NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION AND SENATE RATIFICATION OF THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY (Senate - July 30, 1998)

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Mr. BIDEN. Thank you, Mr. President.

It is a truism that despite the end of the Cold War, we live in a dangerous world. The ultimate danger we face, perhaps, is that nuclear weapons will be obtained--or even used--by unstable countries or terrorist groups.

We must undertake a range of activities to reduce that danger. There is no magic bullet. No single program or initiative will rid the world of the threat of nuclear cataclysm at the hands of a new or unstable nuclear power.

Rather, we need a coherent strategy with many elements--a strategy designed to reduce both the supply of nuclear weapons technology to would-be nuclear powers and the regional tensions that fuel their demand for those weapons.

I would like to spend a few minutes today talking about one piece of that strategy that this body can implement: We can and should give our advice and consent to ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. And we should do that promptly.

In her speech on the 35th anniversary of John F. Kennedy's American University speech, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called for U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. Noting the recent Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests, she said that ratification was needed `now, more than ever.'

Senator Specter and I have also called for ratification now, both in floor statements and by drafting a resolution calling for expeditious Senate consideration of the Test-Ban Treaty.

Why is the Test-Ban so crucial? Because it is directly related to the global bargain that is the heart of the global nonproliferation regime. Other countries will give up their ambition to acquire nuclear weapons, but only if the declared nuclear powers honestly seek to end their nuclear advantage. We have to keep up our side of the bargain--and that means ratifying and adhering to the comprehensive test ban--or the non-nuclear weapons states will not feel bound to theirs.

One lesson of this decade's nuclear developments in India, Pakistan, Iraq and North Korea is that very basic nuclear weapon design information is no longer a tightly held secret. The technology required to produce nuclear weapons remains expensive and complex, but it is well within the reach of literally scores of countries.

To keep countries from producing what scores of them could produce, you need more than pressure or sanctions. You must constantly maintain their consent to remain non-nuclear weapons states.

Ideally, we would maintain that consent by removing the security concerns that propel countries to seek nuclear weapons. But that is terribly difficult, be it in Kashmir or the Middle East, in the Balkans or the Korean Peninsula or the Taiwan Straits.

In the world of today and of the foreseeable future, peace does not reign. Nuclear non-proliferation will not prevail in this world either, unless we convince states that nuclear weapons are not the key to survival, to status or to power.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is not merely emblematic of the nuclear powers' commitment to the non-nuclear weapons states. It also will put a cap on the development of new classes of nuclear weapons by the nuclear powers.

The test-ban treaty will also limit the ability of any non-nuclear weapons state to develop sophisticated nuclear weapons or to gain confidence in more primitive nuclear weapons if it were to illegally acquire or produce them. If you can't test your weapon, you are very unlikely to rely upon it as an instrument of war.

These are important reassurances to the non-nuclear nations of the world. They are why those countries agreed to foreswear all nuclear tests and to accept intrusive on-site inspection if a suspicion arose that they might have tested a nuclear device.

Will the Test-Ban Treaty also gradually reduce a country's confidence in the reliability of its nuclear weapons over the next 30 or 50 years, as some of its opponents assert? If so, that is actually reassuring to the non-nuclear weapons states, for it gives them hope of the eventual realization of that `cessation of the nuclear arms race' encouraged by Article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. So even the cloud that most frightens test-ban opponents has a silver lining: it helps keep the rest of the world on board the non-proliferation bandwagon.

Now it is true, Mr. President, that some countries have never accepted the world non-proliferation bargain. The so-called `threshold states' of India, Pakistan and Israel all viewed nuclear weapons as essential to their national security, and India denounced the Non-Proliferation Treaty because it did not require immediate nuclear disarmament.

Still other countries, like Iran, Iraq and North Korea, signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty but maintained covert nuclear weapons programs.

But the vast majority of the world's states, including many prospective nuclear powers, have gone along with this bargain. And it is vital to our national security that we maintain their adherence to the world non-proliferation regime. They must not become `threshold states,' let alone actually test nuclear weapons.

So, how will we maintain the adherence of the world's non-nuclear weapons states to the nuclear proliferation regime? The Indian and Pakistani nuclear tests are a direct challenge to that regime. The regime--and the countries who support it--can only meet that challenge if the United States leads the way.

On one level, we are already doing that. We have imposed severe sanctions on both India and Pakistan, and both of their economies are at risk. We have adjusted our sanctions to limit their effect upon innocent populations, and we are working to give the President the flexibility to lift them in return for serious steps by India and Pakistan toward capping their arms race and addressing their differences.

On the world-wide level, however, our record is mixed. Some countries have joined us in imposing sanctions on India and Pakistan. We have also been joined in strong statements by countries ranging from Japan to Russia and China.

Statements and resolutions by the G-8, the Organization of American States, the Conference on Disarmament, and the United Nations Security Council have rightly condemned India and Pakistan's nuclear tests and called upon them to join the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, to refrain from actual deployment of their weapons, to ratify

the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty and to move toward a peaceful settlement of the Kashmir dispute.

But the world is acutely aware of our failure to persuade more countries to impose sanctions, and also of our own failure, so far, to ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. Until we ratify this Treaty, the nuclear hard-liners in India and Pakistan will be able to cite U.S. hypocrisy as one more reason to reject the nuclear non-proliferation regime. And until we ratify the Treaty, the rest of the world will find it easier to reject U.S. calls for diplomatic and economic measures to pressure India and Pakistan.

We must keep our part of that non-proliferation bargain, if we are to maintain U.S. leadership on non-proliferation, keep the rest of the world on board, and influence India and Pakistan. The truth is that we have little choice.

If we fail to keep faith with the non-nuclear states because we cannot even ratify the Test-Ban Treaty, then we will also fail to keep them from developing nuclear weapons of their own. And in that case, Mr. President, we might as well prepare for a world of at least 15 or 20 nuclear weapon states, rather than the 5 or 7 or 8 we have today. That is the stark reality we face.

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THE FATE OF THE TEST-BAN TREATY

But we need not fail, Mr. President. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is a very sensible treaty that is clearly in our national interest. It binds the rest of the world to refrain from nuclear testing, just as we have bound our own government for the last 6 years.

The Test-Ban Treaty forces us to rely upon so-called `stockpile stewardship' to maintain the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons, but we are in a better position economically and scientifically to do that than is any other country in the world.

Treaty verification will require our attention and our resources, but those are resources that we would have to spend anyway in order to monitor world-wide nuclear weapons programs.

Indeed, the International Monitoring System under the Treaty may save us money, as we will pay only a quarter of those costs for monitoring resources that otherwise we might well have to finance in full.

But we do have a problem. We have been unable to hold hearings on this treaty in the Foreign Relations Committee, even though committees with lesser roles have held them. And the Majority Leader has said that he will not bring this treaty to the floor.

Why is that, Mr. President? I know that my good friends the chairman and the majority leader have raised arguments against the Treaty, but they seem curiously unwilling to make those arguments in the context of a proper committee or floor debate on a resolution of ratification.

Could they be afraid of losing? Could they be afraid that, once the pros and cons are laid out with a resolution of ratification before us, two thirds of this body will support ratification? Perhaps; I know that I think the Treaty can readily get that support.

For the arguments in favor of ratification look pretty strong. The conditions that the President has asked us to attach to a resolution of ratification will assure that we maintain our weapons and the ability to test them, and that he will consider every year whether we must withdraw from the Treaty and resume testing to maintain nuclear deterrence.

I also know, Mr. President, that the American people overwhelmingly support ratification of the Test-Ban Treaty. A nation-wide poll in mid-May, after the Indian tests, found 73 percent in favor of ratification and only 16 percent against it. Later polls in 5 states--with 7 Republican senators--found support for the Treaty ranging from 79 percent to 86 percent.

The May poll also found that the American people knew there was a risk that other countries would try to cheat, so the public is not supporting ratification because they wear rose-colored glasses. The people are pretty level-headed on this issue, as on so many others. They know that no treaty is perfect. They also know that this Treaty, on balance, is good for America.

So perhaps those who block the Senate from fulfilling its Constitutional duty regarding this Treaty are doing that because they know the people overwhelmingly support this Treaty, and they know that ratification would pass.

Perhaps they just don't like arms control treaties. Perhaps they would rather rely only upon American military might, including nuclear weapons tests. Perhaps they want a nation-wide ballistic missile defense and figure that then it won't matter how many countries have nuclear weapons. Perhaps they figure our weapons will keep us safe, even if we let the rest of the world fall into the abyss of nuclear war.

I don't share that view, Mr. President. I believe we can keep non-proliferation on track. I believe that we can maintain nuclear deterrence without engaging in nuclear testing, and that the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty is a small price for keeping the non-nuclear states with us on an issue where the fate of the world is truly at stake.

I cannot force a resolution of ratification on this Treaty through the Foreign Relations Committee and onto the floor of this body.

But the American people want us to ratify this Treaty. They are absolutely right to want that. I will remind my colleagues--however often I must--of their duty under the U.S. Constitution and to our national security. I will make sure that the American people know who stands with them in that vital quest.

My colleague, the senior Senator from Pennsylvania, and I have drafted a resolution calling for expeditious consideration of this Treaty. So far, we have been joined by 34 of our colleagues as co-sponsors of that resolution.

We know that many others support us quietly, Mr. President, but hesitate to part company with their leaders. We are confident, however, that as more of them reflect on what is at stake, and on the need for continued U.S. leadership in nuclear non-proliferation, they will realize that they will do their leaders a favor by helping the Senate to do what is so clearly in the national interest.

The Senate will give its advice and consent to ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. The only question is when.

The world is a dangerous place, Mr. President, and we must no underestimate the challenges our country faces. But the spirit of America lies in our ability to rise to those challenges and overcome them. The immediate challenge of non-proliferation is to bring forth a resolution of ratification on a useful treaty, Mr. President. We should show more of that American spirit in our approach to that task.

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