Great Seal

U.S. Department of State

Daily Press Briefing


4,5-6Senate failed to take action which would enhance US national security & interests. US will continue to maintain testing moratorium, to urge signing & ratification of CTBT. Vote a grievous blow to US leadership in non-proliferation. Countries of greatest concern are those who have recently tested, or might test soon: India, Pakistan, North Korea, China. Also of concern are countries which forswore nuclear weapons, based on understanding that nuclear powers would sign, ratify CTBT.

DPB #130
THURSDAY, OCTOBER 14, 1999, 12:35 P.M.


QUESTION: Actually, seriously, on the CTBT, what does the State Department say to those who say in light of last night's failure of the Clinton Administration to get the Senate to ratify the CTBT, US influence on the world stage will be diminished from here on out?

MR. RUBIN: The first thing I would say to those people is that it was the Senate that failed, not the Clinton Administration. The Senate failed to take an action that would advance our national security. The Senate is an independent body and has that right, but it was the Senate who failed to take action to defend our interests.

We will continue to lead on the world stage. Secretary Albright has sent out a cable to all posts to explain to host governments the views of the United States, making clear that we do intend to continue our moratorium; that we intend to continue to urge other countries to refrain from nuclear testing; and that we intend to continue to urge other countries to sign the CTBT and ratify it.

We also intend to continue to work with senators and others here in Washington so that the next time around a serious consideration can be given to this treaty; one that would be appropriate to a treaty of this importance, and that then with serious consideration we intend to work to see this treaty ratified.

Clearly, the decision and failure of the Senate to ratify the treaty harms our cause, our joint cause; our cause of trying to persuade other countries not to go down the nuclear road; to trying to persuade other countries to follow our lead and our influence in the nonproliferation field. The Senate has done a grievous blow to our leadership in the nonproliferation field, but this Administration and Secretary Albright intend to fight to overcome that blow and continue to pursue our nonproliferation policy.

QUESTION: I want to go back to the dhows.

MR. RUBIN: The dhow.

QUESTION: The seizure.

MR. RUBIN: Yes, let's do the dhow. We're really hopping all over the place today.

QUESTION: I might have missed it, but do you have proof that the goods aboard were government - you know, in the hands of the government or were they private goods that were being smuggled out, as often happens?

MR. RUBIN: Well, it may often happen in some countries, but in Iraq we have every reason to believe that nobody can get away with sending large vessels filled with so much goods as this without the government knowing about it. Let's remember this is a brutal, authoritarian dictatorship where people would not be acting without the acquiescence of the government. We do not believe there is such a thing as a real private sector that could have been acting outside the reigns of power of this brutal dictatorship.

QUESTION: What ship was this?

MR. RUBIN: What's the name of it? There were three dhows, privately owned dhows from other countries, and I will see whether we can get you some additional information, perhaps after the briefing, on details.

QUESTION: Where were these ships?

MR. RUBIN: The Kuwaitis picked them up.

QUESTION: But where were they en route to? Do we know?

MR. RUBIN: Do we know that information? We don't have that detail but I can try to get you that after the briefing. We know the Kuwaitis picked them up. They're probably investigating now what the crew says what its ultimate destination was.

QUESTION: Could you make the Secretary's letter to host governments available to us?

MR. RUBIN: It's not a letter. I said she sent a cable to posts explaining what she wanted our ambassadors in embassies to say to foreign governments, and I explained the basic points that are contained in that cable in the comments I made in response to Andrea's question. But we don't normally make formal cables available in a public forum.

But the basic points are much in line with what I just said. I'm sorry - and one other point. The Secretary was concerned that often in press reporting that the United States has voted down this treaty, that other governments might misunderstand our form of government. In our form of government, the President is the leader of our foreign policy. The Senate has a role in the advice and consent process of treaties, but they do not make our foreign policy. As the maker of our foreign policy, President Clinton intends to continue to moratorium; intends to continue to urge others to refrain from testing; and intends to pursue ratification at a later date when the Senate takes its constitutional responsibilities in a more serious way and gives the treaty the consideration that every other major arms control and international treaty has received.

QUESTION: You've done it before, but could you please repeat for us what areas and countries with which the US has the most concern that proliferation - (inaudible) -- ?

MR. RUBIN: Certainly, the countries of greatest concern are those that either have just begun a nuclear testing process or those that might do it soon. So, in the first category, you have countries like India and Pakistan who both conducted a series of tests, who might now have more difficulty persuading their domestic constituencies to ratify and sign this treaty in light of the Senate's failure to ratify it.

Secondly, you have countries like North Korea that we've taken enormous, enormous efforts to persuade not to go down the nuclear road by engaging in the Agreed Framework and the provision of oil and reactors to North Korea in exchange for them giving up a process that we believed could lead to their nuclear weapons development capability.

You have countries like China - and I find it particularly ironic that many of those who spoke the loudest about the dangers of China developing a more capable nuclear arsenal and the dangers that possible espionage might have assisted China in that matter seemed to be the most absent when it came to addressing the question of whether China would be able to make major, major strides in modernizing its nuclear arsenal if it were to test. Testing would have been - and would be - the key for China to develop a whole new generation of nuclear weapons that could be placed on mobile missiles that would be multiple warhead re-entry vehicles. The very types of fears that were expressed during the espionage issue somehow were absent from the opponents of this treaty.

So those are a few examples. Certainly, you have another problem in a fourth category, which are those countries who have forsworn nuclear weapons in Europe, in Africa, in the Middle East, in Latin America, who did so on the clear understanding that the United States and the other major powers were intending to move towards arms control and a cut-off of tests under the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. They understood as we moved away from extreme reliance on modernized nuclear arsenals and moved towards reducing our strategic weapons and cutting off testing, that they would then continue to commit not to go down the nuclear road themselves.

So there's a whole other category of countries who will see the failure by the Senate to ratify this treaty as a major setback to the cause of nonproliferation. We are going to work to overcome that setback; it's something that clearly has troubled the Secretary and obviously the President, who will have more to say, I'm sure, in a short while. But we're going to work to overcome the blow that this has done to nonproliferation and I hope that those who spoke the loudest against the treaty understand that if developments go in a negative way in the world, that this will have been a contributing factor.

(The briefing concluded at 12:55 P.M.)

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