Shalikashvili Issues Report Supporting Test Ban Treaty

January/February 2001

By Philipp C. Bleek

Concluding that the "advantages of the test ban treaty outweigh any disadvantages" and calling for bipartisan efforts to forge an "integrated proliferation strategy for the new century," General John Shalikashvili formally presented his report on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) to President Bill Clinton on January 5. (See p. 18 for the full text of the report.)

In the report, Shalikashvili, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, identifies what he deems the most "prominent" concerns raised during the Senate's October 1999 debate on treaty ratification. These include whether the CTBT has "genuine non-proliferation value," whether "cheating" could threaten U.S. security, whether the United States can maintain the safety and reliability of its nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing, and whether to adopt a test ban of unlimited duration.

Shalikashvili puts forward a series of detailed recommendations that include increasing bipartisan and allied support for non-proliferation, enhancing U.S. capabilities to detect and deter nuclear testing and "other aspects of nuclear proliferation," improving stewardship of U.S. nuclear weapons, and addressing concerns about the treaty's indefinite duration through a joint executive-legislative review 10 years after the treaty's ratification and at "regular intervals thereafter." The last recommendation would "go farthest toward addressing concerns about the Treaty's indefinite duration," according to Shalikashivili.

Shalikashvili also uses the report to make treaty-related remarks on U.S. military policy, observing that it would not be in the United States' security interest to assign a "high profile role" to nuclear weapons in the U.S. military posture. "Any activities that erode the firebreak between nuclear and conventional weapons or that encourage the use of nuclear weapons for purposes that are not strategic and deterrent in nature would undermine the advantage that we derive from overwhelming conventional superiority," the general notes.

The report's publication effectively concludes Shalikashvili's tenure as special adviser on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. President Bill Clinton and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright requested in January 2000 that the general undertake a year-long effort to explore concerns about and build bipartisan support for eventual ratification of the test ban, which the Senate rejected in a largely party-line vote in October 1999. (See ACT, September/October 1999 and January/February 2000.)

President-elect George W. Bush has said he opposes CTBT ratification, though he has pledged to continue the testing moratorium begun under his father, former President George Bush. Bush's nominee for secretary of state, General Colin Powell, has previously spoken in favor of the agreement, while Condoleezza Rice, his choice for national security adviser, and Donald Rumsfeld, his nominee for defense secretary, do not support the treaty.