DATE=10/8/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=TEST BAN CONTROVERSY NUMBER=5-44462 BYLINE=DAVID SWAN DATELINE=CAPITOL HILL CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Next week, the U-S Senate will act on the worldwide nuclear test ban treaty - either by putting the matter aside or killing the pact outright. While either outcome would be a setback for the Clinton administration, the president and his allies still hope to raise the issue again later. V-O-A's David Swan looks at why so many U-S senators are opposed to the accord. TEXT: The treaty is one of Mr. Clinton's last chances to leave a legacy in foreign policy and perhaps repair an image tarnished by scandal and impeachment. At a White House ceremony, he called on senators to put politics aside, to think about the long-term effect of voting the test ban down. // Clinton act // 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? // end act // But Republicans control the Senate - and for all but a few, statements about the test ban's merits are falling on deaf ears (are being dismissed). This means the treaty is all but certain to fall far short of the two-thirds majority needed for ratification. The Republicans have a detailed list of objections to the pact, which Senator John Kyl summarized. // Kyl act // It will jeopardize rather than enhance our national security. It will undermine our vital nuclear deterrent by jeopardizing the reliability of our nuclear stockpile. It will prevent us from making our weapons as safe as they can be and it will not stop nuclear proliferation and is not verifiable. // end act // The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would outlaw underground nuclear tests, as an earlier accord did away with atmospheric ones. More than 150 nations have signed the latest version. But it cannot take effect until ratified by 44 nuclear-capable countries. So far, just 26 have done so - not including the United States, India, Pakistan, Russia, China or Israel. Treaty supporters say U-S approval would lead other holdouts to follow suit. Republicans dispute that assessment and say the treaty would have no effect on so-called rogue states. Majority (Republican) Leader Trent Lott is among the skeptics. // Lott act // Do you really believe that that's applicable to North Korea, Iraq, Iran, India, Pakistan, China, Russia? We're going to act on faith? // end act // Republicans also say that without new testing, the United States cannot be sure its arsenal is safe and reliable. The scientists who run the country's nuclear weapons labs have testified the stockpile is safe now -- but may deteriorate if tests are not allowed. In contrast, President Clinton's energy secretary, Bill Richardson, told senators the treaty will enhance, not weaken, national security. // Richardson act // It will rein in nuclear weapons development by states that want the bomb and dampen the development of more advanced weapons by current members of the nuclear club. The American people want peace of mind. This treaty can help give it to them. // end act // While arguments over the test ban have been spirited, the parties are bitterly at odds over the timing of the debate. Democrats say Republicans bottled up the treaty for the last two two years, then rushed toward a final vote in hopes of killing it. Democratic Senator Joseph Biden angrily compared the procedure to a crooked card game. // Biden act // Come on! Come on! This is a stacked deck! The idea that we're going to vote on a treaty that everyone acknowledges - opponents and proponents - is maybe the single most significant treaty we will vote on to determine the direction of this country.. // end act // Republicans deny they acted unfairly. They point to the administration's repeated calls for a vote on the treaty and some lawmakers' threats to tie up the Senate procedurally to force one. Majority leader Lott says Democrats have only themselves to blame for their troubles. // Lott act // What happened was they found, when they actually got what they said they wanted - that the treaty was going to come up - that the treaty is flawed and it's going to be defeated. The treaty is not going to be ratified. // end act // That is perhaps the only point where the two sides agree - that if the Senate does vote, the test ban will lose. The Democrats still hope to put off the vote, but it is not clear if enough Republicans are willing to go along. The decisive moment is expected sometime Tuesday. (Signed) Neb/ds/rrm 08-Oct-1999 17:53 PM EDT (08-Oct-1999 2153 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .