S. J. Ledogar, Who Shaped Arms Treaties, Is Dead at 80

Alumnus Stephen Joseph Ledogar '58 in The New York Times, May 09, 2010

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By DENNIS HEVESI

Stephen J. Ledogar, a United States ambassador who played a major role in the drafting of three major international arms control treaties, died Monday in Edgewater, N.J. He was 80 and lived in Guttenberg, N.J.

The cause was bladder cancer, said his daughter, Lucy Ledogar van Beever.

Mr. Ledogar was a Foreign Service officer for 38 years and ambassador to the three arms control negotiations during the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. He was an architect of agreements that limited conventional, chemical and nuclear weapons.

In a letter to Mr. Ledogar upon his retirement in 1997, President Bill Clinton wrote, “Your central role in all three represents a remarkable feat that is not likely to be matched.”

Mr. Ledogar had extensive experience in military issues as deputy chief of mission to NATO when President Ronald Reagan promoted him to ambassador in 1987 and designated him chief representative to negotiations for the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe.

The treaty established limits on major categories of conventional military equipment in Europe. Considered a major step in reducing cold war tensions, it was signed on Nov. 19, 1990, by 22 states that were then members of NATO or the Warsaw Pact.

In 1993, Mr. Ledogar was the chief American negotiator when the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlaws the production, stockpiling and use of chemical weapons and calls for their destruction, was signed. As of last year, 188 nations had ratified the treaty.

While working on the chemical weapons ban, Mr. Ledogar was also head of the American delegation to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. In that capacity he became one of the primary drafters of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on Sept. 10, 1996, it called for the prohibition of all nuclear explosions in all environments, for both military and civilian purposes. So far, 151 nations have ratified the treaty, and 31 others — including the United States — have signed but not ratified it.

Stephen Joseph Ledogar was born in Brooklyn on Sept. 14, 1929, one of four children of Edward and Margaret Ledogar. Besides his daughter, he is survived by his wife, the former Marcia Hubert; a son, Charles; a sister, Anne Leyden; two brothers, Edward and Robert; and three grandchildren.

Mr. Ledogar enrolled at Fordham University in 1949 under a Naval Reserve Officers Training program. But two years later he went on active duty as a Navy pilot. He completed his bachelor’s degree at Fordham in 1954, then received a law degree there in 1958.

He joined the Foreign Service in 1959. After postings in Canada and Italy, the State Department, in 1965, sent him to Vietnam, where he administered pacification programs. From 1969 to 1972 he was press spokesman for the American delegation at the Paris peace talks. The resulting accord, signed on Jan. 27, 1973, ended direct United States military involvement in the Vietnam War.

Three years after helping draft the nuclear test ban treaty, Mr. Ledogar went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1999 to urge its ratification. Saying he was “a strong believer in nuclear deterrence,” he asked, “What if the United States chooses not to ratify this treaty?

“I am not given to hyperbole,” he continued, “but I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that there will be jubilation among our foes and despair among our friends. Iran, Iraq, North Korea and other states that harbor nuclear aspirations surely will feel the constraints loosening. Our allies and friends will feel deserted and betrayed. The global nuclear nonproliferation regime will be endangered.”

Three months ago, President Obama said he would revive efforts to have the Senate ratify the treaty.