Remarks by Senators on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,
and Debate on the Unanimous Consent Agreement to Bring the CTBT to the Senate Floor for Debate and Vote by a Certain Date
Congressional Record - 106th
September 30, 1999
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Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, I said a moment ago, and I repeat for emphasis, I am absolutely astonished our friends across the aisle refuse to agree to the majority leader's unanimous consent agreement to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to the Senate floor for debate and vote on October 7.
I think this refusal is significant because of the incessant grandstanding that has been going on by the administration and some Senators and, of course, the liberal media that are not going to tell the facts about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty--all clamoring that there is such an urgent need for immediate Senate action on the CTBT. It has been proclaimed constantly that the Senate absolutely must ratify the treaty so the United States can participate in the October 6 through 8 conference in Vienna. Yet when the majority leader offered a unanimous consent agreement to bring the treaty to a vote in time for that conference, the same people clamored for more action, running for the hills and demanding more time and making other demands.
If it were not so pitiful, this behavior would be amusing. I am not going to let Senators have it both ways. The same people who have been criticizing the Foreign Relations Committee for inaction on the CTBT are now refusing to a date certain, and a timely vote on the CTBT.
Of course, some are hiding behind the idea that more hearings are needed for a full Senate vote. Hogwash. For the record, the Committee on Foreign Relations has held in the past 2 years alone 14 hearings in which the CTBT was extensively discussed. Most folks don't show up for the hearings--the train was too late or whatever. This number of 14 does not include an even larger number of hearings held by the Armed Services Committee and the Intelligence Committee on CTBT relevant issues, nor does this include three hearings by the Governmental Affairs Committee on the CTBT and relevant issues.
I ask unanimous consent this list documenting each Foreign Relations Committee hearing be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Foreign Relations Committee Hearings During Which the CTBT Was Discussed
February 10, 1998--(Full Committee/Helms), 1998 Foreign Policy Overview and the President's Fiscal Year 1999 Budget Request. (S. Hrg. 105-443.)
May 13, 1998--(Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs/Brownback), Crisis in South Asia: India's Nuclear Tests. (S. Hrg. 105-620.)
June 3, 1998--(Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs/Brownback), Crisis in South Asia, Part 2: Pakistan's Nuclear Tests. (S. Hrg. 105-620.)
June 18, 1998--(Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs/Thomas), Congressional Views of the U.S.-China Relationship.
July 13, 1998--(Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs/Brownback), India and Pakistan: What Next? (S. Hrg. 105-620.)
February 24, 1999--(Full Committee/Helms), 1999 Foreign Policy Overview and the President's Fiscal year 2000 Foreign Affairs Budget Request.
March 23, 1999--(Subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs/Thomas), U.S. China Policy: A Critical Reexamination.
April 20, 1999--(Full Committee/Hagel), Current and Growing Missile Threats to the U.S.
April 27, 1999--(Full Committee/Helms), Nonproliferation, Arms Control and Political Military Issues.
May 5, 1999--(Full Committee/Hagel), Does the ABM Treaty Still Serve U.S. Strategic and Arms Control Objectives in a Changed World?
May 25, 1999--(Subcommittee on Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs/Brownback), Political/Military Developments in India.
May 26, 1999--(Full Committee/Helms), Cornerstone of Our Security?: Should the Senate Reject a Protocol to Reconstitute the ABM Treaty with Four New Partners?
June 28, 1999--(Full Committee/Hagel), Nomination (Holum).
September 28, 1999--(Full Committee/Helms), Facing Saddam's Iraq: Disarray in the International Community.
Mr. HELMS. Mr. President, at least 17 respected witnesses have discussed their views on both sides of the CTBT question in the past 2 years. The administration itself has included this treaty in testimony on five occasions. More than 113 pages of committee transcript text are devoted to this subject. I have a stack of papers here that are CTBT testimony and debate within the committee. A record can be made of how this has been delayed and by whom. Mr. President, I find it puzzling that some in the Senate are objecting to the unanimous-consent request of the majority leader. The Foreign Relations Committee has thoroughly examined this matter. We have heard from experts on this very treaty. Let me share this with the Senate, the people listening, and the news media--that have not covered hearings on this matter but whose editors have said it is a disgrace that a vote has not been allowed on the CTBT treaty. Here are the people who have discussed the CTBT before the Foreign Relations Committee.
Let me point out, we have hearings fairly early in the morning, maybe too early for some to come. But I look on both sides of the aisle, and I have seen, sometimes, nobody on one side. Anyway, here is a list of the people I recall having discussed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty with the Committee on Foreign Relations:
The Honorable Madeleine K. Albright, Secretary of State;
The Honorable Karl F. Inderfurth, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs;
Mr. Robert Einhorn, Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Nonproliferation;
The Honorable R. James Woolsey, Former Director, Central Intelligence Agency;
Dr. Fred Ikle, Former Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency;
The Honorable Stephen J. Solarz, Former U.S. Representative from New York;
The Honorable William J. Schneider, Former Under Secretary of State for Security Assistance, Science and Technology;
Dr. Richard Haass, Former Senior Director, Near East and South Asia, National Security Council;
The Honorable Stanely O. Roth, Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs;
The Honorable James R. Schlesinger, Former Secretary of Defense;
The Honorable Eric D. Newsom, Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs;
The Honorable Ronald F. Lehman, Former Director, Arms Control and Disarmament Agency.
Parenthetically, I might say, not one word, as I recall, has been published by the same newspapers that have been piously declaring there must be action on the CTBT.
To continue the list:
General Eugene Habiger, Former Commander-in-Chief, U.S. Strategic Command;
The Honorable Frank G. Wisner, Vice Chairman, External Affairs, American International Group;
Dr. Stephen Cohen, Senior Fellow, Foreign Policy Studies, The Brookings Institution;
The Honorable Henry A. Kissinger, Former Secretary of State; and
The Honorable Richard Butler, Former Executive Chairman United Nations Special Commission on Iraq (UNSCOM).
I think this record will show--it should--that the Foreign Relations Committee has thoroughly examined this matter. We have pleaded for members of the committee, several of them, to come to a meeting once in a while. I have done everything I could to get this thing orderly presented to the Senate. All I have received are communications from Senators with a veiled threat if I did not proceed in some other way. We have certainly talked about this treaty in more depth than many other treaties, to my knowledge.
Those who are objecting, and objected to the majority leader's proposition this morning, don't want more hearings; what they want is more delay. You see, until a few minutes ago, until the majority leader offered his unanimous consent request, the same people who are now demanding more hearings were ready to dispense with further debate and go to a vote. Let me tell you what I mean.
The American people may recall, if they were watching C-SPAN, that President Clinton, in his State of the Union Address on January 27, 1998, declared: `I ask the Senate to approve it" --the CTBT--and he said `this year' in mournful tones.
In other words, the President was ready for a vote in 1998. Then a year later, the President said:
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I ask the Senate to take this vital step: Approve the Treaty now.
`Approve it now,' he said. He did not say approve the CTBT after more hearings.
On July 23, 1998, the Vice President, Mr. Gore, asked the Senate to `act now' on the CTBT, and all the while the New York Times and the Washington Post, et cetera, et cetera, et cetera, have been saying that Helms is holding up this treaty. In February, Secretary Albright asked for approval of the CTBT `this session.' And in April she said:
. . . the time has come to ratify the CTBT this year, this session, now.
On January 12, 1999, the National Security Adviser, Sandy Berger, declared:
. . . it would be a terrible tragedy if our Senate failed to ratify the CTBT this year.
The point I am making is that the list goes on and on.
Mr. President, 45 Democratic Senators wrote to me asking me to allow a vote:
. . . with sufficient time to allow the United States to actively participate [sic] in the Treaty's inaugural Conference of Ratifying States. . . .
That conference begins next week.
At a recent press conference for the cameras, Senator Specter, my friend, declared:
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was submitted to the Senate months ago, and it is high time the Senate acted on it.
Senator Murray called for:
. . . immediate consideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Senator Dorgan said that:
. . . we must get this done at least by the first of October.
I must observe that the distinguished Democratic leader, Senator Daschle, also had very strong words on this matter. Just 6 days ago, he proclaimed:
Senate Republicans have permitted a small number of Members from within their ranks to manipulate Senate rules--
I wonder how we did that when I was not looking. No rules have been manipulated, and I resent the inference. But to continue his quote--
from within their ranks to manipulate Senate rules and procedures to prevent the Senate from acting on the CTBT. . . . I would hope we would soon see some leadership on the Republican side of the aisle to break the current impasse and allow the full Senate to act on the CTBT . . . That effort must begin today.
Mr. President, I hope when we get to the debate, however long it lasts, that we will not have the spectacle of Senator Kennedy again and again offering his minimum wage amendment. He keeps it in his hip pocket all the time and pulls it out anytime he can stick it up, and he will debate it for an hour or 2. We have to have some understanding about what we are going to debate, when we do debate, and I hope we will debate on the terms the Senator from Mississippi, the majority leader, offered.
I think all this speaks well of the majority leader, and I congratulate him.
I congratulate him for having the will to do this because this has been insulting on many occasions as a political issue, which it is not.
I hope the Senate Democrats will reconsider their refusal to agree to a CTBT vote after having demanded it so often.
Let me go back in time a little bit. I have been waiting for the President of the United States to follow up on his written commitment to me that he will send up the ABM Treaty, and I have been hoping to see a treaty on two or three other things.
I am not in the mood to leave the American people naked against a very possible missile attack, and that has been my problem. The President of the United States has insisted on keeping the ABM Treaty alive when that would forbid anything happening in terms of defending the security of the American people. I was unwilling to do that until he followed through on his written guarantee to me that he would send the ABM Treaty to me and to the Senate.
I trust in the future that the media will, for once, acknowledge some of their statements regarding the CTBT for what they have really said because it is inaccurate and misleading to the American people.
I thank the Chair. I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from North Dakota.
Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I say to my colleague from North Carolina, for whom I have great respect, it is not and will never be my intention to prevent him from speaking on the floor. That was not the purpose of the unanimous consent request or the objections.
I have talked to him personally about this issue. He feels very strongly about it, as the Senator from Delaware indicated. The Senator, who is the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has a right to feel very strongly about his position. I respect that very much. This is an issue that is very important to this country and, in my judgment, to the world. We have a circumstance where 154 countries have become signatories to something called the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Forty-seven countries have ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This country has not.
Mr. President, 737 days ago or so, this treaty was sent to the Senate by this administration; 737 days later we have not acted on this treaty. Some feel very strongly this treaty is not good for our country. The majority leader made that case. The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, the Senator from North Carolina, makes that case. They have strong feelings about it. I respect that. Other people have strong feelings on the other side, including myself.
I believe strongly this country has a moral responsibility in the world to lead on the question of the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons. Not many countries have access to nuclear weapons or possess nuclear weapons. Many would like to. How do we prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in this world, at a time when the shadow of nuclear tests recently made by India and Pakistan suggest there is an appetite for acquisition of nuclear weapons and testing of nuclear weapons? Two countries that do not like each other and share a common border explode nuclear weapons literally under each other's chins. Shouldn't that tell us there are serious challenges ahead with respect to nuclear weapons and the spread of nuclear weapons? I think so.
A unanimous consent request was propounded by the majority leader to bring up the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty next week. As far as I am concerned, it is all right with me. I have been suggesting it ought to be brought up for a debate. It probably would be better if there was a hearing first and the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs and other respected folks came and set out their views and then, a couple of days later, debate it and vote on it. That would probably be a better course.
Even in the absence of that, as far as I am concerned, bring it up. The Democratic leader said he thought 10 hours was probably not enough time. The majority leader said in response we can perhaps lengthen that. Maybe, based on that discussion, there can be an agreement today. I hope so. This ought to be brought up for a vote. I do not think the objection by the Democratic leader was an objection to say it ought not be brought up. He was concerned about time. It occurred to me from the response of the majority leader that can be worked out. In any event, as far as I am concerned, bring it up next week. Let's have a debate next week and a vote next week.
Twenty-one nations have ratified this treaty since the beginning of this year. Most of our allies have ratified this treaty, but we have not. Some say it is dangerous, as the majority leader alleged today, using the term `dangerous' for this country. Others say it is not in this country's interest, that it will weaken this country, leave us unprotected.
Let me describe some of the support for this treaty, going back to President Eisenhower who pushed very hard in the final term of his Presidency to get a treaty of this type. General Shelton, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, supports this treaty and
testified recently again in support of the treaty. Four previous Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff--General Shalikashvili, Gen. Colin Powell, Admiral Crowe, and Gen. David Jones--also endorse that same position, that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is good for this country and ought to be ratified by this Senate.
Does anyone really feel Gen. Colin Powell, General Shalikashvili, and General Shelton would take a position that they think will weaken this country? Are they the extreme left? Are they the folks who, on the extreme of politics in this country, believe we ought to disarm? I do not think so. The Secretary of Defense supports this treaty and believes it ought to be ratified. I would not expect that he and Colin Powell and Admiral Crowe and all of those folks would do so unless they felt very strongly that this treaty is in this country's interest. A former Member of this body, Senator Hatfield, someone for whom I have the greatest respect, offered some sound advice on this subject. Senator Hatfield, incidentally, was one of the first servicemen to walk in the streets of Hiroshima after the nuclear strike on that city. I want to read what former Senator Hatfield said to us. He said:
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It is clear to me that ratifying this treaty would be in the national interest, and it is equally clear that Senators have a responsibility to the world, to the Nation and their constituents to put partisan politics aside and allow the Senate to consider this treaty.
He, perhaps better than anybody in this body, understands the horror of nuclear weapons, having walked the streets of Hiroshima after the strike on that city.
I quoted the other day Nikita Khrushchev of the Soviet Union who warned that in a nuclear war the living would envy the dead.
The question for this country is, Will we stand and provide world leadership on the issue of the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons
or will we decide it is not our country's responsibility; it is someone else's responsibility? Let England do it. Let France do it. Let Germany do it. Let Canada do it.
We are the only country in the world with the capability of providing significant leadership in this area. We must, in my judgment, ratify this treaty.
There are safeguards in this treaty. I will not spend much more time discussing it right now because we are on another piece of legislation, and that is important, too. But I make these comments because the safeguards in this treaty are quite clear.
This is not a case where this country will ratify a treaty that, in effect, disarms us. We are not conducting explosive tests of nuclear weapons now. We have unilaterally decided--7 years ago--we are not exploding nuclear weapons.
What contribution would be made by a test ban treaty? Simply this: If you cannot test your weaponry, you have no notion and no certainty that any weapons you develop are weapons that work. We have known for 30 and 40 years that the ability to suppress the testing of nuclear weapons will be the first step, albeit a moderate step, in halting the spread of nuclear weapons. This, in my judgment, in fact, is not a moderate step--this is a baby step.
If we cannot take this baby step on this important treaty, how on Earth are we going to do the heavy lifting that is necessary following this that will lead to the mutual reduction in the stockpile of nuclear arms? Tens of thousands of nuclear arms--30,000 nuclear weapons between us and Russia alone.
How are we going to reduce the stockpile of nuclear weapons and halt the spread of nuclear weapons to other countries and reduce the threat that comes from the nuclear weapons tests that occurred in Pakistan and India? How on Earth are we going to provide the leadership that is necessary, the tough leadership that is necessary in these areas if we cannot take this small step to ratify a treaty that has been signed by 154 countries now, and that makes so much sense, and that our Joint Chiefs of Staff have said represents this country's interests? How on Earth are we going to do the tough work if we cannot take this first step?
I have a lot more to say on this subject. I have expressed to the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, it is not my intention to be an irritant to anybody in this Chamber personally. I do not ever intend to suggest that someone who believes differently than I do is taking that position for any other reason except for the passion they have about this country and the policies they think will strengthen it.
But we have a very significant disagreement about this issue. It is a very significant and important issue. I believe in my heart very strongly this country has a responsibility to lead in the right way on this matter.
My hope is the unanimous consent request propounded by the majority leader--if there is more time needed; and the majority leader indicated that he was agreeable to that--my hope is that before the end of today we will have an agreement on when it will be brought to the floor, and then let's have a robust, aggressive, thoughtful debate so the country can understand what this means. Then let's have a vote and decide whether this country decides to ratify this important treaty that has been discussed for some 40 years--whether this country will take the first step that will help halt the spread of nuclear weapons around the world.
Mr. WARNER. Will the Senator yield?
Mr. DORGAN. Of course I will yield.
Mr. WARNER. First, I wish to commend our colleague for the very forthright way in which he has, for some period of time, expressed his strong views, the need for this treaty to be considered by the Senate. I strongly support the request of the majority leader, and I share with you the hope that our leadership can work this out and we can move expeditiously.
I assure my colleague, I have just had the opportunity to speak with my distinguished ranking member, Senator Levin. The Armed Services Committee will promptly conduct hearings regarding that area for which we have oversight responsibility.
The point I wish to make to my colleague is, it is going to require the most careful consideration by all Senators to reach this vote. Much of the relative material that convinces this Senator to oppose the treaty simply cannot be disclosed in open. I am going to urge our colleagues, and I am sure with the assistance of our leadership, we can provide more than one opportunity for each Senator to learn the full range of facts regarding this treaty and its implications for this Nation.
Yes, I want to see America lead, but I want to make certain that leadership role that exists today can exist a decade hence, 15 years, 20 years hence. That is the absolute heart of this debate: What steps do we take now to ensure that our country can maintain its position of world leadership in the decades to come?
We shall develop the facts, those of us who are most respectful of your viewpoint, as I am sure you are of mine. It will be a historic vote for this Chamber.
I yield the floor.
Mr. DORGAN. Mr. President, I appreciate the comments of the Senator from Virginia. One of my deep regrets is that he does not support this treaty because I have great respect for him and have worked with him on a number of matters. He truly knows this area and studies this area. There is room for disagreement.
But I say, again, that Secretary of Defense Bill Cohen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Colin Powell, General Shalikashvili, General Shelton, and so many others have reviewed all of the same material--much of it secret material, secret documents--and have come to a different conclusion, believing that this treaty is very important for this country and that it is very important to ratify this treaty.
But my hope mirrors that of Senator Warner, that when we have this debate, we will have a debate about ideas and about the kind of public policy that will benefit this country and the world, the kind of public policy that will allow us to continue to be strong, to have the capability to defend our liberty and freedom, but the kind of policy that will also provide leadership so this country can help prevent the spread of nuclear weapons in the years ahead.
Mr. President, I yield the floor.
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Mr. DURBIN addressed the Chair.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Illinois.
Mr. DURBIN. Thank you, Mr. President.
I first acknowledge the leadership of my colleague from North Dakota, Senator Dorgan, who has called the attention of this Congress and this Senate to this important issue. I hope his efforts will prevail in bringing this issue to the floor of the Senate.
In my lifetime, it is interesting to look back and reflect on things which were so commonplace and now are so rare. I can recall, as a child in the 1950's, in my classroom when we were being instructed about the need to `duck and cover,' the possibility that there might be an attack on the United States of America. That was generated by the fact that the Soviets had detonated a nuclear weapon. We were technically emerging into a cold war, and there was a belief that we had to be prepared for the possibility of an attack.
In my hometown of Springfield, IL, when my wife and I bought a little house, the first house we ever owned--1600 South Lincoln Avenue; an appropriate name in Springfield, IL--we moved into the house and went in the basement and were startled to find a fallout shelter that had been built to specifications. Someone had believed in the 1960s this was an appropriate thing to put in a house in Springfield, IL, because of the possibility that we may face some sort of attack, a nuclear attack on the United States. You can remember the monthly air raid sirens that used to call our attention to the fact that we had a system to warn all of America of a potential attack. You may remember, not that many years ago, movies on television and long debates about a `nuclear winter,' what would happen with a nuclear holocaust.
That conversation was part of daily life in America for decades. Then with the end of the cold war, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and the Warsaw Pact nations not only leaving the Soviet domination but gravitating toward the West--with countries such as Poland and Hungary and Czechoslovakia coming to join NATO--many of us have been lulled into a false sense of security that the threat of nuclear weapons is no longer something we should take seriously. In fact, we should.
In fact, we are reminded, from time to time, that the so-called nuclear club--the nations which have nuclear capability--continues to grow. That is why this particular treaty and this debate are so important.
One of the most compelling threats we in this country face today is the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.
Threat assessments regularly warn us of the possibility that North Korea, Iran, Iraq, or some other nation may acquire or develop nuclear weapons. Our most basic interest in relations with Russia today is to see that it controls its nuclear weapons and technology and that Russian scientists do not come to the aid of would-be nuclear proliferators. In other words, in a desperate state of affairs, with the Russian economy, we are concerned that some people will decide they have a marketable idea, that they can go to some rogue nation and sell the idea of developing a nuclear weapon, adding another member to the nuclear club, increasing the instability in this world.
Congress spends millions of dollars to fight nuclear proliferation, to stop the spread of nuclear weapons worldwide, and to support the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction Program.
For the past several years, I have been involved in an Aspen Institute exchange, which has opened my eyes to the need for our concern in this area. Senator Lugar is a regular participant as well, and Senator Nunn has been there in the past, when we have met with members of the Russian Duma and leaders from that country and have learned of the very real concern they have of the stockpile of nuclear weapons still sitting in the old Soviet Union, a stockpile of weapons which, unfortunately for us, has to be minded all the time for fear that the surveillance, the inspection, and the safety would degrade to the point that there might be an accidental detonation. Those are the very real problems we face, and we vote on these regularly.
Yet we in the Senate, despite all of these realities, have had languished in the committee one of the most effective tools for fighting nuclear proliferation--the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, a treaty which, as the Senator from North Dakota indicated, has been ratified by over 130 nations but not by the United States of America.
The idea of banning nuclear tests is not a new one. It is one of the oldest items on the nuclear arms control agenda. Test bans were called for by both Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. Steps were taken toward a ban in the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963, but other incremental steps were eschewed in favor of a comprehensive treaty.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is a key piece of the broader picture of nuclear nonproliferation and arms control. Consider this: When nonnuclear countries--those that don't have nuclear weapons--agree they are not going to have a nuclear arsenal and sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, an essential part of that bargain for the smaller nations, the nonnuclear powers, and those that have it, was that nuclear countries were going to control and reduce the number of nuclear weapons.
An integral part of that effort is this treaty. It is virtually impossible to make qualitative improvements in nuclear weapons or develop them for the first time without testing. Just a few months ago, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to reorganize the Department of Energy because of our deep concern about what secrets may have been stolen from our nuclear labs. The potential damage from this espionage is disturbing. In the case of China, the entry into force of this treaty could help mitigate the effect of the loss of our nuclear secrets. More than old computer codes and blueprints would be needed to deploy more advanced nuclear weapons. Extensive
testing would be required. In the cases of India and Pakistan, U.S. ratification of this treaty would pressure both countries to sign the treaty, as they pledged to do following their nuclear test last year.
In fact, the leadership role of the United States is essential to encourage the ratification of the treaty by many other nations. If the leading nuclear power in the world, the United States of America, fails to ratify this treaty to stop nuclear testing, why should any other country? The United States has a responsibility of moral leadership. Many who take such pride in our Nation and its role and voice in the world tremble when faced with the burden of leadership. The burden of leadership comes down to our facing squarely the need to ratify this treaty.
The United States has declared that its own nuclear testing program has been discontinued, but it is still absolutely in our national interest to be part of a multinational monitoring and verification regime. That way we can shape and benefit from that same regime. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty says if the treaty has not been entered into force 3 years after its being open for signing, the states that have ratified it may convene a special conference to decide by consensus what measures consistent with international law can be taken to facilitate its entry into force.
Only those states that have ratified it would be given full voting privileges. The special conference is going to take place this fall. It will set up monitoring and verification of nuclear testing worldwide so the components will be operating by the time the treaty does enter into force. This regime will include the International Data Center and many other elements that are important for success.
The United States should be part of that process, but it will not be, because the Senate has not voted on this treaty. This country certainly conducts its own monitoring for nuclear tests, but if we participate in an international regime, our country can benefit from a comprehensive international system. It is important to recall that if China or Russia were to resume testing, the United States, under this treaty, would have the right to withdraw and resume our own, if that is necessary for our national defense.
If the United States does not ratify the treaty in the first place, however, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty may never enter into force. We would be faced with the prospect, once again, of a major nuclear power's resuming nuclear testing. When President Eisenhower and President Kennedy called for a nuclear test ban, a major impetus was the public outcry over environmental damage caused by these tests.
I ask unanimous consent to print in the Congressional Record at this point a letter I received from major national environmental organizations supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and decrying the environmental damage to both our national security and our planet if the treaty is not ratified.
There being no objection, the letter was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Washington, DC, June 30, 1999.
Hon. Richard Durbin, U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
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RE: MAJOR NATIONAL ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATIONS' SUPPORT OF COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY
Dear Senator Durbin: We urge the Senate to give its consent to ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty this year. The timing is critical so that the United States can participate in this fall's special international conference of Treaty ratifiers.
We support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) because it is a valuable instrument in stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the environmental and security threats posed by nuclear arms races. Under the CTBT, non-nuclear weapons states will be barred from carrying out the nuclear explosions needed to develop compact, high-yield nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles and confidently certify nuclear explosive performance. The Treaty is therefore vital to preventing the spread of nuclear missile capability to additional states. In addition, the Treaty will limit the ability of the existing nuclear weapons states to build new and destabilizing types of nuclear weapons. Since 1945, seven nations have conducted over 2,050 nuclear test explosions--an average of one test every 10 days. Atmospheric tests spread dangerous levels of radioactive fallout downwind and into the global atmosphere. Underground nuclear blasts spread highly radioactive material into the earth and each one creates a permanent nuclear waste site. This contamination presents long-term hazards to nearby water sources and surrounding communities. Also, many underground tests have vented radioactive gases into the atmosphere, including some of those conducted by the United States. Of course, the ultimate threat to the environment posed by nuclear testing is the continuing and possibly increasing risk of nuclear war posed by proliferating nuclear arsenals.
In addition to protecting the environment, the CTBT will enhance U.S. security with its extensive monitoring system and short-notice, on-site inspections. These will improve our ability to discourage all states from engaging in the testing of nuclear weapons.
Ending nuclear testing has been a goal of governments, scientists, and ordinary citizens from all walks of life for over forty years. The CTBT has already been ratified by many other nations, including France, the United Kingdom, and Japan. The vast majority of Americans support approval of the CTBT. The effort in this country to stop nuclear testing that began with public outrage about nuclear fallout and has been pursued by American Presidents since Dwight Eisenhower can now be achieved. With U.S. leadership on the CTBT, entry into force is within reach. It is vital that the U.S. set the example on this important environmental and security issue; with your leadership and support, the CTBT can finally be realized.
Rodger Schlickeisen, President, Defenders of Wildlife; Mike Casey, Vice-President for Public Affairs, Environmental Working Group; Matt Petersen, Executive Director, Global Green USA; John Adams, Executive Director, Natural Resources Defense Counsel; Amy Coen, President Population Action International; James K. Wyerman, Executive Director, 20/20 Vision; Brian Dixon, Director of Government Relations, Zero Population Growth; Fred D. Krupp, Executive Director, Environmental Defense Fund; Brent Blackwelder, President, Friends of the Earth; Phil Clapp, President, National Environmental Trust; Robert K. Musil, Executive Director, Physicians for Social Responsibility; Carl Pope, Executive Director, Sierra Club; Bud Ris, Executive Director, Union of Concerned Scientists.
This is a letter that has been circulated and signed by the leaders of at least a dozen major environmental groups. I note in the letter it states that since 1945, the last 54 years, seven nations in this world have conducted 2,050 nuclear test explosions, an average of 1 test every 10 days, leaving nuclear fallout, radioactive gases, in many instances, in our atmosphere. We certainly never want to return to that day again. Unless the United States is a full partner in this international effort to reduce nuclear testing, that is a possibility looming on the horizon.
Senator Helms, who spoke on the floor earlier, has said he puts this treaty in line behind amendments to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty and the Kyoto Protocol to the U.N. convention on global climate change, both of which the President has not yet submitted to the Senate. My colleague says that ABM changes are essential for the national missile defense to move forward, which is true. But national missile defense does not yet work. We don't have this technology to build an umbrella of protection over the United States so that any nuclear missile fired on us can somehow be stopped in the atmosphere without danger to the people living in this country.
If we decide to deploy such a defense, we will need to negotiate more ABM Treaty changes. That is something in the future. We have time to address that. But we also need to accept the immediate responsibility of ratifying this treaty. Not too many months ago in this Chamber, we passed a resolution which says if the national missile defense system or so-called star wars system should become technologically possible, we will spend whatever it takes to build it. I have to tell you that I voted against it. I thought it was not wise policy. Quite honestly, the idea that we are somehow going to insulate the United States by building this umbrella and therefore don't have to deal with the world and its problems in nuclear proliferation, in my mind, is the wrong way to go. We should be working diplomatically as well as militarily for the defense of the United States. When we have the support of the commanders of the Nation, of course, and those who are in charge, the Joint Chiefs, time and again for this treaty, it is evidence to me that it is sound military policy.
In short, Mr. President, I conclude by saying, we must not delay any longer. We must ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. I yield the floor.
The PRESIDING OFFICER. The Senator from Delaware.
Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I know my colleagues are anxious to get to the business at hand. I assure the floor I will take only 5 minutes. If the clerk will let me know when I am headed towards 5 minutes, I would appreciate it.
I will refrain from responding and speaking to the Test Ban Treaty at length at this moment.
The chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee is not only a colleague, but he is a personal friend. We have strong disagreements on this issue.
I don't mean to nickel and dime this, but we haven't had any hearings on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
At the outset, I send to the desk a list of all the hearings the Senate Foreign Relations Committee had for the 105th and 106th Congress's since submission of the CTBT.
I ask unanimous consent that it be printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
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Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, I can understand why the Senator may think we have had hearings because we have had hearings on other subjects that implicate the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is mentioned by witnesses. But we have never had a hearing on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty--a treaty of great consequence to the United States and the world--conducted in the traditional way. We never had a hearing where we said this is what we are going to talk about. We need a hearing where we bring up the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Secretary of State, the Secretary of Defense, or major voices in America who oppose this treaty--fortunately, I think there are not that many--or significant figures and scientists who have spoken and know about this issue. We haven't had one of those hearings at all.
I submit for the Record, again, a letter from the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee sent to the President of the United States on January 21, 1998, with a concluding paragraph, which reads as follows:
[Jump to the January 21, 1998 letter from Senator Helms to the President.]
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Mr. BIDEN. Mr. President, the chairman has been true to his word. He has had no hearings because that has not been done yet.
I think I understand how the Senator from North Carolina connects the rationale of these treaties, and he thinks the orderly way to do it is to do it only after we do other things, but that makes the point. We have had no hearings on this treaty.
I think the public may be surprised to know this treaty calls for no more nuclear testing by the United States and other nations. We haven't been testing. There is a moratorium on nuclear testing. That occurred in 1992 in the Bush administration.
What we are talking about doing that my friends are talking about is so dangerous and damaging to U.S. interests; that is, to sign a treaty to say we will not test, we are not testing now. The United States made a unilateral decision not to test.
Now we have the rest of the world ready to sign up, and we are saying we are not going to ratify, or up to now we are saying we are not even going to have a hearing on this subject.
Again, I will get into the merits of the treaty later because I am confident the leadership of the Senate will come up now with the proposal as to how to proceed.
But I urge my friend from North Carolina, and I urge my colleagues to urge my friend from North Carolina, to hold hearings. Bring the experts up. Bring the military up.
By the way, one last substantive thing I will say about the treaty is that we are the only nation in the world that has spent billions of dollars and committed billions in the future to a method by which we can take our existing stockpile of nuclear weapons and test them for their continued utility without ever exploding them. I will explain in detail later what I mean by the stockpiling program we have.
We, of all nations in the world, are the one best prepared and best suited for taking the last chance of any nation in the world to promise not to test because we are one of the few nations in the world with certainty that can guarantee that even if we don't test weapons we can test, by exploding them, their continued utility by very complicated, very sophisticated scientific computer models that we have designed. We have committed that we will continue in the future to fund to the tune of billions of dollars this program.
In a strange way, if you went out to the public at large and said: By the way, do you think we should sign a treaty that says we can't test nuclear weapons if the rest of the world signs a treaty that says you can't test nuclear weapons, knowing that we can detect all but those kinds of explosions that will not have any impact on another nuclear capability, when we have already decided not to test unilaterally, and we are the only nation in the world that has the sophistication and capacity to test by means other than exploding our nuclear arsenal; what do you think the public would say?
I conclude by saying this: We have had no hearings. There is a legitimate debate about whether or not we should do this.
This is a thing for which the Senate was conceived--to make big decisions such as this. This is the reason the founders wrote in a provision in the U.S. Constitution that said a treaty can be negotiated by a President, but it can only come into effect after the Senate has ratified it. It didn't say the House. It didn't say a referendum. It didn't say the American people. It said the Senate. Other
than the Supreme Court of the United States, in a decision of who should sit on it, there is no other function that is of greater consequence that the Senate performs than determining whether to ratify or reject a treaty with the United States of America.
It seems to me that when we exercise that function, we should do it responsibly and thoroughly.
We have never done it on a matter of grave consequence without thoroughly investigating it through the hearing process and through one of the oldest committees that exists in the Senate--the Foreign Relations Committee--the unique function of which is to recommend to this body what our bipartisan considered opinion is after hearing the details of the treaty.
I look forward to the debate.
I have urged the President of the United States--I will urge him personally--and have urged the administration, if this date is set, that the President take this case directly to the American people on a nationally televised broadcast and lay out for them what the stakes are.
This is no small decision. This is a vote that I promise you, whether you are for it or against it, your children and your grandchildren and history will know how you cast it. I am not so smart to know exactly what the outcome will be in history's judgment, but I am certain of one thing: You are not going to be in a position where you can say at a later date this was a vote of little consequence.
Mr. President, as folks back home in Delaware say, this is what we get paid the big bucks for. This is why we are here. This is the purpose of our being here.
It is true. The amendments we are going to discuss on legislation that is before us are important. It is true that some of it will affect the lives of hundreds or thousands of Americans. But I can't think of anything we will do in this entire Congress or have done in the previous Congress that has the potential to have as much impact on the fate of the world as this treaty. I cannot think of anything. I defy anyone to tell me, whether they are for or against this treaty, what we could be discussing of greater consequence than how to deal with the prospect of an accidental or intentional nuclear holocaust.
Tell me if there is anything more important to discuss than whether or not over the next days, weeks, months, years, and decades we should make a judgment from both a survival as well as environmental standpoint that we will or will not continue to blow up, in the atmosphere or underground, nuclear weapons. I defy anyone to tell me what is more important to discuss.
That is not to suggest that those who think this treaty is a bad idea are motivated by anything other than good intentions. As my dear mother would say and as the nuns used to make me write on the blackboard after school when I misbehaved: The road to hell is paved with good intentions.
Failure to ratify this treaty, I firmly believe, paves the road to hell--to nuclear hell. I don't know whether it will work, but I am virtually certain in my mind--just Joe Biden, my mind--that if we do not ratify this treaty, we virtually lose any ability to control the proliferation of nuclear capability.
They talked about when the Russians detonated their first hydrogen bomb. I am not sure, but I think it was Edward Teller who said: Now we have two scorpions in the bottle. I am here to tell my colleagues what they already know. We have many more than two scorpions in that bottle now. If we do not begin to take a chance, a very small chance, on a treaty that says no more detonation of nuclear weapons, we will have dozens of scorpions in that bottle with not nearly as much to lose as the former Soviet empire and the United States.
There was one advantage when there was a Soviet empire: They had as much to lose as they had to gain. The only person I worry about in a contest of any kind--athletic, political, or as a representative of the Federal Government of the United States of America with another country--I don't like dealing with someone else who has little to lose but has significant capacity to inflict a vast amount of damage. While I have the floor, I thank my friend from Pennsylvania, Senator Specter. My friend from Pennsylvania has been one of the most outspoken proponents of bringing up this treaty. I am sure it will be before the Senate because of his advocacy.
I yield the floor.
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Mr. SPECTER. If I may have the attention of the Senator from Delaware, I do believe it is important for the Senate to consider the treaty. I support it. I believe it is very difficult for the United States to use moral suasion on India and Pakistan not to have nuclear tests if we have not moved forward on the ratification process.
However, I ask my colleague from Delaware about the problems of considering the treaty on this state of the record where we have been looking for some expert guidance on some questions which are outstanding as to whether there can be an adequate determination of our preparedness without having tests.
One thing we have to consider very carefully is whether the interests of disarmament will be promoted by pressing to bring the treaty now, which may result without the two-thirds ratification, as opposed to trying to clear up some concerns which some have expressed.
I am prepared to vote in favor of the treaty.
Mr. BIDEN. If I may respond to the Senator, he raised the $64 question. He and I have been discussing how to get this up for a long time, over 2 years. He will recall, last year, I was of the view I did not want to take a chance of having the treaty up for fear it could be defeated before we had the ability to get all the data before the Senate that I believed would persuade Senators to overwhelmingly support the treaty.
I changed my mind. The reason I changed my mind is--I have great respect for my friend from North Carolina, Senator Helms--I have learned one thing: When he says something ain't going to happen, it ain't going to happen on his watch. He made it very clear, there will be no hearings on this treaty. I have been with him for 27 years. We are truly personal friends. I know when he says it, he means it, which means I have lost any hope that he will be persuaded, or be persuaded by his Republican colleagues in the caucus, to have hearings.
I then reached the second conclusion: We are hurtling toward a disaster on the subcontinent with India and Pakistan, and with Korea. As the Senator knows, if they arm, if they deploy, we will see China making a judgment to increase its nuclear arsenal and we will see the likelihood that Korea will not be able to be leveraged.
Here is the point. I have made the judgment, for me--and I may be wrong--if we don't agree to this proposal, we will get no vote on this treaty for 2 years and the effect will be the same.
I am being very blunt. I believe I am looking for the political God's will to have people have a little bit of an altar call. It is one thing to say privately you are against the treaty or to say you are for it but there is no vote on it. It is another thing to be the man or woman who walks up in that well and casts the 34th vote against the treaty and kills the treaty. They will have on their head--and they may turn out to be right--and they will be determining by their vote the single most significant decision made relative to arms, nuclear arms, that has been made since the ABM Treaty. I think they may begin to see the Lord. If they don't, then I think the American public will make a judgment about it. The next President--whether it be Bush, Gore, or McCain--will be more likely to send back another treaty.
I am at a point where it is time to bring in the sheep. Let's count them, and let's hold people responsible. That is as blunt as I can be with my friend.
Mr. SPECTER. I thank the Senator from Delaware for responding, and I will not ask another question because I want to move on to the next amendment.
Mr. President, it is my hope that whatever technical information is available on some of the outstanding questions will be made available to the Senators before the vote so we can have that determination made with all the facts available.
Mr. KENNEDY. Mr. President, it is appalling that our Republican friends will use any means necessary to kill the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We need time to debate this Treaty in a responsible manner, especially since the Foreign Relations Committee has still not held a single hearing devoted solely to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
On September 24, 1996, President Clinton became the first world leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. On that day, President Clinton praised the treaty as the `longest-sought, hardest--fought prize in the history of arms control.'
Today, we stand on the verge of losing this valuable prize. For almost two years, the Treaty has languished in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee--with no action, no debate, and no results. Now, with the September 23 already passed, the United States may well forfeit its voice on the treaty if the Senate does not act quickly, and in a responsible way, to ratify it.
We have a unique opportunity in the Senate to help end nuclear testing once and for all. Other nations look to the United States for international leadership. President Clinton has done his part, in signing the Treaty and submitting it to the Senate for ratification, as the Constitution requires. Now the Senate should do its part, and ratify the Treaty. Ratification is the single most important step we can take today to reduce the danger of nuclear war.
Withholding action on this treaty is irresponsible and unacceptable. The Treaty is in the best interest of the United States and the global community. Ratification of this agreement will increase the safety and security of people in the United States, and across the world. But, until the Senate ratifies this treaty, it cannot go into force for any nation, anywhere.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is in the interest of the American people and it has widespread public support. Recent bipartisan polls found that over 8 out of 10 Americans support its ratification. These statistics cut across party lines and are consistent in all geographic regions. The Treaty also has the strong support of present and past military leaders, including four former Joint Chiefs of Staff--David Jones, William Crowe, Colin Powell, and John Shalikashvili--and the current JCS, Hugh Shelton.
The United States has already stopped testing nuclear weapons. Ensuring that other nations follow suit is critical for our national and international security. Particularly in the wake of recent allegations of Chinese nuclear espionage, it is essential that we act promptly to ratify this agreement. China is a signatory of the Treaty, but like the United States, China has not yet ratified it. Prompt Senate ratification of the Treaty will encourage China to ratify, and discourage China from creating new weapons from stolen nuclear secrets.
In 1963, after President Kennedy had negotiated the landmark Limited Test Ban Treaty with the Soviet Union to ban tests in the atmosphere, he spoke of his vision of a broader treaty in his commencement address at American University that year. As he said:
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The conclusion of such a treaty, so near and yet so far, would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963, the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security--it would decrease the prospects of war. Surely this goal is sufficiently important to require our steady pursuit, yielding neither to the temptation to give up the whole effort nor the temptation to give up our insistence on vital and responsible safeguards.
In 1999, those words are truer than ever.
I commend President Clinton and my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who have joined together to speak out on this issue, and I urge the Senate to act responsibly on this very important treaty.
Mr. FEINGOLD. Mr. President, I rise today to join a number of our colleagues in support of prompt Senate consideration of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty the CTBT.
The issue of arms proliferation is at the heart of our national--and international--security. In the post-cold war world we are no longer faced with a military threat posed by the Soviet Union, but in some ways the world now is a more dangerous place than it was just a decade ago, with many smaller, unpredictable threats taking the place of a single large one. U.S. and international security are now threatened by transfers of nuclear, conventional and non-conventional materials among numerous states. Nuclear testing last year by India and Pakistan, the attempts of other states to obtain nuclear and ballistic missile technology, and the growing threat of weapons of mass destruction reinforce the need for a comprehensive international effort to end nuclear testing and curb the illicit transfer and sale of nuclear, ballistic, and other dangerous technology.
I have been a strong supporter of prompt Senate action on the CTBT since President Clinton submitted the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent on September 22, 1997--2 years ago last week. As a member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, I continue to feel strongly that the committee should have thorough hearings specifically on this important treaty at the earliest possible date. I know that the chairman of the committee and I do not agree on the importance of the CTBT, but I hope he will agree that the Senate must fulfill its advice and consent obligations with respect to this treaty.
I continue to hear from numerous Wisconsin residents who favor prompt Senate action on--and ratification of--the CTBT.
The CTBT, which has been signed by more than 150 nations, prohibits the explosion of any type of nuclear device, no matter the intended purpose. India and Pakistan's nuclear tests only underscore the importance of the CTBT, and serve as a reminder that we should redouble our efforts to bring the entire community of nations into this treaty. While I am pleased that both of those countries have agreed to sign the treaty, I regret that they did so only after intense international pressure, and only after they conducted the tests they needed to become declared nuclear states.
We must do more to ensure that no further tests take place.
The United States must lead the world in reducing the nuclear threat, and to do that we must become a full participant in the treaty we helped to craft. I am deeply concerned that the third anniversary of the date the CTBT opened for signature, September 24, 1996, passed last week without Senate advice and consent to ratification. This failure to act by the United States Senate means that, according to the treaty's provisions, the United States will not be able to participate actively in the upcoming conference, which is reserved for only those countries who have deposited their instruments of ratification. That conference is currently scheduled to begin on October 6, 1999. Because we cannot participate, the United States will be at a severe disadvantage when it comes to influencing the future of the treaty and encouraging other countries to sign or ratify.
Mr. President, I again urge the Senate to act on this important treaty at the earliest possible date. The credibility and leadership of the United States in the arms control arena is at stake.
I thank the Chair. I yield the floor.
Mr. BINGAMAN. Mr. President, I wish to take a few moments today to offer some remarks on a matter of extreme importance to this Nation and to the world--the matter of preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons among the nations of the world through ratification and implementation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Two weeks ago--September 10--was the third anniversary of the United Nation's overwhelming vote to approve a treaty banning the testing of nuclear weapons. The General Assembly voted 158 for to 3 against the treaty, with a handful of abstentions.
Last week, on September 24, the United States observed the third anniversary of signing that treaty and, on September 22, marked the second anniversary of its receipt by the Senate for our advice and consent. In accordance with article 14 of the treaty, preparations are now underway to convene an international conference of states which have ratified the treaty to negotiate measures to facilitate its implementation. I'm sorry to say, Mr. President, that unless the Senate acts immediately to ratify this treaty, the United States--an original signatory to the treaty and a leader in the global movement to stop the testing of nuclear weapons--will not take part in that conference.
Our absence sends a troubling message to the international community looking for our leadership.
Mr. President, I am very sorry to say that essentially nothing has happened since President Clinton signed the treaty on behalf of the United States on September 24, 1996, and sent it to the Senate for consideration on September 22, 1997.
There have been no hearings, there has been no debate on the Senate floor, there has been no vote on ratification. This is an extremely important treaty that I believe, and the great majority of Americans agree, would help to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons during the coming millennium. And yet the Senate has not even begun the debate.
Mr. President, I believe the United States and the nations of the world have come to a historic crossroads--a crossroads that symbolizes America's view of the future and the potential direction of the international system regarding the control and eventual eradication of nuclear weapons.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty lies at the center of the crossroads, and provides us with two basic options.
We could elect to ratify the treaty and seek its broadest implementation in order to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons;
Or, we could elect not to ratify the treaty, having decided as a body that permitting the testing of nuclear weapons by all current and future nuclear powers is in the interest of safety and security of the United States and the world.
If we chose not to ratify the treaty, that choice would permit us to pursue future avenues for nuclear superiority in response to nuclear weapons developed by our real or potential adversaries.
Mr. President, I believe that our Nation has already been down that road. It was called the nuclear arms race. It cost the Nation over a trillion dollars according to a recent study by the Brookings Institution. And that's just money. It doesn't include the opportunity cost of brainpower and skills not used to address other national problems such as medical and environment science or education.
The fact is, Mr. President, that the way things stand, we are not being permitted to make either choice. Despite repeated requests by Members of the Senate to address this vital national and international security issue, the Senate has done nothing to move this treaty forward and debate it.
The Foreign Relations Committee has taken no action with respect to the treaty and is preventing the Senate from debating and voting in this most critical issue to the future of world peace. By his actions, the chairman of the committee is preventing the Senate from carrying out its constitutional duties and obligations to give advice and consent regarding the CTBT.
Mr. President, I support the call to hold hearings and bring this treaty to the floor for a debate and a vote. The American people strongly support this treaty and deserve to have that view represented and debated in the Halls of Congress.
Will the treaty be an effective means to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons? Let's debate the point.
Will the treaty be verifiable? Let's hear from the experts on that crucial issue.
Will the CTBT serve America's national security interest? Let's examine that from every angle.
As I mentioned at the outset of my remarks today, Mr. President, I believe the Nation and the world stand at a historic crossroads with respect to the spread of nuclear weapons. I believe it is our duty and obligation to the American people to choose the proper road to take. The key word, Mr. President, is `Choose.' The Senate is currently being prevented from making a choice--and in so doing, a choice is being made for us--by a few individuals seeking to advance an unrelated political agenda.
I'm certain I share an abiding faith in our democratic system with the Members of this body. If that's so, a debate, discussion, and vote on perhaps the most critical security issue facing our Nation today should be placed before the Senate as soon as possible. Failure to permit such a debate and vote suggests to me either a lack of faith in the democratic process or a disdain for its importance or validity.
Mr. President, I strongly urge my colleagues to support efforts to bring the CTBT to the floor.
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Mr. HARKIN. Mr. President, I would like to add a few thoughts for today's debate regarding consideration of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
I strongly believe that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty--or C-T-B-T--is in our Nation's national security interests. But before I discuss my reasons for supporting the treaty, let me first say why the Senate--even those who are unsure of the treaty-should support its consideration by the Senate.
The Senate should hold hearings and consider and debate the treaty. The Senate should vote on the treaty by March of next year.
Let me now mention some history of this issue and mention some of the major milestone along the road to ending nuclear weapons testing. In fact, next month, the month of October, is the anniversary of many important events.
On October 11, 1963, the Limited Test Ban Treaty entered into force after being ratified by the Senate in an overwhelming, bipartisan vote of 80-14 just a few weeks earlier. This treaty paved the way for future nuclear weapons testing agreements by prohibiting tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and underwater. It was signed by 108 countries.
Our nation's agreement to the Limited Test Ban Treaty marked the end of our above ground testing of nuclear weapons, including those at the U.S. test site in Nevada. We now know, all too well, the terrible impact of exploding nuclear weapons over the Nevada desert. Among other consequences, these tests in the 1950's exposed millions of Americans to large amounts of radioactive Iodine-131, which accumulates in the thyroid gland and has been linked to thyroid cancer. `Hot Sports,' where the Iodine-131 fallout was the greatest, were identified by a National Cancer Institute report as receiving 5-16 rads of Iodine-131. The `Hot Spots' included many areas far away from Nevada, including New York, Massachusetts and Iowa. Outside reviewers have shown that the 5-16 rad level is only an average, with many people having been exposed to much higher levels, especially those who were children at the time.
To put that in perspective Federal standards for nuclear power plants require that protective action be taken for 15 rads. To further understand the enormity of the potential exposure, consider this: 150 million curies of Iodine-131 were released by the above ground nuclear weapons testing in the United States, above three times more than from the Chernobyl nuclear power plants disaster in the former Soviet Union.
Mr. President, it is all too clear that outlawing above-ground tests were in the interest of our nation. I strongly believe that banning all nuclear test is also in our interests.
October also marked some key steps for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. On October 2, 1992, President Bush signed into law the U.S. moratorium on all nuclear tests. The moratorium was internationalized when, just a few years later, on September 24, 1996, a second step was taken--the CTBT, was opened for signature. The United States was the first to sign this landmark treaty.
President Clinton took a third important step in abolishing nuclear weapons tests by transmitting the CTBT to the Senate for ratification. Unfortunately, the Senate has yet to take the additional step of ratifying the CTBT. I am hopeful that we in the Senate will debate and vote on ratification of the Treaty, and continue the momentum toward the important goals of a worldwide ban on nuclear weapons testing.
Many believed we had conquered the dangerous specter of nuclear was after the Cold War came to an end and many former Soviet states became our allies Unfortunately, recent developments in South Asia remind us that we need to be vigilant in our cooperative international efforts to reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons. The CTBT is a major milestone in the effort to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. It would establish a permanent ban on all nuclear explosions in all environments for any purpose. Its `zero--yield' prohibition on nuclear tests would help to halt the development amd development of new nuclear weapons. The treaty would also establish a far reaching verification regime that includes a global network of sophisticated seismic, hydro-acoustic and radionuclide monitoring stations, as well as on-site inspection of test sites to deter and detect violations.
It is vital to our national security for the nuclear arms race to come to an end, and the American people recognize this. In a recent poll, more than 80% percent of voters supported the CTBT.
It is heartening to know that the American people understand the risks of a world with nuclear weapons. It is now time for policymakers to recognize this as well. There is no better way to honor the hard work and dedication of those who developed the LTBT and the CTBT than for the Senate to immediately ratify the CTBT.