THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
PRESS BRIEFING BY ROBERT BELL, SENIOR DIRECTOR OF DEFENSE POLICY AND ARMS CONTROL AT THE NATIONAL SECURITY COUNCIL
The Briefing Room
1:34 P.M. EDT
MS. GLYNN: The penultimate briefer, Bob Bell, the Senior Director of Defense Policy and Arms Control at the National Security Council.
MR. BELL: Secretary O'Leary and Mr. Gibbons have emphasized that today is an important day, and indeed it is, not just because of these distinguished Science and technology medals and the announcement of the supercomputer research contract that, as Secretary O'Leary has said, will help underpin our CTB stockpile stewardship program, but also because 33 years ago today, President Kennedy, in a famous speech, spoke to the American people from the Oval Office on the occasion of the agreement that had just been reached in Moscow on the limited test ban treaty which prohibited all nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water.
And even as President Kennedy praised the limited test ban treaty as a shaft of light that cut into the darkness and a welcome sign of hope to all the world, he made clear that our goal were still more ambitious: a more comprehensive treaty banning all nuclear tests everywhere, including underground. So 33 years later, today, and after almost three years of hard negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, we are today faced with a genuine opportunity in the next few days and weeks to realize President Kennedy's vision -- a truly comprehensive test ban treaty.
At the national medals ceremony that will follow shortly after this briefing, the President will be addressing his plans for achieving this historic goal when the Conference on Disarmament reconvenes in Geneva on Monday. And I would be happy to take any questions you have on this subject of the CTB.
Q How are you going to get around India's opposition?
MR. BELL: Well, first, let me say that we're looking forward to going back to Geneva on Monday. India has made clear that it will come back to Geneva on Monday. We hope that the Conference on Disarmament will quickly come to a consensus decision to send this text that has been produced now by the chairman of the negotiating committee on to the U.N. so it can be available for signature in September.
We hope that India might yet decide that this treaty and this text is in its national security interest. After all, India was present at the creation in 1954 with Prime Minister Nehru when the entire CTB initiative began worldwide. If, however, India should conclude in the next several weeks that it's not in the position yet to sign this treaty, we hope that the treaty will go forward. The text that's been produced by the chairman itself allows a two-year period before the treaty could enter into force. And during those two years, we would not only be engaged in very close consultations with New Delhi on our view of the value of this treaty -- not only for ourselves and the world, but for India -- but there would be further steps being taken in areas of interest to India, including further steps in arms control.
Q -- moves for implementation, does the treaty require unanimity, or can it go into effect even if India were to opt out?
MR. BELL: The text that the United States is supporting -- and that now has been embraced publicly by Russia, France, the United Kingdom and other states -- the text that we hope that the Conference on Disarmament will quickly unite behind in Geneva and send on to the United Nations has a list of states that must ratify before the treaty goes into force. And that includes not only the five declared nuclear states, but also states like India, Pakistan, Israel and a number of others. So the condition for entering the treaty into force would require India to reach a decision sometime in the future to sign the treaty. If they were to reach that decision in the next two years, the treaty would enter into force on time.
However, this text also has an interesting feature that was put in with U.S. support and at U.S. urging that would provide a conference that could be held three years after the treaty was opened for signature at which those states that had decided to sign the treaty would meet and decide how to go forward if they're faced with the situation that one or more states is still not on board and therefore, the entry into force criteria had not been satisfied.
Q What is the fifth country? We have Russia, France, U.K. --
MR. BELL: China.
Q And the other states -- forgive me, I should know this -- but the other states that you would expect to sign it, that you'd want to sign, besides India would be?
MR. BELL: Well, we would hope that all 197 -- I believe it is --- states that are in Atlanta right now in the Olympics would sign. And, indeed, the word we see not only in the Conference on Disarmament, but at the United Nations is that there is near universal support for this treaty and this text.
Q What about Israel, what have they said?
MR. BELL: Israel has been a full participant in these negotiations, first as an observer to the Conference on Disarmament; and in the last number of weeks Israel, itself, became a member of the Conference on Disarmament.
The Israeli government had a number of points that it wanted to see improved as the treaty text went through different iterations. And in the final text quite a long list of points of particular concern to Israel were, indeed, incorporated in the final text. So we're very hopeful that when the Conference on Disarmament reconvenes on Monday that Israel will announce that it can support this treaty.
Q Well, is she a declared nuclear power?
MR. BELL: Well, the declared nuclear powers have always been identified as the permanent five members of the Security Council and I would refer you to the government of Israel, itself, Helen, in terms of --
Q She has never announce that she has nuclear stockpile or anything else. And we've never acknowledged it, in deference to Israel.
MR. BELL: Well, the objective of the treaty is to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons, both horizontally and vertically, in terms of improvements by the declared states. So there are a number of states that are required for entering the force of this treaty and, as I said, Israel is on that list.
Q Just to kind of complete the loop here, is the idea, then, of announcing this at this particular point to say okay, come on board, because now the technology exists that you can actually simulate weapons without testing them? Is that one of the --
MR. BELL: Well, let me be very clear. We addressed this here on August 11th, when the President announced the zero yield decision. But the purpose of the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship program is to allow us to maintain the safety and the reliability of our existing stockpile, absent nuclear testing. We are not seeking through our technology to acquire the means to frustrate the CTB or to find technological alternatives to build new weapons types, absent testing. We accept that the effect of the treaty will be to rule out opportunities to create new weapons types, absent nuclear testing.
In other words, it will halt the vertical proliferation of nuclear weaponry.
MR. MCCURRY: Thanks, Bob.
END 1:38 P.M. EDT