October 4, 1999


                              THE WHITE HOUSE
                       Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release
October 4, 1999

                             PRESS BRIEFING BY
                               JOE LOCKHART
                             The Briefing Room

1:10 P.M. EDT


          Q    On another issue that's going to come up this week, the
supporters of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty have asked the President to
go all out.  Can you tell us what public and private things he has planned?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't think the Senate will take up a more
important issue this year, as far as our national security and the safety
of both Americans and the safety of free people around the world.  The
President will do everything he can -- I think you'll see him in an hour or
so meeting with his team, and have a chance to question him on where he
stands on CTBT.  We will find a way to publicly address this, probably --
or almost every day between now and the vote.  We'll find a way to find
private time for the President to talk to senators individually and in
small groups.  This is very important, we have a lot of work to do.
          It is highly unusual, the tactics that are being employed by the
Senate Republican majority.  This is a crucial piece of legislation, a
crucial treaty that Presidents since Eisenhower have been trying to enact.
The Presidents since Eisenhower on both sides of the political aisle have
viewed in our national interest.  And given all of that, and given the fact
that for two years they couldn't find time to even mention this
comprehensive test ban treaty, now they've decided to throw it on the
floor, not have any hearings in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee --
          Q    -- or in hearings --
          MR. LOCKHART:  The Senate Foreign Relations Committee, as far as
I know, is being chaired by Senator Helms, and he's not holding hearings.
Senator Warner is holding hearings, but treaties like this traditionally go
through the Foreign Relations Committee -- I can read you the list again
and bore you, those of you --
          Q    Is it a legitimate hearing if it's with the Armed Services?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I'm discussing what I think are highly unusual
tactics.  I cannot remember a significant arms control treaty or foreign
policy treaty that the Senate Foreign Relations couldn't find time to
          Now, this tactic says we're going to go ahead and do this in nine
days.  We think that that's unusual and I can't explain -- but we're going
to go ahead.  And the President is going to do everything he can to make
the case, to talk about how it's manifestly in our U.S. interests.  I mean,
this is a very simple equation.  This is not something that you have to get
into very specific -- throw weights and things that you have on some other,
the sort of START I and START II about different limits.
This is a situation where we don't test because we don't have to.
          We can maintain effective and strong deterrent without testing.
There are people around the world -- whether it be Russia and China, India
and Pakistan -- who can't say that.  This is about keeping other people
from testing.  And I'll remind you, I stood here for the last year and many
a day took a lot of questions from a lot of those who said they were
concerned, in particular about China and their ability to modernize their
nuclear arsenal.
          If you go and you look at the Cox Report, the Cox Report is
pretty clear that what can have the biggest impact on modernizing in China
is if they resume testing.  China has not tested since they signed in 1996.
They and many other countries are looking to the United States to see
whether we will ratify.  We will live in a safer world if the Senate does
the right thing and ratifies this treaty.
          Q    But you are going to cooperate, aren't you, with the
hearings and send people up?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Absolutely. Absolutely.
          Q    So it is a hearing and there will be three days --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, I think Senator Warner should be applauded
for holding his hearings.  I think a strong case will be made for passing
this treaty.  I think, as I said this morning, there is very little
opposition on the substance of this.  There are a few people here and
there, but the majority, the vast majority of the foreign policy community
-- whether it be the Joint Chiefs of Democrats and Republicans, whether it
be former Secretaries of State, whether it be former National Security
Advisors -- the scientific community, the arms control community is all
solidly behind this treaty.
          Q    Why are you so worried that you can't get the two-thirds --
do you need two-thirds --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, right now, it's a matter of count.  Clearly,
Senator Lott and the Republican majority have decided to short circuit
this, make it hit-and-run, rather than advise and consent, and try to get
out before people have had a chance to really focus on it.
          But we're going to, in the next week or so, make sure that people
focus on this issue, they look at how it impacts them.  I really don't
think there's a constituency in this country for resuming nuclear testing.
          Q    Joe, the President has been asking them take this up for two
years.  Why weren't you ready with the votes?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Okay, let me bore you then.  Let me go through
what we've done in the past when it comes to important issues like this.
          Q    I'm just asking why you don't have the votes lined up since
this isn't a surprise.  I mean, you've been asking for this vote for so
long, you'd think --
          MR. LOCKHART:  We've been asking the Senate to do their
constitutional -- assume their constitutional responsibility on CTBT and
take this up, hold hearings, allow those who are in support of this to make
their case.  And let me just give you some examples.
          The ABM treaty in 1972, there were eight days of hearings in the
Foreign Relations Committee, 18 days of Senate floor consideration.  The
intermediate nuclear forces treaty in 1988, there were 23 days of Foreign
Relations Committee hearings and nine days of Senate floor consideration.
The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, there were five days of Foreign
Relations committee hearings and two days on the floor.
          START I, 19 days in Foreign Relations and 5 days on the floor.
START II, 8 days in Foreign Relations committee and 3 days on the floor.
Chemical weapons, 14 days in the committee, 3 days on the floor.  And NATO
enlargement, 7 days of committee hearings and 8 days on the floor.
          These are serious issues; they should be treated seriously.  And
they should not be dealt with in a way that some senators can walk around
and talk about how clever they are and how good their legislative tactics
          Q    Joe, one of the things you said was that the U.S. doesn't
have to test.  That is true because the U.S. has supercomputers and can
simulate testing.  The Russians have suggested that if they were to go
along and ratify the treaty that they would also need supercomputers in
order to simulate testing.  Is the U.S. willing to supply them?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Well, we are in discussions with them on this
issue, but there's no suggestion that I know of changing our export
technology policy.
          Q    -- CIA analysis yesterday, was that a Republican leak, and
do you have any comment about that?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know where it came from.  I can tell you
that we don't have any data of any nuclear explosion in Russia.  I can tell
you that it's nothing new that on low-level nuclear tests, they are
difficult to detect.  That's been an old problem and something we've worked
very hard on.  But I can assure you that having CTBT in place helps to
solve that problem.  Having on-site inspection, having 300 monitoring
stations in the world, having other countries in the world commit to not
testing helps to deal with this problem.  That story, wherever it came
from, is a strong argument for ratifying the treaty.
          Q    Can you remind us that the India-Pakistan situation with
regard to the treaty?
          MR. LOCKHART:  Yes.  India and Pakistan have indicated they want
to sign.  I think the Indian Foreign Ministry made a very positive
statement yesterday; they said that they plan to sign the treaty when the
new parliament is in place.  I think that -- again, we spent some time
surrounding -- in a time of crisis when India and Pakistan tested recently,
and there was a lot of concern expressed from a lot of quarters.  This
addresses it directly.  This is India and Pakistan agreeing that they will
not test.  And testing is, as the scientists know, the key to modernizing a
nuclear arsenal.  They have indicated they're willing to move forward and
agree not to test.
          But I think that we are in a completely different world if the
Senate votes this down and undercuts our ability to make this case around
the world.  Look at the other -- look at what happened after we signed the
Chemical Weapons Convention.  Within a short time span, I think China,
Russia, and India -- or one of -- three major countries came on board and
signed shortly after.
          The world is looking to us, and this is very important.  This is
something now for 30 or 40 years we have faced.  We have faced the danger
of modernizing nuclear arsenals.  The world is looking for United States
leadership, and the Senate is responsible for dealing with that.
          Q    Let's see if I have the China argument straight.  You're
essentially saying that people who scream the loudest about possible
espionage by the Chinese, if they vote against this treaty are making it
possible for the Chinese to utilize that information --
          MR. LOCKHART:  No.  The argument I'm making is there are people
who -- there was a lot of rhetoric and a lot of concern about China
modernizing their nuclear arsenal.  And that concern came from many places,
but including from the Senate.  I think this is a chance to do something
about it.
          Q    Joe, on the --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Let me finish, please.  This is a chance to do
something about.  If you read the Cox report, if you talk to scientists,
you'll understand that testing is an absolute essential key to modernizing
a nuclear arsenal.  And I think opposition to this, for me, brings into
question much of that concern that was expressed.  I think there was a lot
of real concern about dangers that were posed.  Here's a chance to do
something about it.
          Q    -- what the Chinese said about signing the treaty and
ratifying it?
          MR. LOCKHART:  They have not tested since 1996.  They have signed
it, they still have to go through -- I'm not sure what their process is,
but they have another step.  I believe that China and other countries are
probably waiting for a signal from the United States.
          Q    But, Joe, the argument has been made that until such time as
your intelligence services can come up with a mechanism of verifying low
level subcritical nuclear tests, why give up the stick of testing?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I think we have always had -- low level testing
has always been a challenge.  We are continuing, we believe, to meet that
challenge.  But it's like saying, you know, here is a tool to help solve
your problem, but because you can't say that the tool is absolutely
perfect, you don't want the tool.  This tool will help deal with all levels
of testing.
          If there is some reason to believe that a country in engaged in
low level testing or any kind of testing, you can demand an on site
inspection.  That is certainly better.  And this idea that somehow
countries will sign on and then they may cheat -- right now there is no
international ban on testing.  It is absolutely in our interest, given our
capabilities and given the fact that we don't need, through our technology,
to test, is absolutely in our interest to make sure that others don't.
Because it is those who are developing a modern nuclear arsenal, those who
are the emerging threats that it is most important to restrain and
constrain their growth.  And many of these countries are willing to sign
          But I think this treaty just -- it absolutely does not go into
effect if one of the main countries, like the United States, doesn't ratify
          Q    Joe, do you think that the Republicans are intentionally
trying to do something injurious to the U.S. national security?  Do you
think that there's not legitimate grounds for --
          MR. LOCKHART:  I certainly -- there is a small minority in the
arms control community that has argued against this -- and I emphasize it's
a small minority.  I don't believe that their argument can stand the test
of the facts, but I have no doubt that these people believe in their heart
what they've argued.
          What is hard to understand and what's unusual is the tactic here.
To sort of rush something to the floor and do it in a way --
          Q    Why do you think they did that?
          MR. LOCKHART:  You'll have to ask them.
          Q    No, they thought they had to deal with it, though.
          MR. LOCKHART:  But to do something in a way that has such
profound implications for our future in such a way that does not do justice
to the process.
          Q    Why did they all of a sudden -- what's the White House
judgment on why, all of a sudden, Republicans said, okay, let's do it.
          MR. LOCKHART:  You will just have to ask them.
          Q    Well, do you think it was from outside pressure that they
          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't know.  But I know that on some basic
issues of running the Congress and their part in running the government, if
you look at the budget mess, that they've fallen short; if you look at some
other areas -- I mean, look at judicial nominations, we've got a backlog
that we're only now beginning to hopefully find a way out of.
          They've got important constitutional responsibilities and it's
time for them to start doing their work and doing it responsibly.
          Q    Well, something pressured them to do it now.
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen --
          Q    Why do you feel blindsided if you don't feel that something
          MR. LOCKHART:  Listen, again, I can't explain their motives.  I
can only describe for you how unusual these tactics are.


          Q    On Israel and also some of the Arab countries and Iran,
what's their status on this nuclear test ban treaty?  Have they said they
would sign it?
          MR. LOCKHART:  We can distribute a list on where people are.  I
mean, there are a number of people who have signed the treaty, a number of
people who have ratified it.  Again, I think there are some countries that
have looked to the United States for a signal before moving.  I don't have
any concrete evidence that can prove that, but I think it's obvious to
          Q    Joe, on the one hand you're calling for ratification of the
CTBT, and then on the other hand   , over the Pacific you're shooting
missiles out of the sky, which some critics have said will stir the pot in
the weapons race.  So how do you have it both ways?
          MR. LOCKHART:  I don't think it's a matter of having it both
ways.  I think what we're looking at here is looking at the feasibility
cost, the viability of a missile defense.  We have done this I think the
proper way as far as seeing if it will work.  There was an important test
on Saturday, I believe, which the Pentagon reports was successful.  We will
make a decision on this next year.  And to the extent that there are issues
in the ABM treaty, we have already begun to work with the Russians directly
on it.
          We believe that there is a threat from rogue states, that it is
in our national interest to examine the feasibility of a national defense,
and that's what we've done.
          Q    But do you not believe that this will spur countries like
Russia, like China, like North Korea and others to try to devise a system
that will defeat the ABM?
          MR. LOCKHART:  No, I don't think so, and I think that the fact
that countries are willing to abandon testing is a strong message about --
          Q    Then Reagan was right in proposing Star Wars --
          MR. LOCKHART:  Helen, hold on, stop.  There is a whole -- there
is a fundamental difference between what Ronald Reagan was talking about --
a space-based missile defense system -- and the limited national missile
defense system that we're talking about, which is designed to deal with
rogue states and not provide the kind of things that President Reagan was
talking about.


          THE PRESS:  Thank you.
                          END       1:52 P.M. EDT