Craig CernielloON JULY 8, JAPAN became the first country to formally ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty among the 44 states whose ratification is necessary before it can enter into force. Two days later, Britain became the first of the five declared nuclear-weapon states—all of which signed the treaty when it opened for signature on September 24, 1996—to begin the ratification process. The Clinton administration has not yet submitted the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.
Japan deposited its instrument of ratification with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the depositary of the treaty. As of mid-July, 144 states had signed the treaty and three others had ratified (Fiji, Qatar and Uzbekistan). The CTB Treaty cannot enter into force until it has been signed and ratified by the five declared nuclear-weapon states, the three "threshold" states (India, Israel and Pakistan) and 36 other states that are participating members of the UN Conference on Disarmament and recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency as possessing nuclear power and/or research reactors. All 44 key states have signed the treaty with the exception of India, North Korea and Pakistan. India has repeatedly said it will not sign the treaty in its present form; Pakistan maintains that it will not sign unless India does.
In an effort to break this logjam, Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda, during his July 21-23 visit to Islamabad, urged Pakistan to unilaterally sign the CTB Treaty. Not surprisingly, Pakistani President Farooq Leghari told Ikeda that "it is not possible for Pakistan to make unilateral commitments without simultaneous pledges by India to respect regional and international obligations." The Japanese foreign minister also was unable to convince India to sign the treaty during his July 23-25 visit to New Delhi.
On July 10, the British government introduced legislation for CTB ratification in the House of Lords, which may consider any amendments or conditions to the legislation and then decide whether to approve it by a simple majority vote. If approved by the House of Lords, the House of Commons must also approve the treaty before legislation is submitted to the queen for final approval. Some observers expect Britain to complete the ratification process by the end of 1997.
Action by the United States may not be far behind. Senior Clinton administration officials have indicated that the treaty will be submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent in the near future, probably in early September when Congress returns from its August recess. Although achieving Senate approval of the CTB is likely to be difficult, the prospects for ratification improved on July 15 when Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM)—a key Republican voice in the nuclear test ban debate—said that he is "leaning strongly" in support of the treaty.