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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 40, September - October 1999

CTBT Statements

US Senate rejection of CTBT: Statements & Comment

I. US Statements & Comment

Pro-Test Ban

President Bill Clinton

October 13: "I am very disappointed that the United States Senate voted not to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This agreement is critical to protecting the American people from the dangers of nuclear war. It is, therefore, well worth fighting for. And I assure you, the fight is far from over.

I want to say to our citizens, and to people all around the world, that the United States will stay true to our tradition of global leadership against the spread of weapons of mass destruction. The Senate has taken us on a detour. But America eventually always returns to the main road, and we will do so again. When all is said and done, the United States will ratify the test ban treaty.

Opponents of the treaty have offered no alternative, no other means of keeping countries around the world from developing nuclear arsenals and threatening our security. So we have to press on and do the right thing for our children's future. We will press on to strengthen the worldwide consensus in favor of the treaty.

The United States will continue, under my presidency, the policy we have observed since 1992 of not conducting nuclear tests. Russia, China, Britain and France have joined us in this moratorium. Britain and France have done the sensible thing and ratified this treaty. I hope not only they, but also Russia, China, will all, along with other countries, continue to refrain from nuclear testing. I also encourage strongly countries that have not yet signed or ratified this treaty to do so. And I will continue to press the case that this treaty is in the interest of the American people.

The test ban treaty will restrict the development of nuclear weapons worldwide at a time when America has an overwhelming military and technological advantage. It will give us the tools to strengthen our security, including the global network of sensors to detect nuclear tests, the opportunity to demand on-site inspections, and the means to mobilize the world against potential violators. All these things, the Republican majority in the Senate would gladly give away.

The senators who voted against the treaty did more than disregard these benefits. They turned aside the best advice - let me say this again - they turned aside the best advice of our top military leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and four of his predecessors. They ignored the conclusion of 32 Nobel Prize winners in physics, and many other leading scientists, including the heads of our nuclear laboratories, that we can maintain a strong nuclear force without testing. They clearly disregarded the views of the American people who have consistently and strongly supported this treaty ever since it was first pursued by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. The American people do not want to see unnecessary nuclear tests here or anywhere around the world.

I know that some Senate Republicans favoured this treaty. I know others had honest questions, but simply didn't have enough time for thorough answers. I know that many would have supported this treaty had they been free to vote their conscience, and if they had been able to do what we always do with such treaties, which is to add certain safeguards, certain understandings that protect America's interest and make clear the meaning of the words. Unfortunately, the Senate majority made sure that no such safeguards could be appended. Many who had questions about the treaty worked hard to postpone the vote because they knew a defeat would be damaging to America's interest and to our role in leading the world away from non-proliferation. But for others, we all know that foreign policy, national security policy has become just like every domestic issue - politics, pure and simple.

For two years, the opponents of this treaty in the Senate refused to hold a single hearing. Then they offered a take-or-leave-it deal: to decide this crucial security issue in a week, with just three days of hearings and 24 hours of debate. They rejected my request to delay the vote and permit a serious process so that all the questions could be evaluated. Even worse, many Republican senators apparently committed to oppose this treaty before there was an agreement to bring it up, before they ever heard a single witness or understood the issues. Never before has a serious treaty involving nuclear weapons been handled in such a reckless and ultimately partisan way.

The Senate has a solemn responsibility under our Constitution to advise and consent in matters involving treaties. The Senate has simply not fulfilled that responsibility here. This issue should be beyond politics, because the stakes are so high. We have a fundamental responsibility to do everything we can to limit the spread of nuclear weapons and the chance of nuclear war. We must decide whether we're going to meet it.

Will we ratify an agreement that can keep Russia and China from testing and developing new, more sophisticated advanced weapons? An agreement that could help constrain nuclear weapons programs in India, Pakistan, and elsewhere, at a time of tremendous volatility, especially on the Indian sub-continent? For now, the Senate has said 'no'. But I am sending a different message. We want to limit the nuclear threat. We want to bring the test ban treaty into force.

I am profoundly grateful to the Senate proponents of this treaty, including the brave Republicans who stood with us, for their determination and their leadership. I am grateful to all those advocates for arms control and national security, and all the religious leaders who have joined us in this struggle. The test ban treaty is strongly in America's interest. It is still on the Senate calendar. It will not go away. It must not go away. I believe that if we have a fair and thorough hearing process, the overwhelming majority of the American people will still agree with us that this treaty is in our interest. I believe in the wisdom of the American people, and I am confident that in the end, it will prevail."

Source: Statement by the President, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary, October 13.

Anti-Test Ban

Jesse Helms (Republican - North Carolina), Chair of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee

October 2: "I am confident that the Senate will vote to reject this dangerous arms control pact. The effect of this treaty would be to forever forbid the United States from testing its nuclear arsenal, while allowing the rogue nations of the world to proceed with their nuclear plans."

Source: Nuclear test ban vote set for Oct., Associated Press, October 2.

October 1: "The American people will be left with no defensive or offensive deterrent. That is exactly what the crowd that conceived this dangerous treaty wants. Well, I have news for them - it's not going to happen on my watch. ... [When it comes to a vote,] the same people clamouring for action go running to the hills... If it were not so pitiful, this behaviour would be amusing."

Sources: Democrats back test van vote delays, Associated Press, October 1; White House sees chance to push test treaty, Reuters, October 1.

Other Comment

Senator Richard Lugar (Republican - Indiana), October 7: "I regret that the Senate is staking up the treaty in an abrupt and truncated manner that is so highly politicised. ... Nevertheless, the Senate has adopted an agreement on procedure. ... In anticipation of the general debate, I will state my reasons for opposing ratification of the CTBT. The goal of the CTBT is to ban all nuclear explosions worldwide: I do not believe it can succeed. I have little confidence that the verification and enforcement provisions will dissuade other nations from nuclear testing. Furthermore, I am concerned about our country's ability to maintain the integrity and safety of our own nuclear arsenal under the conditions of the treaty. I am a stronger advocate of effective and verifiable arms control agreements. ... I do not believe that the CTBT is of the same calibre as the arms control treaties that have come before the Senate in recent decades. Its usefulness to the goal of non-proliferation is highly questionable. Its likely ineffectuality will risk undermining confidence in the concept of multilateral arms control. Even as a symbolic statement of our desire for a safer world, it is problematic because it would exacerbate risks and uncertainties related to the safety of our nuclear stockpile."

Source: Text - Senator Lugar's statement announcing his opposition to CTBT, United States Information Service, October 12.

II. International Statements & Comment

UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan

"Secretary-General learns with regret of negative vote of United States Senate on ratification of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty", statement by the Office of the Spokesman for the Secretary-General, UN Press Release SG/SM/7177, October 14.

"The Secretary-General has learned with regret of the negative vote of the Senate of the United States... Both as Secretary-General of the United Nations and in his capacity as Depositary of the Treaty, he has consistently appealed to Member States who have not dome so to sign and ratify the Treaty in order that this important norm against nuclear proliferation and the further development of nuclear weapons should enter into force and become part of international law.

Participants in the Conference for Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT issued a Declaration in Vienna on 8 October reaffirming the importance of a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable [treaty]... The Secretary-General reaffirms this goal in view of its importance in maintaining the nuclear non-proliferation regime and progress towards nuclear disarmament."


Statement by Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Chairman of the CTBTO PrepCom, October 14: "We are aware that the United States Senate voted yesterday not to give its advice and consent [to the treaty]... We have noted, however, that President Clinton announced that the United States will maintain the moratorium...and continue to press for ratification... We, in the Provisional Technical Secretariat, will continue to build upon the global verification regime, which will take several more years. We hope that during this time the United States will see its way to ratifying the CTBT."

Source: CTBTO PrepCom Press Release, October 14.

Appeal to the Senate by the Leaders of Britain, France and Germany

"A Treaty We All Need", article by Prime Minister Tony Blair, President Jacques Chirac & Chancellor Gerhard Schröder, The New York Times, October 8.

"During the 1990s, the United States has made a vital contribution to arms control and non-proliferation. Thanks to the common resolve of the world's powers, we have achieved a substantial reduction in nuclear arsenals, the banning of chemical weapons, the indefinite and unconditional extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and, in 1996, the conclusion of negotiations on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. South Africa, Ukraine, Kazakhstan and Belarus have renounced their nuclear weapons in the same spirit. The decisions we take now will help determine, for generations to come, the safety of the world we bequeath to our children. As we look to the next century, our greatest concern is proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and chiefly nuclear proliferation. We have to face the stark truth that nuclear proliferation remains the major threat to world security.

Failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be a failure in our struggle against proliferation. The stabilising effect of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, extended in 1995, would be undermined. Disarmament negotiations would suffer. Over half the countries that must ratify the new treaty to bring it into force have now done so. Britain, France and Germany ratified last year. All the political parties in our countries recognize that the treaty is strongly in our national interests, whether we are nuclear powers or not. It enhances our security and is verifiable.

The treaty is an additional barrier against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Unless proliferators are able to test their nuclear devices, they can never be sure that any new weapon they design or build is safe and will work. Congress realised this when it passed a law in 1992 compelling the United States Presidential Administration to seek the conclusion of a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by 1996. It was a welcome move for the world's strongest power to show the way.

The treaty is effectively verifiable. We need have no fear of the risk of cheating. We will not be relying on the good will of a rogue State to allow inspectors onto its territory. Under the treaty, a global network of stations is being set up. using four different technologies to identify nuclear tests. The system is already being put in place. We know it will work. Opponents of the treaty claim that, without testing, it will not be possible to guarantee the continuing safety and reliability of nuclear weapons. All nuclear powers, including the United States, Britain and France, examined this issue carefully. With the right investment and modern technology, the necessary assurance of safety and reliability can be maintained without further nuclear tests

Rejection of the treaty by the Senate would remove the pressure from other States still hesitating about whether to ratify it. Rejection would give great encouragement to proliferators. Rejection would also expose a fundamental divergence within NATO. The United States and its allies have worked side by side for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty since the days of President Dwight D. Eisenhower. This goal is now within our grasp. Our security is involved, as well as America's. For the security of the world we will leave to our children, we urge the United States to ratify the treaty."


Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue, October 14: "China deeply regrets that the US Senate voted to reject the ratification... The United States, as one of the 44 countries whose ratification is required for the enforcement of the treaty, has great influence on bringing the pact into force. ... China's position [of intending to ratify] remains unchanged."

Source: China to speed up CTBT ratification, Reuters, October 14.


Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vladimir Rakhmanin, October 14: "This decision is a serious blow to the entire system of agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. ... We express our disappointment and serious concern in connection with the rejection of the treaty by the US Senate. The US Administration worked very actively on all stages of its development and was first to sign it. ... There is a definite trend visible in recent times in US actions and it causes deep alarm. Apart from the failure to ratify the CTBT, there is the adoption of a law on a national anti-missile defense system and a new threat of sanctions in the area of export controls and a number of other steps which are destabilising the foundations of international relations."

Sources: Global dismay at US Senate nuclear ban rejection, Reuters, October 14; Russia concerned by US Senate nuclear vote, Reuters, October 14.

South Africa

Foreign Ministry statement, October 14: "[T]his development undermines the gains already achieved by the international community in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The South African Government had hoped that the United States would achieve bipartisan consensus to enable the United States Government to ratify this treaty and join the international community in reinforcing the legal force and moral authority of the CTBT. The South African Government urges the United States Senate to reconsider its view on ratification and how it could add to the 'Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation' adopted at the 1995 [NPT] Review and Extension Conference...thereby permitting progress in the quest to rid the world of weapons of mass destruction."

Source: South African Government website, http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/pr/1999/pr1014.html

© 1999 The Acronym Institute.

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