(Fort Lauderdale, FL)
September 23, 1997


President Clinton called on world leaders on Monday to ''end all nuclear tests for all time'' and sent the long-delayed global test-ban treaty to the Senate, where he hopes to overcome Republican objections.

Announcing his action in an address to the United Nations' 52nd General Assembly, Clinton called the treaty ''our commitment to end all nuclear tests for all time, the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms control.''

In a 19-minute speech to U.N. delegates, the president also called for a permanent international court to punish human-rights violators.

Traditionally, international courts have been established on a case by case basis to investigate human rights violations such as the panel investigating Bosnia war crimes suspects. Clinton told the delegates: ''Before the century ends, we should establish a permanent international court to prosecute the most serious violations of humanitarian law.''

Praising the reform efforts by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is trying to streamline the world body's operations, Clinton pledged that the United States would pay the bulk of the $ 1 billion in back payments it owes the United Nations. Congress has blocked payment to the United Nations in an effort to spur cost-saving changes.

''This year, for the first time since I have been president, we have an opportunity to put the questions of debts and dues behind us once and for all, and to put the United Nations on a sounder financial footing for the future,'' Clinton said.

Traditionally, the secretary-general does not deliver substantive speeches during the General Assembly's annual debate, deferring instead to leaders and foreign ministers of the 185 member nations.

But in a departure, Annan urged members to make this the ''reform assembly'' by endorsing his plan to streamline U.N. operations, reduce staff and hold down expenses.

His address alternately chided and implored the organization's 185 countries to support his vision of a sleeker, cheaper United Nations ''that will express the highest moral aspirations of humankind even as it delivers practical benefits to men, women and children in cities and villages around the world.''

Annan's reform proposals include eliminating 1,000 positions in the bureaucracy, holding the U.N. budget at current levels for the next five years, reorganizing the management and budget structure and appointing a deputy secretary-general to serve as his second-in-command.

Although the reform measures have been criticized in Congress and elsewhere as too timid, there has been broad general support among the U.N. membership for the plan, and Clinton repeated his endorsement of it in his speech to the General Assembly.

Congress is expected to authorize about $ 900 million for the United Nations, provided the organization does not expand beyond current levels and agrees to put in a separate fund an additional $ 400 million that the United Nations claims it is owed but the United States has contested. Returning to the theme of his U.N. address last year, Clinton said the nations of the world must unite against ''21st-century predators.'' He warned, ''We're all vulnerable to the reckless acts of rogue states and to an unholy axis of terrorists, drug traffickers and international criminals.''

During a U.N. visit a year ago, Clinton became the first world leader to approve the historic Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear test explosions. He held off submitting it to the Senate while White House lobbyists tried to build support.

The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992.

The treaty would take effect next September. A Senate vote is expected in the spring. Under the treaty, all 44 nuclear-capable countries must ratify it for it to take effect.

Clinton's submittal of the test-ban treaty is expected to stir opposition from GOP senators who don't trust arms-control pacts or who insist that testing is needed to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile.

The debate probably will restore battle lines from the vote on the Clinton-backed chemical weapons treaty, ratified in April after many lawmakers remained undecided until the last minute. The president needs about 22 Republican senators to join Democrats in support of the treaty. ''We intend to win this vote and failure is not an option,'' said Robert Bell, a senior White House arms control adviser.

Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman of the Governmental Affairs subcommittee that handles this issue, said his panel will hold a hearing next week on whether the United States can count on its nuclear weapons to work without testing.