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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 19, October 1997

Clinton Submits Test Ban for Senate Ratification

On 22 September, President Clinton submitted the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), signed by the United States in September 1996, to the Senate for ratification. See last issue for the President's letter of submission. Ratification requires the backing of two thirds of those voting.

The treaty will first be considered by a number of Senate Committees, most prominently the Foreign Relations Committee. On 23 September, Mark Thiessen, spokesperson for the Committee, made clear that the matter would not be rapidly expedited:

"I wouldn't describe it as a front-burner issue... it's unlikely the treaty is going to come into force in the next year."

The treaty can be expected to face opposition from the elements of the Republican majority in the Senate, possibly including the Chair of the Committee, Jesse Helms (Republican - North Carolina), a veteran arch-foe of arms control accords.

On 23 September, Republican Senator Thad Cochran (Mississippi), Chair of the Governmental Affairs Committee's Subcommittee on International Security and Proliferation, stated his doubts:

"We have to be assured before we approve this treaty that it is clearly going to protect security rather than the other way round... If it creates a more dangerous environment and is an incentive for others to cheat and steal a march on the rest of the world, and puts us at risk, then we would make a bad mistake to approve the treaty."

The same day, Pete Domenici (Republican - New Mexico), the Chair of the Energy Appropriations Committee's Energy and Water Subcommittee, scheduled to hold ratification hearings in October, stated that "there are certainly benefits to a comprehensive test ban, but there are also costs and risks."

Report: Clinton faces test ban battle, Associated Press, 23 September.

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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