USIS Washington File

07 October 1999

Senators' Views Clash on Approving Test Ban Treaty

(Ratification vote still scheduled for October 12) (1340)

Members of the U.S. Senate have expressed sharply divergent views on
the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which has been awaiting Senate
ratification ever since President Clinton signed it in 1996.

Senate Majority (Republican) Leader Trent Lott has set a vote on the
treaty -- one in which a two-thirds majority would be required for
ratification -- for October 12. With some leading legislators in both
parties now calling for a delay, however, it remains uncertain whether
the vote will come that day -- or even before congressional elections
in 2000.

Here is a sampling of what some senators have said about the treaty:
Senator Byron Dorgan (Democrat, North Dakota)

"Will this country be a world leader in trying to stop the
proliferation of nuclear weapons?....We have a responsibility to lead,
we have the capability to lead. Do we have the will to provide the
leadership necessary?....The Senate has a requirement, it has a duty,
to debate and then take a vote on the ratification of this important
test ban treaty....If this country can't demonstrate
(leadership)...then there is little hope in my judgment for progress
on limiting the spread of nuclear weapons." (Press conference, July
20, 1999.)

Senator Trent Lott (Republican, Mississippi)

"(Columnist Charles Krauthammer) basically says that the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty is disarmament, unilateral nuclear disarmament by the
United States, because we would not be testing our aging nuclear
weapons and saying to the rest of the world: We have been good guys,
so we're going to have faith that you're going to be good. I am not
prepared to put my grandson's future at risk in this way.... I do
think it is the wrong thing to do." (Congressional Record, September
10, 1999.)

Senator Tom Daschle (Democrat, South Dakota)

"We cannot allow this important treaty to be ignored any longer, and
we will not....We owe it to our children to do everything we can to
leave them a world that is better and safer than the one we found...."
(Press conference, July 20, 1999.)

Senator John Warner (Republican, Virginia)

"It is going to require the most careful consideration by all senators
to reach this vote. Much of the relative material that convinces this
senator to oppose the treaty simply cannot be disclosed in open. I am
going to urge our colleagues, and I am sure with the assistance of our
leadership, we can provide more than one opportunity for each senator
to learn the full range of facts regarding this treaty and its
implications for this nation." (Congressional Record, September 30,

Senator Russell Feingold (Democrat, Wisconsin)

"The United States must lead the world in reducing the nuclear threat,
and to do that we must become a full participant in the treaty we
helped to craft. (Failure to ratify the treaty to date means that)...
the United States will not be able to participate actively in the
upcoming conference, which is reserved for only those countries who
have deposited their instruments of ratification....Because we cannot
participate, the United States will be at a severe disadvantage when
it comes to influencing the future of the treaty and encouraging other
countries to sign or ratify." (Congressional Record, September 30,

Senator Jesse Helms (Republican, North Carolina)

" I do not share your enthusiasm for this (CTBT) treaty for a variety
of reasons, and I must point out that it has been 801 days since
President Clinton agreed to legally-binding language requiring that he
submit to the Senate amendments to the ABM (Anti-Ballistic Missile)
Treaty for its advice and consent. The continued adherence by the U.S.
to the legally-defunct ABM Treaty is a perilous obstacle to the United
States' building and deploying a missile defense to protect the
American people from a nuclear holocaust. Yet, the administration
continues to hold the ABM Treaty hostage, refusing to allow the Senate
to vote on it." (Letter to Democratic Senators, July 26, 1999.)

Senator Arlen Specter (Republican, Pennsylvania)

Ratification of the CTBT has become "basically a matter of survival"
in light of Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests and the fighting in
Kashmir. "It is very hard for the United States to step in and
advocate a peaceful resolution or to arbitrate or negotiate those
differences, when the United States has not ratified the Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty." (Press conference, July 20, 1999)

Senate Republican Policy Committee (Senator Larry Craig of Idaho,

"The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will jeopardize rather than enhance
U.S. national security. A permanent halt to testing would prevent us
from making safety improvements to our arsenal or from responding to
new threats, eventually undermining the credibility of America's
nuclear deterrent. It will prevent the United States from detecting
possible problems with weapon safety, effectiveness, and
survivability, and from developing appropriate corrective measures.
The administration's proposed alternative to testing is based on
yet-to-be-proven scientific methods which won't even be available for
a decade. And the CTBT will not prevent any country from building
nuclear weapons." (Policy statement issued October 5, 1999.)

Senator Joseph Biden (Democrat, Delaware)

"I think the public may be surprised to know this treaty calls for no
more nuclear testing by the United States and other nations. We
haven't been testing. There is a moratorium on nuclear testing. That
occurred in 1992 in the Bush administration....Now, we have the rest
of the world ready to sign up, and we are saying we are not going to
ratify, or up to now we are saying we are not even going to have a
hearing on this subject....Failure to ratify this treaty, I firmly
believe, paves the road to hell -- to nuclear hell." (Congressional
Record, September 30, 1999)

Senator Chuck Hagel (Republican, Nebraska)

"...I would recommend that we hold off any vote on this treaty until
2001 when a new administration will have the opportunity to rethink
our entire arms control and national security strategy and make it
relevant to the challenges of the 21st century. This treaty cannot be
considered in isolation from other arms control issues -- including a
national missile defense, the ABM treaty, and the START (Strategic
Arms Reduction Treaty) II and START III treaties....We are talking
about the future of the United States. This is not a discussion that
should be hurried for political or partisan gain." (Press release
issued October 5, 1999.)

Senator Richard Durbin (Democrat, Illinois)

"The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is a key piece of the broader
picture of nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. Consider this:
When non-nuclear countries -- those that don't have nuclear weapons --
agree they are not going to have a nuclear arsenal and sign the
Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an essential part of that bargain
for the smaller nations, the non-nuclear powers, and those that have
it, was that nuclear countries were going to control and reduce the
number of nuclear weapons. An integral part of that effort is this
treaty." (Congressional Record, September 30, 1999.)

Senator James Inhofe (Republican, Oklahoma)

"This misguided treaty... is not in the national security interest. It
will undermine confidence in the safety and reliability of the U.S.
nuclear deterrent. It will not prevent the proliferation of nuclear
weapons. It is not verifiable. It will unnecessarily and unavoidably
promote a false sense of security. It should be rejected now by the
Senate." (Press release issued October 6, 1999.)

Senator Edward Kennedy (Democrat, Massachusetts)

"We have a unique opportunity in the Senate to help end nuclear
testing once and for all. Other nations look to the United States for
international leadership. President Clinton has done his part, in
signing the treaty and submitting it to the Senate for ratification,
as the Constitution requires. Now the Senate should do its part, and
ratify the treaty. Ratification is the single most important step we
can take today to reduce the danger of nuclear war." (Congressional
Record, September 30, 1999.)