USIS Washington File

20 April 2000

Shalikashvili Says CTBT May Require Conditions for Senate Approval

(Clinton advisor outlines views at Foreign Press Center)  (670)
By Ralph Dannheisser
Washington File Staff Writer

Washington -- It may well be necessary to attach conditions and
understandings to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) signing
statement in order to convince dubious senators to agree to
ratification of the pact, retired General John Shalikashvili says.

Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was named
in March as special advisor to the president and secretary of state,
with the task of working with U.S. legislators to build support for
eventual Senate consent to ratification.

Briefing reporters April 20 at the State Department's Foreign Press
Center in Washington, Shalikashvili said he seeks "a constructive,
non-partisan, low-key dialogue" aimed at demonstrating to the senators
that "this treaty is good for the United States."

Though President Clinton signed the CTBT on behalf of the United
States in 1996, the Senate has thus far withheld the support needed
for ratification. Indeed, a ratification vote in the Senate this past
October fell short of even a simple majority -- while a two-thirds
vote is needed for approval.

Shalikashvili said it appears to him that objections raised by some of
the senators in opposition fall into three categories:

First, he said, "some do not like the idea that this is a treaty in
perpetuity," lacking any end date.

Second, there is "the issue of the science-based nuclear stewardship
program," aimed at insuring the safety and reliability of the nuclear
stockpile. Some senators are opposed to proceeding with CTBT until
that program is fully in place because, they say, all testing should
not be ruled out until then. A possible approach to overcoming this
hurdle is to put more resources into the stewardship program so as to
speed up completion, Shalikashvili said.

A third reservation expressed by some relates to verification of the
treaty, the general said. Noting that some senators ask "how you can
have a treaty that prohibits any kind of nuclear explosion if you
cannot adequately detect it," he speculated that they might favor an
approach limiting application of the treaty to tests with detectable
yield levels.

Shalikashvili said his continuing effort will be "to find out really
what it is that they find objectionable," and then perhaps to suggest
to the administration "legally accepted conditions" and "legally
permitted understandings" that could be added to the signing statement
to help muster the needed Senate majority.

Overall, he told questioners, "the United States is better off with
this treaty than without it."

Shalikashvili acknowledged, as has the administration, that the short
congressional calendar in this presidential election year makes it
unlikely another vote on CTBT ratification can be held this year.
Rather, he said, his goal is to work toward developing "a more
reasoned judgment" in the next administration.

Asked whether he thinks that enough senators will ultimately see the
issue his way, he answered, "If I did not think so, I probably
wouldn't have taken on this task."

Addressing the hostile relations between India and Pakistan, both of
which have undertaken nuclear testing, Shalikashvili deemed it "an
extraordinarily important goal" for both those nations to become
members of the CTBT.

"I share the view that...India and Pakistan now live in one of the
more dangerous parts of the world," he said, adding that he believes
both "have become less secure" since moving toward becoming nuclear

When an Indian correspondent asked whether an India without nuclear
weapons would be safe from potential Chinese aggression, Shalikashvili
responded, "I believe it is in India's best interest to become part of
the CTBT. I believe it is in China's best interest to become a full

Indeed, the general said, "A future where there is no nuclear testing
is better for all of us."

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