Disarmament DiplomacyIssue No. 18, September 1997
Letter From President Clinton Transmitting CTBT to SenateLetter from President Clinton to the Senate, The White House, 22 September 1997
Editor's note: see the summary, above, of the United Nations General Assembly General Debate for President Clinton's remarks expressing his determination to seek the earliest possible US ratification of the test ban.
"I transmit herewith, for the advice and consent of the Senate to ratification, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (the 'Treaty' or 'CTBT'), opened for signature and signed by the United States at New York on 24 September, 1996. The Treaty includes two Annexes, a Protocol, and two Annexes to the Protocol, all of which form integral parts of the Treaty. I transmit also, for the information of the Senate, the report of the Department of State on the Treaty, including an Article-by-Article analysis of the Treaty.
Also included in the Department of State's report is a document relevant to but not part of the Treaty: the Text on the Establishment of a Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, adopted by the Signatory States to the Treaty on November 19, 1996. The Text provides the basis for the work of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization in preparing detailed procedures for implementing the Treaty and making arrangements for the first session of the Conference of the States Parties to the Treaty. In particular, by the terms of the Treaty, the Preparatory Commission will be responsible for ensuring that the verification regime established by the Treaty will be effectively in operation at such time as the Treaty enters into force. My Administration has completed and will submit separately to the Senate an analysis of the verifiability of the Treaty, consistent with section 37 of the Arms Control and Disarmament Act, as amended. Such legislation as may be necessary to implement the Treaty also will be submitted separately to the Senate for appropriate action.
The conclusion of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is a signal event in the history of arms control. The subject of the Treaty is one that has been under consideration by the international community for nearly 40 years, and the significance of the conclusion of negotiations and the signature to date of more than 140 States cannot be overestimated. The Treaty creates an absolute prohibition against the conduct of nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion anywhere. Specifically, each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion; to prohibit and prevent any nuclear explosions at any place under its jurisdiction or control; and to refrain from causing, encouraging, or in any way participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.
The Treaty establishes a far reaching verification regime, based on the provision of seismic, hydroacoustic, radionuclide, and infrasound data by a global network (the 'International Monitoring System') consisting of the facilities listed in Annex 1 to the Protocol. Data provided by the International Monitoring System will be stored, analyzed, and disseminated, in accordance with Treaty-mandated operational manuals, by an International Data Center that will be part of the Technical Secretariat of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization. The verification regime includes rules for the conduct of on-site inspections, provisions for consultation and clarification, and voluntary confidence-building measures designed to contribute to the timely resolution of any compliance concerns arising from possible misinterpretation of monitoring data related to chemical explosions that a State Party intends to or has carried out. Equally important to the US ability to verify the Treaty, the text specifically provides for the right of States Parties to use information obtained by national technical means in a manner consistent with generally recognized principles of international law for purposes of verification generally, and in particular, as the basis for an on-site inspection request. The verification regime provides each State Party the right to protect sensitive installations, activities, or locations not related to the Treaty. Determinations of compliance with the Treaty rest with each individual State Party to the Treaty.
Negotiations for a nuclear test-ban treaty date back to the Eisenhower Administration. During the period 1978-1980, negotiations among the United States, the United Kingdom, and the USSR (the Depositary Governments of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)) made progress, but ended without agreement. Thereafter, as the non-nuclear-weapon States called for test-ban negotiations, the United States urged the Conference on Disarmament (the 'CD') to devote its attention to the difficult aspects of monitoring compliance with such a ban and developing elements of an international monitoring regime. After the United States, joined by other key States, declared its support for comprehensive test-ban negotiations with a view toward prompt conclusion of a treaty, negotiations on a comprehensive test-ban were initiated in the CD, in January 1994. Increased impetus for the conclusion of a comprehensive nuclear test-ban treaty by the end of 1996 resulted from the adoption, by the Parties to the NPT in conjunction with the indefinite and unconditional extension of that Treaty, of 'Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament' that listed the conclusion of a CTBT as the highest measure of its program of action.
On 11 August, 1995, when I announced US support for a 'zero yield' CTBT, I stated that:
'... As part of our national security strategy, the United States must and will retain strategic nuclear forces sufficient to deter any future hostile foreign leadership with access to strategic nuclear forces from acting against our vital interests and to convince it that seeking a nuclear advantage would be futile. In this regard, I consider the maintenance of a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile to be a supreme national interest of the United States.
I am assured by the Secretary of Energy and the Directors of our nuclear weapons labs that we can meet the challenge of maintaining our nuclear deterrent under a CTBT through a Science Based Stockpile Stewardship program without nuclear testing. I directed the implementation of such a program almost 2 years ago, and it is being developed with the support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This program will now be tied to a new certification procedure. In order for this program to succeed, both the Administration and the Congress must provide sustained bipartisan support for the stockpile stewardship program over the next decade and beyond. I am committed to working with the Congress to ensure this support.
While I am optimistic that the stockpile stewardship program will be successful, as President I cannot dismiss the possibility, however unlikely, that the program will fall short of its objectives. Therefore, in addition to the new annual certification procedure for our nuclear weapons stockpile, I am also establishing concrete, specific safeguards that define the conditions under which the United States can enter into a CTBT ...'
The safeguards that were established are as follows:
With regard to the last safeguard:
The US regards continued high confidence in the safety and reliability of its nuclear weapons stockpile as a matter affecting the supreme interests of the country and will regard any events calling that confidence into question as 'extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the treaty.' It will exercise its rights under the 'supreme national interests' clause if it judges that the safety or reliability of its nuclear weapons stockpile cannot be assured with the necessary high degree of confidence without nuclear testing.
To implement that commitment, the Secretaries of Defense and Energy - advised by the Nuclear Weapons Council or 'NWC' (comprising representatives of DOD, JCS, and DOE), the Directors of DOE's nuclear weapons laboratories and the Commander of the US Strategic Command - will report to the President annually, whether they can certify that the Nation's nuclear weapons stockpile and all critical elements thereof are, to a high degree of confidence, safe and reliable, and, if they cannot do so, whether, in their opinion and that of the NWC, testing is necessary to assure, with a high degree of confidence, the adequacy of corrective measures to assure the safety and reliability of the stockpile, or elements thereof. The Secretaries will state the reasons for their conclusions, and the views of the NWC, reporting any minority views.
After receiving the Secretaries' certification and accompanying report, including NWC and minority views, the President will provide them to the appropriate committees of the Congress, together with a report on the actions he has taken in light of them.
If the President is advised, by the above procedure, that a high level of confidence in the safety or reliability of a nuclear weapon type critical to the Nation's nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified without nuclear testing, or that nuclear testing is necessary to assure the adequacy of corrective measures, the President will be prepared to exercise our 'supreme national interests' rights under the Treaty, in order to conduct such testing.
The procedure for such annual certification by the Secretaries, and for advice to them by the NWC, US Strategic Command, and the DOE nuclear weapons laboratories will be embodied in domestic law.
As negotiations on a text drew to a close it became apparent that one member of the CD, India, would not join in a consensus decision to forward the text to the United Nations for its adoption. After consultations among countries supporting the text, Australia requested the President of the UN General Assembly to convene a resumed session of the 50th General Assembly to consider and take action on the text. The General Assembly was so convened, and by a vote of 158 to 3 the Treaty was adopted. On 24 September, 1996, the Treaty was opened for signature and I had the privilege, on behalf of the United States, of being the first to sign the Treaty.
The Treaty assigns responsibility for overseeing its implementation to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (the 'Organization'), to be established in Vienna. The Organization, of which each State Party will be a member, will have three organs: the Conference of the States Parties, a 51-member Executive Council, and the Technical Secretariat. The Technical Secretariat will supervise the operation of and provide technical support for the International Monitoring System, operate the International Data Center, and prepare for and support the conduct of on-site inspections. The Treaty also requires each State Party to establish a National Authority that will serve as the focal point within the State Party for liaison with the Organization and with other States Parties.
The Treaty will enter into force 180 days after the deposit of instruments of ratification by all of the 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty, but in no case earlier than 2 years after its being opened for signature. If, 3 years from the opening of the Treaty for signature, the Treaty has not entered into force, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, in his capacity as Depositary of the Treaty, will convene a conference of the States that have deposited their instruments of ratification if a majority of those States so requests. At this conference the participants will consider what measures consistent with international law might be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process in order to facilitate the early entry into force of the Treaty. Their decision on such measures must be taken by consensus.
Reservations to the Treaty Articles and the Annexes to the Treaty are not permitted. Reservations may be taken to the Protocol and its Annexes so long as they are not incompatible with the object and purpose of the Treaty. Amendment of the Treaty requires the positive vote of a majority of the States Parties to the Treaty, voting in a duly convened Amendment Conference at which no State Party casts a negative vote. Such amendments would enter into force 30 days after ratification by all States Parties that cast a positive vote at the Amendment Conference.
The Treaty is of unlimited duration, but contains a 'supreme interests' clause entitling any State Party that determines that its supreme interests have been jeopardized by extraordinary events related to the subject matter of the Treaty to withdraw from the Treaty upon 6-month's notice.
Unless a majority of the Parties decides otherwise, a Review Conference will be held 10 years following the Treaty's entry into force and may be held at 10-year intervals thereafter if the Conference of the States Parties so decides by a majority vote (or more frequently if the Conference of the States Parties so decides by a two-thirds vote).
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is of singular significance to the continuing efforts to stem nuclear proliferation and strengthen regional and global stability. Its conclusion marks the achievement of the highest priority item on the international arms control and nonproliferation agenda. Its effective implementation will provide a foundation on which further efforts to control and limit nuclear weapons can be soundly based. By responding to the call for a CTBT by the end of 1996, the Signatory States, and most importantly the nuclear-weapon States, have demonstrated the bona fides of their commitment to meaningful arms control measures.
The monitoring challenges presented by the wide scope of the CTBT exceed those imposed by any previous nuclear test-related treaty. Our current capability to monitor nuclear explosions will undergo significant improvement over the next several years to meet these challenges. Even with these enhancements, though, several conceivable CTBT evasion scenarios have been identified. Nonetheless, our National Intelligence Means (NIM), together with the Treaty's verification regime and our diplomatic efforts, provide the United States with the means to make the CTBT effectively verifiable. By this, I mean that the United States:
My judgment that the CTBT is effectively verifiable also reflects the belief that US nuclear deterrence would not be undermined by possible nuclear testing that the United States might fail to detect under the Treaty, bearing in mind that the United States will derive substantial confidence from other factors - the CTBT's 'supreme national interests' clause, the annual certification procedure for the US nuclear stockpile, and the US Safeguards program.
I believe that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is in the best interests of the United States. Its provisions will significantly further our nuclear nonproliferation and arms control objectives and strengthen international security. Therefore, I urge the Senate to give early and favorable consideration to the Treaty and its advice and consent to ratification as soon as possible."
© 1998 The Acronym Institute.