Senate Foreign Relations Committee Approves Holum

Craig Cerniello

THE SENATE FOREIGN Relations Committee on June 30 approved John Holum, former director of the now-defunct Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), as President Clinton's nominee for the position of undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs. The full Senate must now vote on his nomination.

During his June 28 confirmation hearing, in which only Senators Charles Hagel (R-NE) and Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) participated, Holum addressed the effectiveness of the State Department's reorganization plan as well as the administration's efforts to reduce the threat posed by the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Although once opposed to the merger of ACDA into the State Department, Holum said, "Our reorganization plan, diligently implemented, will make us more effective than we otherwise would have been in combating proliferation, reducing arms, and advancing key political-military missions."

After explaining the various tools available to the United States in reducing the weapons proliferation threat, such as intelligence assets, global treaty regimes and sanctions, Holum said that ballistic missile defenses must be part of the equation. In his prepared testimony he said, "Arms controllers must also recognize our discipline's limits, and be prepared to integrate arms control with defense planning. In light of new estimates on the ballistic missile threat, in particular from North Korea and Iran, National Missile Defense, or NMD, is now closer to becoming another integral part of our strategy against proliferation." During the hearing, however, Holum explained that no decision has yet been made on NMD deployment and that such a decision would be based on four key criteria: the effectiveness of the technology, maturity of the "rogue nation" ICBM threat, cost factors and arms control considerations.