Test Ban News

Secretary of State Madeleine Albright Testifies Before the Senate
Foreign Relations Committee 

Testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee yesterday, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright outlined the diplomatic consequences of a Senate decision to reject the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). 

Secretary Albright said it would be a "national security tragedy if the world's greatest deliberative body killed a treaty that our nation has sought for forty years by failing properly to deliberate on and appreciate its merits." 

In Asia, a Senate decision to reject would be "throwing away a valuable tool for slowing the modernization of China's nuclear arsenal." In South Asia, a no-vote would be "cutting the legs out from under our efforts to persuade India and Pakistan to sign and ratify the CTBT." In the Gulf, rejection of this landmark agreement would ease "worldwide pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear ambitions." And in Europe, rejection of the Treaty would disappoint "our allies and friends, many of whom have ratified the Treaty and are -- without exception -- urging us to do the same." 

Secretary Albright also spoke to the protections provided by the Treaty that guarantee the safety and reliability of our stockpile. "Our most experienced and eminent nuclear scientists, and the heads of our testing labs, agree that we do not need to continue these tests in order to maintain an effective deterrent. We can keep our weapons fully safe and reliable under the provisions of the Treaty and the special safeguards that President Clinton has proposed." 

The CTBT was carefully negotiated to ensure that it would not prohibit activities America needs to maintain our nuclear deterrent. Through the science-based Stockpile Stewardship program, experts -- including the prestigious JASON group of nuclear scientists -- are confident that we can maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile without nuclear testing. 

"The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT, is not a panacea. It will not guarantee that nuclear weapons spread no further. No pact or policy can ensure that. But the Treaty will make it more difficult and dangerous for countries to develop and modernize nuclear weapons. That is, without question, in the national security interests of the United States . . . 

"[The CTBT] is about establishing the principle on a global basis that it is not smart, not safe, not right and not legal to conduct explosive tests in order to develop or modernize nuclear weapons.

"By banning such tests, the Treaty removes a key tool that a modernizer or a proliferator would need to develop with confidence small, advanced nuclear warheads. These are the weapons that can most readily be concealed, and that can be delivered by ballistic missiles. They are the most threatening to others and to us. No country could be confident of developing them under the CTBT." 

Produced by the White House Working Group on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. For more information on the CTBT, log on to