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October 7, 1999

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT UPON DEPARTURE AT THE WHITE HOUSE SOUTH LAWN :55 A.M. EDT


                              THE WHITE HOUSE
                       Office of the Press Secretary
                                                                 
For Immediate Release                             October 7, 1999

                         REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
                              UPON DEPARTURE
                            AT THE WHITE HOUSE
                                SOUTH LAWN
11:55  A.M. EDT

     THE  PRESIDENT:   Good morning.  All this past week a chorus of voices
has  been  rising  to  urge the Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty.   Yesterday  our  nation's military leaders and our leading nuclear
experts, including a large number of Nobel Laureates, came here to say that
we  can  maintain  the  integrity of our nuclear stockpile without testing.
And that we would be safer with the Test Ban Treaty.
     Today,  religious  leaders  from  across  the  spectrum and across the
nation  are urging America to seize the higher ground of leadership to stop
the spread of nuclear weapons.
......  
	These  Americans  are  telling  us  that  the debate about this treaty
ultimately  comes  down  to  a  fairly straightforward question; will we do
everything  in  our  power  to reduce the likelihood that someday somewhere
nuclear  weapons  will  fall  into  the hands of someone with absolutely no
compunction  about  using them?  Or will we instead, send a signal to those
who  have  nuclear  weapons  or those who want them, that we won't test but
that  they  can  test now or they can test when they develop or acquire the
weapons.   We  have  a moral responsibility to future generations to answer
that  question  correctly.   And  future generations won't forgive us if we
fail that responsibility.
     We  all recognize that no treaty by itself can guarantee our security,
and there is always the possibility of cheating.  But this treaty, like the
Chemical  Weapons  Convention,  give us tools to strengthen our security, a
global  network of sensors to detect nuclear tests by others.  The right to
demand inspections, the means to mobilize the whole world against potential
violators.   To  throw  away  these tools will ensure more testing and more
development of more sophisticated and more dangerous nuclear weapons.
     This  is  a  time  to come together and do what is plainly in the best
interest  of  our country by embracing a treaty that requires other nations
to  do  what  we  have  already decided to do ourselves. A treaty that will
freeze  the  development of nuclear weapons around the world at a time when
we enjoy an overwhelming advantage in military might and technology.
     So  I  say  to the Senate today whatever political commitments you may
have  made,  stop,  listen,  think  about  the implications of this for our
children's future.
     You  have  heard  from  the military.  I hope you will listen to them.
You  have  heard from Nobel Laureates and other experts in nuclear weapons.
I  hope  you  listen  to them.  You listened to our military and scientific
leaders   about   national  missile  defense,  listen  to  them  about  the
Comprehensive  Test  Ban Treaty. Listen to the religious leaders who say it
is  the  right thing to do.  Listen to our allies, including nuclear powers
Britain  and  France, who say America must continue to lead.  And listen to
the  American people who have been for this treaty from the very beginning.
And  ask  yourselves,  do  you really want to leave our children a world in
which  every  nation  has a green light to test, develop and deploy nuclear
weapons,  or  a  world  in which we have done everything we possibly can to
minimize  the  risks  nuclear weapons pose to our children?  To ratify this
treaty  is  to  answer the question right and embrace our responsibility to
future generations.  Thank you.

......
     Q    Mr. President, any progress on delaying the treaty vote?
     Q    -- for the Vice President.
     THE  PRESIDENT:   I'm sorry, I can't hear.  What did you say about the
treaty vote?
     Q    Any progress on delaying the treaty vote?
     THE  PRESIDENT:   I  had  a  dinner  here  the  other  night  that had
Republicans  and Democrats, including Republicans who were on both sides of
the  issue.   There  seems  to  be, among really thoughtful people who care
about  this,  an  overwhelming  consensus  that  not  enough  time has been
allocated to deal with the substantive issues that have to be discussed.
     So  we have had conversations, obviously, with the leadership and with
members in both parties, and I think there is a chance that they will reach
an accord there.

.........

     Q    Will you take the opportunity --
     THE  PRESIDENT:   I  have  already  had  a  meeting with the Executive
Committee  --  with  all the Executive Committee of the AFL-CIO in which we
have discussed that issue among others.  Thank you very much.
     Q    What part of the Test Ban -- a follow-up on the Test Ban, Sir?
     THE PRESIDENT:  You want to ask a Test Ban question?
     Q     Yes, just a follow-up.  If it looks like you're not going to get
the  votes is it better tactically to go down to defeat and blame it on the
Republicans or to just --
     THE  PRESIDENT:  I'm not interested -- that's not the -- that's a game
and  that's  wrong.   I'm not interested in blaming them for this.  I think
the  members  who  committed to be against the treaty before they heard the
arguments  and studied the issues and listened to the Joint Chiefs of Staff
and the Nobel Laureates made a mistake.  I think that was wrong.
     On  the  other  hand,  there  are lots of issues, complex issues, that
serious  people who have questions about it have raised, that deserve to be
answered,  worked  through.   And there are plenty of devices to do that if
there  is  time  to  do  that.  All I ask here is that we do what is in the
National  interest.   Let's  just  do  what's  right for America.  I am not
interested  in  an  issue  to  beat them up about.  That would be a serious
mistake.   That's not the way for the United States to behave in the world.
But  neither  should  they  be interested in an issue that they can sort of
take  off  the  table  with a defeat.  That would do terrible damage to the
role  of  the  United  States  which  has  been, from the time of President
Eisenhower,  the  leader  through Republican and Democratic Administrations
alike,  Republican  and  Democratic  Congresses alike, until this moment we
have been the leader in the cause of nonproliferation.
     We  should  not either try to get an issue that will enable us to beat
up  on  them,  neither  should they have an issue that enables them to show
that they can just deep six this treaty.  That would be a terrible mistake.
Therefore,  we  ought  to  have  a regular orderly substantive process that
gives  all  the people the necessary time to consider this on the merit and
that gives the people who made early commitments, I think wrongly, but they
did  it,  the  chance  to  move  to doing the Senate's business the way the
Senate should do it.
     Look  at  what these people are saying here today.  This is huge, this
is  bigger than party politics, this is bigger than personal politics, this
is about America's future, and the future of our children and the world. We
have  a  chance  to  reduce  the likelihood that more countries will obtain
nuclear  weapons.  We have a chance to reduce the likelihood that countries
that  are  now  working  on developing nuclear technologies will be able to
convert  them  into  usable  weapons.   We  have  a  chance  to  reduce the
likelihood  that  countries that now have weapons will be able to make more
advance,  more  sophisticated and bigger weapons.  We cannot walk away from
that and we cannot let it get caught up in the kind of debate that would be
unworthy  of  the  children and grandchildren of Republicans and Democrats.
Thank you.
     I  would like to ask Senator Jeffords -- let me just give credit where
credit is due.  Senator Jeffords got this group together.  And when I heard
they were meeting I invited them to come down here to stand with us.  So he
deserves  the  credit  for this day and Senator Dorgan has been perhaps our
most vociferous advocate on the Democratic side of this treaty.  So I would
like  to  ask  Senator  Jeffords to say a few words and then invite Senator
Dorgan to say a few words.
     SENATOR  JEFFORDS:   Thank  you,  Mr.  President.   I thank my honored
members  of  the religious community for the tremendous help they have been
to  this  cause.   And  I  appreciate  the  opportunity to be here today to
discuss  the  Comprehensive  Test  Ban  Treaty.   We  have  just heard from
prominent  religious  leaders  that it is imperative that the Senate ratify
this treaty.
     They  have  told  us  that  the  issue  is a vital matter of religious
consciousness for their communities of faith.  I hear the same message from
my  constituents.   Nuclear proliferation is one of the largest threats, if
not  the  largest  threat,  that  this  nation faces.  Ratification of this
treaty  will  improve our chances of stopping the spread of nuclear weapons
and  will  strengthen  our  national  security,  not  only today but in the
future.

     We  owe it to our children and our grandchildren to add this important
brick  to  the  foundation  of  international  peace.   Three years ago 152
nations  agreed  in  principle  to  forgo nuclear testing, but it will take
leadership  to lock up that commitment.  The world is looking to the United
States,  and  this  week,  to  the  United  States  Senate,  to  show  that
leadership.   I  firmly  believe  we  must  seize this moment to ratify the
treaty.
     Mr.  President, as you know, this is a risky venture.  But there is no
absolute  guarantee,  but  I  am  convinced  that  what risks there are are
certainly  far  outweighed by the dangers if we do not ratify.  And I thank
you for your leadership.  And I would like to also add, I don't stand alone
in the Republican Party as agreeing with this position.  Thank you.
     SENATOR  DORGAN:  Mr. President, thank you for your leadership on this
issue.   There are big issues and small issues.  We in the Senate spend the
better  part  of  a week some while ago debating whether to rename National
Airport here in Washington, DC.  That's a small issue.
     A  big  issue  is  the issue of whether we should ratify a treaty that
will  help  stop  the  spread  of  nuclear  weapons.   And without a day of
hearing, after languishing for two years in the Senate, the Majority Leader
abruptly decided ten days hence we would have 14 hours of debate and make a
decision as a country.  That is not a responsible way to handle this issue.
     It is unthinkable to me that this country or this United States Senate
would  decide  that  we  will  not  test  nuclear weapons, and we made that
decision  seven  years  ago, but we will defeat a treaty, according to some
members  of  the  Senate,  that  would  prevent others from making the same
decision,  that  would prevent others from conducting nuclear tests.  It is
an unthinkable position for me.
     As  I said, the question for this country is will we exhibit the moral
leadership  to  decide  that  we will press the world to stop the spread of
nuclear  weapons  and  to  try to prevent the horrors of a nuclear war. The
ratification  of  this  treaty  is critical.  This country has been a world
leader  and to deny this treaty would, in my judgment, deny our opportunity
to make this a safer world for our children and their children.
     THE  PRESIDENT:   Do you want to ask either one of them any questions?
Thank you very much.
                                 -END-
                                                                  12:20
P.M. EDT