroad, our friends and our allies from shorter-range, non-strategic ballistic missiles requires the United States to develop and field effective theater missile defense systems. We can meet that requirement without violating or circumventing the ABM Treaty.

Since 1993, the United States, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan have been discussing “demarcation”—looking at ways to make clear the distinction between theater ballistic missile defenses not limited by the treaty and strategic ballistic missile defenses limited by the treaty, and to increase mutual confidence concerning these non-strategic missile defenses. My administration and the Congress are both committed to developing and deploying highly effective theater missile defense systems. Our disagreement is with those who would throw the ABM Treaty overboard and spend tens of billions of scarce defense dollars to prematurely speed up deployment of a national missile defense system which is currently unnecessary.

In the Joint Summit Statement of May 1995, President Yeltsin and I set forth an agreed set of principles that has provided the basis for subsequent discussion and negotiation of the demarcation agreement.

Earlier this year, we and the Russians reached agreement on demarcation relating to lower-velocity TMD systems. The core of this initial agreement is that all TMD systems with an interceptor velocity not exceeding 3 kilometers per second could be tested against a ballistic target missile with a range no greater than 3,500 kilometers or a velocity no greater than 5 kilometers per second. We also agreed that this initial demarcation agreement would include confidence-building measures. These measures, which include data exchanges and advance notification of test launches, are aimed at assuring both sides that neither one’s theater missile defense systems will pose a realistic threat to the other side’s strategic nuclear force by increasing confidence that their theater missile defense programs are consistent with stated intentions.
When the Standing Consultative Commission meets in October, it will conform and prepare for signature of this initial lower- velocity theater missile defense agreement, and begin discussions on higher-velocity TMDs.

ACT: Should the United States take steps to reduce the global trade in conventional weapons? If so, what unilateral or multilateral steps should the United States support?

My administration announced a new conventional arms transfer policy in February 1995 to guide U.S. efforts to control the global trade in conventional weapons. This policy serves our national interest by supporting arms transfers that meet the continuing security needs of our country, our friends and our allies— while restraining arms transfers that may be destabilizing or threatening to regional peace and security.
Our policy stresses a regional as well as a global approach by supporting regional initiatives for conceiving, developing and proposing conventional arms transparency and restraint regimes in such regions as Southeast Asia, Latin America and the Middle East. While promoting regional and multilateral restraint, the policy recognizes that transfers of conventional arms are a legitimate instrument of U.S. foreign policy when such transfers help friends and allies deter aggression, promote regional security and increase interoperability of U.S. and allied forces. U.S. government arms sales dropped from $33 billion in 1993 to $9 billion in 1995.

The centerpiece of U.S. efforts to promote multilateral restraint is our leadership of suppliers in establishing a multilateral regime, the Wassenaar Arrangement, that will control the transfer of conventional weapons and advanced dual-use technologies to countries and regions where they could threaten stability and security. This regime fulfills a critical priority of my administration and would not have been possible without U.S. leadership. It will provide an international mechanism for controlling transfers of conventional armaments and an avenue in which governments can consider effectively the implications of various transfers on their security interests and regional security interests.

Separate from this arrangement, since 1992, the United States has observed an export moratorium on anti-personnel landmines, and urges all other countries to do the same.

ACT: Should the United States continue to implement the agreed nuclear framework with North Korea? How should the United States deal with the potential North Korean ballistic missile threat?

When my administration took office, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) had been developing a dangerous nuclear program for more than a decade. It was operating a 5- megawatt reactor, ideally configured to produce plutonium for weapons. It had built a large reprocessing facility and was in the process of greatly expanding its capacity. And Pyongyang was building two larger reactors, which eventually would have produced enough plutonium for dozens of nuclear weapons every year.

My administration led an international effort that succeeded in persuading North Korea to freeze and dismantle its plutonium production program, under international monitoring. Since the signing of the agreed framework in October 1994, North Korea has halted construction and operations at its graphite-moderated reactors and reprocessing facility, cooperated in storing its spent fuel without reprocessing and allowing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) monitoring of its nuclear freeze.

The U.S.-DPRK agreed framework has been successful beyond the expectations of most observers. The threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear program has been substantially reduced on the Cold War’s last frontier—a heavily armed area of high tension where military preparedness is intense and political intentions are difficult to determine.

International support for the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) and its mission has resulted in over $90 million in contributions to date. KEDO’s efforts to implement the agreed framework continues to move forward, with the preparation of the reactor site in North Korea scheduled to begin this year. However, no major nuclear components will be supplied until North Korea has satisfied the IAEA that it is in full compliance with its Non-Proliferation Treaty obligations.

The U.S.-DPRK joint effort to safely store North Korea’s spent fuel containing materials which could be used to make nuclear weapons continues to make progress. More than 3,000 out of 8,000 fuel rods have already been canned. I anticipate the effort will be completed sometime in 1997. This is an important step since this fuel, if reprocessed, would provide enough plutonium for five to six nuclear devices.

The agreed framework does not rely on trust. All of its steps will be verifiable. The agreed framework will defuse one of the most dangerous nuclear hotspots in the world, and, upon full implementation, will ultimately resolve this proliferation threat. There still remains, however, more North Korean progress to be made on issues of concern such as the North Korea-South Korea dialogue, missile proliferation, MIAs and conventional military forces. Continued implementation of the agreed framework will help create an atmosphere that promotes progress in these areas.

A particular area of concern is North Korea’s ballistic missile- related activities. North Korea has been an active supplier of Scud missiles and related items to other countries and continues to develop ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction. We are working bilaterally and multilaterally to encourage the DPRK to accept Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) restrictions on the export of missiles and missile technologies. We will continue to strengthen the MTCR and to work to convince dangerous exporters like North Korea to abide by the MTCR.

ACT: What steps should the United States take to ensure China fulfills its non-proliferation commitments?

Constructive U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China (PRC) are of fundamental importance to the preservation of world peace and regional security. We seek a productive relationship with a secure, open and prosperous PRC that is increasingly integrated into the international community.

My administration’s policy of “Comprehensive Engagement” seeks productive dialogue with the PRC on our mutual interests, including arms control and non-proliferation—but also trade and investment, human rights, the war against drug trafficking, alien smuggling, international crime, terrorism and protection of the environment.

With regard to the PRC’s non-proliferation commitments, its support was important to the success of the U.S.-DPRK framework agreement that froze North Korea’s dangerous nuclear program under international supervision. The United States also welcomed the PRC’s commitment to an early conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and—especially in South Asia—to nuclear and missile non-proliferation.

However, there are areas where additional progress must be made. We have long had concerns about the PRC’s cooperation with Pakistan’s unsafeguarded nuclear program, including the transfer by a PRC entity of ring magnets for use in uranium enrichment. In response to our diplomatic initiatives earlier this year, the PRC made a significant new public commitment not to provide assistance—including ring magnets—to unsafeguarded nuclear programs. They have also agreed to consultations on nuclear and other export controls.

This pledge by the PRC goes well beyond earlier commitments. China has accepted responsibility not only to control nuclear items specifically listed on the international trigger list, but also dual-use items and other forms of assistance to unsafeguarded nuclear facilities. It is an important step forward which we will build upon through follow-up consultations at the expert level and the political level.

We are also continuing to work with China to resolve our concerns about its missile-related cooperation with Pakistan and other countries. In August 1993, we imposed sanctions against Chinese and Pakistani entities for their involvement in the transfer of M-ll-related items to Pakistan. As a consequence of our non-proliferation discussions, Beijing agreed in 1994 to reaffirm its earlier commitment to abide by the MTCR guidelines and to forego the transfer of ground-to-ground MTCR-class missiles. China’s agreement not to export such missiles is an important achievement which goes beyond the requirements of the MTCR in this area. We need to build upon these commitments as we address other missile-related concerns.

These new understandings with the PRC set a clear benchmark for assessing further PRC nuclear and missile cooperation with other countries. We will be watching such cooperation closely and we will raise with the PRC any indications that their activities do not conform to our understandings. We believe that these understandings provide a solid foundation for avoiding future difficulties and for cooperating to promote shared non-proliferation goals.

ACT: Are current efforts adequate or should the United States devote more attention and resources to the nuclear safety and security issues posed by the collapse of the former Soviet Union?

The dissolution of the Soviet Union created a whole series of unforeseen and complex problems. One problem is that the centralized security systems that characterized the Soviet nuclear complex no longer function as they once did. The Russian government recognized that a lack of adequate security is a serious danger and is thus cooperating with us on improving nuclear safety and security that affect our common interests. Nuclear weapons remain tightly controlled, but many civil facilities holding weapons- usable material are in need of security upgrades. We have a clear national security interest in assisting Russia and the new independent states to establish and maintain effective systems of security for nuclear materials. Enhancing the safety and security of non-strategic nuclear weapons and strategic nuclear weapons scheduled for dismantlement in Russia is one of my administration’s highest priorities, given the potential for possible diversion of these weapons and materials to unauthorized parties.
The Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR) Program has been critical to the U.S. effort to ensure that nuclear weapons dismantlement in the former Soviet Union is accomplished rapidly, safely and securely. CTR programs cover safe and secure transport and storage of fissile material, fissile material control and accounting, export controls, weapons security and nuclear reactor safety.

At our January 1994 summit, President Yeltsin and I explicitly agreed to seek more transparency and irreversibility in the process of reduction of nuclear weapons and to exchange detailed information on aggregate stockpiles of nuclear warheads, on stocks of fissile materials and on their safety and security. Russia also agreed to consider voluntary acceptance of IAEA safeguards on all fissionable materials, excluding only those having direct national security significance. The Russian government, following the U.S. lead, also specifically agreed to consider putting excess fissile material released from military uses as a result of nuclear arms reductions under IAEA safeguards.
Our September 1994 summit added several new specific initiatives, including exchanging data on inventories of nuclear materials removed from dismantled warheads; designing and establishing safeguards, including reciprocal inspections of storage facilities for nuclear materials removed from nuclear warheads; and defining appropriate safeguards for the cutoff of fissile materials production.

In response to President Yeltsin’s proposal on nuclear safety and strategic stability among the five nuclear powers, President Yeltsin and I declared at our May1995 summit that fissile materials removed from nuclear weapons being eliminated and excess to national security requirements will not be used to manufacture nuclear weapons; no newly produced fissile materials will be used in nuclear weapons; and fissile materials from or within civil programs will not be used to manufacture nuclear weapons.
At the April 1996 Nuclear Safety and Security Summit in Moscow, the G-7 and Russia declared their support for efforts to ensure that all sensitive nuclear material retired from weapons programs is safely stored, protected and placed under IAEA safeguards as soon as possible. We agreed to establish an international program for preventing and combating illicit trafficking in nuclear materials, including increased cooperation in detection, investigation and prosecution. We also agreed to convene a meeting of international experts this year to identify possible areas of international cooperation to dispose of plutonium designated as no longer required for military purposes.
U.S. nuclear security assistance to Russia now totals several hundred million dollars over the past four years and it has resulted in physical protection and material control accounting systems for nuclear facilities ranging from power reactors to research institutes in the Baltic Republics, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan and Belarus. It has also included law enforcement training and export control assistance for countries of Central Europe, the Baltics, Central Asia and the Caucasus, and the establishment of scientific centers in Moscow and Kiev to provide non-weapons-related employment for former weapons scientists. Secure transportation and storage training and cooperation for the dismantlement of nuclear weapons has also been provided to Russia.

ACT: Is the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) in the U.S. national security interest? Should the United States be prepared to commit significant resources to assist Russia in the destruction of its chemical weapons stockpile?

In early September of this year, the U.S. Senate missed a historic opportunity to make our soldiers and citizens safer by failing to vote on the CWC. The fact that our troops were facing off at that time against Saddam Hussein, who once amassed stockpiles of chemical weapons (CW) and still seeks to develop them, should have underscored the importance of this treaty.

The CWC is the most comprehensive treaty in the history of arms control, banning an entire class of weapons of mass destruction. On purely military grounds, the case for the CWC is compelling. It obliges all parties to destroy all chemical weapons and to forswear ever developing, producing or acquiring chemical weapons. Thus, it will dramatically reduce the chance of American troops ever facing such weapons on the battlefield. Moreover, the treaty’s provisions for inspections on short notice of suspected production and storage facilities will create a strong system to verify compliance.

The treaty will also make life tougher for rogue states like Iraq. Those few nations which refuse to sign will find themselves increasingly isolated. Tough new trade controls will prohibit states-parties from selling them the ingredients for chemical weapons—making it more difficult for them to build the weapons. The destruction of current stockpiles—including at least 40,000 tons of poison gas in Russia alone—will put the largest potential source of chemical weapons out of the reach of terrorists. And moving ahead with the treaty will also strengthen the hand of our law enforcement officials. Right now, we have a limited ability to investigate people suspected of planning a chemical attack. Bringing U.S. law into line with the CWC would change that and give us the most powerful legal tools to investigate the development, production, transfer or acquisition of chemical weapons—as well as their actual use. It’s been nearly four years since President Bush signed the CWC, and three years since my administration submitted it to the Congress. We have been at this a long time, and I will continue to work with the Senate to pass the CWC early next year.

The destruction of chemical weapons in Russia is primarily the responsibility of the Russian government. Russia has requested international assistance to destroy its stockpile, but the Russians have also made it clear that the program will be financed primarily by Russia itself. At the same time, it is in the U.S. security interest, along with other countries, to support Russia in this effort. U.S. support to Russia has been targeted at assisting in the destruction of nerve agent stocks because they are fully weaponized and comprise over 80 percent of Russia’s CW stockpile. With Congress’ support, we hope to design and construct a pilot-scale CW destruction facility at Shchuch’ye for this effort.

ACT: What additional steps should the United States take to advance arms control and strengthen the international non-proliferation regime?

Our arms control successes—no new nuclear-weapon states from the former Soviet Union, no former Soviet weapons aimed at us, real disarmament of strategic nuclear weapons, a permanent and stronger NPT, a comprehensive nuclear test ban, and a halt to North Korea’s dangerous nuclear activities—have made the United States and the world safer. The overriding reality is, however, that we still live in a dangerous world, one still bristling with overarmament and the persistent danger of proliferation by rogue regimes and terrorists.

The administration-wide effort to deal with this threat includes pressing for compliance with international and domestic non-proliferation norms; taking steps to reduce motives for and otherwise impede acquisition of weapons of mass destruction and missiles; and implementing appropriate remedies to prevent illicit trafficking in nuclear materials from the former Soviet Union.

On September 24,1996, I joined the overwhelming majority of the world’s leaders in signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We are doing everything possible to see that all nations of the world sign and ratify this treaty as soon as possible. This treaty will ensure that there will not be another qualitative arms race, and will also restrain proliferation by denying aspiring proliferators the ability to refine their weapons and make them easier to deliver.

In my September 24, 1996, address to the UN General Assembly, I outlined six U.S. arms control and non-proliferation goals to further curb the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and reduce the dangerous legacy of Cold War weapons stockpiles:

• Chemical Weapons Convention: I called on the Senate to pass the CWC to protect Americans from chemical attack and take the fight to rogue states and terrorists by helping ban poison gas from the earth. I also urged other nations to sign and ratify the treaty without delay.
• Fissile Material Cutoff: I called on the Conference on Disarmament to begin negotiations without delay on a fissile material cutoff treaty that would end the unsafeguarded production of these materials for nuclear weapons forever This non-discriminatory ban would add momentum to current efforts to reduce global stocks of these deadly materials, and help fulfill the promise of the NPT Extension and Review Conference.
• Further Reductions in Nuclear Forces: I called on Russia to secure ratification of START II by the Duma. I also reaffirmed my intent to begin discussions with Russia on the possibility of further reductions in nuclear forces, including limitations on and monitoring of warheads and fissile material, as soon as START II enters into force.
• Strengthen the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: I pushed for full compliance with the NPT and strengthened tools—including environmental sampling and access to undeclared facilities— needed to assure compliance. I urged all nations that have not signed the NPT to do so without delay.
• Biological Weapons Convention (BWC): I called for strengthening the means to monitor compliance with the BWC at the upcoming BWC Review Conference—through such measures as mandatory declarations and on-site inspections—with the goal of completing a legally binding protocol by 1998.
• Anti-Personnel Landmines: I called for swift negotiations of a worldwide ban on the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti-personnel landmines.

In addition, the United States has long supported, in principle, the establishment of regional nuclear-weapon-free zones. This year, the United States signed the relevant protocols to the South Pacific and African nuclear-weapon-free-zone treaties. My administration is also intensifying efforts to develop, foster and support regional confidence- and security-building measures in Eurasia, the Middle East, Asia/Pacific, Latin America and Africa. Our efforts will reduce tension, promote or maintain peace and remove incentives for arms races or development of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems.

Finally, now that the First Review Conference of the Conventional Armed Forces in Europe (CFE) Treaty has been completed, we will turn our attention to adaptation of CFE to ensure that the treaty will continue to provide the basis for stability and security in Europe. We will also continue to urge Belarus, Russia and Ukraine to ratify the Open Skies Treaty so that it can enter into force. The Open Skies Treaty will strengthen confidence and transparency with respect to military activities of the nations of Eurasia and North America.

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