THE WHITE HOUSE Office of the Press Secretary _____________________________________________________________________ For Immediate Release September 24, 1998 PRESS BRIEFING BY MIKE MCCURRY The Briefing Room 1:59 P.M. EDT MR. MCCURRY: Let me start with an anniversary. Two years ago today, President Clinton became the first leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which had been proposed by President Eisenhower over 40 years ago. In that time, 150 states have signed the historic treaty, including all of our NATO allies, Russia, China, Israel, Japan, and South Korea. Twenty states have already ratified the CTBT, including Britain, France, Germany, Australia, and Brazil. And obviously the United States has been working very hard with the hopes that India and Pakistan will eventually join that list -- the President being well satisfied, of course, with the statement on that subject that's been made by Prime Minister Sharif, committing the government of Pakistan to adhering to the treaty by next fall. We are going to be putting out a statement from the President that will strongly urge the Senate of the United States to give advice and consent as early as possible next year. A little history on this, 35 years ago the United States Senate by a vote of 80-19, approved the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which President Kennedy considered one of his greatest accomplishments as President. The Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed in Moscow August 5, 1963, submitted to the Senate by President Kennedy for advice and consent on August 8, 1963. The first hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee was held four days later, and the entire process from signature to approval on the Senate floor was concluded in less than two months. Here in Washington, the Congress used to know how to get business done in a timely fashion. There has been a long, long time now in which the CTBT has been pending. It has strong bipartisan support from a range of former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs and others, and the President I think is quite correct as he argues in the statement we'll make available at the end of the briefing, that now is the time to ratify this very important arms control measure. ................... Q This just in, the Indians say that they are prepared to sign the CTBT within the year. MR. MCCURRY: Well, the plan comes together. (Laughter.) Q Does this mean that the President will be visiting the subcontinent? MR. MCCURRY: No, I think that -- I was not aware of that report. There had been significant diplomatic work done by the United States with the government of India and the government of Pakistan with respect to the CTBT, which is why I opened on that subject. Certainly if that report bears out, we would welcome that just as we welcomed the statement by Prime Minister Sharif. We're going to work hard so that both governments understand the positive effect that adherence to a comprehensive test ban regime would have in the region, and we certainly will be pressing that argument. As to the President's travel in the fall, that is still under review and remains under review, and we'll alert you if the status changes. Q Is it your understanding that they're signing as nuclear powers like the other five? MR. MCCURRY: There was no indication of that in Prime Minister Sharif's statement, and since I've just heard of the statement of the government of India, I'll have to inquire further. But our understanding was that they recognized that would be contrary to the intent of the test ban regime itself. Q Mike, why is the First Lady telephoning Democratic members of Congress regarding the impeachment proceedings? MR. MCCURRY: I presume because she loves her husband and she supports him. But you would have to really contact her staff to get a better answer.