Test Ban News

"Free the CTBT":  Senators Cite National Security, Public Opinion

On July 20, nine Democratic and Republican Senators urged their colleagues to rise above partisan politics and give the critically important Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty a fair hearing. Senators Biden (D-DE), Bingaman (D-NM), Daschle (D-SD), Dorgan (D-ND), Jeffords (R-VT), Kerry (D-MA), Levin (D-MI), Murray (D-WA), and Specter (R-PA) held a joint press conference following the President's pledge to renew his efforts to secure the Senate's approval of a treaty that was sent to them in September 1997.

A New Nation-Wide Poll: Public support for CTBT ratification is at 82% -- its highest since the end of the Cold War.  According to the poll by the bipartisan Wirthlin-Mellman Group, ratification is favored by wide margins in every demographic-geographic segment of the country:  71% of respondents strongly support CTBT  ratification, and even 79% of conservative Republicans want the treaty approved.  As Senator Dorgan stressed, this does not mean that CTBT ratification should "be decided by the polls."  Rather, the Senators used the data to show that the issue is not partisan and that "the American people...know how important this is."  The poll was commissioned by the non-profit Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers.

Senator Daschle:..."We cannot allow this important treaty to be ignored any longer, and we will not....We owe it to our children to do everything we can to leave them a world that is better and safer than the one we found...."

Senator Dorgan:..."Will this country be a world leader in trying to stop the proliferation of nuclear weapons?...We have a responsibility to lead, we have the capability to lead.  Do we have the will to provide the leadership necessary?...The Senate has a requirement, it has a duty, to debate and then take a vote on the ratification of this important test ban treaty....If this country can't demonstrate [leadership]...then there is little hope in my judgment for progress on limiting the spread of nuclear weapons...."

Senator Jeffords:..."All too frequently, the two parties have used foreign policy or national security issues to drive a wedge between them and to sway voter opinion.  But this poll is once again confirmation that the American people don't see it that way.  Stronger national security is everyone's top priority...."

Senator Specter:  The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests and the fighting in Kashmir have made CTBT ratification "basically a matter of survival."  "It is very hard for the United States to step in and advocate a peaceful resolution or to arbitrate or negotiate those differences, when the United States has not ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty."

Senator Levin: Defense Secretary Cohen and Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Shelton strongly support CTBT ratification.  One reason is the fight against proliferation.  A second is the on-site inspection 


provided by the Treaty.  A third is possible Chinese theft of U.S. nuclear designs.  "In order to utilize them, they need to test.  They have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.  But if we do not ratify that treaty,...we give them a chance to get off the hook...."

Senator Kerry:..."The chances of a relatively minor conventional conflict escalating into nuclear conflict, the chances of the United States of America being blackmailed with a nuclear weapon, increase every single day that the Senate does not ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty."

Senator Murray:..."It's time to free the CTBT....Parts of Washington, D.C., it seems, are still stuck in the Cold War mind set that resulted in more than 1,000 U.S. nuclear weapons test explosions over nearly 50 years. Fortunately, that is not the case beyond the Beltway....Washington State has a nuclear history that continues to this day [and is] very pro-defense....82% of voters in my state support the

CTBT....It's time to give voice to the American people and have the issue debated...."

Senator Bingaman:..."In 1992, when President Bush committed this country to a moratorium on testing, I think he adopted the right policy.  Of course, this president has carried on the same policy.  This is not a partisan issue....As John Kenneth Galbraith wrote, 'When all the people agree, the politicians can't be far behind.'  And that's where we are on this issue."

Senator Biden:..."We don't test anyway" and this treaty asks others to do the same.  "We're the only country in the world that, with a high degree of certainty, does not need to test in order to be certain that our nuclear arsenal [is] reliable....We will be making, in my view, the single biggest mistake in American foreign policy and defense policy that this generation could make at the closing hours of this century by not acting now."

Produced by the White House Working Group on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. 
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