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August 27, 2018
The Debate Over Obama’s UNSCR Proposal
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Arms Control NOW

U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking approval for a UN Security Council resolution to reinforce the norm against nuclear testing, in a move that would coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which the United States signed in 1996.

The Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin quoted National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price as saying that while the administration would like to see the Senate ratify the CTBT, they are “looking at possible action in the UN Security Council that would call on states not to test and support the CTBT’s objectives. We will continue to explore ways to achieve this goal, being careful to protect the Senate’s constitutional role.”

Republican Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) were quick to respond to the proposed UN Security Council resolution with statements of opposition, alleging that President Obama was "circumventing" Congress by going to the United Nations.

On Aug. 15, former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)—a lead opposition figure against the CTBT—penned an op-ed with Douglas J. Feith of the Hudson Institute against the UN Security Council resolution initiative.

However, administration officials were quick to note that they "fully respect the Senate's role" toward ratification of the treaty, and that the UN Security Council resolution "is in no way a substitute for entry into force of the CTBT."

"The Obama administration is not—and I repeat not—proposing or supporting a UN Security Council resolution that would impose any legally binding prohibition on nuclear explosive testing," Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller recently told Politico.

On Capitol Hill, Senator Ed Markey (D-Mass.) released a statement "commending" President Obama for reinforcing the nuclear testing moratorium.

Washington-based NGOs have also issued their own statements of support for the UN Security Council resolution initiative, including by the Arms Control Association, the Stimson Center, and Women's Action for New Directions, among others.

For more information, read:

"Obama’s Nuclear Test Moratorium Is Common Sense," by Daryl G. Kimball, The National Interest, Aug. 14, 2016.

"A UN Security Council Resolution on Nuclear Testing Would Not Bypass the Senate," by Michael Krepon, Stimson Center, Aug. 5, 2016.