News

USIS Washington 
File





07 October 1999

 
  

White House Fact Sheet: Reasons for Ratifying the CTBT

(Treaty ratification will provide a safe, reliable deterrent) (770)

President Clinton is urging the Senate to give its advice and consent
to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) so that
the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) regime will be strengthened
and the United States will continue to be in a position to lead the
global non-proliferation effort.

Following is the text of a White House fact sheet on the CTBT, issued
on October 7:

(begin text)

QUESTION: How will the CTBT help maintain a safe and reliable nuclear
deterrent?

ANSWER: The United States will enter into a CTBT with a proven,
well-tested nuclear stockpile. Past nuclear explosive testing has
provided a rich database characterizing the operation of our weapons,
and this database will serve as a benchmark for comparing, without
nuclear explosive testing, the operation of our weapons in the future.
We have instituted a rigorous and technically sophisticated program of
stockpile stewardship, and we are confident that with this program we
can maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile without nuclear
testing. The Treaty was carefully negotiated to ensure it would not
prohibit activities we will carry out to maintain our deterrent.
Moreover, the President has established concrete, specific safeguards
that define the conditions under which the United States can enter
into a CTBT.


Q: How will the CTBT constrain the development of more advanced
nuclear weapons by China and Russia?

A: The CTBT's prohibition on nuclear explosive testing will have the
practical effect of constraining China and Russia from developing with
high confidence more advanced and more dangerous weapons.


Q: How will the CTBT strengthen the NPT regime and the U.S. ability to
lead the global non-proliferation effort?

A: The nuclear weapon states' commitment at the 1995 Nuclear
Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference to conclude a CTBT in
1996 was instrumental in achieving the indefinite and unconditional
extension of the NPT. U.S. ratification of the CTBT will make good on
this commitment, thereby bolstering American leadership in the global
diplomatic campaign to preserve and strengthen the NPT regime. U.S.
ratification will also strengthen our efforts to promote additional
steps to stem the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.


Q: How will the CTBT constrain "rogue" states' nuclear weapons
development and other states' nuclear capabilities?

A: Even if rogue states were able to assemble sufficient nuclear
material to produce a simple fission weapon without nuclear testing,
the CTBT would force them to place confidence in an untested design
(which military leaders might find unacceptable), as well as constrain
any further improvements in nuclear weapon design. Other potential
adherents with nuclear capabilities would, without direct foreign
assistance or nuclear testing, lack confidence in the performance of
sophisticated nuclear weapons beyond simple fission designs.


Q: How will the CTBT improve the ability of the United States to
detect and deter nuclear explosive testing?

A: Detecting, identifying and attributing nuclear explosive testing is
a high national security priority. The CTBT's global network of
seismic, hydroacoustic, radionuclide and infrasound sensors will aid
the United States' national capabilities to monitor nuclear explosive
testing across the globe, as well as deter any nation from believing
it can conduct a nuclear explosive test undetected by the
international community. With the CTBT in force, the United States
will gain a new tool to assess compliance with a ban on nuclear
testing: the ability to request a short notice, on-site inspection of
a suspicious event.
  
Q: How will U.S. ratification of the CTBT encourage additional
ratifications?

A: U.S. ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention facilitated
ratification by Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran. In the same way,
U.S. ratification of the CTBT will encourage ratification by other
states.
    
Q: How will CTBT ratification by the United States and others
constrain non-signatories from conducting nuclear tests?

A: Ratification of the CTBT by the United States and the vast majority
of the international community will strengthen the international norm
against nuclear testing, and thus help to support the efforts of the
international community to gain universal adherence to the Treaty.


Q: What kind of support does the Treaty have in the United States?

A: The CTBT has the unanimous support of the administration's security
team. It has been endorsed by prominent military and foreign policy
experts, including four former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
from the Reagan, Bush and Clinton administrations. It has the support
of numerous scientific, environmental, and religious leaders. A July
1999 poll found that 82 % of Americans, regardless of their political
affiliation, favor prompt CTBT ratification by the United States.

 (end text)