Telegram & Gazette
September 26, 1997
BAN NUCLEAR TESTS;
President Clinton used his address to the General Assembly of the
United Nations to urge world leaders to "end all nuclear tests for all
time." He then sent the test ban treaty he had signed a year ago to the
U.S. Senate for ratification.
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 control."
Indeed, it is proper that the United States, the world's largest
nuclear power, should lead other nations into the post-nuclear age. But
it should do so carefully, fully aware of the lingering danger of
nuclear confrontation rogue governments or even terrorist organizations
Opposition to the ban is rooted in concerns that if all test
explosions are prohibited, the United States could not count on its
nuclear arsenal to work. Unreliable weapons could place America in a
vulnerable position and encourage others to renege on their commitments
and start hostilities.
While Clinton was the first world leader to sign the treaty last
year, the pact would not take effect unless all 44 countries with known
nuclear capability ratified it. Some countries - India and Pakistan,
for example - are holdouts. The United States hasn't conducted a
nuclear test since 1992.
The battle line in the Senate is likely to follow the one drawn
before the ratification of the chemical weapons treaty in April. While
most Democrats favored that agreement, many Republicans opposed it,
with several GOP senators changing their minds just before the vote.
The opposition is not without merit, to be sure. Even though the
Cold War is over, the United States cannot become complacent while
nuclear weapons still are being developed and stockpiled by other
nations - North Korea, Iran, Syria, Iraq - whose intentions are
Nevertheless, the risk seems acceptable, and achieving a
nuclear-free world should be the ultimate goal of all responsible
nations. Besides, should a nuclear threat endanger America's security,
Washington could, and should, revise its position on testing.
Meanwhile, the Senate should ratify the treaty.
SENATE SHOULD RATIFY HISTORIC TREATY