DATE=10/6/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=CLINTON-TEST BAN (L) NUMBER=2-254740 BYLINE=DAVID GOLLUST DATELINE=WHITE HOUSE CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: President Clinton is pressing ahead with his campaign for ratification of the global nuclear test- ban treaty, despite forecasts that the accord faces near-certain defeat in the Senate next week. Leaders of both parties in the Senate are seeking a face- saving way of defusing the political confrontation. V- O-A's David Gollust reports from the White House. TEXT: The White House is making it clear it is willing to accept a compromise that would at least put off a decisive vote on the test ban. But as the negotiations continued in the Senate, President Clinton carried on with an intense lobbying campaign to try to build support for the treaty, which he has made one of his top foreign policy priorities. Republicans who control the Senate contend the treaty to ban underground nuclear testing is unverifiable and would undercut the United States' ability to assure the reliability of its own nuclear forces. But the President, who was the first world leader to sign the treaty in 1996, says the accord poses no security risk for the United States. He says failure to ratify it would cost the nation its leadership role in weapons non-proliferation. At a pro-treaty White House event that included leading scientists and former military commanders, Mr. Clinton recalled his personal role in helping defuse the Kashmir crisis in July, which was more acute because of the nuclear testing by India and Pakistan in 1998. Mr. Clinton wondered aloud what the effect will be on the two South Asian powers and others if the United States rejects the test ban: /// CLINTON ACTUALITY /// Both of these countries have indicated they will sign this treaty. If our Senate defeats it, do you think they'll sign it? Do you think they'll ratify it? Do you think for a minute that they will forgo further tests if they believe that the leading force in the world for nuclear non- proliferation has taken a U-turn? If our Senate defeats the treaty, will it encourage the Russians, the Chinese and others to refrain from trying to find and test new, more sophisticated more destructive nuclear weapons. Or will it give them a green light? /// END ACT /// Mr. Clinton noted the broad support in Congress for a missile-defense system that would be the nation's last line of defense against nuclear attack from rogue nations. But he said the first line of defense should be preventing countries from acquiring nuclear weapons in the first place, which is the objective of the test ban. Senate Republican leaders had stalled action on the test ban for two years, but scheduled the October 12th vote in a surprise move last week. Democrats are complaining that the quick schedule for the vote will doom their efforts to win over moderate Republicans to get the required two-thirds majority for ratification. The senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Joe Biden, told reporters Republicans seem to fear an adequate debate of the treaty's merits: /// BIDEN ACTUALITY /// If these guys really believe they're right, why are they afraid to debate (Sen.) Byron Dorgan and Joe Biden and others on the merits? Why are they afraid? What is the deal? It seems to me the Senate, as Senator Dorgan says, is irresponsible. Name me another treaty that has ever gotten this treatment when its come before the Senate? I think the brain-waves have gone flat here. This is crazy. /// END ACT /// The White House and Democratic allies were pushing for a delay of several weeks in the treaty vote to allow for more hearings and floor debate. But Republicans are understood to want to put off the entire issue until after President Clinton has left office in 2001. (Signed) NEB/DAG/TVM/gm 06-Oct-1999 17:32 PM EDT (06-Oct-1999 2132 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .