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"I want to thank the Arms Control Association … for being such effective advocates for sensible policies to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and most importantly, reduce the risk of nuclear war."
– Senator Joe Biden
January 28, 2004
Arms Control Agenda After ACDA
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On March 26, with only days remaining in his tenure as the last director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA), John D. Holum delivered the keynote speech at the annual luncheon meeting of the Arms Control Association (ACA). Holum, who is serving as acting under secretary of state for arms control and international security affairs as ACDA prepares for its formal merger into the State Department on April 1, discussed the current state of U.S. arms control policy and the implication of ACDA's demise as an independent agency. The following is an edited version of his prepared remarks followed by the question and answer period.

   

It's a pleasure to be back after too long. The interval, plus the pace of events, leaves us a lot to discuss. But I have an aversion to speeches that try to cover everything, or even the most important things. They're either too long or too shallow—or both.

Fortunately we have a question and answer session. So, I propose to give you just a couple of mini-speeches on subjects chosen for their timeliness. One is on our proliferation strategy, which is being sorely tested. The other is on how we're organized for arms control and non-proliferation, which is being changed.

We are in a maddeningly complicated period for these missions. International events are ominous enough. We also have internal divisions, which seem to turn virtually every element of our policy into a monumental struggle—whether ratification of a treaty like the comprehensive test ban, or engagement on non-proliferation with a country like China, or sufficient funds to pursue effective diplomacy, or anything else. So it may be useful to sketch out our non-proliferation strategy, to put these measures, and others, in context, and show there is a method here which makes sense and deserves essential support.

Consider, first, the challenge. It is an understatement to say that 1998 was the sort of year non-proliferators are glad to see through the rearview mirror. Unfortunately, the trend, not the calendar, was at fault, and I see the same hazards through the windshield in 1999 and beyond:

• When they shattered the silence at their nuclear test sites, India and Pakistan stepped into a profoundly more dangerous relationship, taking the rest of the world with them.

• Iraq continues its ambitions to acquire weapons of mass destruction [WMD] and has stepped-up its defiance of the United Nations.

• Iran's intermediate-range missile potential threatens its own region and beyond, and its nuclear ambitions are ominous.

• In addition to the suspect nuclear site, North Korea's three-stage missile capability potentially could land payloads on the United States.

So, should we abandon arms control and non-proliferation as a failure? On the contrary, it must remain central to our approach. Let me just briefly review the elements of our strategy against proliferation.

Stronger Regimes: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT] in force, the fissile material cutoff treaty, a strengthened Biological Weapons Convention [BWC], and the Nuclear Physical Protection Convention; we need these additions to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT], the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC] and other regimes, not because everyone can be counted on to obey the rules, but because rules can impede them by creating international standards, justifying sanctions, creating short-notice inspection rights or drying up sources of supply. It helps our non-proliferation efforts when we can remind Russia or China of their legally binding obligations under the NPT, the CWC or the BWC not to assist other countries in acquiring those weapons. The next best thing is their commitment to us and other partners in the various supplier regimes with common export controls, which is why we want China in the Missile Technology Control Regime [MTCR] and the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Again, it doesn't solve all the problems in a single stroke, but it gives us another tool to stroke with.

Better Detection: Not only our own intelligence assets but also those provided internationally; such as the International Atomic Energy Agency's [IAEA's] enhanced safeguards and the CTBT international monitoring system.

Sanctions: Sanctions have a key role. Nobody likes them much, but the conventional wisdom that they never work is wrong. Multilateral is best, but even bilateral sanctions, or the threat of sanctions, can change conduct—the 1996 ring magnets episode being a case in point.

Sanctions warn others that proliferation entails costs.

We also need a flipside—positive inducements. Of course a sanction becomes a positive inducement when you take it off. Activating the 1985 nuclear cooperation agreement with China was done in the context of significant Chinese actions, to phase out even peaceful nuclear cooperation with Iran. The president's Enhanced Threat Reduction Initiative—$4.5 billion over five years—can make a major additional contribution to arms control and non-proliferation goals in the Newly-Independent States [NIS]. Of course our most controversial positive inducements are light-water reactors and interim heavy fuel oil deliveries, linked to North Korea's commitments under the Agreed Framework.

Technical Support: Assuming a commitment to control sensitive technologies and goods, some countries, particularly of the former Eastern bloc, don't know how. Export control assistance is a growth industry. Helping Russia protect sensitive materials is another.

Diplomacy: Demarches about problem shipments, presidential interventions, on patterns of conduct, and everything in between convey unmistakably that proliferant behavior affects our relations.

Finally, country-specific strategies, combining all these basic tools in the ways best calculated to attain results, whether addressing loose nukes in Russia, or Russian and Chinese technology transfers, or North Korean nuclear and missile capabilities or the potential arms race in South Asia, or others.

Without all these efforts, the world would be a far more dangerous place than it is. They are worth it even when they do not fully succeed, for they still delay proliferators' efforts, narrow their choices, and channel and confine the potential threat. But we must admit they do not always succeed. Arms controllers must also recognize their discipline's limits. If government were capable of commonsense definitions, which it often is not, this would be the point where non-proliferation crosses over to counter-proliferation.

More specifically, based mainly on the launch last August by North Korea, the intelligence community tells us the possibility of WMD-armed, rogue-state ICBMs aimed at the American homeland is, at best, just a few years away. Deterrence, of course, is widely accepted as an appropriate response to such threats. Depending on the circumstances, counterforce or pre-emption might also be an option. In between falls active defense, most prominently now national missile defense [NMD], which is closer to becoming another integral part of our strategy against proliferation. What has been done thus far is to pursue development of a system and put deployment money in the budget, not for 2000 but later in the five-year defense plan, to preserve the option. No deployment decision has been made.

By the middle of next year, we expect development will have proceeded far enough for a decision whether or not to go ahead with a limited national missile defense, specifically addressing the risk from rogue states. That decision will be based on the threat, which, as I said, can no longer be placed beyond NMD lead times, as well as on the effectiveness of the system and on cost considerations. The decision will also include a review of progress on our arms control objectives.

Does this signal that we are getting ready to abandon the 1972 ABM Treaty? The president said on March 5: "I have never advocated, initiated, encouraged, sanctioned or blinked at the possibility that we would unilaterally abrogate the ABM Treaty. I personally would be very opposed to that." The reason is not a nostalgic attraction to a venerable agreement, but the plain fact that the ABM Treaty retains value. Most importantly, it contributes to strategic stability and enables continued deep reductions in the one nuclear arsenal in the world that today could rain down overwhelming devastation on the United States. As a result, it also bears indirectly on our other non-proliferation efforts with Russia; for example, safeguards on the critical materials coming out of Russia's arsenal, which might otherwise end up in nuclear weapon design labs in Iran, Iraq or North Korea.

So, among our arms control objectives is to negotiate whatever ABM Treaty amendments are required if we decide to proceed with a limited defense. The kind of system we are considering would not have the capability to undermine Russia's strategic deterrent. It would not, therefore, undermine the treaty's purpose. We should be able to accommodate it within the treaty, just as we have done in drawing a more precise line between national and theater defenses. Indeed, under these conditions, I would argue that amending the ABM Treaty as needed is a way to preserve it, by demonstrating, again, that arms control is not the enemy of measured defenses to respond to real threats.

Does acceptance of the Cochran bill last week mean we've revised our approach? A change in position makes a good story, but it didn't happen here. The amendments to Cochran meant we could square it with precisely the policy I have outlined. The White House made that clear at the time. So, we will be practicing the proposition I have long advanced, that arms control is a national security mission. Of course it has altruistic elements and budgetary motivations. But its main task is to make us more secure.

We have the task now of advancing, together, our agendas on non-proliferation, through the strategy I outlined on arms control, by pursing START and related initiatives, and on defense, by considering further modernization of the ABM Treaty. Reconciling these purposes is a tall order, but success will be in Russia's interest as well as in ours.

We will be doing all this with a new structure. As you know, I have the sad distinction of serving as the last director of a small but proud and prolific part of the national security apparatus, the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency. By law, at midnight next Wednesday, ACDA will cease to exist. It expires at what I now consider to be relative youth—not quite 38 years old. But if achievements are the measure, it has had a full life.

ACDA has led the way to major arms control achievements: nuclear test bans from partial to comprehensive; the NPT and the decision to make it permanent; strengthened IAEA safeguards; SALT, START and the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty; the BWC and the CWC; limits on conventional forces, including on the most inhumane: landmines; confidence-building measures in Europe and elsewhere; and many, many others.

It also leads in interpreting and enforcing those treaties—where benefits recorded on paper are realized on the ground. It has broadcast the truth—even when it was uncomfortable or inconvenient—on arms control compliance, on treaty verifiability, and on treaty interpretation or misinterpretation, as the case may be. It has spawned several generations of experts who earned their stripes at ACDA and are now found throughout the government, in think tanks, in the NGO community and elsewhere, still applying their talents, energy and insights to this noble cause.

And it still has in its ranks one of the finest, most gifted groups of public servants to be found anywhere, who have always known their stuff and applied it diligently, and have shown their mettle, especially over the past decade, refusing to be distracted even when their agency seemed perpetually poised at the edge of oblivion. And all this has been done at an annual cost roughly matching a couple of fighter aircraft, as measured in current fighters. So, I suggest that by tangible returns, real value to the taxpayer, security added, defense costs avoided, ACDA has been one of the great bargains of all time. So, of course, we must get rid of it.

As you know, I bear the responsibility for accepting that option. I owe some explanation why.

In return, I ask that you pay close attention to the specific terms of the reorganization. They are unusual. They will make a difference for arms control and non-proliferation. And whether they can be sustained over time in their new form will be, in substantial part, up to people like you, who care deeply about this cause and follow it closely.

After fighting very hard for ACDA's survival in 1995 and 1996, why did I accept its demise in 1997? The first reason is that at Wilson School in South Dakota, I had a good third-grade teacher in reading comprehension. Drawing on that, in the winter of 1996–97 I went to Capitol Hill, to the White House and to many in the NGO community. I saw a lot of walls. They had handwriting on them.

The message was: ACDA could no longer survive. If we limped through, with no assistant directors confirmable and a budget under assault, we would have been marginalized, further weakened, and ultimately rendered defenseless. That would have set ACDA up to be not reorganized, but obliterated. So the choice was not whether to keep an independent agency, but whether to go down in flames or try for a soft, upright landing that would allow for redesign and resumed flight.

The second reason is affirmative. We were at a moment of high achievement for arms control. We had a secretary of state who understood and cared deeply about this cause, and so would accept extraordinary steps to protect it, to be included in a consensus recommendation to the president. That opened the way for a successful negotiation. Consider the results:

Over the last decade, the various studies supporting ACDA all focused on its independent advocacy as the decisive reason. State's dominant mission, it is said, is country relations; it naturally prefers to avoid sanctions, to downplay unpleasant reports on arms control compliance, to treat arms sales as an instrument to improve relations, and so forth. Because the stakes are so high, ACDA makes sure the arms control perspective is brought to the table, all the way to the top.

Secretary Albright agrees that independent advocacy is crucial. As a result, when ACDA expires, its voice will carry on, with the same force, in the same places. The under secretary of state for arms control and international security will also be the senior advisor to the president, with authority to attend deputy- and principal-level National Security Council meetings, express independent views, and even go directly to the president, through the secretary of state. That's not only in the plan, it's in the law, subject to discretion. It's also in a presidential decision directive, which means only a president can change it. President Clinton won't. Arms control's friends need to be vigilant, to make sure a future president doesn't.

The plan also provides for the integrity of ACDA's compliance reports. It maintains specialized arms control legal resources, including a new associate legal advisor and a new assistant legal advisor for arms control. It consolidates arms control functions that have grown up elsewhere in State, such as in European Affairs, into the new arms control bureau. It provides new interagency roles for the new Department of State, including interagency leadership on non-proliferation. Compared to the ideal, this deal has deficiencies. But compared to any remotely realistic alternative future, I believe it is a very good outcome.

Some of you may have seen the suggestion recently in a well-known arms control journal that ACDA was going out with a "whimper." [See ACT, October 1998.] My basic point here is that no one at ACDA is whimpering; what we've been up to, as the structure changes, is to preserve, protect and strengthen the mission. And that endeavor, as in the past, will always need your informed help and advocacy.

We took advantage of the two-year delay between agreement in April 1997 and implementation in April 1999 to practice something called "virtual integration"—collaborating across institutional lines. In the process, ACDA's people have been establishing themselves very well in that bigger pond, and so have the people in State's Bureau of Political-Military [PM] Affairs. Working together they have had a powerful impact on START III planning, on addressing problems with North Korea, on South Asia, and on a number of other vital issues.

By combining ACDA and PM, we are shifting the center of gravity in the State Department and building strong new bureaus. We are combining ACDA's strong expertise and memory with State's institutional authority and diplomatic capabilities. That gives us a chance not only to blandish but to lead; not just to make points but to shape events.

This is by no means finished. To realize the full potential, State also needs to recast its vision—to think globally more than regionally, and to see issues systemically rather than episodically. And, perhaps the hardest requirement, it needs to build and keep strong expertise not only on the ways of diplomacy, but on the substance of arms control and non-proliferation, and on the related international institutions and arrangements. In the State Department's own interests, our experts, and those in other functional areas, too, need to be first-class citizens in a culture that has operated differently in the past.

Many efforts are underway to see that these things happen. If we manage it, and I'm betting we can, the merger will prove to have been not only the right decision for the circumstances, but a good decision for the arms control cause and for the country. So we have grave new challenges and a new structure—not entirely to all arms controllers' satisfaction—to address them.

Then consider as well the added complications of START II ratification, Mr. Milosevic's exquisite timing, the forthcoming NATO summit, U.S. and Russian elections, the deadlock at the Conference on Disarmament [CD], the NPT Preparatory Committee [PrepCom] in April and the review conference next year, and numerous other events. You might easily conclude that the breaks have not been falling in arms control's favor.

These are not endeavors for the faint of heart or for those easily discouraged. People who see issues in bright colors or who like to pursue things in straight lines will be uncomfortable. But that only confirms what you already know: We live in complex times and in a dangerous world, one in which the preventive medicine of arms control is both more important than ever before, and harder.

We will be up to the task. Those who work to control arms and combat proliferation have shown repeatedly that they can shrug off adversity and thrive in hard times. Notwithstanding the obstacles, we will keep arms control and non-proliferation, with sound defense, at the center of our international security strategy as we advance America's interests and its safety as a new century begins. Thank you very much. [Back to top]


Questions and Answers

Q: Assuming that the administration's conditions for deployment of a national missile defense (regarding the nature of the threat, technical capability, cost, and impact on arms control) are met, or can be met, do you believe that a positive decision to deploy a nationwide defense will be taken in this administration?

Holum: I think it is quite possible that there will be an affirmative decision next June, but it would depend on all four of those conditions.

Q: Do you think it is possible to cooperate with Russia on the common equipment and procedures for missile defense, and if so, would you extend that to China also?

Holum: We've explored this at various times; I've been part of delegations going back to 1994, when we were talking about theater missile defense [TMD]. In fact, there are things under way now with the Russian Academy of Sciences and the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization. But I think it's quite unlikely that there would be across-the-board development of a common technology for a national missile defense. What they're working on are things like discriminating incoming warheads.

Q: And regarding China?

Holum: I think that's unlikely too. It's certainly a subject that comes up in our discussions with the Chinese. They don't like the idea of theater or national missile defense. But I don't foresee a collaborative effort on actual technology.

Q: What role will you as under secretary of state and the State Department have in the June 2000 decision on national missile defense deployment?

Holum: Each significant step that's been taken so far—for example, the decision to put money in the five-year defense program—was made by the president on the advice of the principals committee, which Secretary Albright and I participated in. I'm sure that will be the same when and if we get to this deployment decision.

Q: Following the elimination of ACDA, what is going to be the mechanism in the State Department for maintaining institutional memory on arms control issues?

Holum: You've focused on what is my biggest worry about this, because we are moving into a culture that is dominated by foreign service and by regional considerations. I have had conversations with the director general of the foreign service, with the secretary and deputy secretary, with the management of the department, with the Foreign Service Institute, and also with the other functional under secretaries, to work on a variety of ways to make sure we recognize, advance and protect civil service substantive expertise. There are a number of ways to do that, including making sure that these people have the same roles in international negotiations that the foreign service officers do.

This will not work—and a few years from now we will be thinking, How can we create a new Arms Control and Disarmament Agency?—if the arms control people who have been negotiating treaties end up writing talking points for foreign service officers. I'm confident that won't happen. But it's going to take continuous effort.

Secretary Albright recognizes, and others in the department do as well, that the real competition with the State Department in this sphere has not been ACDA. ACDA was adjacent, was convenient, and was digestible. The real competition is in other places in government: the Department of Defense, National Security Council, Department of Energy, and various other places that have been developing arms control expertise. If we don't retain and promote and advance and use effectively the experts that we have at ACDA, they'll disappear. They'll go other places. They'll be in demand, because they're the best there are, and the State Department will end up losing. So the State Department has an institutional interest in making this work.

Q: Do you have any assurance on when the hearings on your nomination to your new post might be held? If you're not confirmed, how long can you stay in office in an acting position?

Holum: I can't stay in the position at all in an acting position. This is a complicated legal question that has engaged ACDA's general counsel, State's legal adviser, and the Office of Legal Counsel in the Justice Department, and they've concluded that the Vacancies Act doesn't apply to this under secretaryship because it's a new position. I have to be a senior adviser to the secretary until I'm confirmed.

Confirmation hearings have not been scheduled. The secretary has talked to Senator Helms and Admiral Nance and I think they'll arrange something, probably in April. Senate Republicans are not trying to defeat the reorganization and all that goes along with it. It's partly Senator Helms' production as well.

Q: Since the administration will not negotiate START III until START II is ratified, how does the administration plan to move forward with Russia on issues relating to offensive weapons, as well as missile defense issues, in the meantime?

Holum: Your question is extremely important and a very good one. There are some legal limitations on our ability to pursue further reductions formally or informally beyond START II until it's ratified. Also, it will be very hard to discuss national missile defense in a vacuum. Obviously, the environment for strategic offensive arms reductions will have a big bearing on our prospects for success in renegotiating the ABM Treaty.

The true answer to your question is that we haven't made those decisions yet, in part because we don't know what (if any) ABM Treaty amendments we'll want to make. We won't know that until the architecture is decided, and that's a month or two or three away.

Q: If ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is not forthcoming, what are the likely consequences for next year's NPT review conference?

Holum: I think it'll be very tough. The PrepCom is going to be difficult this year because of the stalled condition of the START process. There will be increasing pressure by the time of next year's review conference. How that would manifest itself in terms of decision making is hard to say at this stage, but there are very severe intermediate consequences.

We're now in the position of pressing India and Pakistan to forgo options that we're preserving for ourselves if we don't ratify the test ban treaty; that certainly undercuts our diplomacy in South Asia. There's going to be a conference this fall of countries that have ratified to decide what to do about bringing the treaty into force. Our leadership on arms control and non-proliferation will be questioned if we haven't ratified the treaty by the time that happens.

Obviously the secretary and president have made clear our interest. What we need to do is get a date for a vote that we can organize around.

Q: If we ask India and Pakistan to give up their nuclear weapons, don't we have an obligation to actively promote nuclear disarmament and fulfill our Article VI obligation under the NPT? Have we taken any steps to do so?

Holum: We certainly have an Article VI obligation. It doesn't apply to India and Pakistan, because they're not members of the NPT, but it is nonetheless an international obligation that we need to pursue. I differ with the Indian approach—which a number of other nonaligned countries support—that this ought to be done in the Conference on Disarmament. I think a 61-member negotiation on the U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals would not be a productive enterprise. While the pace of progress has been difficult and slow on the bilateral context, it would be slower and more convoluted if negotiations were among 61 countries in a consensus organization.

Q: How about among the nuclear powers?

Holum: That is, I think, more realistic, but I think it's not time yet. One of the things we do need to do is describe in a more collective way what the nuclear-weapon states are doing—that is, the rapid pace of reductions in the United States and Russia. We're running ahead of schedule on vehicle and warhead elimination for START I. The Russians are also ahead of schedule in eliminating systems required under START I. The French and the UK have also been scaling back their systems rather dramatically. China's the one country that is still modernizing, but it's a very small force.

It will take one or two more rounds of reductions bilaterally before we could have a formal five-party negotiation, but I think we certainly should be talking in those terms. There are regular P-5 [the five permanent members of the UN Security Council] discussions of nuclear issues in the CD context, and I think it's worth building on them.

Q: Last year the Chinese promised to study joining the Missile Technology Control Regime and not to provide support for weapons of mass destruction [WMD] systems in South Asia. Has China kept to that pledge regarding South Asia? And secondly, has there been any sign of progress on the Chinese side on joining MTCR? What is the likelihood of future progress if the Chinese are true to what they said about the significance of TMD deployment in East Asia?

Holum: The formulaic answer, which is the best we can do, is that we don't have any evidence or any reason to believe that the Chinese are not abiding by their commitments on supporting WMD programs in South Asia. That obviously leaves room for things we don't know about, but the indications are that they're complying.

On MTCR, they gave us a long list of very good questions last year—about what the implications of the regime are—which we have answered orally and also in writing. They have the process under active consideration, but they've given us no timetable for when they'll complete that process. They are very concerned about TMD on Taiwan, that kind of issue. Whether they will formally link those things or not I don't know.

Q: Do you see the Conference on Disarmament as a possible arena for an ad hoc committee to begin focusing on the technical requirements for nuclear disarmament? Could that perhaps help end the stalemate in the CD and provide evidence that the United States is interested?

Holum: I have to put on my personal hat because our position as an administration is that there's not much you should do in the CD, and there are good arguments for that. At the same time, there is, I personally think, some logic to the proposal that some countries have advanced that you could look at issues such as how to verify zero nuclear weapons. When you get to that stage, you are obviously talking about a global issue, whereas the process of reductions is, I think of necessity, a bilateral and then a five-party process.

At the end of the day you certainly are going to want to have some kind of an international, multilateral system to verify the elimination of nuclear weapons. So I think there's some logic to that. But we haven't embraced that idea.

Q: I wanted to compliment the administration in finally getting the highly enriched uranium deal at least temporarily fixed. But given the Russian statements that they're only going to be able to support a force of a few hundred warheads in the future, it's clear that there will be massively more excess highly enriched uranium in Russia. Why doesn't the administration offer to purchase additional quantities with government money instead of relying on the private market?

Holum: First of all, we have spent so much time on the first 500 tons. It really has been a convoluted effort, resolved in the end (in large part) because Senator Domenici and Congressman Obey were adamant about getting funds to buy the accumulated stocks of natural uranium.

We're also working in meetings with MINATOM Minister Adamov this week on plutonium disposition. When you think of the pace of destruction of plutonium, you see the same kind of long-term problem, because we're talking about very low rates of disposition for the first 50 tons that the president identified, let alone what comes beyond that. This underscores the importance, obviously, of not only further disposition efforts but protection, control and accounting for the material in the meantime. Since that's somewhat cheaper and less complicated, the big part of our focus will be there.

Q: The recent increase in funds for the Cooperative Threat Reduction program is really a restoration of contemplated cuts. Why doesn't the administration ask for a great deal more, even at the cost of not getting it from Congress, in order to draw attention to the problem?

Holum: We went through a very ambitious study during the course of the last year to identify good uses for resources in threat reduction. We certainly could use more than we requested—productively. But we ask Congress for only as much as the traffic will bear.

John Deutsch chaired a commission to look at the government's organization for dealing with non-proliferation, focusing in part on these particular problems: How do we come up with the necessary resources, and how do we manage the programs that are scattered among the State Department, Defense Department, Department of Energy, Commerce and other places, to make sure that we can make things happen? I suspect if we come up with a satisfactory answer, that might create stronger advocacy.

Nobody suggests much, other than different organization or money, that we already aren't doing in terms of programs. Among all the various agencies—and they do meet so that everybody knows what everybody else is doing—we are working the problem from every angle that anyone's been able to imagine. But nobody is authorized to talk about the whole thing. We do need to do a better job of explaining comprehensively what we are doing and what the stakes are. This in turn would likely generate more sympathy for resources.

Q: While it is U.S. policy to take the necessary steps to sign the Ottawa Treaty by 2006, President Clinton's budget request has money for a non-compliant landmine system called RADAM that would be, if the decision were made to deploy after 2006, hugely controversial. I wonder if you could comment on that. Secondly, Jonathan Dean has been working on a proposal for a series of three treaties dealing with the problem of conventional weapons systemically and globally; I wonder whether you've had a chance to look at that proposal and what you think about it.

Holum: I have had a chance to look at it because Jonathan sent a very detailed description of it and we responded. I'm concerned about the possibilities of dealing with conventional weapons on a global basis. There are some things you can do globally—illicit trafficking in firearms and focusing on the most hazardous weapons, those most indiscriminate or most dangerous to civilians, like anti-personnel landmines [APLs]. But we've taken the approach, and I've yet to be persuaded away from this, that the greatest hope lies in regional and country-specific approaches, such as confidence-building and constraints, the OAS convention we're working on, and so on.

There's good reason for impatience because some areas are fairly far advanced, while others are woefully behind. We've supported a variety of locally based initiatives—the Mali initiative and a number of others—that are aimed at collecting firearms and reducing the weapons that should be of major concern because they're the ones that are causing most of the casualties around the world. But I still remain to be convinced on the global aspect of it.

APLs are an extraordinarily painful issue for us because we have conflicting humanitarian interests. In Korea, APLs are important. Elsewhere, mixed-munitions are important, and the question becomes whether we can come up with a treaty-compliant approach to mixed-munitions. I know a lot of thoughtful people suggest that RADAM would not be treaty-compliant. We'll just have to continue to work on that problem. It depends on a technical solution that I think, as of now, isn't visible to us, but that is being worked on under the president's instruction by the Department of Defense.

At the same time, recognizing that we are—for the near term, at least—going to be outside the Ottawa Convention, there are things that are very important to do. One is to ratify the landmine protocol to the Convention on Conventional Weapons, which does focus on indiscriminate landmines—non-self-destruct landmines, non-detectable landmines. It's a very important step and has broad participation. We need to bring that into force. The humanitarian and demining effort is extremely important; it is getting a lot of resources and is expanding to more countries and, I think, is a constructive response. In addition, we want to negotiate in the Conference on Disarmament a ban on exports of landmines. Those three steps take a big bite out of the problem. It's not completely satisfactory, I know, but it's very significant.

Q: On the agenda of the German coalition government is a no-first-use policy on nuclear weapons. What are the prospects that this position will gain broader international support?

Holum: I don't think it will. I suspect it will be discussed over time, but I don't think it's likely to be adopted in a NATO context. It's even less likely in Asia, where it causes more alarm than in Europe among allies. I know the arguments for making a change; I also don't see it as a major priority at this stage. There are a lot of other things I want to get done before I turn to that.

Q: Should we be optimistic about a successful adaptation of the CFE Treaty?

Holum: I'm optimistic. I think we will come to terms on adaptation. We made a great deal of headway in the last few months on issues that four or five months ago looked hopeless. That's why I think there's a realistic prospect. We still have to solve some elements of the flank issue and some concerns on the center as well, but I think that we've got a good shot.