DATE=10/2/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=COHEN / TEST-BAN TREATY (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-254581 BYLINE=JIM RANDLE DATELINE=SINGAPORE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Defense Secretary William Cohen is cutting short his visit to Southeast Asia, so he can rush back to Washington and help the Clinton Administration in a last-ditch effort to win ratification by the U-S Senate of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. V-O-A's Jim Randle reports from Singapore. TEXT: Mr. Cohen cancelled events in Singapore and Manila, only leaving room for brief talks with top officials in those nations. The abrupt change reflects the administration's concern that it is about to lose the vote on a key foreign-policy goal. // OPT // Mr. Cohen will return to Washington late Sunday - two days earlier than originally scheduled - so he can attend a strategy session at the White House on Monday. // END OPT // The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or C-T-B-T, would ban the underground nuclear explosions that experts say are crucial for new nations to develop nuclear weapons. The United States and many other nations have signed the agreement, but U-S law requires the Senate to ratify, or give final approval, to treaties. Republicans, who oppose the treaty, have a majority in the Senate and they have been blocking consideration of the agreement -- or even hearings on the matter -- until last Thursday. That's when Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott abruptly offered to hold a brief debate and a quick vote on the C-T-B-T. Senator Lott expressed confidence that treaty opponents have the votes to kill the measure. At a news conference in Singapore, Defense Secretary Cohen, a former Senator and the sole Republican in President Clinton's cabinet, said no one can predict how this political fight will turn out. /// FIRST COHEN ACT /// I think it's an uphill battle. I think that we are going to have to overcome some fairly strong resistance. /// END ACT /// Treaty opponents say the test ban would prevent the United States from testing the reliability of its nuclear weapons or developing new ones. They argue testing must continue as long as nuclear weapons are a key part of American security. Those who oppose the C-T-B-T also doubt it is possible to make certain that other nations are not cheating on the pact. But Defense Secretary Cohen says the United States has conducted one-thousand nuclear tests, and has the technical skill to monitor underground explosions. He says if Washington ratifies the treaty, it will encourage new nuclear powers to stop making bombs. /// SECOND COHEN ACT /// That hopefully will send a strong signal to India and Pakistan, both of whom have pledged in the past that they would be willing to sign this treaty, but have not done so. /// END ACT /// Both India and Pakistan have developed and recently tested nuclear weapons. The South Asian neighbors have fought several wars and remain locked in a dispute over the territory of Kashmir. Experts also express concern about nuclear weapons programs in North Korea, Iran and Iraq. (Signed) NEB/JR/WTW 02-Oct-1999 04:59 AM EDT (02-Oct-1999 0859 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .