Test Ban News

Prominent Republicans and Democrats
call for CTBT ratification

Bipartisan support is growing for prompt Senate consideration of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Earlier this year, Paul Nitze, a former arms control negotiator and ambassador-at-large during the Reagan Administration, announced the formation of a bipartisan Committee to Support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. His group includes prominent Republicans and Democrats on national security issues: former Senators James Exon (D-NE), Mark Hatfield (R-OR), and Nancy Kassebaum (R-KS), and former Congressmen Lee Hamilton (D-IN) and Anthony Beilenson (D-CA).

In February, this eminent group urged the Senate to ratify the CTBT without delay. The CTBT, they wrote, "represents a unique and crucial opportunity to combat today's greatest national security threat, the proliferation of nuclear weapons." U.S. failure to ratify could give other nations an excuse to withdraw from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and develop nuclear weapons. "Instead of being a leader in the fight against nuclear proliferation, the United States would have itself struck a blow against the NPT."

On June 6, Paul Nitze made another urgent call for Senate action to strengthen U.S. leadership in the global effort to end nuclear testing. This time, it took the form of a Washington Post piece co-authored with Sidney Drell, chair of a Congressionally-mandated study on nuclear weapons safety during the Bush Administration. The authors recall President Eisenhower's famous acknowledgement that his failure to negotiate a CTBT would "have to be classed as the greatest disappointment of any administration -- of any decade -- of any time and of any party." They suggest that "failure to ratify the CTBT would have to be regarded as the greatest disappointment of any Senate, of any time, of any party. We urge the Senate to ratify the CTBT now." 

As Nitze and Drell point out, the CTBT will make Americans safer in several ways. It will "constrain advanced and not-so-advanced nuclear weapons states from developing more sophisticated and dangerous nuclear weapons capabilities." Since India and Pakistan expressed a willingness to join the CTBT after 


conducting nuclear tests last year, "U.S. ratification would remove any excuse for inaction on the part of these nations and would strengthen their resolve." It would also make good on a commitment that helped gain the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995--a Treaty that is up for review next April and that is the "cornerstone of the worldwide effort to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and reduce nuclear danger."

U.S. security interests are carefully protected under the CTBT. The authors underscore that "President Reagan's maxim--trust but verify--remains true today." The Treaty provides new tools to help determine whether or not a test might have occurred, including short-notice, on-site inspections. These provisions, "combined with the treaty's extensive international monitoring regime and our own intelligence resources, make the CTBT effectively 

verifiable." Moreover, the Department of Energy's science-based stockpile stewardship program can maintain the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing. "Our confidence in this program underpins our judgement that there is no technical reason why the CTBT is not the right thing to do." 

Based upon their half-century of experience serving in a variety of foreign policy, national security, and intelligence positions for both Republican and Democratic Administrations, Nitze and Drell conclude that: "our national interest is best served when America leads. When America hesitates, opportunities to improve our security are lost, and our strategic position suffers."

Produced by the White House Working Group on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty For more information on the CTBT: Phone: 202-647-8677 Fax: 202-647-6928