DATE=10/16/1999 TYPE=ON THE LINE TITLE=ON THE LINE: COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY NUMBER=1-00787 EDITOR=OFFICE OF POLICY - 619-0037 CONTENT= THEME: UP, HOLD UNDER AND FADE Anncr: On the Line - a discussion of United States policy and contemporary issues. This week, "The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty." Here is your host, Robert Reilly. Host: Hello and welcome to On the Line. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would ban all nuclear explosions designed to test, develop, or improve nuclear weapons. To come into force, all forty-four nations that have the capability to build nuclear weapons must ratify it. To date, approximately two dozen have done so. The United States has observed a unilateral nuclear test ban since 1992. But treaty opponents claim that a permanent lack of testing would undermine the U.S. nuclear deterrent, while doing little to stop rogue states and others from continuing to build up their nuclear arsenals. Those concerns prevailed last week when the U.S. Senate voted not to ratify the treaty. Joining me today to discuss the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty are three experts. Michael Krepon is president of the Henry Stimson Center, a public policy foundation. Henry Sokolski is executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center. And Gary Milhollin is director of the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Welcome to the program. Host: Michael Krepon, what is at stake in the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty? Krepon: Two large things are at stake. The role of nuclear weapons in the 21st century. How important a role will they play? How much of a profile will they have? And the second thing that is at stake is: how successful will we all be in efforts to control proliferation? Host: And you think this treaty is important enough that it will decide both those matters? Krepon: No one factor decides these things, but the issue of nuclear testing casts a very, very long shadow on all of this area. Host: Henry Sokolski, what is your reaction to that? Sokolski: I think resuming testing without cause, or just in a pique of desire to get back to the Cold War, might prompt some of the concerns that Michael has raised. But I don't see the ratification of the treaty necessarily being the do-or-die issue. With regard to the nonproliferation, frankly, I can think of many more initiatives that would be more important to reduce demand for going nuclear than whether or not we ratify this treaty. Host: Gary Milhollin, what is the significance of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty? Milhollin: I think the treaty has very little significance. I think the idea behind the treaty originated in the Cold War and has been overtaken by events. Even if the United States ratifies the treaty, that won't cause countries like India and Pakistan necessarily to ratify it. If we don't ratify it, we will still refrain from testing ourselves and so will the other big countries that have the bomb. That is, there is a moratorium in place now among the United States, Britain, France, China, and Russia. That will continue regardless of what we do. Host: Let's talk a little more specifically, Michael Krepon, about the consequences of the U.S. Senate's not ratifying the treaty. Play out the ripple effect from that because both President Clinton and certain leaders in the Senate have said that this will have direct consequences. Krepon: There will be many ripples. First of all, the ability of the United States government, this administration, the next administration, to talk to other countries to get them to do specific steps that we would like them to do to reduce nuclear dangers will be much, much diminished. That's number one. Host: But let me stop you there and ask why, because the United States has a rather bipartisan agreement that there is no reason for the United States to test in the near future, so that we would continue with the unilateral freeze on testing. Doesn't that give enough moral weight to the U.S. position to proceed? Kropen: I think the question that other foreign governments have when they hear this argument is: if you have no reason to test, why don't you ratify this treaty? You're asking us to ratify this treaty. Why should we ratify this treaty if you think the rules do not apply to you? Host: Let's ask Henry Sokolski to answer that. You've just been asked by a foreign government, and you are answering for the United States. Sokolski: Well, I think this is the criticism critics have of the treaty, that it tries to rush to judgment to close certain uncertainties before they've been resolved. One of them, for example, that we keep getting hit with is: do we need to test, and when, to maintain the safety of the stockpile? Another question that's raised is: what should be the role of nuclear weapons if we don't know within thirty percent what in the world the Russians have in their stockpile to turn into weapons overnight, or in few years? These uncertainties are what drive us to hold on to the nuclear weapons and to wonder whether or not we may need to test in the future. We need to get those resolved. That's the reason why ratifying this now should not be an imperative. Host: Then, what do you think of that argument, Gary Milhollin, that the safety and the reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile cannot be maintained without testing, indefinitely. Milhollin: That is a difficult technical issue. It seems to me that we know now that our weapons are safe. And we know now that they're very likely to work. We also, I think, can be confident that no country is going to challenge us to a nuclear war under the theory that, say, ten percent or twenty percent of our warheads are not going to go off. But if you project out ten years or twenty years, when our current crop of designers has died, when our testing data is old, when we've remanufactured weapons maybe once or twice without testing them with new materials and perhaps new components, then I think that it is a legitimate scientific question whether you can have the requisite degree of confidence. Host: What is your answer to that, Michel Krepon? Krepon: This concern about the safety and reliability of nuclear weapons applies to every country that has them. And if the United States is in trouble here, then we can only imagine what kind of trouble other countries will be in with far less capability, far less of infrastructure, far less talent, far less money, and far less advanced machinery, to answer these questions. My view, though, is more basic than that. Nuclear weapons create devastating effects. The first weapons that were designed were designed without the benefit of any of this fancy equipment that we are going to provide to our own laboratory scientists. They worked. They can kill a city. This treaty does not prohibit the development and maintenance of that kind of stockpile. What it does prohibit pretty effectively is the development of advanced weapons designs. And there are lots of countries that are interested in acquiring them. Host: And that brings up to the next big question. Opponents of this treaty claim that this treaty does not have the verification provisions to detect cheating on this treaty by nations that are likely to do so, rogue countries like North Korea, Iran, Iraq, proliferators like China, Russia. And number three, even if they are detected in violation of the treaty, that there are no enforcement mechanisms for it. Could you respond to that? Sokolski: I think that this gets back to Gary's point, which is this is a ban-the-bomb movement effort dating back to the fifties, when we were locked in a mortal strategic combat mode with the Soviet Union in the Cold War. When you don't have that Cold War, the enforcement isn't, well, we're going go to war against cheaters in the way that it was presumed to be the case with all Cold War arms control. If there were a violation, it would cause major tension with the Soviet Union that might lead to war. So everyone was very careful and tried to adhere to these things and verify them. That's not the case now. Host: You're saying that verification is not as critical? Sokolski: No, I am saying that enforcement is much less likely now without the discipline of a major standoff between two of the major powers that gave birth to this idea of a test ban to begin with. Host: But doesn't that make the treaty less relevant, because what we are worried about, as you just said, is not a Cold War adversary but rogue nations that are developing weapons of mass destruction. Krepon: It means the enforcement that's inherent to Cold War arms control will not be present with this treaty. And therefore cheating will pay more and be more likely. Host: Gary Milhollin, what do you think of that? Milhollin: I think that if we're looking around the world at countries whose behavior we are trying to affect by this treaty, we wont find very many. I think Iran and Iraq, if they ever get to the point where they can test a bomb, will test it regardless of what we do or even regardless of whether they promise not to test. They will cheat. I think it's also quite likely that the Russians and the Chinese, if they thought they needed to, would cheat because in effect there is no real enforcement mechanism. If we detect an ambiguous signal from China or Russia, it's not a basis for a diplomatic initiative - to have an ambiguous signal. And there are ways of muffling tests to make them ambiguous. And also, at least today, our government has an engagement policy with China. So if we detected a Chinese test, it would be a counter to our overall diplomatic effort in China to raise it. And also we're trying to maintain good relations with the Russians under trying circumstances. If we accuse them formally of cheating on the test moratorium or cheating on the treaty, that torpedoes other diplomatic interests. So not only there is no practical enforcement, there is really not even a strong incentive to enforce. Host: Which leaves you with what conclusion regarding the worth of the comprehensive test ban? Milhollin: As I said when we began, I think it's a treaty that the time has passed by. And I don't think it's a solution to proliferation and it's not a solution to our strategic problems anymore. Host: Michel Krepon? Krepon: I'd like to answer three criticisms that you've put on the table. Verification, enforcement, and a treaty whose time has come and gone. On the last point, Gary, we just a year and a half ago saw India and Pakistan test nuclear weapons. It is still a very relevant factor for these countries. We've all discussed the possibility of Iran, Iraq, maybe North Korea, maybe a few other countries, getting into the nuclear weapons business in a very overt way that does require testing. If these circumstances come to pass, it's easy for all of us to envision other countries that would get into the nuclear business in a serious way. To me, this means that the treaty has great relevance because it is harder for countries to test when the entire world is lined up against them. There are no guarantees here. Let's talk about verification. Under this treaty, countries retain their national capabilities to detect. And in the case of the United States, our capabilities are pretty considerable. But in addition to that, we also get an international monitoring system with over three-hundred sensors of various kinds placed in areas of the globe where they will have considerable meaning, including in Russia and China, to detect extremely low-yield events. If we cannot distinguish between a seismic event and a low-yield test, the treaty provides for onsight inspection provisions - challenge inspection provisions. Let's talk about enforcement. Sokolski: By the way, can we rejoin at any point? There are two problems already. First of all, yes, the comprehensive test ban sure did have a lot to do with India, but it had a lot to do with why it tested. They were frightened and they have publicly gone on record making this very clear. They tested when they did because they do not want to be penalized for not testing before the treaty came into force. So that one had a reverse implication. The treaty was not a big boon for preventing testing in India. It egged them on. Second of all, the Chinese already are making it very clear that they don't want seismic sites anywhere near their nuclear testing facilities. In fact, they want them as far away from that as possible, already raising the headache of what's good enough. Krepon: The locations of seismic stations and other stations in China are already indicated in the treaty annexes. With respect to India, it is a country that I know something about. There are many reasons for India's test. Sokolski: I will agree with that, but that was one of them. Krepon: You've mentioned one of them, but I'm not sure that it was the most important one. Sokolski: It certainly explained the timing. Krepon: On the question of enforcement, enforcement requires cooperation. You cannot enforce unilaterally. If the United States stays away from this treaty, says goodbye to it, what kind of enforcement provisions and what kind of enforcement leverage are we going to have. Host: What are the enforcement provisions within the treaty? Let's say the treaty comes into force. Someone violates it. What does the treaty allow? Krepon: The treaty allows for flexible enforcement arrangements, a wide variety, depending on what the states agree upon. In the case of Iraq after the Persian Gulf war, there was enforcement because there was a common agreement about the dangers of Iraq's behavior and the dangers of their continuing programs. Circumstances in which you can do collective enforcement, outside of treaties, are extremely rare. It's much easier to do it inside a treaty itself. Milhollin: If you assume that somebody is going to cheat, how can you assume at the same time you are going to have cooperation? Anybody who cheats is not going to cooperate. When they decide to cheat, they are going to decide that they are going to deny that they cheated and they are certainly going to prevent anybody from coming in to catch them. And this is the problem with all treaties. The Iraqis, for example, were members in good standing of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty before the Gulf war. They cheated on that treaty repeatedly and were never caught. I think we can expect the Iraqis to continue to cheat. The Iranians right now are cheating on the Nonproliferation Treaty. And there is no mechanism for addressing that. So I think when you look at these treaties, you have to see that, as Henry said, they really don't address the main problem of proliferation. The main problem of proliferation is that the Chinese and the Russians today are supplying the wherewithal to make the bomb to Iran, and probably will supply it to Iraq. And we don't really have a strategy for dealing with that. Host: Let me ask you this question because, in order for this treaty to come into force, as I mentioned in the introduction of the program, it requires ratification by forty-four countries. Aside from the action of U.S. Senate this past week, we would have to have ratification from China, from Russia, from North Korea. What is the likelihood, in realistic, political terms, of this treaty ever coming into force? Milhollin: I think it is very small, but it does not matter that much because we have a moratorium among the five big countries and anybody else can join. That is, if the Indians tomorrow decided that they wanted to give up testing, they can join the moratorium unilaterally. And then Pakistan would join because the political pressure would be on them. Sokolski: They have actually claimed that they want to do that. The good news may be that, if this controversy is behind us, we can focus on the few things where all three of us may agree need more attention. There is so much uncertainty about how many weapons' worth of material Russia has. It would be nice to get some pressure and attention on getting that resolved. That would make arms control that was substantive more likely, more and more constructive arms control than this treaty focused on, because if we don't know what the Russians have, with enormous uncertainties, how can we do arms control at all. Host: Last word to Michel Krepon. Krepon: There is no guarantee that the current moratorium will be extended. Nuclear testing can resume. This treaty is very important. It is needed. If the U.S. takes the lead, others will follow. Host: I'm afraid that's all the time we have this week. I'd like to thank our guests - Michael Krepon from the Henry Stimson Center; Henry Sokolski from the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center; and Gary Milhollin from the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control- for joining me to discuss the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. This is Robert Reilly for On the Line. 15-Oct-1999 11:03 AM EDT (15-Oct-1999 1503 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .