International Herald Tribune |
September 23, 1997
Clinton, at UN, Vows to Seek Approval for Test Ban Treaty
BYLINE: By Brian Knowlton
President Bill Clinton said Monday that he would immediately ask the Senate
to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which he called ''the longest
sought, hardest fought prize in arms control.''
Arms-control specialists welcomed Mr. Clinton's call, saying it would
increase pressure on other nations that have nuclear weapons to proceed with
In a speech to the opening session of the United Nations General Assembly,
Mr. Clinton also called for the creation, before the end of the century, of a
permanent international court to ''prosecute the most serious violations of
He also promised that after years in arrears, the United States would pay
nearly $1 billion in back dues to the United Nations. He praised the
broadcasting magnate Ted Turner for his recent pledge of $1 billion to the
Finally, Mr. Clinton said that the United States would promote an expansion
of the UN Security Council to better reflect changing international realities.
The administration has said that Germany and Japan should be included among the
permanent members of the council, and has said that three other seats should be
added on a rotating basis.
The president's decision to use the UN speech as a platform from which to
seek Senate ratification of the test ban treaty, which he had signed a year ago
at the United Nations, was welcomed in arms-control circles.
Spurgeon Keeny, president of the Arms Control Association, said that Mr.
Clinton's announcement was a ''timely move to send this forward.''
Mr. Keeny, a former deputy director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency, said that the issue of a comprehensive ban had not fully captured
senators' attention. But he added that ''after some stormy and extensive debate,
I think it will pass.''
Mr. Clinton called the test ban treaty ''our commitment to end all nuclear
tests for all time, the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of
''It will help to prevent the nuclear powers from developing more advanced
and more dangerous weapons,'' he said. ''It will limit the possibilities for
other states to acquire such devices.''
Mr. Clinton was the first world leader to sign the treaty. Representatives
of the other four major nuclear powers also signed it last year at the UN.
He had delayed sending it to the Senate in part to build support for the
measure, and in part because the Senate was occupied with other arms-control
issues, including ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
A test ban has long faced substantial opposition in Congress, particularly
But Mr. Keeny noted that the treaty had gained two influential advocates:
the U.S. military, and the weapons laboratories that contract with the Energy
Department to test nuclear weapons and their components for continued
Mr. Keeny said the Senate debate was ''certainly not going to be a
walkover,'' but he predicted the treaty would ultimately receive the two- thirds
majority required for ratification.
The General Assembly adopted the treaty last year, and 146 nations have
signed it. But only a handful have ratified it, and none of the five major
nuclear weapons states have done so.
Mr. Clinton's announcement will increase pressure on India, which has said
it will not sign the treaty but which, along with 43 other actual or potential
nuclear powers, has the ability to block it. The president was to meet Prime
Minister Inder Kumar Gujral later in the day.
All countries are believed to have observed a moratorium on testing since
July 29, 1996, when China tested a nuclear device. Before that, the last
explosion was by France, on Jan. 27, 1996.
Mr. Clinton urged all nations to put the treaty into force as soon as
He also called for an expansion of the Security Council, which now has five
permanent and 10 rotating members. On Friday, Secretary of State Madeleine
Albright had indicated her support for proposals to give Germany and Japan
permanent seats, and to add one rotating seat each for Latin America, Africa and