USIS Washington File

07 October 1999

Text: Albright's Opening Remarks Before Senate Panel

(Secretary tells Senators to ratify CTBT soon) (2160)

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is urging the U.S. Senate to
ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) "as soon as possible."

Speaking at a hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee
October 7, Albright acknowledged the ongoing debate among Republicans
and Democrats about whether to postpone the vote to ratify the Treaty.

The U.S. media have reported that it is unlikely that the Treaty will
receive two-thirds of the votes needed from Senators for ratification.
Some Republicans would like to see one of the Clinton Administration's
top foreign policy goals killed, and some Democrats see the failure of
ratification as an opportunity to accuse the Republicans of
contributing to proliferation around the world

"Over the past two days," Albright said, "I have been asked whether I
would prefer to see a vote on this Treaty delayed, rather than have it
voted down. I have only one preference, and that is to see the Treaty
approved as soon as possible. The reason is not sentiment, but sense.
This Treaty would help America."

The Treaty would not hurt the U.S. nuclear program, which hasn't
conducted explosive tests since 1992, but would stymie the nuclear
aspirations of less technologically advanced countries, the Secretary
said. It would also establish more than 320 data gathering stations to
register nuclear explosions anywhere in the world and subject those
signatories suspected of violating the Treaty to on-site inspections.

Albright acknowledged that low-yield tests might not be caught under
the mechanisms established under the Treaty. "But by improving our
capacity to monitor, we are much more likely under the Treaty to
detect such tests and consequently to deter them," she said.

Waiting to vote on the ratification of the CTBT "is not a strategy;
waiting is the absence of a strategy," Albright told the Senators. "If
we believe nuclear restraint is the right approach, we should ratify
this Treaty and mark a path for others to follow."

Following is the State Department text of Albright's remarks:

(begin text)

October 7, 1999

(As Prepared for Delivery)

Opening Remarks by

Before Senate Foreign Relations Committee
October 7, 1999

Mr. Chairman and Senators, thank you for the opportunity to testify
today on behalf of a Treaty that will make the world safer and America
more secure.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT, is not a panacea. It will
not guarantee that nuclear weapons spread no further. No pact or
policy can ensure that. But the Treaty will make it more difficult and
dangerous for countries to develop and modernize nuclear weapons. That
is, without question, in the national security interests of the United

Under the Treaty, America would retain a safe and reliable nuclear
deterrent. But by preventing testing, the Treaty will inhibit the
development of more advanced weapons by other nuclear weapons states,
and make it harder for countries that do not now have such weapons to
build them.

Our nation has the world's most advanced nuclear capabilities. In the
past, we conducted more than 1,000 nuclear explosive tests. Our most
experienced and eminent nuclear scientists, and the heads of our
testing labs, agree that we do not need to continue these tests in
order to maintain an effective deterrent. We can keep our weapons
fully safe and reliable under the provisions of the Treaty and the
special safeguards President Clinton has proposed.

This view is echoed by our senior military leaders, including General
Hugh Shelton, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and four of his
predecessors. And has been supported consistently by the chiefs of all
our armed services.

America's ability to protect its security without testing is not new.
We stopped conducting nuclear explosive tests in 1992. In recent
years, such a moratorium has been broadly observed around the world,
but -- as the exceptions in South Asia last year indicate -- restraint
depends now almost entirely upon good will.

Since America has no need and does not plan to conduct nuclear
explosive tests, the essence of the debate over CTBT should be clear.
It is not about-preventing America from conducting tests; it is about
preventing and dissuading others from doing so. It is about
establishing the principle on a global basis that it is not smart, not
safe, not right and not legal to conduct explosive tests in order to
develop or modernize nuclear weapons.

By banning such tests, the Treaty removes a key tool that a modernizer
or a proliferator would need to develop with confidence small,
advanced nuclear warheads. These are the weapons that can most readily
be concealed; and that can be delivered by ballistic missiles. They
are the most threatening to others and to us. No country could be
confident of developing them under the CTBT.

Some say the Treaty is too risky because countries might cheat. But by
approving the Treaty, what exactly would we be risking? With no
treaty, other countries can test without cheating, and without limit.

The CTBT would improve our ability to deter and detect clandestine
nuclear weapons activity in three ways.

First, every signatory would be required to accept intrusive

Second, the Treaty establishes a comprehensive international
verification regime, with more than 320 data gathering stations of
four different types that can register nuclear explosions anywhere in
the world. A great deal of the information collected by these sensor
stations would not otherwise be available to our intelligence

And third, the Treaty would give us the right to call for on-site
inspections when we have evidence a test has occurred.

Obviously, we will continue to make full use of our own national
technical means. But we will have more extensive access in more
countries of interest under the Treaty than we would ever have without
it. And the more countries that support and participate in the Treaty,
the harder it will be for others to cheat, and the higher the price
they will pay if they do.

Mr. Chairman, some have suggested that the Treaty is not verifiable
because we cannot be absolutely certain of detecting very low-yield
tests. Strictly speaking, that is true with or without the Treaty. But
by improving our capacity to monitor, we are much more likely under
the Treaty to detect such tests and consequently to deter them.

The CTBT prohibits all explosive tests; and we would take any sign of
cheating very seriously.

But our citizens should know that low-yield explosions would be of
little use in developing new or more advanced weapons systems. And we
are confident that we could detect and deter any tests that could
damage U.S. security interests.

Another criticism I have heard of the Treaty is that it is premature.
We should wait, some say, both until our ability to detect even the
smallest tests is 100 percent, which may never happen; or until every
country about which we are concerned has ratified the Treaty first. I
can only reply that this is a recipe for followership, not leadership.

The purpose of our national security policy should be to help shape
events, not simply observe them. We want other countries, including
Russia, China, India and Pakistan to ratify this Treaty and undertake
a binding commitment to refrain from nuclear explosive tests.

But how can we convince them to do so if we will not? If we wait, why
shouldn't they? Waiting is not a strategy; waiting is the absence of a
strategy. If we believe nuclear restraint is the right approach, we
should ratify this Treaty and mark a path for others to follow.

After all, we heard the same arguments during the debate on the
Chemical Weapons Convention. Opponents said we should wait.

But once we decided to move ahead, five countries, including China,
chose to submit their ratifications on the same day we did. Cuba
ratified a week later, and Iran, Pakistan and Russia followed within
eight months.

Over the past two days, I have been asked whether I would prefer to
see a vote on this Treaty delayed, rather than have it voted down. I
have only one preference, and that is to see the Treaty approved as
soon as possible. The reason is not sentiment, but sense. This Treaty
would help America.

And I hope that Senators who now oppose the CTBT, or who are
undecided, will think very carefully about what the consequences would
be if the Treaty were not approved. Because it would be a national
security tragedy if the world's greatest deliberative body killed a
Treaty that our nation has sought for 40 years by failing properly to
deliberate on and appreciate its merits.

Under those circumstances, we would have preserved the right to do
something we have no need and no intention of doing, while giving a
free pass to those who may want to conduct nuclear explosive tests and
could one day do us harm.

We would have ignored the best national security advice of our top
military leaders.

We would have missed a priceless chance to improve our ability to
detect and deter nuclear tests.

We would have denied the vision and betrayed the dream of the two
Presidents who first proposed and pursued the comprehensive test ban
-- Dwight Eisenhower and John Kennedy.

And we would have done damage to American interests in every region.

In Asia, by throwing away a valuable tool for slowing the
modernization of China's nuclear arsenal; and by sending a very
confusing signal to North Korea.

In South Asia, by cutting the legs out from under our efforts to
persuade India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the CTBT.

In Russia, by reducing our credibility on nonproliferation issues with
a government we have continually urged to take proliferation

In the Gulf, by easing worldwide pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear

And in Europe, the Americas and around the globe, by disappointing our
allies and friends, many of whom have ratified the Treaty and are --
without exception -- urging us to do the same.

Senators, in recent years, I have traveled to every corner of the
world. I have met with senior officials from most nations. In that
time, I have not heard a single expression of doubt about the
overwhelming power and reliability of our nuclear deterrent, or about
our ability and resolve to defend America's vital interests.

What I have heard are questions about whether America would continue
to lead in reducing the threat that nuclear proliferation poses to
citizens in every country. I have heard the concern that we would
insist on reserving the right to conduct nuclear explosive tests, and
thereby give every country with the potential to develop nuclear
weapons a green light to do so.

Let us be clear. It is potential proliferators who need to test; we do
not. It is those who might wish to modernize; we set the standard for
modernization. By approving the CTBT, we can go far to lock in a
technological status quo that protects us without threatening others.
At the same time, we would strike an historic blow against the spread
of nuclear weapons.

But if we send this Treaty down to defeat, we will fuel ambitions and
fears that could multiply the number and danger of nuclear weapons
even as the new century dawns.

Mr. Chairman, it just so happens that about three weeks ago, I was
blessed with my fourth grandchild, and first granddaughter. Her name
is Madeleine.

I hope I am not being selfish when I say that I want Madeleine and
others her age to grow up like those of us on both sides of this table
in one respect could not. I want her to grow up free from the fear of
nuclear attack. I believe that the CTBT will give her and her
generation a better chance. I fear that without the Treaty, the spread
of nuclear dangers could create risks even graver than those we faced.

In recent days, I have heard opponents refer to this Treaty to ban
nuclear explosive tests as dangerous. Call me illogical, but I believe
that, given where the United States now stands in the world, it is
unrestrained nuclear explosive tests that are dangerous.

I know this Treaty can't eliminate all the risks that we and our
families will face. But like President Clinton, Secretary Cohen,
American military leaders past and present, and our nation's allies
from Ottawa to Paris and London to Tokyo, I am convinced this landmark
agreement will reduce those risks.

I urge each Senator to think carefully before voting, to put partisan
considerations aside; and to cast your vote in support of American
leadership, on behalf of a safer world, and in favor of the
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Thank you.

(end text)