U.S. Steps Up Campaign for Treaty, Scores Successes
UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ American diplomats dug in today for an ``intense effort″ in the coming weeks to turn the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty into a permanent, untouchable charter of global arms control.
They will have to contend with Third World advocates, like Indonesia’s Izhar Ibrahim, who first want to use the treaty _ designed to stop the spread of atomic arms _ to force the big powers to reduce their own arsenals.
Making the 25-year-old pact a permanent document ``would mean the permanent legitimization of nuclear weapons,″ the Indonesian ambassador complained Tuesday in the second day of a historic, month-long U.N. conference to renew the treaty.
``It will thus lead to a permanent division of the world into nuclear haves and have-nots.″
Vice President Al Gore topped the U.N. agenda today with a speech to reassure Third Worlders that the Clinton administration is committed to arms control, and to warn against loading down the treaty with new strings.
A stepped-up U.S. lobbying effort paid off Tuesday when the State Department reported that South African officials, after meeting with Secretary of State Warren Christopher, threw ``very strong support″ behind the U.S. proposal for an indefinite, unconditional extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
When the pact took force in 1970, it was for only a 25-year guaranteed run. It stipulated that after that _ in 1995 _ the 178 member nations must decide whether to extend it indefinitely, or for a fixed period or periods.
Under the treaty’s provisions, five existing nuclear powers are recognized _ the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China _ and all governments are committed to keep nuclear weapons from spreading beyond that.
In exchange, the five pledged to work ``in good faith″ toward total nuclear disarmament. It’s that side of the bargain that many Third Worlders complain is not being met.
Some want to extend the treaty for only limited periods, making each further renewal contingent on concrete steps toward total nuclear disarmament _ in such areas as a comprehensive test-ban treaty, further deep cuts in U.S. and Russian arsenals, and a treaty banning production of fissile material for bombs.
The United States believes it now has a narrow majority in favor of renewing the treaty indefinitely and unconditionally. But it would like to expand that, to maintain broad long-term support for the pact.
The chief U.S. arms control official, John Holum, told reporters Tuesday the Americans will be listening to the Third Worlders’ ideas ``and be receptive.″
``We’ve been thinking as a government about the kinds of language that might be useful″ _ in other words, what assurances on arms control in the conference’s final document might win more support for indefinite extension.
But the U.S. delegation will fight to keep the extension decision from being formally linked to the declaration’s goals.
``We’re looking forward to an intense and diligent effort the next four weeks,″ Holum said.
In addresses Tuesday, foreign ministers did not always stake out firm positions on the extension question:
_Mexico’s Jose Angel Gurria, once expected to push hard for limited extensions, only expressed the hope a ``suitable formula″ could be agreed on by a large majority. Mexico is in a diplomatic squeeze because of its dependence on U.S. aid in its current economic crisis.
_China’s Qian Qichen called only for a ``smooth extension.″
_Nigeria’s Tom Ikimi said the treaty should be extended for a fixed period and tied to ``a program of action to achieve a nuclear-free world in the 21st century.″
Japan, Canada and Britain were among those who spoke in favor of indefinite, unconditional extension.