USIS Washington File

13 March 2000

CTBT Task Force Will Work to Bridge Differences with Senators on Ratification

(Albright calls Test Ban Treaty "too important to abandon") (720)
By Jacquelyn S. Porth
Washington File Security Correspondent

Washington -- "It is important that the world understand we are trying
to bridge differences" between the U.S. Senate and the Clinton
administration on ratifying the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
(CTBT), says the new special advisor to the president and the
secretary of state for the treaty.

Retired Army General John Shalikashvili made his statement on March 13
at the State Department after Secretary of State Madeleine Albright
said the CTBT "is far too important to abandon." She expressed
determination "to continue working for the treaty and join with others
around the world to halt the development and spread of more advanced
nuclear arms."

Albright made clear that no one in the Clinton administration expects
Senate action on the treaty this year; however, she said CTBT "was
painstakingly negotiated and equal pains must be taken in considering
it." There should be "an unhurried, nonpartisan, de-politicized
dialogue" on it, she added.

Shalikashvili, a former NATO commander, will be supported on the CTBT
effort by former U.S. Ambassador to Finland James Goodby and Senior
Advisor to the President and Secretary of State on Arms Control John
Holum. Shalikashvili said the CTBT Task Force will try to allay
misperceptions regarding the verifiability of CTBT and the treaty's
impact on the U.S. nuclear deterrent, also noting that he will submit
his recommendations to President Clinton and Secretary Albright.
Goodby, now the senior CTBT coordinator, will be Shalikashvili's
"right-hand man" in the effort to see if eventual ratification of the
treaty is possible.

If time is used wisely, Shalikashvili said, "we can have a dialogue
that just might increase the chances that we can find ways to bridge
the differences between the two sides (short of renegotiating the
treaty). The alternative is to do nothing and just...let the treaty
sit on a shelf and wither away. I think that would be irresponsible."

Asked about when the treaty might be brought to the Senate for a vote
again, Shalikashvili said, "I think that's for next year or beyond,
whenever the time is right."

The ground work needs to be laid for eventual ratification, he said,
"by a low-key, nonpartisan dialogue with every senator
interested in understanding better the different views on issues and
in exploring ways to bridge those differences. Shalikashvili lamented
the fact that "such a dialogue did not precede the short and sharp
October (1999) ratification debate."

Meanwhile, he said, it is important for U.S. allies -- and the rest of
the international community -- to understand that "the United States effort ongoing to try to find a way to reach ratification of
this treaty." It is also important for the world to grasp that the
United States is "making a serious effort to try to bridge our
differences and to eventually, at the right time, ratify the treaty,"
the new special advisor added.

Pursuing the CTBT process is not about politics, or even about the
legacy of a particular administration, he emphasized. "This is about
national security, global stability, and American leadership."

Besides working to develop a new consensus with the Senate on how to
deal with the CTBT, senior advisor Holum also pointed out that the
United States is still "encouraging other countries to continue with
their ratification efforts." Already, he pointed out, 28 of the 44
nations that are indispensable for the treaty's entry-into-force have
ratified it. "We're hopeful that that number will keep climbing," he

Of the 44 nations that are essential for entry-into-force, Holum said,
41 have signed. The only countries in that group that have not, he
said, are India, Pakistan, and North Korea.

Asked about the timing of this renewed CTBT effort and President
Clinton's March trip to India and Pakistan, Shalikashvili said the
announcement was tied to his own travel schedule and his state of
health. Whether the announcement would have any cause or effect
related to the president's trip, beginning March 20, he said, "We will
have to see."

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