(Fort Lauderdale, FL)
September 23, 1997
CLINTON: END NUCLEAR TESTS; CREATE COURT FOR RIGHTS
President Clinton called on world leaders on Monday to ''end all nuclear
tests for all time'' and sent the long-delayed global test-ban treaty to the
Senate, where he hopes to overcome Republican objections.
Announcing his action in an address to the United Nations' 52nd General
Assembly, Clinton called the treaty ''our commitment to end all nuclear tests
for all time, the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms
In a 19-minute speech to U.N. delegates, the president also called for a
permanent international court to punish human-rights violators.
Traditionally, international courts have been established on a case by case
basis to investigate human rights violations such as the panel investigating
Bosnia war crimes suspects. Clinton told the delegates: ''Before the century
ends, we should establish a permanent international court to prosecute the most
serious violations of humanitarian law.''
Praising the reform efforts by U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan, who is
trying to streamline the world body's operations, Clinton pledged that the
United States would pay the bulk of the $ 1 billion in back payments it owes the
United Nations. Congress has blocked payment to the United Nations in an effort
to spur cost-saving changes.
''This year, for the first time since I have been president, we have an
opportunity to put the questions of debts and dues behind us once and for all,
and to put the United Nations on a sounder financial footing for the future,''
Traditionally, the secretary-general does not deliver substantive speeches
during the General Assembly's annual debate, deferring instead to leaders and
foreign ministers of the 185 member nations.
But in a departure, Annan urged members to make this the ''reform assembly''
by endorsing his plan to streamline U.N. operations, reduce staff and hold down
His address alternately chided and implored the organization's 185 countries
to support his vision of a sleeker, cheaper United Nations ''that will express
the highest moral aspirations of humankind even as it delivers practical
benefits to men, women and children in cities and villages around the world.''
Annan's reform proposals include eliminating 1,000 positions in the
bureaucracy, holding the U.N. budget at current levels for the next five years,
reorganizing the management and budget structure and appointing a deputy
secretary-general to serve as his second-in-command.
Although the reform measures have been criticized in Congress and elsewhere
as too timid, there has been broad general support among the U.N. membership for
the plan, and Clinton repeated his endorsement of it in his speech to the
Congress is expected to authorize about $ 900 million for the United Nations,
provided the organization does not expand beyond current levels and agrees to
put in a separate fund an additional $ 400 million that the United Nations
claims it is owed but the United States has contested. Returning to the theme of
his U.N. address last year, Clinton said the nations of the world must unite
against ''21st-century predators.'' He warned, ''We're all vulnerable to the
reckless acts of rogue states and to an unholy axis of terrorists, drug
traffickers and international criminals.''
During a U.N. visit a year ago, Clinton became the first world leader to
approve the historic Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits all nuclear
test explosions. He held off submitting it to the Senate while White House
lobbyists tried to build support.
The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992.
The treaty would take effect next September. A Senate vote is expected in the
spring. Under the treaty, all 44 nuclear-capable countries must ratify it for it
to take effect.
Clinton's submittal of the test-ban treaty is expected to stir opposition
from GOP senators who don't trust arms-control pacts or who insist that testing
is needed to maintain the U.S. nuclear stockpile.
The debate probably will restore battle lines from the vote on the
Clinton-backed chemical weapons treaty, ratified in April after many lawmakers
remained undecided until the last minute. The president needs about 22
Republican senators to join Democrats in support of the treaty. ''We intend to
win this vote and failure is not an option,'' said Robert Bell, a senior White
House arms control adviser.
Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., chairman of the Governmental Affairs subcommittee
that handles this issue, said his panel will hold a hearing next week on whether
the United States can count on its nuclear weapons to work without testing.