Remarks by President Clinton, Secretary of Defense Cohen, and the Nobel Peace Laureates Urging the Senate to Ratify the CTBT
White House East Room
October 6, 1999
REMARKS BY PRESIDENT BILL CLINTON, SECRETARY OF DEFENSE
AND OTHER SPEAKERS
URGING THE SENATE TO PASS THE COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY
WHITE HOUSE EAST ROOM
3:20 P.M. EDT, WEDNESDAY, OCTOBER 6, 1999
SEC. COHEN: (Applause.) President Clinton, Secretary Richardson, Director Tenet, members of Congress past and present, General Shelton, service secretaries and chiefs, former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Shalikashvili, General Jones, Admiral Crowe, distinguished guests and Nobel laureates, and ladies and gentlemen:
Nearly 40 years ago, President Eisenhower warned that the climate of terror associated with nuclear weapons was in danger of locking the superpowers into an iron cycle of escalation. He called it "an inertia imposed by fear." And one way to shake off that inertia, he said, was for the United States to devote its entire heart and mind to find a way by which "the miraculous inventiveness of man shall not be dedicated to his death but consecrated to his life."
Well, we're here today because of that miraculous inventiveness that Eisenhower spoke of, which is certainly in evidence by virtue of the presence of so many Nobel laureates who are here with us today. And indeed, we have been given a rare opportunity to overcome that standstill, to replace an inertia that encourages fear and that fuels proliferation with an environment that encourages stability and fosters confidence.
Now, the Senate's consideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty raises a critical question: What kind of a world do we want? Is it one with ore nuclear weapons or fewer? If you believe, as I do, that we will be safer in a world in which we have fewer nuclear weapons rather than more, then we have to ask ourselves, How are we going to restrain other states from testing and creating and building a nuclear arsenal?
This treaty is an essential part of that answer because it provides an important tool to meet one of our most pressing national security challenges, that of nuclear proliferation. So by banning nuclear testing, this treaty removes a key tool that a state or a rogue group would need in order to acquire a high confidence level in its nuclear weapons design. It also ensures a very high level of international commitment to nonproliferation.
And I might say that notwithstanding this, I simply, as secretary of Defense, could never recommend to the Senate that it give its advice and consent to this treaty if we didn't have high confidence that we could maintain our own nuclear deterrent. Although the United States no longer is so dependent upon nuclear weapons as we were during the Cold War, nuclear weapons are going to continue to be an essential element of our national defense strategy for the foreseeable future.
And there are, of course, three pillars that provide a foundation for maintaining a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile: the program for Stockpile Stewardship, the process of annual certification of that program, and, of course, CTBT safeguards.
Today we have high confidence in the safety and the reliability of our enduring nuclear weapons stockpile, and to maintain that assurance it is absolutely essential that we press ahead and we press hard to put in place all of the elements of that stockpile stewardship program.
The Senate has a choice, I think, of monumental consequence. If the Senate rejects this treaty, the proliferation of nuclear weapons is more likely. And if more nuclear weapons are developed by more nations, it may well force the United States to review our own deterrent requirements and, indeed, perhaps even reverse the policy of reducing nuclear weapons.
And moreover, I would submit the following: If more weapon states emerge, it could well cause us to move to a much more technologically demanding defense posture. I don't suggest that this scene of proliferation, or scenario, is inevitable, but I do suggest it's a very dangerous possibility and I believe it's one that can and should be avoided.
In the same speech that Winston Churchill warned us of the descending Iron Curtain, he said the following: He said, "The Dark Ages may return, the Stone Age may return, on the gleaming wings of science. Beware, I say. Time is plenty short. Do not let us take the course of allowing events to drift along until it is too late." Well, at this stage, I believe the best way to avoid allowing events to drift along is for the Senate to support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Eisenhower once observed that brilliant scientists are always going to be able to make more weapons that are bigger, more complex and more violent. But he said, "It takes a touch of genius and a lot of courage to move in the opposite direction."
And so it's now my pleasure introduce one of the many brilliant scientists who's had the courage and displayed that courage to go in the opposite direction; whose powerful intellect served America's defense in the dark days of the Second World War, designing radars for our bombers; who today shines a very bright light, like the laser he invented and pioneered, on America's continuing pursuit of peace and security. Ladies and gentlemen, the 1964 recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize for Physics, Dr. Charles Townes. (Applause.)
CHARLES H. TOWNES (1964 recipient, Nobel Peace Prize for Physics): Thank you very much. In 1963 the Limited Test Ban Treaty, which banned all nuclear weapons except those on the ground, came into force. The centerpiece of that treaty's ratification campaign was its endorsement by some 35 Nobel laureates reflecting the judgment of the vast majority of informed scientists. Now, 36 years later I am very honored to join 31 other American critics and Nobel laureates to endorse the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear testing and completes the job the Limited Test Ban started.
In the seven years since the U.S. moratorium on nuclear tests began under President Bush, 1992, our national laboratories have conducted intensive studies and analysis with strong congressional support. And these studies have taught us really a considerable amount. Now, the directors of our nuclear weapons laboratory, all three of them, now each feel confident that we can maintain the effectiveness of our weapons under CTBT. My colleagues and I also have concluded that continued nuclear testing is simply not required to retain confidence in America's nuclear deterrent provided America maintains a robust set of relevant science and technology programs.
As in 1963, we reflect the nation's technical community. Two years ago, a 40,000-strong American physicist society, the Professional Organization of American Physicists, stated the CTBT ratification is appropriate and imperative. Last year the 140,000- member American Association for the Advancement of Science urged Senate approval of the CTBT. This AAAS, as it's called, is the largest general science organization in America and, in fact, in the world. Earlier today the American Geophysical Union and the Seismological Society of America, representing those scientific disciplines most relevant in detecting nuclear te sdT's combined worldwide monitoring resources will meet that treaty's verification goals. They will, in fact, increase our potentiality.
Like the laureates' letter, these statements are strictly nonpartisan. They reinforce the judgment of defense and security experts from both parties and many administrations who believe this treaty is strongly in America's interests, and in the world's interests. For decades many prominent scientists have struggled to bring treaty about. I'd like now to remember one in particular who would have been here today if he could, but who sadly passed away earlier this year. That's Glenn Seaborg. He was a Nobel laureate -- true, in chemistry, but we physicists still think well of him. (Laughter.) He was a member of the Manhattan Project, co-discoverer of plutonium, chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission under three presidents, and adviser to six more. He even had an element of the periodic table named after him.
Glenn considered the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty one of his greatest aspirations.
After helping to invent, build, manage and maintain the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile, Glenn worked tirelessly on behalf of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. And if he were here, he would be doing it now.
And of course, this treaty raises broad policy issues, as well as the technical ones. And I have dealt on the technical aspects, trying to represent the views of the scientific community.
But let's remember what President Eisenhower said, a broader perspective in 1961, when he stated that, "The inability to secure a comprehensive test ban would have to be classified as the 'greatest disappointment of any administration, of any decade, of any time and of any party.'" We're of course concerned about the safety of the United States and of the world. Ratifying this treaty is in fact the safest course.
And now I have the honor of introducing General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (Applause.) Here we are. (Applause.)
MR. : Thank you so much. (Applause.)
GEN. JOHN SHALIKASHVILI (former chairman, Joint Chiefs of Staff): Earlier today, at an appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, I mentioned that from the time negotiations on this treaty started back in January of 1994 until the president transmitted the treaty to the Senate for ratification in September of 1997, I served as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff. Throughout this period, it was my responsibility to provide the best possible military advice on this treaty to the secretary of Defense, to the National Security Council and of course most importantly, to the president of the United States.
I did that by first of all ensuring that we had top-notch people on the Joint Staff working this issue, at first General Barry McCaffrey and then General Wes Clark. I and my staff met with outside experts, with the experts of the nuclear laboratories, stayed in close touch with the two officers who, during this period, commanded our Strategic Command, that command responsible for our strategic nuclear arsenal, and of course consulted with the members of the Joint Chiefs.
As an aside, during this period, each one of the chiefs changed at least once. So in effect, I consulted on this matter with eight service chiefs and with two vice chairmen, and each one of them supported this very, very important treaty. I am told that the current chiefs also endorse U.S. entry into the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, with its associated safeguard package. That makes a total of 12 service chiefs, two vice chairmen and two chairmen. Now that should make very, very clear where America's most senior military leaders stand on this critical issue.
As senior military officers, our main concern was first, whether under this treaty, which prohibits all nuclear testing, we would still be able to continue to maintain our nuclear warheads in a safe and reliable condition; and secondly, whether we would be able to effectively verify compliance with this treaty by others.
On the matter of assuring safe and reliable nuclear weapons, we concluded that presently our warheads, having been adequately tested in the past, continue to be safe and reliable; that by the time we can expect aging issues to arise, perhaps around the latter half of the next decade, a program called the Science-based Stockpile Stewardship program, designed to provide us with the assurance of safety and reliability, but without the need for actual nuclear testing, that program should be sufficiently in place to allow the laboratories to deal with such problems.
But to guard against the unexpected between now and the completion of the Science-based Stockpile Stewardship program, the president has directed a number of understandings, or safeguards, as they are now known, one of which states that we will maintain the capability to resume testing if it should become necessary to do so, and another one which states that should the secretary of Defense or Energy advise the president that a high level of confidence in the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons can no longer be maintained, the president, in consultation with the Congress, would be preparewithdraw from the treaty in order to conduct whatever testing might be required.
Now, on the issue of verification we concluded that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will actually put us in a better position to obtain effective verification than we would have without the treaty -- not perfect verification, but that level of verification that would allow us to detect, to identify and to attribute that level of testing that could undercut our nuclear deterrent.
This is so because the treaty will supplement our own national means with an international monitoring system consisting of several hundred monitoring stations worldwide and with an on-site inspection system.
In short, all these very senior military leaders and I have supported this treaty, first, because it answered our military concerns, and secondly, because no matter how we analyzed the provisions of this treaty, we always came back to the same conclusion, that our country will be better off with it than without it. And so we recommended to the president that he sign this treaty. And I now recommend that the Senate ratify it.
And having said that, it is now my great pleasure to introduce a truly great American, one of impeccable judgment and great common sense, the former senator from Ohio, my friend, Senator John Glenn.
JOHN GLENN (Former senator, D-OH): (Applause.) Thank you. Thank you very much. (Applause continues.) Thank you.
There are a number of people in this room, certainly including the front row here to my left, who know all about conventional war. They know how horrible it is and how horrible it can be and has been and will ever be in the future if we ever get into another real war. They also know how much more horrible it would be if that was a nuclear war.
And that was what I had to think about when I was first elected to the Senate almost 25 years ago. When I came in, I looked at who was working on nuclear proliferation matters, and there wasn't a whole lot going on. So I got into that, and I'm proud of the fact that over my 24 years in the Senate, I was able to either author or co-author the three major pieces of nuclear nonproliferation legislation that are still on the books today, and worked very closely on those during a lot of that time with the now secretary of Defense, my former Senate colleague, Bill Cohen, worked very closely on these matters. We made a number of trips abroad, including discussions in India and Pakistan with their leaders over there, and a number of other places, also.
So I only use that as background to say I was particularly glad when the CTBT was passed back in 1996.
It was some two and a half years in negotiation. It wasn't something people just went over and decided, Hey, we'll get into this thing, and it'll look cool and that would be it. It was two and a half years of hard, ongoing negotiations over at Geneva before this thing was hammered out -- literally hammered out. And the U.N. General Assembly finally approved it in September of '96, and I was very proud also that President Clinton was the first national leader to sign that treaty and indicate our support for it. He deserves a lot of credit for that. (Applause.)
The point being, it was U.S. leadership that got us to where we are today, and it's leadership from the U.S. and from President Clinton that the rest of the world has looked to in this area of nuclear nonproliferation.
The question now is, will we be better with or without this treaty? That's what the real debate on the Hill is all about, and what's being considered up there right now. In other words, Will ratifying this treaty make it more or less likely that we'll ever see another nuclear explosion set off intentionally to kill people? Intentional nuclear weapon, explosion killing tens upon tens of thousands of people, and when I look at the treaty, I have to come to the conclusion that that is far less likely -- less likely to happen if we have the treaty.
Now, a second consideration obviously is, Will our own security be degraded or threatened by the CTBT in a world where our nuclear superiority has been a stabilizing factor? That's the second question. Now, the president insisted and the negotiators provided safeguards. They want to strengthen our intelligence, our monitoring and verification, our stockpile stewardship, with annual reports -- annual reports about the status of it. So we're not going to let the thing just hang on there for 10 years and then say, What's our status? Going to have an annual report on the status.
Now, in addition to that, we're maintaining our labs, we're maintaining our test readiness in case it would be absolutely necessary. And as General Shalikashvili just mentioned, we have over 300 additional monitoring sites that would be put into place around the world that gives us a newfound capability to monitor what's going on that we don't even have now, so we'll be able to do a far better job of monitoring.
And in addition to that, if we have reason to believe that somebody is doing the wrong thing in the wrong place, we can have an on-site inspection, a demand inspection, and that's provided for in the treaty. And in addition to all of that, we have the right -- under supreme national interest rights, we can set up certain things to test, if it comes to that sometime in the future.
Now what could be a more ironclad attraction to go ahead with approving this treaty than those provisions? So I come to the conclusion it's in the best interests of the U.S. and the world to go ahead with this.
I think, in addition, through these years something else has developed. There's been an expectation internationally -- the international norm of expectation has risen to be that no, we're not going the nuclear route around the world anymore. And fortunately, I think our American leadership, our U.S. leadership, and President Clinton's leadership has brought us to that point. So I think it would be tragic if this was turned down because I think it would send all the wrong message around the world.
The international norm has developed, and it's not only that, but our own people in this country, in a July poll, July of this year, just about 2-1/2 months ago, 82 percent, regardless of political affiliation, of our American people, said they favored prompt ratification of the CTBT. Now, that shows that our -- even our own American people that this is the way we should be going.
So I want to certainly congratulate the president for his interest and for keeping this on the front burner. I know from personal discussions with him in the past of his very personal interest in this, his dedication to wanting to see a world less likely to experience nuclear holocaust, but do it at the same time in a way that fully protects our own American security interests.
So it's my honor and my pleasure to introduce the President of the United States, Bill Clinton. (Applause.)
PRESIDENT CLINTON: Thank you. Thank you very much. (Continued applause.) Thank you. Thank you.
Let me begin by saying a profound word of thanks to Senator Glenn, to General Shalikashvili, to Dr. Townes and to Secretary Cohen for what they have said. I thank General Jones and Admiral Crowe for being here. I thank all the other Nobel laureates who are here. Secretary Richardson and General Shelton and the members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff; Mr. Berger and Mr. Podesta, and the other people from the White House. And I thank Senators Biden and Dorgan for their presence here, and their enormous leadership on this issue. And the other committed American citizens who are in this audience. Let me say that I was sitting here thinking two things when the previous speakers were speaking.
One is it made me very proud to be an American, to know that our country had been served by people like these four -- (applause) -- without regard to party. (Applause.)
And the second is that each in their own way represent a different piece of the American experience over the last 50 years and bring a remarkable combination of intellect, knowledge, experience and humanity to the remarks that they made.
There is a reason that President Eisenhower said we ought to do this and a reason that President Kennedy agreed; they saw World War II from slightly different angles and different ranks, but they experienced the horror of the Atomic Era's onset in much the same way. I think you could make a compelling argument that this treaty is more needed now than it was, when they advocated it, when there were only two nuclear powers.
I think you could make a compelling argument that, given the events of the last couple of years, this treaty is more needed than it was when I signed it at the United Nations three years ago. Nuclear technology and know-how continue to spread. The risk that more and more countries will obtain weapons that are nuclear is more serious than ever.
And I said yesterday -- I'd like to just stop here and go off the script -- I am very worried that the 21st century will see the proliferation of nuclear and chemical and biological weapons, that those systems will undergo a process of miniaturization, just as almost all other technological events -- led us to in good ways and bad; and that we will continue to see the mixing and blending of misconduct in the new century by rogue states, angry countries and terrorist groups. It is, therefore, essential that the United States stay in the nonproliferation lead in a comprehensive way.
Now, if you look at what we are trying to do with the Biological Weapons Convention, for example, in putting teeth in that, while increasing our own ability to protect our own people and protect our friends who want to work with us on biological weaponry, you see a good direction.
If you look at what we did with the Chemical Weapons Convention, working in good faith for months with the Congress, to ask the same question we are asking here, "Are we better off with this or without it?" and how we added safeguard after safeguard after safeguard, both generated by the administration and generated from leaders of both parties in the Congress, that's how we ought to look at this.
But we have to ask ourselves just the same question they all presented, because the nuclear threat is still the largest one; and are we better off or not if we adopt this treaty?
I think we start with the fact that the best way to constrain the danger of nuclear proliferation and, God forbid, the use of a nuclear weapon is to stop other countries from testing nuclear weapons. That's what this Test Ban Treaty will do. A vote, therefore, to ratify is a vote to increase the protections of our people and the world from nuclear war. By contrast, a vote against it risks a much more dangerous future.
One of the interesting things -- I'll bet you that people in other parts of the world, particularly those that have nuclear technology, are watching the current debate with some measure of bewilderment. I mean, today we enjoy unmatched influence, with peace and freedom ascendant in the world, with enormous prosperity, enormous technical advances, and by and large on a bipartisan basis we've done a pretty good job of dealing with this unique moment in history. We've seen the end of the Cold War making possible agreements to cut U.S. and Russian nuclear arsenals by more than 60 percent. We have offered the Russians the opportunity of further cuts if they will ratify START II.
But we know the nuclear peril persists and that there is growing danger that these weapons could spread in the Middle East, in the Persian Gulf, in Asia, to areas where our troops are deployed. We know that they can be present in areas where there are intense rivalries and, unlike at least the latter years of the Cold War, still very much the possibility of misunderstanding between countries with this capacity.
Now, let me say the reason I say that I think other countries will be looking at this, one of the concerns that I have had all along is that the countries we need to get involved in this -- India, Pakistan, all the other countries -- will say, "Well, gosh, you know, wheal in this Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the Americans have a big advantage because they're spending $4.5 billion maintaining the integrity of their nuclear stockpile." And I always thought that, too. And I think that's a good thing because people around the world know we're not going to abuse this responsibility we have. But it is strange to me and, I'm sure, strange for people in foreign capitals analyzing the debate going on in Washington that there are people who are against this treaty who somehow think we will be disadvantaged by it.
So instead they propose to say, Well, we -- they don't any of them say we should start testing again. so they -- the message of not ratifying this treaty is, "Okay, we're not going to test, but you guys have a green light."
Now, forgive my less than elevated language, but I think we've got to put this down where everybody can get it. And I don't think we ought to give a green light to our friends in India and Pakistan, to the Chinese or the Russians or to people who would be nuclear powers. I think that would be a mistake. I think we ought to give them an outstretched hand and say, "Let us show common restraint," and see this in the framework of our continuing work with the Russians to secure their own nuclear materials, to destroy nuclear weapons that are scheduled for destruction and to continue our effort to reduce the nuclear threat.
The argument, it seems to me, doesn't hold water, this argument that somehow we would be better off, even though we're not going to start testing again, to walk away from this treaty and give a green light to all these other countries in the world.
Now, I sent this test ban treaty up to the Senate over two years ago. For two years, the opponents of the treaty refused to hold any hearings. Suddenly, they say, "Okay, you got to vote up or down in a week." Now, this is a tough fight without much time, and there are lots of technical arguments that can be made to confuse the issue. But I would like to make -- to just reiterate what has already been said by previous speakers and make one other point.
There are basically three categories of arguments against the treaty. Two have been dealt with. One is, well, this won't detect every test that anybody could do at every level, and General Shalikashvili addressed that. We will have sensors all over the world that will detect far more tests than will be detected if this treaty is not ratified and does not enter into force. And our military have repeatedly said that any test of a size that would present any kind of credible threat to what we have to do to protect the American people, we would know about and we could respond in an appropriate and timely fashion.
The second argument is, no matter what all these guys say, they can find three scientists somewhere who will say -- or maybe 300, I don't know -- that they just don't agree, and maybe there is some scenario under which the security and reliability of the nuclear deterrent in America can be eroded.
Well, I think that at some point, with all these Nobel laureates and our laboratory heads and the others that have endorsed this say what they say, you have to say, "What is the likelihood that America can maintain the security and reliability of its nuclear deterrent as compared with every other country if they come under the umbrella of this and the treaty enters into force?" The same people say that we ought to build a national missile defense, notwithstanding the technological uncertainties, because our skill is so much greater, we can always find a technological answer to everything. And I would argue that our relative advantage in security, even if you have some smidgen of a doubt about the security and reliability issue, will be far greater if we get everybody under this tent and we're all living under the same rules than it will be if we're all outside the tent.
Now there's a third sort of grab-bag set of arguments against it, and I don't mean to deprecate them. Some of them are actually quite serious and substantial questions that have been raised about various countries' activities in particular places and other things.
The point I want to make about them is, go back and look at the process we adopted in the Chemical Weapons Convention. Every single other objective -- objection that has been raised or question that has been raised can be dealt with by adding an appropriately worded safeguard to this treaty. It either falls within the six we've already offered and asked for or could be crafted in a careful negotiation as a result of a serious process. So I do not believe that any of these things are serious stumbling blocks to the profound argument that this is in our interest.
Look, 154 countries have signed this treaty. Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, Israel, Iran, all our NATO allies; 51 have already ratified; 11 of our NATO allies, including nuclear powers Britain and France. But it can't go into effect unless the U.S. and the other designated nations ratify it. And once again we need American leadership to protect American interests and to advance the peace of the world.
I say again, we're spending $4.5 billion a year to protect the security and reliability of the nuclear stockpile. There is a reason that Secretary Cohen and Secretary Ricon and our laboratory heads believe tha can do this.
Once again, I say, the U.S. stopped testing in 1992. What in the world would prevent us from trying to have a regime where we would want other people to stop -- join us in stopping testing? Let me just give one example.
Last year the nuclear tests by India and Pakistan shook the world. After those tests occurred they had a serious confrontation along the line of control in Kashmir. I spent our Independence Day, the 4th of July, meeting with the Pakistani prime minister and his senior government officials in an intense effort to try to help defuse the situation.
Now, both of these countries have indicated they will sign this treaty. If our Senate defeats it, you think they'll sign it? You think they'll ratify it? You think for a minute that they will forego further tests if they believe that the leading force in the world for nuclear nonproliferation has taken a U-turn? If our Senate defeats the treaty, will it encourage the Russians, the Chinese, and others to refrain from trying to find and test new, more sophisticated, more destructive nuclear weapons? Or will it give them the green light?
Now, I said earlier, we've been working with Congress on missile defense, to protect us from a nuclear attack should one ever come. I support that work. And if we can develop a system we think will work, we owe it to the American people to work with the Russians and others to figure out a way to give our people the maximum protection. But our first line of defense should be preventing countries from having those weapons in the first place. It would be the height of irresponsibility to rely on the last line of defense, to say "We're not going to test, you guys test, and we're in a race to get up a missile defense, and we sure hope it'll work if the wheels run off 30 or 40 years from now." This argument doesn't hold water.
People say, Well, but somebody might cheat. Well, that's true. Somebody might cheat. Happens all the time in all regimes. The question is, are we more likely to catch him with the treaty or without?
You all know, and I'm confident that people on the Hill have to know, that this Test Ban Treaty will strengthen our ability to determine whether or not nations are involved in weapons activities. You have heard the 300 sensors mentioned. Let me tell you what that means in practical terms.
If this treaty goes into effect, there will be 31 sensors in Russia, 11 in China, 17 in the Middle East alone, and the remainder of the 300-plus in other critical places around the world. If we can find cheating because it's there, then we'll do what's necessary to stop or counter it.
Let me again say I want to thank the former chiefs of the Joint Chiefs who have endorsed this. I want to thank the current chair and all the Joint Chiefs and the previous service chiefs, who have been with us in this; Lawrence Eagleburger, the secretary of State under President Bush, Paul Nitze, a top presidential adviser from presidents Truman to Reagan; former Senator Nancy Kassebaum-Baker. Many Republicans and Democrats who have dealt with this issue for years have stayed with us.
John Glenn, from Mercury to Discovery -- are you going up again, John? -- (laughs) -- (laughter) -- has always been at the cutting edge of technology's promise, but he has also flown fighter planes and seen war. The Nobel laureates who are here, Dr. Ramsey (sp), Dr. Fitch (sp), both part of the Manhattan Project; and Dr. Ramsey (sp), a young scientist, Dr. Fitch (sp), a teenage soldier, witnessed the very first nuclear test 54 years ago in the New Mexico desert. Their letter says it is imperative -- underline "imperative" -- that the Test Ban Treaty be ratified.
Let me just say one other thing. There may be a suggestion here that, you know, our heart is overcoming our head and all that. I'd like to give you one example that I think refutes that, on another topic.
One of the biggest disappointments I have had as president, a bitter disappointment for me, is that I could not sign in good conscience the treaty banning land mines because we have done more, since I have been president, to get rid of land mines than any country in the world by far. We spend half the money the world spends on de- mining. We have destroyed over a million of our own mines.
I couldn't do it because the way the treaty was worded was unfair to the United States and to our Korean allies, in meeting our responsibilities along the DMZ in South Korea and because it outlawed our anti-tank mines, while leaving every other country's intact. And I thought it was unfair.
But it just killed me.
But if all of us who are in charge of the nation's security engage our heads as well as our hearts, thinking and feeling leads you to the conclusion that this treaty should be ratified. Every single serious question that can be raised about this kind of bomb, that kind of bomb, what this country has, what's going on here, there and yonder, every single one of them can be dealt with in the safeguard structure that is normally a product of every serious treaty deliberation in the United States Senate.
And I say again, from the time of President Eisenhower, the United States has led the world in the cause of nonproliferation. We have new serious proliferation threats that our predecessors have not faced. And it is all the more imperative that we do everything we possibly can to minimize the risks our children will face. That is what you are trying to do.
I thank the senators who are here with us today, and pray that they can swell their ranks by next week. Thank you very much.