The Morning Call (Allentown)|
September 24, 1997
NUCLEAR BAN IS NEXT STEP TOWARD PEACE
President Clinton on Monday sent the delayed nuclear test-ban treaty to the
Senate, where it is expected to face opposition similar to that initially
encountered by the chemical weapons ban last spring. But the nuclear test-ban
treaty is a logical extension of this country's efforts at global disarmament.
And some of the arguments raised to support the chemical weapons ban apply to
the nuclear test ban, as well.
When the President gave his State of the Union message in 1995, he made a hefty,
three-part promise: "The United States will lead the charge to extend indefinitely the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty; to enact a
comprehensive nuclear test ban; and to eliminate chemical weapons."Mr. Clinton
has delivered on two parts of that promise. In 1995, the 1968 Nuclear
Nonproliferation Treaty was extended. In April of this year, the Senate voted to
ratify the chemical weapons treaty.
Last year, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, prohibiting the testing
of nuclear devices, was signed by the United States. But Mr. Clinton delayed
until Monday in presenting the treaty to the Senate due to anticipated
It is not surprising that certain countries traditionally have refused to
sign key disarmament treaties. Libya, North Korea and Iraq refused to sign the
chemical weapons ban and are expected to also resist the nuclear test ban. But
the best way for this country to isolate renegade nations is by ratifying such
treaties. Even if the chemical weapons ban did not include all applicable
nations, it was signed by 164 nations and quickly ratified by 75. A significant
number of countries have agreed to no longer use, develop, produce or stockpile
chemical weapons, and, they will destroy existing stockpiles during the next
Further, failure by the United States to ratify key disarmament treaties
would send a message of futility: that the world's only superpower believes
there is no hope for reducing the threat of such weapons.
This country has a history of working toward disarmament, including the
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaties in the early years of this decade. START I and
II were the first treaties to reduce U.S. and Soviet nuclear arsenals.
A Senate vote on the latest effort, the nuclear test-ban treaty, is expected
next spring. The hurdles ahead are significant: all 44 nuclear-capable
countries must ratify it before it could take effect in September 1998. Beyond
the usual refusals from North Korea, Iraq and Libya, India and Pakistan, both
possible nuclear nations, may not sign.
But the nuclear test-ban treaty must be pursued. The world must stop the
development of more advanced and more dangerous weapons, and the United States
should lead the way.