Statement by Ambassador Stephen J. Ledogar (Ret.), Chief U.S. Negotiator of the CTBT, Prepared for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Hearing on the CTBT
October 7, 1999
Mr. Chairman, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for this opportunity to speak to you about the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which is before your committee for consideration.
First, a few things about my background which I mention only because I think they are relevant to what I will say about the Treaty. After four years of active duty as a Naval Aviator and five years in Private Industry as a lawyer, I joined the Foreign Service and served for 38 years before retiring two years ago. Most of my career, I worked in Political-Military Affairs and Arms Control including stints as Deputy Chief of Mission to NATO, and press spokesman and member of the delegation to the Vietnam Peace Talks in Paris. I am a strong believer in nuclear deterrence and I know how central it is to NATO. During my last ten years of full time service, I was privileged to be an Ambassador under Presidents Reagan, Bush and Clinton, serving in turn as head of several U.S. delegations in Vienna and Geneva. I was chief U.S. negotiator from start to finish of the CTBT. Currently, I'm a part-time consultant to the Department of State on national security matters.
As I understand your invitation, Mr. Chairman, I'm not here to give this committee the authoritative administration pitch on the CTBT. Secretary Albright and others will do that. Rather, I'm here primarily as a resource to help recall and detail key elements of the Treaty as they were fought out in the negotiating trenches between 1993 and signature in September 1996. I should say, however, that, not surprisingly, I fully support the Treaty believing that it is very much in the security interests of the United States. It was carefully negotiated by me and my multiagency delegation throughout, always acting on fully cleared front channel instructions. I'm prepared to try to explain and defend all its key provisions, and if memory serves to try to give you any background you might be interested in having.In the short time I have in this opening statement, I will limit my discussion to just three issues that I believe are sources of some confusion. Over the course of the last few days, I have heard opinions expressed on the question of the CTBT's scope, its verification provisions, and its entry into force provisions. Some of the debate suggests to me that aspects of the negotiations have not yet been fully understood. I hope that I may help to shed some light on these issues. Lastly, I would like to address the likely international repercussions should the Senate fail to give its consent to ratification.
Scope of the CTBT
First, let me address the scope of the CTBT. As the name suggests, the Treaty imposes a comprehensive ban on all nuclear explosions, of any size, in any place.
I have heard some critics of the Treaty seek to cast doubt on whether Russia, in the negotiation and signing of the Treaty, committed itself under treaty law to a truly comprehensive prohibition of any nuclear explosion, including an explosion/experiment/event of even the slightest nuclear yield. In other words, did Russia agree that hydronuclear experiments (which do produce a nuclear yield, although very, very slight) would be banned, and that hydrodynamic explosions (which have no yield because they do not reach criticality) would not be banned?
The answer is a categoric "yes." The Russians, as well as the other weapon states, did commit themselves. That answer is substantiated by the record of the negotiations at almost any level of technicality (and national security classification) that is desired and permitted. More importantly for the current debate, it is also substantiated by the public record of statements by high level Russian officials as their position on the question of thresholds evolved and fell into line with the consensus that emerged.
It is important to recall that each of the five nuclear weapon states began the CTBT negotiations desirous of a quiet understanding among themselves that some low level nuclear explosions/experiments that did produce nuclear yield would be acceptable at least among themselves despite the broad treaty prohibition of "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion." Until August of 1995, the beginning of the final year of negotiations, the U.S. pushed for agreement on a very low threshold of nuclear yield. Our position was not popular among the P-5. Because of our greater test experience and technical capabilities, we could conceivably gain useful data from events of almost insignificant yield. The other four argued that they needed a higher threshold in order to gain any useful data. In some cases the thresholds they pushed for were politically impossible to square with the notion of a comprehensive test ban. Russia for example insisted that if there was going to be any threshold among the five it would have to allow for so-called experiments with nuclear yields of up to ten tons of TNT equivalent.
The dispute among the five threatened to halt the negotiations as it became increasingly known to others that the five were squabbling with each other about how much wiggle room would be left to them when they signed onto a text that said simply that nuclear explosions would be banned. As the arcane and jargon filled complexities of the nuclear testing communities in Novaya Zemyla, Lop Nor, Mururoa, and Nevada became more widely understood, the nonnuclear states and broad public opinion increasingly insisted that the five should be allowed no tolerance -not even for the smallest possible nuclear yields. A ban should be a ban. The answer to this dilemma should be no threshold for anybody. i.e., zero means zero.
On August 11, 1995, President Clinton announced that the United States was revising its prior position on the threshold question and would henceforth argue to the other four nuclear weapon states that no tests that produced a nuclear yield should be allowed to anyone under the treaty. The Russians, who were miffed at being taken by surprise, climbed down from their original position slowly and painfully. It took until April of 1996 before they signed onto the sweeping, c ategoric prohibition that is found in the final text. They never did like the "zero" word which was bandied around in public (and actually used once by Boris Yeltsin). Instead, they announced that they embraced a treaty with no threshold whatsoever. In the confidential negotiations among the five nuclear weapon states that went on the entire time the broader CTBT negotiations continued, it was clearly understood and that the boundary line -- the "zero line" between what would be prohibited to all under the treaty and what would not be prohibited -- wasprecisely defined by the question of nuclear yield or criticality. If what you did produced any yield whatsoever, it was not allowed. If it didn't, it was allowed.
CTBT Verification Regime
Another issue I would like to address is how the Treaty's verification regime developed and how it benefits the U.S.
I will leave it to others more expert than I to provide precise assessments of U.S. monitoring capabilities. The point I would like to stress here is that the U.S. succeeded in the negotiations in getting virtually everything the intelligence community and other parts of the government wanted from the Treaty to strengthen our ability to detect and deter cheating and to seek appropriate redress if cheating did occur. At the same time, we succeeded in getting virtually everything the Defense Department and others wanted to ensure the protection of sensitive national security information. Let me give you several examples.
Concerning the use of National Technical Means, the U.S. fought like mad to win acceptance of a state's right to use evidence acquired through NTM, as it saw fit, when requesting an on-site inspection. But we did not want to be forced to reveal any information we believed would be better kept private. This was a "red line" position for the U.S. Many of our negotiating partners were adamantly opposed to giving the U.S. what they considered was a clear advantage and a license to spy. Yes, it is true that the U.S. has satellite surveillance and intercept capabilities that surpass others', but is it logical to penalize and ignore the evidence of the tall person with good eyesight who can see the crime committed across the room? The U.S. position prevailed.
This Treaty provides for on-site inspections on request by any Treaty party and with the approval of the Executive Council. No state can refuse an inspection. The U.S. position from the start was that on- site inspections were critical to provide us with added confidence that we could detect violations. And, if inspections were to be effective, they had to be conducted absolutely as quickly as possible after a suspicion arose, using a range of techniques with as few restrictions as possible. However, the U.S. also had to be concerned with its defensiveposture, as well as an offensive one. It was necessary to ensure that sensitive national security information would be protected in the event of an inspection on U.S. territory. The U.S. crafted a complicated, highly detailed, proposal that balanced our offensive and defensive needs. There was resistance from some of our negotiating partners. However, by the time we were through, the Treaty read pretty much like the original U.S. paper put together jointly by the Departments of Defense, Energy and State, the Intelligence Community, and the thenexisting Arms Control Agency.
I would like to touch on the composition of the International Monitoring System -- four networks of different types of remote sensors encompassing 321 stations -- because I have heard questions about its value added. The intelligence community, working through the larger interagency community, had a list of requirements. They wanted certain technologies and they wanted certain stations that would fill gaps and complement existing national monitoring capabilities. The U.S. delegation delivered nearly everything requested. You have only to look at the coverage in Russia, China and the Middle East, and the range of technologies, to appreciate the potential value added of the IMS.
Some people have criticized the Treaty because it does not provide for sanctions against a state that has violated it. This criticism strikes me as ill informed. Consistent with traditional U.S. policy, I was under strict instructions to object to the inclusion of sanctions. The U.S. view, which I believe this Committee strongly endorses, is that we will not agree to appoint an international organization to be not just the investigator and special prosecutor, but also the judge, jury, and jailer. The U.S. reserves for itself the authority to make judgements about compliance. And we reserve for a higher body, the United Nations Security Council in which we have a veto, the authority to levy sanctions or other measures. This is U.S. policy. This is the Treaty's policy.
Entry into Force Requirements
The Treaty's entry into force requirements have been the topic of much discussion and even offered as a reason for why the U.S. should postpone its ratification. As you know, the Treaty does not enter into force until 44 namedstates have deposited their instruments of ratification. The named states are those that have nuclear research or reactor reactors and were members of the Conference on Disarmament.
It is true that this requirement erects a high barrier. It also, in my opinion, reflects a core reality from which there was no escape. The Treaty would not work without the participation of the five nuclear weapon states and the three so-called threshold states, India, Pakistan and Israel, who are not yet bound by the NPT. The U.S. would not foreswear all future testing if China and Russia were not similarly bound. China ties its adherence to India. India to Pakistan. And Israeli adherence was demanded by all. In my opinion, it did not much matter what the exact formulation was. The reality stood that all eight were required.
It does not follow that the U.S. can afford to wait until the other 43 have ratified the Treaty. I have always believed that if you want something, you must get out in front. This is the American way. We must lead, not follow meekly behind. It is our burden and our advantage that other states will follow our lead. The day the United States submitted its ratification to the Chemical Weapons Convention, China and four other countries followed. Cuba, Iran, Pakistan, and Russia followed shortly thereafter.
What if the United States chooses not to ratify this treaty? I believe that my experience in the CTBT negotiations and many years of representing the U.S. in multilateral diplomacy, render me competent to speculate on the international reaction to such a possibility.
I am not given to hyperbole, but I believe it is not an exaggeration to say that there will be jubilation among our foes and despair among our friends. Iran, Iraq, North Korea and other states that harbor nuclear aspirations surely will feel the constraints loosening. Our allies and friends will feel deserted and betrayed. The global nuclear nonproliferation regime will be endangered. Some isolationists may not believe this regime is worth protecting: that the U.S. can take care of the problem itself. But we need cooperation from states like Russia and our European allies in controlling exports if we are to prevent states from acquiring nuclear weapons. France, for example, which has already ratified the CTBT, will be evenless inclined to heed U.S. pleas to contain Iraq and Iran if the U.S. walks away from the Treaty, whose successful negotiations the U.S. led.
I am not an expert in South Asia policy, but I believe that if the U.S. fails to ratify the CTBT we should brace ourselves for more Indian tests. Pakistan, of course, would match India test for test. China will not ratify the test ban if the U.S. does not. We can expect China to ready itself to resume testing, especially if India tests. And the chain reaction may not end there. Japan will face pressure to reconsider its nuclear abstinence if China and India are developing nuclear forces. And Russia, of course, remains a wild card.
I trust you have questions about the negotiating history or certain Treaty elements. I would be pleased to provide whatever information I can.