The Orlando Sentinel|
September 23, 1997
CLINTON: END NUCLEAR TESTS FOR ALL TIME;
THE PRESIDENT TOLD THE U.N. MONDAY THAT HE'D START THE BALL ROLLING
UNITED STATES TO SIGN THE PACT
President Clinton called on world leaders Monday to "end all nuclear tests
for all time" and sent the long-delayed global test-ban treaty to the Senate,
where he hopes to overcome Republican objections.
Announcing his action in an address to the United Nations' 52nd General
Assembly, Clinton called the treaty "our commitment to end all nuclear tests for
all time, the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms
He signed the accord a year ago but did not submit it to the Senate while
White House lobbyists tried to build support.
In a 19-minute speech to U.N. delegates, the president also called for a
permanent international court to punish human rights violators.
And he pledged that the United States would pay nearly $1 billion in past-due
U.N. fees to "put the question of debts and dues behind us once and for all."
Returning to the theme of his U.N. address last year, Clinton said the
nations of the world must unite against "21st century predators." He warned,
"We're all vulnerable to the reckless acts of rogue states and to an unholy axis
of terrorists, drug traffickers and international criminals."
The president met privately with foreign leaders, including Russian Foreign
Minister Yevgeny Primakov, before heading to the Metropolitan Opera's
season-opening performance of Carmen.
His submission of the test-ban treaty is expected to stir opposition from GOP
senators who don't trust arms control agreements or who insist that testing is
needed to maintain America's nuclear stockpile.
The debate probably will restore battle lines from the vote on the
Clinton-backed chemical weapons treaty, ratified in April after many lawmakers
remained undecided until the last minute.
"We intend to win this vote, and failure is not an option," said Robert Bell,
a senior White House arms control adviser.
A spokesman for Sen. Jesse Helms, R-N.C., chairman of the Senate Foreign
Relations Committee, said Helms has ruled out any hearings this fall on the test
"This is definitely not a burning issue in the Senate," the spokesman said.
"We've got a full plate of other issues, including NATO expansion and finalizing
the United Nations' reform package.
Even if Helms' committee recommended the accord, its ratification would face
a steep challenge in the full Senate, where 67 votes are needed to approve
treaties. Assuming all 45 Democrats supported it, the treaty would have to
attract 22 Republicans to achieve ratification.
Among Republicans, there appears to be little enthusiasm for banning nuclear
During a U.N. visit a year ago, Clinton became the first world leader to
approve the historic Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear
The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992.
So far 146 nations have signed the treaty, but only four have ratified it.
India, a treaty holdout, is thought to possess nuclear weapons. Pakistan,
another probable nuclear nation, won't endorse the pact unless India does.
India's prime minister, I.K. Gujral, in a private meeting Monday with Clinton,
did not move any closer to the U.S. position, but he agreed to continue
discussing the matter. Clinton also met with Pakistan's prime minister, Nawaz
Sharif, but the leaders did not discuss the treaty.
Critics point out that rogue states such as North Korea, Iraq and Libya also
have not signed the pact.
Still, the president said the treaty "will help prevent the nuclear powers
from developing more advanced and more dangerous weapons. It will limit the
possibilities for other states to acquire such devices."
On the issue of America's indebtedness to the United Nations, Clinton
promised to work with Congress to pay most of the money.
Congress is expected to authorize about $900 million for the United Nations,
provided the organization does not expand beyond current levels and agrees to
put in a separate fund an additional $400 million that the United Nations claims
it is owed but the United States has contested. The United Nations wants U.S.
payments with no strings attached.
Regarding Clinton's request for a permanent international court, such courts
have been established on a case by case basis to investigate human rights
violations - such as the panel investigating Bosnia war crimes suspects. Clinton
told the delegates: "Before the century ends, we should establish a permanent
international court to prosecute the most serious violations of humanitarian
His speech was pointedly absent any mention of a proposed global ban on land
mines. Clinton's refusal to back the measure has prompted worldwide criticism.