October 6, 1999


                              THE WHITE HOUSE
                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 6, 1999

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                               JOE LOCKHART
                             The Briefing Room

1:12 P.M. EDT

          MR. LOCKHART:  Following today's briefing we'll be instituting
new policy -- coming to the briefing will earn you frequent flyer miles
that can be use on any major airline.  (Laughter.)
          Q    Even on Air Force One?
          Q    The charter?
          MR. LOCKHART:  There you go.
          Q    Do you promise to eliminate delays?
          MR. LOCKHART:  If I could figure out a way to eliminate DeLay, I
might think of it.  Oh, you said "delays."  Sorry, I can't do anything
about that.  (Laughter.)
          Questions?  I've got no announcements for you.
          Q    Do we get double miles --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Anything for you, Mark.
          Q    Free ticket anywhere on the system?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Yes, you can go wherever we go, any time you want.
          Q    Are you going to go ahead and have the 3:00 p.m. event, or
is there any agreement --
          MR. LOCKHART:  There's no agreement that I know of.  The
President is very much looking forward to having this event this afternoon
with a distinguished group of Nobel laureates and national security
officials and former national security officials.
          Q    Joe, Senator Daschle says that before the treaty went down
in defeat the President would prefer to have the vote delayed.  Is that or
is that not the case?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I think we've made the case all along that we
thought that eight or nine days was inadequate for a real debate where
senators would have the chance to be briefed, to look at the issues, to
understand the complexity of the issues.  We continue to believe that to be
the case.  I think this upshot of last night's dinner here at the White
House with Republicans and Democrats was a general consensus that this
process is inadequate.  But the process is the process and the Senate has
put it in place.  The vote is set for next Tuesday, and we're going to work
as hard as we can between now and next Tuesday to get as many votes as we
          Q    In retrospect, was it a mistake to accept this deal for a
vote on Tuesday?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I think, in retrospect, it was a mistake for the
party in the majority to move forward in a process that didn't do justice
to the importance of this serious and important issue.  But as far as how
they are going to do their business, that's up to them to talk about.
          Q    Joe, it's clearly your belief, or the White House's belief,
that given enough time a sufficient number of Republicans senators may come
around on the merits --
          MR. LOCKHART:  No --
          Q    Let me finish the question.  If that's your belief, do you
think that their resistance to do what you think is the right thing on this
treaty now is another part of the legacy of bitterness from the impeachment
battle, that you simply cannot --
          MR. LOCKHART:  See, I think I tried to address this yesterday,
that if any senator in any party is using some personal resentment of the
President to thwart the national security interests of this country going
into the future, that raises serious questions about why they're in public
service and why they're in the Senate.  I can't tell you that that's the
case.  But if you keep asking me this every day, someone must be telling
you that.  I can't speculate.  And it's very disappointing and unfortunate
if that is, indeed, the case.
          Q    Joe, if you don't line up enough votes in the next five
days, will the President ask for the treaty to be withdrawn?
          MR. LOCKHART:  That question started with "if," so I'm not
answering it.
          Q    Joe, I don't understand what your actual position is here.
You're saying that there's not enough time for this to get a proper
          MR. LOCKHART:  That's correct.
          Q    Which means that you believe that you need more time.
          MR. LOCKHART:  That's correct.
          Q    But the vote is scheduled for next Tuesday, so do you want a
vote on Tuesday or would you be happy if the Republicans were to delay it?
          MR. LOCKHART:  We have indicated all the way through this process
over the last three or four days -- you can go back and look at the
transcript, you can look at what the President said, you can look at what
the National Security Advisor said -- that we don't think that the process
is adequate for a treaty of this importance and of this complexity.
          I can tell you that the senators have said to us privately that
they don't have enough time to do the normal -- watching the hearings,
getting the briefings in order to make a judgment.  In the absence of that,
they feel that they would need to vote no because there are unanswered
questions for them.  It's a process that, judging from the group that came
to the White House last night, that no one is happy with.
          But the process right now is the process and the leaders of the
Senate, the majority and the minority, are in discussions to talk abut the
process and we'll see where that goes.
          Q    Does that, then, suggest that if there isn't sufficient time
to educate people about the importance of the bill, why not just suggest
doing it again next year?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, the Senate has to decide on the calendar
in the Senate.  There are discussions going on which I'm not going to
prejudge or try to preview or critique.  They are talking amongst
themselves.  We believe the process is inadequate.  I think there's a
bipartisan belief at this point that the process is inadequate and we'll
just have to see where they go.
          Q    Are you committed to arguing through and fighting through to
the vote on Tuesday with a vote taking place?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Without a change in the schedule, we're committed
to making the best case we can.  We plan to do it. We've already done it
today, we'll do it again today, we'll do it tomorrow, we'll do it the next
day, we'll do it through the weekend, and we'll take the vote and we'll get
as many senators as we can.
          Q    Having a vote on Tuesday, if they don't delay --
          MR. LOCKHART:  The Senate sets their schedule.  On the Senate
schedule right now is a vote next Tuesday.  Unless you all know something
that I don't know, we're going to continue to move forward.  If they change
the schedule, we will adjust accordingly.
          Q    Daschle said he doesn't think it should come up until there
are the votes to pass it.  Is that what you're saying, or you just want it
to come up when you get the week-long of hearings that you --
          MR. LOCKHART:  No, I think it's our belief that once there is a
full and informative process, two-thirds of United States senators will
support ratification -- when there are hearings, when there are briefings,
when they've had a chance to look at the issues.  All that can't be done in
eight days.
          Q    There are members of the arms control community who say that
you guys have had two years to make a public case for this.  Clearly, the
other side got the no votes lined up; you could have done more to get yes
votes on that even before the week's worth of hearings --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Let me just say the President has talked about
this on numerous occasions about how high a priority it is.  But I think
everyone in this room understands how arms control, the process of arms
control treaties work in this town.  The Senate has a constitutional
responsibility on a two-thirds basis to approve treaties.  With that
responsibility comes the further responsibility to look at the issues,
allow for public hearings, allow for members to be exposed to all of the
different facets of the arguments, allow their constituents the chance to
talk to the members about their views.  That is a process that has never
before in history been done in nine days.
          Now, we have made public statements, will continue to make public
statements -- you can go back and look at the record -- but the process,
historically, has always begun in earnest with the Senate taking up their
responsibility.  In fact, what's happened is just the opposite here.  The
Senate has proudly from the Foreign Relations Committee boasted about how
they would never do this.  It was, we'll do this over my dead body.  That
is not -- I don't think that is an attitude that the people who wrote the
Constitution were thinking of when they gave the Senate this
          Q    Are you saying the White House does not have the power, that
the rules do not allow for the White House to ask the Congress to withdraw
the treaty --
          MR. LOCKHART:  The sole power for scheduling a vote rests with
the leadership in both parties.
          Q    For scheduling the day.  I'm saying, does the White House
have the right to ask that it be withdrawn?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I have no idea.
          Q    Does the President intend to give any signal, public or
private, that he would rather have a delay than a defeat?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, let me try to be even clearer than I have
been this morning and just before this.  I have made it exquisitely and
excruciatingly clear that the President believes this process is
inadequate.  And I think the President, for his part, has made it clear how
important this issue is for the future of this country.  Now, the majority
and minority are discussing ways or looking at the process to see if they
believe it's adequate, but if they cannot reach an agreement and they
believe that -- if Senator Lott believes this is an adequate process, that
this is a proper way for the Senate to deal with this, then we'll move
forward and have the vote.
          Q    Would the President be opposed to what Lott was talking
about last night, which would be he would agree to bring it up again in the
next Congress, with a new President, but not next year?
          MR. LOCKHART:  This is a treaty that has great importance for the
future security of this country.  No one can in any way predict what
happens in the next 16 months.  We ought to find a process that allows for
senators to be fully informed and briefed, make an informed and intelligent
decision on this -- whether it's positive or negative.  And it shouldn't
become hostage to any partisan maneuvering or the political calendar that
may face us.
          Q    And it should take place during this administration?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, I think to argue that it should take place
in the next administration is an argument that is subject to the political
calendar, not the national interests of this country.
          Q    What kind of postponement would the President agree to?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know.  I think that, traditionally, you've
seen -- I think I read a long list to you the other day, which I'll spare
you, but committees have taken weeks and weeks and weeks to look at this
and the Senate floor has been one or two weeks of debate.  So I'm not --
          Q    If they were to schedule a vote several weeks from now, the
President --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, the one thing that I certainly don't have
any control over is what they do in the Senate schedule.  There are
conversations going on there; I'd suggest if you want more information on
that you can go up to the Senate and talk to them.
          Q    Joe, the ramifications of the defeat of this treaty has been
talked about at some length.  Is the President concerned enough about those
ramifications that he would disavow ownership of this treaty to allow the
next Congress and the next administration to pass it through?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I think that's a false and political choice.
          Q    Some people in the nonproliferation community have suggested
that a delay might actually help the treaty's chances, specifically if
India and Pakistan were able to sign on in the interim.  How does that
reasoning --
          MR. LOCKHART:  I think that there's no one in the arms control
community, there's no one here at the White House, there doesn't seem to be
anyone in the Senate who believes that we ought to go forward with a
process that's inadequate; but here we are.
          Q    Joe, Warner came out this morning --
          Q    Sorry, could I get an answer on the India-Pakistan thing?
Is that an ultimate goal of --
          MR. LOCKHART:  We've had positive statements there and I think
you'll see that there have been some mixed statements in the last couple
days.  The world is watching.  The world looks to the United States for
leadership.  They want to know that we're going to stand up and take a
stand against testing.  And I think it's hard to expect or to condition our
decisions based on what others would do.  That's not how the United States
leads in the world.  We lead, we don't follow.
          Q    Joe, you say you want hearings and more consideration and
that would take some time.  There's not a lot of time this year.  Could you
just at least give us what you would like, what the best scenario would be
for when a vote could be?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, we want what senators want, which is
adequate time to do this process correctly.  I think if they want to sit
down and talk about what that is, we're glad to do that.  But right now,
the majority and minority leaders are talking and when they've got
something to say, they'll say it.
          Q    Joe, isn't this, though, extraordinary brinkmanship?  I
mean, the White House is arguing that the ramifications of defeat would be
enormous.  If, in fact, it's clear it's going down in defeat, doesn't the
President have the responsibility to try to withdraw this treaty or delay
the vote?
          MR. LOCKHART:  You are giving on to us authority that we don't
have.  The Senate leaders are talking about this, they will continue
talking about this.  And I'm not going to do a running commentary based on
every meeting.
          Q    Joe, Henry Kissinger, Brent Scowcroft and John Deutch wrote
an op-ed piece this morning, in which they say a lot of things, but one
thing they said was that that were no fans of the treaty.  Doesn't that
undermine a bit the argument that you've been putting forth all week, that
basically on the facts of the treaty it's pretty much a no-brainer that you
should support it?  I mean, these are --
          MR. LOCKHART:  You know, I think -- I've certainly said that
there are some who dissent, but the vast majority of those people in this
field support this overwhelmingly.  And you'll see that at the event today.
And, frankly, the argument put forward by some that we should continue the
moratorium on testing, but we shouldn't do anything to constrain others,
boggles the mind in its naiveness.  That somehow we -- accepting the idea
that it's okay for China, Russia, Iran, others, India, Pakistan, to go
ahead and test and modernize their nuclear arsenal while we don't just
makes no sense.
          Q    Senator Warner said that after the closed-door briefing he
was quite disturbed and that he would like to see a study take place,
report back to the Armed Services Committee before the end of the year on
the ability to monitor.  He says he's more concerned, beyond what's been
reported publicly about the CIA and low yield --
          MR. LOCKHART:  John, that's fine.  And I believe Senator Warner
is putting that forward in good faith and it's the kind of proper question
you should ask.  It's one of the reasons why two years ago they should have
taken this up.  And it's one of the reason why in eight days you can't
conclude this process.  That is a legitimate question.  That is a question
that deserves an answer and, frankly, I don't know that anyone can give the
Senator an answer on that question in eight days.
          But it's why you can't expect a United States senator to make a
decision of this import based on a week.  It's like asking someone to
critique "War and Peace" by reading the book cover synopsis.  It's just not
the way we do things.
          Q    So if it did require a report coming back by the end of the
year -- that would obviously mean you couldn't have a vote this year -- you
would have no objection, then, if it had to slide over so that people could
study it further?
          MR. LOCKHART:  If senators, in their wisdom, believe they need
more time, they need more months to look at this, then we will certainly be
open to looking at their concerns and looking at what the schedule is.
Again, they have the power in the Senate to set the schedule to bring this
on the floor on a day that they agree.  I think that there is a consensus
among senators, whether they be Republicans or Democrats, supporters or
opponents, that the process here is inadequate, and they are having
discussions about how to deal with that situation.
          Q    Joe, one of the other things that Henry Kissinger and Deutch
said today in the op-ed piece is that they don't think any harm would be
done by waiting until the next administration.  I mean, it's a little over
a year.  You could get more information about how it would work and see if
other people would sign it -- I mean, what would be so bad about that?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Let me respond to what would be so bad.  I stood
here sometime ago, many months ago, and answered questions about whether we
thought we were going into an uncontrollable, escalating arms conflict
between India and Pakistan because they tested.  I can't stand here and
predict that there's an 18-month grace period between now and January, 2001
while we take no action.  I don't know that anyone can make that
prediction.  We ought to do this as quickly and as properly as we can.
          Q    Right, but -- I understand if we defeated the treaty why
your argument is that could spark a new arms race, but what if it was just
          MR. LOCKHART:  Again --
          Q    -- effects are the same?
          MR. LOCKHART:  The effects are the same.  We have not moved the
process forward.  We have sent a message around the world that the U.S. is
not going to exercise leadership on testing and, in effect, there is a
green light that's been put up.
          Q    But if the President, himself, ends up agreeing to a delay,
are you saying the delay itself is a green light for more testing?
          MR. LOCKHART:  No, I think if we do this in a way that gives
senators the amount of time, and not artificially decide, well, let's wait
until after the next election, I don't know that that sends the same
          Q    Joe, you've made clear today that a vote on Tuesday is not
in the interest of the treaty and it's not what the White House wants.
Senator Lott made clear yesterday that if the President asked that the bill
be pulled, he would do so.  I'm adding one and one, but I'm not getting
two.  Why not simply do that?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Again, Senator Lott and Senator Daschle are
engaged in discussions and we ought to let them have their discussions and
come to a view.
          Q    Are they talking weeks, months?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I would suggest you ask them what they're talking
          Q    One of the things Republicans are talking about today and a
little bit yesterday is things that have been said by Al Gore and Bill
Cohen when they were both in the Senate -- one, that Al Gore objected to
the '89 defense bill because it limited tests to one kiloton, not zero,
saying that it was unverifiable; and that Colin Powell also said as long as
we have nuclear weapons, we have to conduct testing.  Do you know that
Colin Powell, Bill Cohen and Al Gore have changed their views since those
          MR. LOCKHART:  I know that Bill Cohen was up on the Hill today
testifying in support of this treaty.  I know that the Vice President
supports this treaty, and my understanding is the former National Security
Advisor and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs supports this treaty.
          Q    Is the President planning any secondary action on Ronnie
          MR. LOCKHART:  Let me say one more thing on that.  There's a
difference between where we were in 1989 and where we are now.  We have the
technological ability to not need testing.  We have a locked-in advantage
on the rest of the world.
          So the question is, are we going to lock in that advantage and
secure it for the next generation, or are we going to keep the development
of nuclear arsenals something that's wide open, that countries that we have
concern about their nuclear arsenals -- so that they can test and close
that advantage?
          Q    New topic?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Yes.