June 28, 1996


"We are reaching the end of a journey of more than 40 years -- to a truly comprehensive ban on all nuclear explosive testing.

"The negotiations in Geneva for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) have been ended in keeping with the timetable proposed last fall by the United Nations and accepted by the Conference on Disarmament. Chairman Ramaker has drawn from the negotiations a complete text that fairly represents the state of play. Where there has been no consensus, such as on entry into force, he has rendered a fair judgement of where compromise might lie.

"Now the Conference on Disarmament's member countries must make their final review in capitals, so this work can be wrapped up promptly when the Conference on Disarmament reconvenes July 29. When that is done, we can meet the United Nations timetable of a CTBT open for signature this fall."


"In the end game there has been intense work on entry into force issues. Two sharply divergent approaches were presented -- one centered on the five nuclear weapons states, and one also requiring the so-called "threshold states," among others, as original parties.

"Chairman Ramaker has produced a rational compromise which, however, implies a substantial delay before formal entry into force. That means several things to us:

"First, we have more work to do to realize the full benefits of this treaty. The United States will not rest until that work is completed.

"At the same time, we know that the successful conclusion of the test ban negotiations will erect a powerful new political barrier to nuclear testing by anyone. As large numbers of countries sign and ratify the treaty, they will establish unmistakably that nuclear test explosions are unacceptable and will isolate any nation that pursues them.

"And finally, the treaty can also impose legal restrictions on further testing from the outset. Customary international law, as codified in Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, requires that signatory countries refrain from acts that would defeat its "object and purpose," in any interval between signature and entry into force. It will be widely understood that in the case of the test ban, any nuclear explosive test would defeat the Treaty's object and purpose and therefore is legally prohibited from the time a country signs.

"In short, our goal has been to prevent nuclear explosive tests. From the moment of President Clinton's 1993 decision to actively support and pursue the CTBT, the negotiations themselves have helped advance that cause. With completion of the Treaty and its opening for signature, the world's fortifications against any testing will grow rapidly and steadily stronger, until all the benefits of the Treaty are fully realized."

John D. Holum