DATE=11/6/1999 TYPE=U-S OPINION ROUNDUP TITLE=THE COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN DEBATE NUMBER=6-11503 BYLINE=ANDREW GUTHRIE DATELINE=WASHINGTON EDITOR=ASSIGNMENTS TELEPHONE=619-3335 CONTENT= INTRO: After two-years of languishing in the Senate, the Republican leadership has suddenly scheduled a vote on the comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty. The move has caught both the White House and Senate Democrats by surprise, since the treaty has not been previously considered a priority item by the G-O-P. The U-S press is for the most part upset that a treaty that has waited more than two-years for ratification, and is a critically important foreign policy initiative, to end the testing of nuclear weapons, is to be voted on in such a hurry. We are joined now by ____________ with a sampling of opinion on the issue in today's U-S Opinion Roundup. TEXT: The idea for a treaty banning nuclear weapons tests began in the Eisenhower administration, and has proceeded through several generations of negotiations, mainly between the United States and the Soviet Union. Finally, three-years ago, President Clinton signed the treaty that would ban all nuclear weapons testing, especially among the 44-countries that are thought capable of developing nuclear weapons. So far, 154- nations around the globe, including Russia and China have signed the treaty, but relatively few, including this country, have ratified it. And that is the key point. Now, in a change of strategy, perhaps linked to next year's presidential election, Senate Republican leader Trent Lott has scheduled a vote on the treaty next week, with only limited debate. Much of the U-S press is upset, some because they feel it is being rushed to a vote, while a minority of papers feel the treaty is unverifiable and is therefore a trap for this country to agree to. But in Texas "The Dallas Morning News" is solidly behind the agreement. VOICE: By obligating all countries to do what the United States has voluntarily done since 1992 -- that is, forgo further nuclear weapons tests -- and providing a good mechanism for verifying compliance, the treaty would make the United States more secure. Unfortunately, leaders of the Republican majority have declared themselves opposed to the . Treaty. . the treaty is eminently verifiable. It would create a global network of sensors capable of capturing evidence of almost any nuclear explosion. The network would enhance the United States' own sophisticated efforts to monitor compliance. . An overwhelming majority of Americans - 82-percent - favors the treaty, according to a recent Mellman Group poll. Senators who may not be capable of voting in the nation's best interest should keep that poll in mind as they consider their own interests. TEXT: Taking the opposite view, "The Detroit News" is worried the agreement will not stop other nations from secret or even overt testing. VOICE: Arms control enthusiasts believe the test ban is in America's interest, because it would discourage other countries from developing weapons of mass destruction. But that premise is doubtful. America unilaterally stopped above-ground testing long ago and has not tested any weapons underground since the early 1990's. Yet that did not "encourage" Pakistan and India to resist testing A-bombs of their own last year. National interest and military necessity will always override altruistic feelings. TEXT: In the Northern Midwest, The Minneapolis, Minnesota "Star Tribune" supports the pact. VOICE: The usual conservatives -- those who have never met an arms control treaty they liked -- are arrayed against the C-T-B-T. To hear them tell it, this is the treaty from hell .. Senate Majority Leader [Trent] Lott offered their typical hyperbole when he said it would "unilaterally disarm" the United States. [Mr.] Lott's claim is total bunkum [rubbish]. The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992 and has no foreseeable need to test; computer simulations suffice to keep this nation's nuclear arsenal in top shape. This treaty is to keep others from testing.. Ratification by the United States is critical . TEXT: "The San Francisco Chronicle" worries that: VOICE: Cynical politics threaten to undercut a landmark treaty to ban nuclear testing around the world. . Senate Republicans now want a hurry-up vote by the end of next week . Because they believe the votes for approving the treaty are not there, and G-O- P leaders want to hand President Clinton a big-time drubbing (defeat). TEXT: Turning to the Southwest again, "The Daily Oklahoman" is against the treaty, suggesting that it - - would seriously endanger the United States . VOICE: The . Treaty, ardently supported by the Clinton administration, is seen by some as one of the most dangerous threats to national security since the end of the Cold War. The treaty was signed in 1996 and sent by [Mr.] Clinton to the Senate for ratification in 1997. There it has stayed while strong voices for national security like Senator Jesse Helms, Republican of North Carolina, have sought ways to kill it. The treaty should die because . Lack of underground testing . will seriously hamper efforts to maintain and adapt the nuclear arsenal to meet emerging threats . The Clinton administration is willing to trust an unfinished, untested system of theoretical testing by supercomputers, which it says negates the need for actual test explosions. But it is foolish to base America's strategic defense on computer models.. [And] The treaty fails to define what it purports to ban. Nations will be left to define for themselves what is allowable. TEXT: "The Chicago Tribune" says it is "Time to Ratify the Test Ban Treaty." and makes this case: VOICE: No treaty is perfect, but the potential benefits of this one far exceed its costs, and it is far too important to America's -- and the world's -- security to let partisan differences scuttle it. G-O- P senators have argued the treaty would impair the ability of the U-S to maintain a viable nuclear arsenal and that verifying compliance with the treaty by other nations would be difficult. But the U-S already possesses an enormous lead over any other nation in nuclear-weapon technology and, thanks to devices like computer simulation, can maintain the reliability of its nukes without testing. . Other nations, especially Russia and China, are waiting for the United States to make the first move before they ratify. But if we fail to show credible leadership, efforts at banning nuclear testing forever could falter. TEXT: Also speaking out against the vote, at least at this time, are three former high-ranking members of past administrations. John Deutch, former head of the C-I-A, Brent Scowcroft, George Bush's National security adviser, and former Secretary of State during the Nixon administration Henry Kissinger. In a column they collectively wrote for the "Washington Post", the three say they feel both the supporters and opponents of the treaty are wrong. VOICE: . our purpose here is not to argue its merits and defects. Our point is more straightforward. .it is premature for the Senate to vote on the [treaty],. at least during the life of the present congress -- because the treaty is not coming into force any time soon, whether or not the United States ratifies it. This means that few, if any, of the benefits envisaged by the treaty's advocates could be realized.. But if we act now, there could be real costs and risks to our security interests, including our nonproliferation objectives. . In light of the uncertainty, and in the absence of any compelling reasons for early ratification, it is unwise to take actions now that constrain this or future presidents' choices about how best to pursue our nonproliferation and other national security goals, while maintaining the effectiveness and credibility of our nuclear deterrent. TEXT: Lastly, this plea from "The San Diego Union- Tribune", in favor of ratification. VOICE: The nuclear test ban treaty, child of the Eisenhower administration, signed under the Clinton administration, and delayed for three-years by the Republican Senate, is coming to a vote. Debate begins this week. Sadly, because of election politics, it probably will lose. A few Republicans will join Democrats in ratification. But most Republicans, in search of a campaign issue, will oppose this important treaty, depriving it of a two-thirds majority. In doing so, they will undermine profound national interests. TEXT: And on that note we conclude this sampling of comment on the pending vote. NEB/AWG/RAE 06-Oct-1999 14:22 PM EDT (06-Oct-1999 1822 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .