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07 October 1999

 
  

CTBT Aids U.S. Interests, Stymies Proliferators, Albright says

(Secretary fights for U.S. ratification of test ban treaty) (690)
By Jane A. Morse
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- Secretary of State Madeleine Albright has been valiantly
fighting to persuade the U.S. Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty (CTBT).

In the past week, she has written letters to all 100 members of the
U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., gave a rousing speech at The Hoover
Institution at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, and wrote
a well-publicized op-ed that was published in the Chicago Tribune.

On October 7, she tackled the Senate head-on during a mid-afternoon
hearing before the Foreign Relations Committee chaired by Jesse Helms,
Republican of North Carolina.

With its advanced nuclear capabilities, the United States doesn't need
explosive testing, says the Secretary. Indeed, the United States
hasn't tested since 1992, when both Republicans and Democrats in
Congress together enacted a national moratorium.

"Under the Treaty," the Secretary told Senators at the October 7
hearing, "America would retain a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent.
But by preventing testing, the Treaty will inhibit the development of
more advanced weapons by other nuclear weapons states, and make it
harder for countries that do not now have such weapons to build them."

Testing, argued Albright in her Chicago Tribune column, only benefits
"would-be proliferators, rogue states and terrorist groups."

She told the Senators that "By banning such tests, the Treaty removes
a key tool that a modernizer or a proliferator would need to develop
with confidence small, advanced nuclear warheads. These are the
weapons that can most readily be concealed and that can be delivered
by ballistic missiles. They are the most threatening to others and to
us. No country could be confident of developing them under the CTBT."

The Treaty, however, would benefit the United States in that it would
improve its ability to deter and detect clandestine nuclear weapons
activity. It will provide a global network of more than 320 sensors
that can register nuclear explosions anywhere in the world, and it
commits every signatory to accept on-site monitoring, the Secretary
pointed out.

President Clinton became the first world leader to sign the CTBT three
years ago, but it's been languishing in the Senate ever since.
Meanwhile, 153 world leaders have signed the Treaty; and 51 nations -
including 15 of 18 NATO allies - have ratified it.

The CTBT cannot enter into force until it has been ratified by the
United States and 43 other nations with nuclear power or research
reactors.

The Treaty specifies that if it has not entered into force three years
after it was opened for signature, the countries that have ratified
may hold a conference and take measures to accelerate its entry into
force. That conference convened in Vienna October 6, with the U.S.
representative present simply as an observer.

"The purpose of our national security policy should be to help shape
events, not simply observe them," Albright told the Senators. "We want
other countries, including Russia, China, India and Pakistan to ratify
this Treaty and undertake a binding commitment to refrain from nuclear
explosive tests.

"But how can we convince them to do so if we will not?" she asked.

Albright noted that when the United States ratified the Chemical
Weapons Convention, five countries, including China, chose to submit
their ratifications on the same day. Iran, Pakistan, and Russia
followed within eight months, she said.

Although many Senators appear to be reluctant to approve ratification
of the treaty, ordinary citizens support the Treaty, according to the
Secretary of State. "I am as convinced as I can be that most Americans
do not want to live in a world in which nuclear testing is business as
usual," Albright told her audience at Stanford University October 6.
"They do not want to weaken the regime that discourages potentially
hostile nations from developing nuclear weapons. They want America to
assume the mantle of leadership in a cause that is central to the
security of future generations."

(The Washington File is a product of the U.S. State Department.)