USIS Washington File

28 January 2000

O'Brien Says Clinton Will Press for Dialogue on Test Ban Treaty

(Albright adviser cites president's foreign policy agenda) (980)
By Susan Ellis
Washington File Staff Writer
Washington - In his State of the Union address January 27, President
Clinton called for "a comprehensive American dialogue on the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)" in order to restrain
proliferation of weapons of mass destruction "and of the systems that
can deliver those (weapons) in countries such as North Korea, Iraq and
Iran," a senior adviser to Secretary of State Madeleine Albright told
foreign journalists January 28.

Speaking at the State Department's Foreign Press Center in Washington,
James O'Brien noted that one of the prime challenges outlined by
President Clinton in his State of the Union address January 27 was to
maintain America's security. "Here he focused on the problem of
terrorism, of gangs outside the international system attempting to
disrupt the gains that have been made" within that system, he said.

O'Brien, who is principal deputy director in the Office of Policy
Planning at the State Department, said that Albright had just
announced General John Shalikashvili's appointment to head an
administration effort to begin a domestic discussion on issues that
have been raised about the CTBT. He called this announcement "and the
President's announcement of his intentions...important, because it
signals a continuing American commitment to engagement on
international norms and in particular to the important norm of

He continued by saying that "in the Fall when the Senate voted against
the treaty, many people feared that there would be an American retreat
from international engagement on proliferation." Instead, he said,
"What we have seen in the last 24 hours is a statement of commitment
by this president and administration that that will not happen and
that America remains engaged and committed to non-proliferation."

Asked by a reporter why India and Pakistan would be motivated to sign
the CTBT when the United States has not ratified it, O'Brien said:
"The international norm in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty provides
protection for all people in the world, and it does that by laying
down a rule that impedes the development of nuclear weapons" by
forbidding testing in order to develop them.

The United States has already committed itself, he continued, to
refrain from conducting those kinds of tests. "We're maintaining that
moratorium even after the Senate action and I think just by our
actions (we) are reflecting a commitment to a norm that lies at the
heart of the non-proliferation regime." In that and in many other ways
the United States remains a world leader on non-proliferation issues,
O'Brien said.

"We continue to work whenever there is a threat to that particular
international regime. We help to develop and then reinforce and
enforce other international regimes," he said, citing Iraq (with the
Wassenaar Arrangement []) and
other efforts to support the cutoff of fissile material. "So on a
range of fronts the United States is demonstrating our commitment to
non-proliferation both by word and by deed," he said, adding "That is
reason enough to regard the United States as persuasive and credible
on the issue."

Asked about President Clinton's vow to help the "have-not's" of the
world, O'Brien said the U.S. government is a world leader in helping
the victims of crises and victims of systemic disparities that create
poverty. "An important starting point (in this process) is the
president's bully pulpit...(his) ability to call attention to the
issue and to try to call upon the resources of the private sector,"
that in the United States and around the world, to try to address the

O'Brien cited "significant aspects" in President Clinton's comments on
tax credits that will address some of the concerns underlying the
disparities between the "haves" and "have-nots." He singled out
attacks on disease, calling the president's plan on tax credits to
pave the way for vaccines and treatments to reach the poor of the
world "innovative."

A second way the United States helps is "by leading others in putting
together coalitions of interested donors." He said in southeastern
Europe, U.S. donations are in the neighborhood of 20 percent for
construction, with most of the rest coming from Europe. "But the U.S.
money helps to define the nature of the international presence.
Without the U.S. money, there would be no other international money
very often. So it's not so much the raw amount that matters; it's how
well it's spent."

Asked what chances he would give for Senate approval of the
president's plan to grant Permanent Normal Trade Relations (NTR) to
China, O'Brien said he would not "handicap" the issue, but noted "I
have ears and the call upon Congress to approve (NTR with China)
received among the loudest and most sustained ovations" during the
State of the Union address.

He said Congress' and the administration's differences, as well as
those with "voices in the American public addressing concerns on
worker standards in China and competition with American goods" and on
human rights and individual freedom in China, are well known.

Here, he said, President Clinton put forth his strongest case.
"China's status on human rights is one that this U.S. government has
criticized regularly and openly....We believe that a multi-faceted
relationship like the one we have with the Chinese government is
strong enough to withstand disagreement on issues."

O'Brien also said that the administration's position is that the more
open China becomes to the world, the better the situation for the
Chinese people. He noted "As President Clinton said... we cannot
control the Chinese government but we can control ourselves, and so if
we want China to be open to the world, we must see that the world is
open to China."

(The Washington File is a product of the Office of International
Information Programs, U.S. Department of State.)