DATE=10/26/1999 TYPE=BACKGROUND REPORT TITLE=NUCLEAR TEST BAN-KENNEDY NUMBER=5-44612 BYLINE=ANDRE DE NESNERA DATELINE=WASHINGTON CONTENT= VOICED AT: INTRO: Earlier this month, the U-S Senate rejected the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, handing President Bill Clinton a major foreign policy defeat. The issue of a comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons testing has been a source of debate for many years. In this report from Washington, National Security Correspondent Andre de Nesnera looks at the first high-level attempt to limit nuclear testing - an attempt which came during the administration of John F. Kennedy. TEXT: /// KENNEDY ACT /// Total war makes no sense in an age when great powers can maintain large and relatively invulnerable nuclear forces and refuse to surrender without resort to those forces. It makes no sense in an age where a single nuclear weapon contains almost ten times the explosive force delivered by all the allied forces in the Second World War. It makes no sense in an age when the deadly poisons produced by a nuclear exchange would be carried by wind and water and soil and seed to the far corners of the globe and to generations yet unborn. /// END ACT /// President John F. Kennedy addressing the graduating class of American University (in Washington DC) on June 10th, 1963. The speech came only eight months after the United States and the Soviet Union came to the very edge of nuclear war during the Cuban missile crisis. Both countries were continuing to test nuclear weapons and very few people expected President Kennedy - at a time of great tension between Moscow and Washington -- to deliver a speech that focused on - peace. Ted Sorensen was a senior adviser to President Kennedy and instrumental in drafting the speech. He says the address at American University marked a turning point in Washington's approach toward the Soviet Union. /// SORENSEN ACT /// No-one expected a speech that was unlike any presidential speech ever given in this country. A speech which asked those present, as well as the country as a whole, to re-examine the meaning of peace, to re-examine our relations with the Soviet Union, re-examine the Cold War itself. /// END SORENSEN ACT /// In the speech, President Kennedy called on Moscow to begin negotiations on a comprehensive treaty to stop nuclear testing. /// SECOND KENNEDY ACT /// The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963 - the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security - it would decrease the prospects of war. /// END ACT /// Mr. Sorensen says a comprehensive test ban treaty had been a subject of hope, speculation and lower-level discussions for many years. But he says no American president, until Mr. Kennedy's speech at American University, had challenged Moscow to address the nuclear test ban treaty in such a direct way. /// SECOND SORENSEN ACT /// For me, that speech was the epitome of my lifetime dream, my hopes and beliefs. I was brought up by parents who had very strong feelings about peace and harmony among nations of the world. I had worked for President Kennedy - at that point - for almost 11 years and had many opportunities to work with him on matters that improved international relations and the plight of the world in which we lived. But none quite as grand as the vision he painted in that speech. /// END ACT /// The former senior Kennedy aide says the reaction to the speech from Communist Party leader Nikita Khruschev was swift - and positive. /// THIRD SORENSEN ACT // Khruschev was - I don't want to say stunned - but he was clearly struck favorably by this totally new approach from the American president. He ordered the jamming of American broadcasts of the Voice of America into the Soviet Union to be halted. One paragraph he originally jammed and then on the re-broadcast, he didn't have that paragraph jammed. The speech became top news in the Soviet newspapers which at that time could have happened only because of the Soviet Chairman permitted that to happen. And he said these negotiations are clearly serious negotiations. /// END ACT /// On July 15th, 1963 - just over a month after President Kennedy's speech - American, Soviet and British negotiators met in Moscow to draft a treaty banning nuclear tests. Ten days later, they agreed on a limited test ban treaty, banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, in outer space and under water. The treaty fell short of what President Kennedy called for in his American University speech 36 years ago. But Mr. Sorensen says given that Moscow and Washington came on the verge of nuclear war just eight months before the speech was given, the limited nuclear test ban treaty can only be seen as a great success. /// REST OPTIONAL /// Mr. Sorensen is very critical of the U-S Senate's action earlier this month rejecting a comprehensive test ban treaty - a pact that would ban all nuclear tests. /// FOURTH SORENSEN ACT /// I know that there were arguments that the treaty was a risk - all treaties are a risk. That's how progress is made in life by taking some risks. I know that they said the treaty was unverifiable, unenforceable, that other nations could cheat. Exactly that was said in President Kennedy's time about the limited nuclear test ban treaty. /// END ACT /// Opponents of the comprehensive test ban treaty also said the pact was incompatible with U-S national security needs. They said the United States - which has stopped nuclear testing since 1992 - must be able to test its nuclear weapons to guarantee their reliability. Mr. Sorensen says the Senate action sends a clear message to the world that the United States - in his words - is not ready to stand up and be counted on this very essential step forward in ending the nuclear arms race. (Signed) NEB/ADEN/KL 26-Oct-1999 14:37 PM EDT (26-Oct-1999 1837 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .