DATE=10/4/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=SENATE-TEST BAN (S-ONITER) NUMBER=2-254651 BYLINE=DAVID SWAN DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Opponents of the worldwide nuclear test ban are predicting the U-S Senate will reject the treaty. V-O-A's David Swan reports lawmakers are starting a round of hearings on the issue (Tuesday) before voting on ratification next week. TEXT: The treaty's Republican critics say the United States must have freedom to test its weapons to keep a safe nuclear stockpile and a credible deterrent. Opposition lawmakers also charge the accord can not be verified. Senator Jesse Helms, whose Foreign Relations Committee holds hearings on the issue this week, ridicules the Clinton administration's defense of the treaty. /// HELMS ACT /// The administration is grasping at straws, looking for any argument, however incredible, to support an insupportable treaty. Well, we will let them try to make their case. /// END ACT /// The White House argues the pact will ease nuclear tensions. But from the president on down, the treaty's supporters concede they are well short of the two-thirds Senate majority needed for ratification. The president and his Democratic (party) allies will spend the next several days trying to turn the tide. (Signed) NEB/DS/TVM/gm 04-Oct-1999 18:05 PM EDT (04-Oct-1999 2205 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .