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 You are in: Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security > From the Under Secretary > Remarks > 2002

International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation

John R. Bolton, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security
Remarks at the Launching Conference for the International Code of Conduct Against Ballistic Missile Proliferation
The Hague, The Netherlands
November 25, 2002

[Also: fact sheet on International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation]

(Remarks as delivered)

Mr. Chairman, Ministers, Ambassadors, Distinguished Delegates:

I am honored to represent the United States of America as an initial Subscribing State to the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation (ICOC). The entry into effect today of the ICOC marks an important contribution to the international effort against the proliferation of ballistic missiles capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction (WMD) -- an effort that the United States has always strongly supported.

The large number of countries that have subscribed to the ICOC and are represented here is a concrete demonstration that the international community has recognized and is looking for additional ways to address the proliferation of the most threatening means of delivery for weapons of mass destruction. It is no accident that the dangerous proliferation of ballistic missiles occurs predominantly in parallel with programs for nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons. International concern about such ballistic missile programs is heightened by the fact that weapons of mass destruction programs also often exist in parallel with support for terrorist groups. Viewed in this context, it is clear why the proliferation of ballistic missiles threatens international peace and security on a worldwide basis.

The United States regards the proliferation of ballistic missiles capable of delivering WMD as a direct threat to the U.S., our deployed forces, our friends and allies, and our interests in key regions of the world.

The United States sees the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation as an important addition to the wide range of tools available to countries to impede and roll back this proliferation threat. One element of our strategy is multilateral efforts against missile proliferation, such as the ICOC and the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Another important element is missile defense. We view our missile defense efforts as complementary to, and consistent with the objectives of, the ICOC and the MTCR. Each seeks in different ways to protect us from the dangers posed by WMD and ballistic missile proliferation. We are now in the process of discussing with allies and friends, including the Russian Federation, cooperation on missile defense programs because our nation is hardly alone in needing the additional protection that such programs can provide. Missile defenses, the MTCR, and the ICOC play important roles in deterring and reducing missile proliferation, and the United States will be ready to work with members of the ICOC, and of the MTCR, to ensure that these complementary efforts are mutually reinforcing.

While an important new addition to the broad arsenal of nonproliferation measures, it is no secret that the ICOC has its limitations. For example, in taking on the political commitment pursuant to the ICOC to “exercise maximum possible restraint in the development, testing and deployment of Ballistic Missiles capable of delivering weapon of mass destruction,” the United States -- like other countries -- understands this commitment as not limiting our right to take steps in these areas necessary to meet our national security requirements consistent with U.S. national security strategy. This includes our ability to maintain our deterrent umbrella for our friends and allies, and the capabilities necessary to defeat aggression involving WMD attacks. But all Subscribing States will have the opportunity to discuss these issues in detail, and to participate in consensus decisions to evolve the text.

Most of this implementation work will concern the ICOC’s requirements for pre-launch notification of Subscribing States’ ballistic missile and space-launch vehicle launches and test flights. The United States intends to make pre-launch notifications and annual declarations pursuant to the ICOC based upon current U.S. proposals in its negotiations with the Russian Federation on a Pre-Launch Notification System, including on the question of which launches are to be notified. For example, the United States reserves the right in circumstances of war to launch ballistic missiles and space-launch vehicles without prior notification.

Once implementation is completed, the notifications and annual declarations that the United States provides pursuant to the ICOC will be based upon the U.S.-Russian Pre-Launch Notification System, to be established in connection with the U.S.-Russian Joint Data Exchange Center. Over the longer term, we agree with the Russian Federation that the bilateral U.S.-Russian system should be multilateralized. We hope, in turn, that such a multilateralized system might provide the mechanism by which all ICOC Subscribing States exchange pre-launch notifications. We plan to keep all Subscribing States informed on the progress of the implementation of the U.S.-Russia agreement on launch notification, and on the implications and opportunities that a multilateralized U.S.-Russia Pre-Launch Notification System can present for the ICOC.

Some have been concerned that the ICOC is simply a political declaration and not “legally binding.” But surely the real issue is not the nature of the commitment, but the extent of the political will to comply with the Code that signatories demonstrate. Too often in the arms control and nonproliferation fields, countries make a great public flourish about adhering to codes and conventions, and then, quietly and deceptively, do precisely the opposite in private.

In the context of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), for example, we know that several member states are violating their commitments to the treaty. To expose some of these violators to the international community, we have named publicly states the U.S. Government knows to be pursuing the production of biological warfare agents in violation of the BWC – including Iraq, North Korea, Iran and Libya, as well as Cuba, which we believe has at least a limited, developmental offensive biological warfare R&D [research and development] effort, and which has provided dual-use biotechnology to other rogue states.

Even as we speak, we face a grave threat to the integrity of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea brazenly admitted last month to having a program to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. This egregious violation of its treaty commitments threatens the security of all nations, as well as the continued credibility of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

Surely, none of us wants this disdain and disregard to happen to the new ICOC. That is why we are not concerned about the states that have chosen not to subscribe to the Code. Far better to know who is actually prepared to live under its terms, and who is not. Far better to know who is truly serious about stopping the proliferation of ballistic missile technology and the risk that such technology could be used to carry weapons of mass destruction against innocent civilian populations.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, the United States places great value on the International Code of Conduct against Ballistic Missile Proliferation and has high confidence in its future potential. We pledge our full support to you and our fellow Subscribing States in the demanding tasks ahead. Thank you.



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