The San Francisco Chronicle|
September 24, 1997
Banning Nuclear Tests
THE END of the Cold War has opened fresh opportunities for nations to agree
on sensible nuclear policies. Why then has it taken so long to approve a ban on
nuclear weapons tests? For starters, rival nations such as India and Pakistan
refuse to give up a potent weapon. Also, there are skeptics, including
Republicans in the U.S. Senate, who question whether a ban can really be
This is the dispiriting deadlock that President Clinton is trying to break
with his call for this country to take the lead and approve a test ban. He
signed the United Nations document last year and will now push the Senate to
follow suit. On balance, this country's interests are amply protected. Computer
simulations and lab tests can keep research up to date, and this nation spends
$4.5 billion maintaining a huge nuclear arsenal. Snooping to make sure Russia or
China abide by the treaty is reliable though not foolproof.
Clinton's initiative also focuses attention on the improving image of the
United Nations. The president says he will push for payment of $ 1 billion in
back dues, withheld because of doubts about the U.N.'s tangled bureaucracy.
With reforms made, the world organization may finally collect the money. A test
ban treaty, once signed, would be a convincing example of what the international
body can achieve.