Russia, China Continue to Support CTBT

Despite its rejection by the U.S. Senate on October 13, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) received renewed support from Russian and Chinese officials in November. On November 17, Russian President Boris Yeltsin announced that he had signed a bill approving the CTBT and had submitted it to the Duma for ratification. A week later, in a November 25 interview with Xinhua News Service, Sha Zukang, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stated that despite the Senate vote, China had not changed its position on the test ban. According to Sha, the Chinese government is actively urging the National People's Congress to ratify the treaty quickly. Both Russia and China have been highly critical of the Senate's failure to ratify the treaty.

In the aftermath of the Senate vote, the Clinton administration has repeatedly stated that the United States remains committed to the terms of the CTBT, angering some Republicans who felt they had decisively killed the treaty. On November 2, Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MI) asserted that the Senate's rejection of the treaty "serves to release the United States from any possible obligation as a signatory of the negotiated text of the treaty."

Stating that it was essential to continue dialogue on the CTBT, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced on November 10 that the administration was establishing a high-level task force "to work closely with the Senate on addressing the issues raised during the test ban debate." Details on the composition and goals of the task force are expected in January.