USIS Washington File

18 February 2000

Text: Holum Remarks on Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

(Clinton administration will work to win pact's ratification) (3150)

Senior Adviser for Arms Control and International Security John Holum
said February 16 that despite the U.S. Senate's failure to ratify the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999, the Clinton
administration will continue to discuss the benefits of the treaty for
U.S. national security in an effort to build strong support for
ratification in the future.

In a speech to the Foreign Policy Association in New York, Holum said
that administration officials do not expect the CTBT to face a Senate
vote in 2000, but hope to make real progress on correcting
misperceptions that arose during the Senate debate.

Holum, who was the director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament
Agency (ACDA) before it merged into the Department of State, said he
hopes the national dialogue will help rebuild the bipartisan consensus
that dates back to the 1950s that arms control is a vital part of the
U.S. national security agenda.

Holum also said that:

-- nuclear weapons have a smaller role in U.S. national security today
than at any time since their inception;

-- all the basic capabilities of stockpile stewardship are in place
and working;

-- the CTBT creates an unprecedented international monitoring system
with some 321 sensors around the world;

-- the CTBT adds an entirely new verification capability -- on-site
challenge inspections;

-- the U.S. has concluded that the CTBT is effectively verifiable;

-- the CTBT reinforces the U.S.-Russian strategic arms reduction
process and can help head off a nuclear arms race in South Asia;

-- the CTBT is a valuable component of the U.S. overall
non-proliferation strategy; and

-- the United States remains committed to the comprehensive test ban
and will support the international monitoring system.

"Eventually I believe the U.S. will ratify the CTBT and see it enter
into force," Holum said. "As President Clinton said, 'The Senate has
taken us on a detour, but America eventually always returns to the
main road and we will do so again.'"

Following is the text of Holum's remarks:

(begin text)

Senior Adviser for Arms Control and International Security
U.S. Department of State

Foreign Policy Association
New York, New York

February 16, 2000

The start of a new millennium is a natural time for new thinking about
tough policy problems. We need a fresh start after the Senate's vote
last October against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- by far the
most disappointing arms control event of my tenure in the Clinton

Anyone who wants to end nuclear testing is familiar with frustration.
Dwight Eisenhower ranked his failure to achieve a test ban, "as the
greatest disappointment of any administration -- of any decade -- of
any time and of any party...."

By responding to each setback with renewed determination, we have made
progress. President Kennedy helped end nuclear tests everywhere except
underground. Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan, and Bush all contributed
to treaties limiting the size of underground tests. Under President
Clinton, the United States played a lead role in negotiating, at last,
a ban on nuclear explosions of any size, by anyone, anywhere, forever.
That was a historic milestone in efforts to reduce the nuclear threat
and build a safer world.

The Treaty has been signed by 155 states and ratified by 52. By its
own terms, though, it cannot enter into force until it has been
ratified by 44 named states, those with nuclear power or research
reactors that participated in negotiations. Twenty-six of the "magic
44" have now ratified, including the U.K., France, and most of our
other NATO allies.

Eventually I believe the United States will ratify the CTBT and see it
enter into force. As President Clinton said, "The Senate has taken us
on a detour, but America eventually always returns to the main road
and we will do so again." Or perhaps you prefer the version attributed
to Winston Churchill: "America can always be counted on to do the
right thing -- after exhausting all the alternatives."

When the CTBT was sent to the Senate it was largely ignored for two
years. Then we had a few days of hearings, an abbreviated floor
debate, and a vote in barely two weeks' time.

That was not enough for something so complex, so controversial, and so
consequential. Many Senators who voted "no" would have preferred more
time -- indeed, 62 Senators sponsored a resolution to that effect. We
want to take them up on that. So one of my top priorities is to
discuss these issues with as many Senators and other interested
Americans as I can. That's why I'm here.

Let me begin where the debate left off, with the rain points in
opposition to the Treaty. They fell into two categories: first, can
the United States maintain its nuclear deterrent without explosive
testing; second, can the treaty be verified.

As to the first, the CTBT does not force the United States to choose
between deterrence and arms control; it strengthens both

Even before CTBT negotiations started, the United States had
voluntarily stopped nuclear testing. In the summer of 1992 President
Bush declared that we would no longer test to develop new types of
nuclear weapons, but only to ensure the safety and reliability of the
existing arsenal.

This policy shift reflected changes in the security environment that
are even truer today. Nuclear weapons have smaller role in our
national security now than at any time since their inception. We have
no plans and no reason to build new types of warheads. Indeed, we're
going the other way; where we once had scores of different types of
warheads in the arsenal, we now have fewer than ten, all fully tested
and certified safe and reliable.

The CTBT "bans the bang, not the bomb." It was carefully negotiated to
permit stockpile stewardship activities, such as visual inspection,
non-nuclear tests, subcritical experiments, and computer simulations.
Our Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program also includes
activities to remanufacture or replace and certify aging weapons
components, to train new scientists, and to retain the ability to test
again if necessary.

It was argued in the debate that this program is not yet in place, and
we should wait until it is proven. But all the basic capabilities of
stockpile stewardship are in place, and are working. They'll just get
better as new facilities are added. We're doing highly advanced
radiography, for example, at the Lawrence Livermore National
Laboratory, while building toward an Advanced Hydro Facility by 2007.
We are operating powerful lasers, pulse power facilities, and the most
advanced supercomputers in the world, while working on still greater
capabilities in all these areas.

But existing versions are already effective. Each year since the CTBT
was signed, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy have been able to
certify, based on today's program, that the stockpile remains safe and
reliable. And they'll have even better tools in the future. Why bet on
failure, when the record is one of success, and the prognosis is to
perform even better?

Moreover, unless you want to design new kinds of weapons, explosive
testing doesn't add much. Only a tiny fraction of U.S. nuclear tests
were done to check the safety and reliability of a deployed weapon,
and many of those tests involved designs that had not been adequately
tested before deployment. After President Bush's 1992 decision, top
national security officials considered proposals for permissible
safety and reliability tests and concluded that none were warranted.

During the ratification debate, some critics argued that practicing
nuclear deterrence without nuclear testing would be like expecting a
car to start after it has been sitting unused for a number of years.
But if you like that metaphor, consider that in this case the "car" is
taken apart on a regular basis by the world's best scientists and
engineers. Every spark plug, wire, and component is cleaned, checked,
and certified. If any part is not perfect, it is replaced. The
"ignition" is checked through subcritical experiments. And computer
simulation is done to model the car's performance. As Wolfgang
Panofsky, one of our most eminent nuclear physicists, asked, do we
really need to throw a lighted match into the gasoline each year, just
to make sure it will explode?

Moreover, the Treaty has a safety valve. In the unlikely event that
concerns about a nuclear weapon type deemed critical to our deterrent
were to arise, the President, in consultation with Congress, could
withdraw from the CTBT under the "supreme national interests" clause.
The annual certification Program would be the trigger for such an

So the issue with the stockpile really boils down to this: Should we
assume failure, despite all evidence to the contrary, and pay a huge
price in terms of our global leadership against the spread of nuclear
weapons? Or should we expect success, and reap the benefits of this
Treaty now, knowing that if our expectations do not prove out at some
point in the future, we can always withdraw then and do whatever is
necessary to protect our security? It seems to me, the answer is

We have conducted over 1000 nuclear tests, more than all the other
nuclear weapons states combined. All types of warheads in our enduring
stockpile have been thoroughly tested. We have the expertise, the
database, and the technology to keep a safe, reliable nuclear
stockpile without testing. Under those circumstances, doesn't it make
sense to arrest all nations, ascent up the nuclear learning curve?

The other main Senate argument was about verifiability. Couldn't
someone conduct tiny nuclear explosions that would escape detection?

During the negotiations we did explore the possibility of allowing
nuclear tests with yields of a few pounds, so-called "hydronuclear"
tests. But in 1995 independent scientific experts concluded that
permitting small nuclear explosions was neither necessary, nor even
very useful, for stockpile safety and reliability -- and would be
unhelpful from a nonproliferation standpoint. That led to the 1995
decision to negotiate a true "zero-yield" CTBT.

In one way that simplified verification -- it's easier to distinguish
between something and nothing that between two somethings of different
sizes. But it still left open the possibility that very low yield
tests could escape our thresholds of detection.

Nevertheless, it is the case that the CTBT dramatically improves what
we can detect. It creates an unprecedented international monitoring
system, with some 321 sensors around the world -- including 31 in
Russia, 11 in China, and 17 in the Middle East. Some stations are in
places where the U.S. could not gain access, on its own. And other
CTBT signatories will pay 75% of the cost, to improve monitoring of
events we want to know about with or without the Treaty.

The Treaty also explicitly allows us to rely as heavily as we wish on
our own impressive intelligence capabilities, which can be
concentrated on sites of particular concern to us.

And it provides an entirely new capability -- on-site challenge
inspections. If the international system or our own capabilities
reveal suspicious behavior, the issue can be resolved by going to the
site -- something there's no chance of doing without the Treaty.

A very small test might escape detection. But a standard of
"foolproof" verification goes far beyond what we have required for any
other arms control accord. It fails to weigh the risk to national
security of undetected cheating against the danger to national
security of unconstrained testing.

We do know that the chances of catching a very-low yield test are
greater with the CTBT's verification regime in place than without. And
because a cheater can never confidently locate the threshold of
detection, the Treaty would deter tests that might otherwise occur. Of
course without the Treaty they wouldn't have to worry because testing
is not cheating.

We also know that explosions of very small size would not be of real
value to the nuclear programs we are most concerned about -- aimed at
small, light, deliverable designs, and by countries seeking to acquire
nuclear weapons for the fist time.

That is why we have concluded that the CTBT is effectively verifiable.
Using national technical means and the IMS we will be able to feel,
see, hear or sniff any nuclear explosion of sufficient size to make a
difference to our security. We will be able to assess whether the
Treaty is constraining nuclear proliferation and deterring nuclear
explosions that could damage U.S. interests.

But given these answers, I also suggest that the arguments over
stockpile stewardship and verification can inappropriately shift the
burden of proof. As Secretary Albright said to another group of
foreign policy experts in November, "it is not sufficient simply to
say that the Treaty is imperfect. Opponents must offer an alternative
that is better. And they must explain why America will be safer in a
world where nuclear tests are not outlawed and may again become
commonplace where there is no guarantee of an international monitoring
system to detect such tests: where we have no right to request on-site
inspections, and where America is held responsible by allies and
friends everywhere for the absence of these protections."

So let's consider the Treaty's benefits.

A ban on nuclear testing essentially rules out a renewed nuclear arms
race. Make no mistake, more possibilities exist -- to focus the energy
from nuclear weapons, or enhance radiation, or otherwise advance the
art or lower the threshold to use. But without testing, nuclear weapon
states will not be able confidently to develop advanced new nuclear
weapons types. Without testing, there is no way to be sure that a new
weapon will function as designed, as intended, or perhaps at all.

The CTBT reinforces the U.S.-Russian strategic arms reduction process.
It confirms that neither the U.S. nor Russia is making significant
qualitative improvements in its arsenal, which fosters a stable
environment for further reductions in nuclear arms.

The CTBT can help head off a nuclear arms race in South Asia. India
and Pakistan are bitter rivals who conducted nuclear tests in 1998.
Persuading them to formalize their testing moratoria through the CTBT
is a major goal of the international community. But it is not easy
asking then to give up a legal right to test when we retain it.

Banning tests slows the spread of nuclear weapons to more countries by
throwing another tough obstacle in the way of anyone who wants nuclear
arms. Potential proliferators can make simple fission bombs without
testing. But remember that we had to dig a hole under a B-29 bomber to
load our first one aboard. A test ban makes it much harder to get
nuclear weapons down to the sizes, shapes, and weights most dangerous
to us -- deliverable in light airplanes, rudimentary missiles, even
terrorists' luggage.

The CTBT also strengthens the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the
larger non-proliferation regime. A global test ban is explicitly
mentioned in the NPT's preamble, and was prominent in the 1995
decision for a permanent NPT.

Therefore it affects our leadership. The United States is more active
in the battle against proliferation than any other country in the
world. If we cannot follow through on our commitment to the CTBT we
will be less able to persuade others to support strong agreements and
tough action against proliferators.

Every single ally we have in the world strongly supports our
ratification of the CTBT, precisely because they fear failure weakens
U.S. leadership on arms control and non-proliferation. Before the
Senate vote, the leaders of Britain, France, and Germany warned that a
negative decision would "be a failure in our struggle against
proliferation" and would "give great encouragement to proliferators."

Of course, the CTBT is not a panacea. But it is a valuable component
of our overall non-proliferation strategy. Even if some state tests in
total disregard for global arms control norms and agreements, the CTBT
helps alert the international community and unite it for an effective
response. We have a vital stake in preventing proliferation. It is
hard work. We must not forego any tool that can help.

So where do we go from here.

First, President Clinton has made clear that the United States remains
committed to the Comprehensive Test Ban. We will support the
international monitoring system, and continue urging other countries
to ratify.

And we also intend to continue our own efforts toward that end. As the
President said in his State of the Union Address, we want a
constructive bipartisan dialogue to build a consensus that will lead
to CTBT ratification.

We would not expect the Treaty to come before the Senate again this
year. But we hope to make real progress on correcting misperceptions
that arose during the debate answering legitimate questions, and
explaining how the CTBT supports our larger national security

I am delighted that former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff
General John Shalikashvili will help us work with the Senate. He has
held high military office in both Democratic and Republican
Administrations and understands our national security requirements
from the ground up.

We have also established an interagency CTBT Task Force with the
diplomatic, military, scientific, and technical expertise needed to
answer Senators' questions and build support for ratification.

I doubt that you will hear much about this on the evening news -- so
much the better. For if Senators are willing to engage with us on
these vital issues in a low-key, non-partisan manner, our hope is that
more and more of them will embrace the Treaty -- and our other arms
control efforts -- not as Democrats or Republicans, but as thoughtful

In that way, through this Treaty, I hope we can also begin to rebuild
the bipartisan consensus, going back to President Eisenhower, that
arms control is a vital national security mission. Our arms control
and nonproliferation efforts comprise a series of hard-headed,
interconnected strategies that, when they are most effective, allow us
to confront and reduce threats to our national security without a
single shot being fired.

We have demonstrated in one hard-won agreement after another that when
we control arms, we control our fate ... buttress our freedom and our
prosperity ... make ourselves at once more civilized and more secure.
What we need to summon as a nation is the courage and will to embrace
and pursue arms control as thoroughly as this new security era

If we do, I know we can continue to build the kind of world that is in
America's deepest interests: a world where nations are esteemed not
because they keep arms, but because they keep commitments -- to other
nations and their own people.

(end text)

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