The Tampa Tribune|
September 23, 1997
Clinton urges end to nuclear tests
SUMMARY: In an address to the United Nations, the president also says the $ 1
billion U.S. debt to the organization will be paid.
UNITED NATIONS - 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 "the longest sought, hardest fought prize in
the history of arms control."
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 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."
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.
Clinton's submission of the test-ban treaty is expected to stir opposition
from GOP senators who don't trust arms control agreements or who insist 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. The president needs about 22
Republican senators to join Democrats in support of the treaty.
"We intend to win this vote and failure is not an option," said Robert Bell,
a White House arms control adviser.
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman of the Governmental Affairs subcommittee
that handles this issue, said his panel will hold a hearing next week on whether
the United States can count on its nuclear weapons to work without testing.
"If it creates a more dangerous environment and is an incentive for others to
cheat and steal a march on the rest of the world and puts us at risk, then we
would make a bad mistake to approve the treaty," he said.
Sen. Jeff Bingaman, D-N.M., a supporter of the treaty, said the pact "is a
major part of what needs to be done in order to move into that post-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
test explosions. The last U.S. nuclear test was in 1992.
The Senate and the legislative bodies of at least 43 other countries must
ratify the treaty before it takes effect, a process that could take another two
years. So far, 146 nations have signed the treaty, but only four have ratified
it. A Senate vote is expected in the spring. Under the treaty, all 44
nuclear-capable countries must ratify it for it to take effect.
Critics say rogue states such as North Korea, Iraq and Libya also have not
signed the pact.