USIS Washington 

20 July 1999

Senators Urge Immediate CTBT Ratification

(Specter calls treaty "a matter of survival") (720)
By Susan Ellis
USIA Staff Writer 

Washington -- A bipartisan group of senators held a news conference
July 20 to urge that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty be ratified at

Senate Minority (Democratic) Leader Thomas Daschle pointed out that on
September 24, 1996, "President Clinton became the first of 152 world
leaders to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," which bans all
testing of nuclear weapons. It was submitted to the Senate for
ratification where it has languished since, unratified.

"It is especially important that the Senate act before the September
1999 deadline for ratification by 44 countries," Senator Tom Harkin,
Democrat of Iowa, said in a written statement distributed at the news
conference. "If the United States fails to ratify the CTBT, then we
will not have a voice in the special international conference which
will negotiate how to accelerate the treaty into force. Yet, as a
signatory, we will still be bound by its provisions."

Republican Senator Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania epitomized the view
of supporters in his party when he said CBTB ratification is "really,
basically, a matter of survival."

He said the issue of ratification was "brought into very sharp focus
the spring of last year when we had nuclear tests by India and
Pakistan; and since the spring of 1998 there has been a very tenuous
situation with war about to break out, fighting on the India-Pakistan
border, and with the capability for those warring nations to (use)
nuclear weapons," which he called "a threat to the world's stability."

Specter pointed out how difficult it is for the United States "to step
in and advocate a peaceful resolution, to arbitrate or negotiate those
differences, when the United States has not ratified the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty."

Senator Joseph Biden, ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, said that arguments against ratification which center on
the threat posed to the United States from nations that still do
testing, dissolve since "We don't test anyway ... (and haven't) since

He continued "We're the only country in the world which, with a high
degree of certainty, does not need to test in order to be certain that
our nuclear arsenal ... is in fact reliable. So this is overwhelmingly
in the interests of the United States of America."

The CTBT "is important in the fight against weapons of mass
destruction (WMD)," said Senator Carl Levin, Democrat of Michigan. In
order to create WMD, he said, "it is central that they be tested....
And so the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is an anti-proliferation
weapon at its core."

The CBTB also makes it possible for the U.S. to have on-site
inspection capabilities that it does not have today, he added.

Levin also related the CTBT to recent allegations of Chinese
espionage. In order to use the weapons they have "supposedly stolen,"
he said, "they need to test them. They signed the (CTBT) but if we do
not ratify that treaty, it seems to me we give them the chance to get
off the hook."

A July 1999 poll by Wirthlin Worldwide shows that Americans support a
ban on nuclear testing by an 82-14 percent margin, with 4 percent not
expressing an opinion. The Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers says
the issue crosses party lines, with CTBT approval at 86 percent for
Democrats, 81 percent for Republicans, and 71 percent for

Asked by a reporter what Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott of
Mississippi gives as the reason for his opposition to CTBT
ratification, Senator Byron Dorgan, Democrat of North Dakota,
responded: "The public description is that they will not allow this
treaty to come to the floor of the Senate until certain changes are
sent to the Senate (by President Clinton) that have been negotiated
with Russia with respect to the ABM (anti-ballistic missile) treaty.

"So this treaty is leverage.... But in my judgement this injures our
country's interests. Our country's interest is to lead. China is
waiting for us; Russia is waiting for us ... and holding this hostage
for that in my judgement hurts our ability to provide the leadership
on the world stage that we ought to be required to provide at this