The Morning Call (Allentown)
September 24, 1997


President Clinton on Monday sent the delayed nuclear test-ban treaty to the Senate, where it is expected to face opposition similar to that initially encountered by the chemical weapons ban last spring. But the nuclear test-ban treaty is a logical extension of this country's efforts at global disarmament. And some of the arguments raised to support the chemical weapons ban apply to the nuclear test ban, as well.

When the President gave his State of the Union message in 1995, he made a hefty, three-part promise: "The United States will lead the charge to extend indefinitely the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; to enact a comprehensive nuclear test ban; and to eliminate chemical weapons."Mr. Clinton has delivered on two parts of that promise. In 1995, the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty was extended. In April of this year, the Senate voted to ratify the chemical weapons treaty.

Last year, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting the testing of nuclear devices, was signed by the United States. But Mr. Clinton delayed until Monday in presenting the treaty to the Senate due to anticipated opposition there.

It is not surprising that certain countries traditionally have refused to sign key disarmament treaties. Libya, North Korea and Iraq refused to sign the chemical weapons ban and are expected to also resist the nuclear test ban. But the best way for this country to isolate renegade nations is by ratifying such treaties. Even if the chemical weapons ban did not include all applicable nations, it was signed by 164 nations and quickly ratified by 75. A significant number of countries have agreed to no longer use, develop, produce or stockpile chemical weapons, and, they will destroy existing stockpiles during the next decade.

Further, failure by the United States to ratify key disarmament treaties would send a message of futility: that the world's only superpower believes there is no hope for reducing the threat of such weapons.

This country has a history of working toward disarmament, including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties in the early years of this decade. START I and II were the first treaties to reduce U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals.

A Senate vote on the latest effort, the nuclear test-ban treaty, is expected next spring. The hurdles ahead are significant: all 44 nuclear-capable countries must ratify it before it could take effect in September 1998. Beyond the usual refusals from North Korea, Iraq and Libya, India and Pakistan, both possible nuclear nations, may not sign.

But the nuclear test-ban treaty must be pursued. The world must stop the development of more advanced and more dangerous weapons, and the United States should lead the way.