USIS Washington File

07 October 1999

Text: Ambassador Ritch Affirms U.S. Commitment to the CTBT

(Administration taking "all conceivable steps" to attain ratification)

Ambassador John B. Ritch III, the U.S. representative to United
Nations agencies in Vienna and permanent representative to the
Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Organization, October 7 affirmed that the United States remains fully
committed to the Treaty's ratification and entry-into-force.

Ambassador Ritch spoke in Vienna before a diplomatic conference of
Treaty signatories convened to discuss the Treaty's status and
prospects with the aim of facilitating entry-into-force.

Although the United States was the Treaty's first signatory in 1996,
the U.S. Senate has not yet agreed to U.S. ratification. Ambassador
Ritch assured delegates that, despite political controversy in
Washington, the Clinton Administration is taking "all conceivable
steps" to attain early ratification.
Even in the event that early ratification does not occur, he said,
"the cause will endure and the fight will go on." The Treaty, he said,
"enjoys solid and overwhelming public support among the American
people." He told delegates "notwithstanding any political setbacks on
the road to ratification, you may be certain that those in my country
who champion the Treaty will continue, unfazed and without relent, to
push the cause of ratification to eventual victory."

He asked delegates to sustain a "common resolve to bring to fruition
the historic task of ending nuclear explosions forever."

Following is the text of Ambassador Ritch's remarks:

(begin text)

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) Entry-into-Force Conference
Ambassador John B. Ritch III
Vienna, Austria
October 7, 1999


Mr. President, the United States has welcomed your election to preside
over this important conference. Your presidency reminds us of Japan's
long and principled support for an end to all nuclear explosions.

At the outset, I offer tribute to a new colleague here in Vienna, my
Dutch counterpart Jaap Ramaker, who holds a place of distinction among
the veterans and heroes of the CTBT cause. Three years ago, in the
critical phase of Treaty negotiation, Ambassador Ramaker served in
Geneva as Chairman of the Ad Hoc Committee on Nuclear Testing. He led
the Conference on Disarmament along a complex path to final agreement
on a Treaty text. Without his creative efforts and diplomatic skill,
we here today might not have the luxury of worrying over the question
of entry-into-force.

President Kennedy once said that success has many fathers while
failure is an orphan. He was referring to the human tendency to take
credit but not blame. My government believes that the CTBT is, and
will remain, a success. We will be pleased to remember Ambassador
Ramaker as one of its fathers.

We have convened in Vienna to discuss what steps can be taken to carry
us collectively across the threshold of generalized Treaty
ratification. But let us take stock also of our achievement thus far.

When President Clinton signed the CTBT three years ago - the first
world leader to do so - that signature culminated years of effort by
ourselves and many others. As President Clinton said at that moment,
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was truly the "longest-sought,
hardest-fought" prize in arms control history. We are proud that the
United States played a role of leadership in the quest for that prize.

Many treaties are about establishing institutions and laying down
rules-of-the-road for the pursuit of common goals. This Treaty is
about not doing one specific thing of enormous consequence: the
conduct of a nuclear explosion of any magnitude. Thus, more than most
treaties, this Treaty is concerned with verification.

To design a system of global verification was a sweeping challenge.
For years, American experts from several scientific disciplines led a
multinational effort devoted to developing verification concepts and
drafting Treaty provisions that would put those concepts into action.
In the three years since the Treaty was opened for signature, we have
continued our research aimed at upgrading - and making available for
CTBT verification - the sophisticated monitoring technologies on which
confidence in the Treaty will depend.

A key issue, prior to verification, was precisely what kind of nuclear
explosions would be banned. Here too we sought to provide leadership.
During the Treaty's negotiation, the United States made a key policy
choice - deciding to advocate a Treaty banning all nuclear explosions,
even at tiny levels of nuclear yield. That "zero-yield" decision, in
which the four other nuclear weapon states joined, led the way to a
final Treaty text that prohibits all nuclear-weapon test explosions
and any other nuclear explosion, however small. This ban applies to
any environment, without exception.

The result of these efforts was a Treaty full in scope - banning all
nuclear explosions of any kind, forever - backed by a robust plan for
verification. That achievement has led us to the issue before this
Conference: of obtaining the necessary ratifications to attain

I would prefer today to represent an American Administration that had
not only signed the CTBT but also ratified it. That goal has eluded us
thus far, but not for want of effort. CTBT ratification is, and will
remain, a preeminent foreign policy and security priority of the
Clinton Administration. The President, Secretary of State Albright,
and the entire Administration are taking every conceivable step to win
Senate approval. As soon as possible, the United States aims to join
some fifty nations which have ratified already.

As the world's media have told you, the Clinton Administration is now
intensifying its effort to gain Senate approval for American
ratification. This week has seen much discussion of the Treaty's
handling and possible fate in our Senate. Indeed, in recent hours, the
Treaty's future has become what we, in the American vernacular, call a
political football.

That is unfortunate, for the Administration has hoped to keep the CTBT
out of our domestic partisan scrimmage. That remains the
Administration's policy. As a matter of U.S. national security, and as
a contribution to international peace and stability, the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty stands on its own considerable merits. From a purely
American perspective, the Treaty's worldwide system of sensors and
on-site inspection mechanisms constitute a potent supplement to our
own national technical means to detect nuclear tests. We are
disappointed that this fact has not yet gained persuasive prominence
in our national Treaty debate.

As this struggle goes on in Washington, my government draws confidence
from the Treaty's supreme popularity among an American citizenry that
is unlikely to view with favor any sustained effort to impede its
entry-into-force. I cannot predict for you the result of current
machinations over a Treaty vote in the U.S. Senate. What I can tell
you is that even if the current rush of activity fails to produce
immediately the necessary two-thirds' support, that will not be the
end of it. It will not be the end of it in terms of parliamentary
procedure - for even a negative vote would not preclude a subsequent
and affirmative Senate decision. It will not be the end of it in terms
of political will - for this cause will endure, and the fight will go

I remind my colleagues that all of my government's actions for the
past three years have derived from an abiding confidence that
entry-into-force will occur in good time. As a Treaty signatory, we
have remained committed to forgoing any nuclear explosions - and trust
that others will continue to adhere to that policy as well. In Vienna,
we have been energetic in supporting - and funding - the PrepCom
budgets needed for rapid deployment of the Treaty's international
monitoring system. We have done so precisely because we want that
verification regime fully operational when the Treaty takes effect.

Meanwhile, we have acted in cognizance that entry-into-force will
depend critically on the policies of India and Pakistan. My government
has engaged with each country in hope of encouraging conditions
conducive to their early participation in this Treaty. We were
gratified when the prime ministers of both nations made commitments to
join the Treaty regime and, more recently, when those countries
affirmed that they would conduct no further tests. We welcomed these
statements and trust that once India completes the process of forming
a new government, both states will sign the Treaty and ratify.

All of us here are keenly aware of the special significance of the
next few months, as our clocks and computers tick toward a new
millennium. Regrettably, it is not foreseeable that this Treaty will
have entered into force when the year 2000 arrives. But we here should
resolve that one of diplomacy's first achievements in the new
millennium will be the full codification of this Treaty's pledge to
cease forever the conduct of nuclear explosions.

This millennium has seen a great saga of human progress and human
folly. The technology of nuclear power holds limitless possibilities
for both. The future of this Treaty - which is designed to point us
away from nuclear folly - will be a test of our collective maturity.
Bringing the CTBT into force will be integral to a broader effort to
reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons, and thereby to affirm
Mankind's determination to shape a civilization more enlightened than
can be found in this millennium's annals of human carnage.

In closing, I recall Winston Churchill and his fond, life-long
analysis of my nation's strengths and foibles. During this century's
darkest hours, he and Franklin Roosevelt formed a friendship that
deepened his understanding of the American character. Later, Churchill
summarized us, famously, by observing that we Americans are a people
who will inevitably do the right thing - but only after exploring
every available alternative.

Ladies and gentlemen, my nation may now be engaged in just such an
exploration. But for those concerned as to whether we will eventually
do the right thing, I offer these grounds for reassurance:

-- First, even as the debate rages in Washington, the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty enjoys solid and overwhelming public support among the
American people;

-- Second, notwithstanding any political setbacks that may occur on
the road to ratification, you may be certain that those in my country
who champion the Treaty will continue, unfazed and without relent, to
push the cause of ratification toward eventual victory.

Many in this room have devoted themselves tirelessly to the cause of
nuclear sanity. As a new millenium begins, let us agree that transient
events will not weaken our common resolve to bring to fruition the
historic task of ending nuclear explosions forever.

(end text)