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Bloomberg News
August 27, 2018
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Clinton, Putin Issue 'Strategic Stability Cooperation Initiative'

October 2000

By Philipp C. Bleek

Meeting at the United Nations Millennium Summit in New York, Presidents Bill Clinton and Vladimir Putin agreed September 6 to the "Strategic Stability Cooperation Initiative." The agreement recommits the United States and Russia to undertaking, and in some cases extending, a range of existing bilateral initiatives concerning arms control and non-proliferation. (For the text of the initiative, see p. 33.)

The document consists of a joint statement signed by both presidents and an "implementation plan." The statement reaffirms both countries' support for all existing major bilateral arms control treaties as well as the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It also calls for continued work toward several key arms control objectives, including a fissile material cutoff treaty and a START III agreement to further reduce strategic nuclear arsenals.

The implementation plan that makes up the latter half of the document lays out six specific initiatives. These include holding bilateral discussions on emerging ballistic missile threats; conducting joint theater missile defense (TMD) exercises; continuing work on the Joint Data Exchange Center, intended to house the U.S.-Russian early-warning information center; working to complete a bilateral agreement on pre-launch notification of ballistic missile launches; continuing work on a "global" approach to missile non-proliferation; and holding expert meetings to consider expanded cooperation on Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) verification and warhead safety.

The early-warning and prelaunch notification initiatives appear to only reaffirm existing agreements, and the ballistic missile threat, missile non-proliferation, and CTBT initiatives are simply commitments to continue ongoing discussion. However, one initiative does appear to cover limited new ground. The agreement on TMD builds on two previous cooperative exercises and states that the United States and Russia will conduct two joint exercises at U.S. facilities in Colorado and Texas in the next two years.

At a September 6 press briefing in New York, Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott said that the recently approved initiative is intended to elaborate on two previous statements with regard to "reinforcing the nuclear peace" and dealing with "new threats": the "Joint Statement on Principles of Strategic Stability," signed in Moscow June 4 (see ACT, July/August 2000), and the "Joint Statement on Cooperation on Strategic Stability," adopted at the Okinawa Group of Eight summit July 21.

The two statements and the new initiative are intended to formalize understandings reached during ongoing bilateral talks between senior U.S. and Russian officials. Those talks were originally intended to negotiate a START III agreement to dramatically reduce both sides' nuclear arsenals, but a lack of progress in negotiating amendments to the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty to facilitate U.S. deployment of a limited national missile defense has stalled talks on further nuclear reductions. U.S. officials no longer expect a START III agreement to be negotiated during the remainder of President Clinton's term and appear to be pursuing uncontroversial "strategic stability cooperation" as an alternative to more substantive work on strategic arms control.

Clinton, Putin Issue 'Strategic Stability Cooperation Initiative'

India Reaffirms Its CTBT Policy, Pakistan Follows

October 2000

By Alex Wagner

President Bill Clinton and Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee issued a joint statement September 15 reaffirming India's voluntary suspension of nuclear testing pending entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its commitment not to block the treaty's entry into force. In an apparent response, Pakistan said it would also maintain its testing moratorium until the CTBT enters into force.

Vajpayee and Clinton discussed the test ban, among other issues, over the course of a four-day summit in Washington. The summit was the second between the two leaders in six months, and the joint statement appears to marginally expand India's pledge during Clinton's March visit to New Delhi at which India "reaffirmed" its "voluntary commitment to forgo further nuclear tests." (See ACT, April 2000.) The most recent statement again "reaffirmed that, subject to its supreme national interests, [India] will continue its voluntary moratorium until the [CTBT] comes into effect" and will not "block entry into force of the Treaty."

At a September 15 press conference, Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs Karl Inderfurth told reporters that the statement was "a new element" in the U.S.-Indian relationship because it "spelled out" the Indian government's intention to continue a moratorium on nuclear tests until the CTBT enters into force. However, both Vajpayee and Jaswant Singh, the Indian foreign minister, have repeatedly stressed India's willingness to convert its testing moratorium into a "de jure obligation."

By agreeing not to block the CTBT's entry into force, India appears to be consenting to sign and ratify the test ban as long as the other 43 states needed to ratify under Article XIV have done so first. Given that such an assurance implicitly involves both signature and ratification of the test ban by a number of countries, including Pakistan and North Korea, India's non-signature will not impede the CTBT's entry into force for some time.

A U.S. official said that despite the overall success of the Vajpayee visit and the additional language on the CTBT in the joint statement, New Delhi is no closer to signing the treaty than it was when Clinton visited India in March. In fact, according to the official, New Delhi has done little to develop a "national consensus" on the treaty—an oft-cited precondition to India's signature.

Mirroring India's pledge, at a September 25 news conference Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar said, "Pending CTBT entry into force, Pakistan will maintain its moratorium and refrain from further tests unless another extraordinary event occurs that jeopardizes [its] security interests." According to the Pakistani embassy in Washington, the statement represents an "enhancement" of Pakistan's CTBT policy because it affixes a time frame to the initially "open-ended" moratorium imposed after Pakistan's nuclear tests in May 1998.

India Reaffirms Its CTBT Policy, Pakistan Follows

U.S., Pakistan Resume Non-Proliferation Talks

July/August 2000

Reviving non-proliferation talks dormant since February 1999, Pakistani Foreign Minister Abdul Sattar visited Washington June 15 to meet with Deputy Secretary of State Strobe Talbott and other high-level U.S. officials. Initiated after the May 1998 Indian-Pakistani nuclear tests, the talks, which have also been undertaken with India, have produced little concrete progress to date. Instability on the subcontinent—including the April 1999 fall of the Indian government, ongoing Indian-Pakistani fighting in Kashmir, and the October 1999 coup that ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif—contributed to the long lapse since the last meeting.

The latest round of talks covered a wide range of non-proliferation and security issues, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a fissile material cutoff treaty, potential restraints on Pakistan's nuclear program, export controls, and the security environment in South Asia. The U.S. and Pakistani views are reportedly closest on national export controls and steps that could lead to Pakistan's signature of the CTBT, while they remain sharply divided on nuclear restraints and ways to improve the security environment on the subcontinent. Their positions reportedly converge somewhat on steps to negotiate and conclude a fissile material cutoff treaty.

A follow-up meeting has not been scheduled, but the two sides agreed to "continue to work closely together to prevent further proliferation, an arms race, and conflict in the region," State Department spokesman Richard Boucher said during a June 16 briefing.

U.S., Pakistan Resume Non-Proliferation Talks

New Ambitions, Old Obstacles: Japan and Its Search For an Arms Control Strategy

July/August 2000

By Michael J. Green and Katsuhisa Furukawa

In all of the excitement about the "rise" of China in East Asia, the world has largely forgotten that there are actually two rising powers in the region. Though China's hubris is often more striking, Japan also aspires to play a larger political and security role in international affairs. And while China's current transformation is captivating because it could take several different paths, it should not be forgotten that Japan has also entered its own prolonged period of political, economic, and security transition.

Notable changes in Japanese security policy used to come about once every five or 10 years. But in the past few years there has been a flurry of activity. The Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces have used live fire to chase off intruding North Korean spy ships—the first such action since World War II. Japan is indigenously developing intelligence satellites. After decades of rejecting patriotism as an illegitimate sentiment, the Japanese Diet has approved the national anthem and flag as the official symbols of the state. The Diet has also established two new commissions to begin deliberations on the feasibility of revising the Japanese Constitution, including the "no-war" clause in Article Nine, which rejects the use of force in international relations. Indeed, 60 percent of the public now favors changing the constitution, including Article Nine.

Japan's friends and neighbors are trying to make sense of these changes. There is certainly a degree of nationalism and insecurity behind these moves—an unsurprising development given that the Japanese economy has been stagnant for almost a decade in the face of impressive growth in the United States and elsewhere in Asia. But there is also a healthy dose of realism in the changes in Japan's security outlook. After years of national complacency about the post-Cold War security environment in Northeast Asia, Japan has woken up to the threat presented by the North Korean Taepo Dong missiles and the uncertainties about China's role in the region. Many Japanese have also begun to focus on the need for coherent strategic priorities at a time of declining relative economic resources. Into this mix of insecurity and realism has been thrown generational change as a new crop of Japanese political leadership emerges that is removed from war guilt and more confident in Japan's potential strategic voice in international affairs.

Some analysts have warned about the potential re-emergence of Japanese nationalism and even militarism, but there are many areas of reassuring continuity in Japan's view of its world role. Polls show that the alliance with the United States retains its broadest support in both countries in 14 years, despite nagging disagreements about bases and other issues. The Japanese have also developed an impressive civil society and have not lost their aversion to the use of force in international relations. And the Japanese remain strongly opposed to nuclear weapons. Or do they?

The Japanese approach to nuclear energy development, global nuclear disarmament, and the extended U.S. nuclear deterrent has always been a jumble of contradictions. The Japanese have forsworn nuclear weapons, yet polls show that their neighbors do not completely believe them because of the large Japanese plutonium-recycling program and ongoing rocket and satellite development. A large majority of Japanese newspapers, academics, and government officials urge total global nuclear disarmament, yet Tokyo is acutely sensitive to the reliability of the U.S. nuclear umbrella on which it depends for its own deterrence and non-nuclear posture. Japan tries to play a leadership role in global non-proliferation policies, yet the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) spends more time and money keeping an eye on Japan's nuclear programs than any other because Japan disposes of massive amounts of nuclear materials each year.

As Japan attempts to establish a larger strategic voice in international affairs, these contradictions are becoming a hindrance. Thus far, none of the pillars of Japan's nuclear policy has shifted in any fundamental way, but the United States should no longer take for granted that Japanese policies on nuclear disarmament or nuclear strategy will remain unchanged. It is highly unlikely that Japan will try to develop its own nuclear deterrent, but the debate about nuclear weapons and disarmament has become far more fluid than in the past, and Japan's search for an independent voice on these issues should not be discounted. The extended U.S. nuclear deterrent will increasingly come under scrutiny in Japan, as will the U.S. commitment to arms control. The United States will soon find itself responding to Japanese initiatives on both strategy and arms control in an unprecedented way. It is therefore important to forge a proactive partnership with Japan in these areas.


Japan's Stance on Nuclear Weapons

The October 1999 issue of Playboy Japan ran an interview with Shingo Nishimura, the new vice minister of the Japan Defense Agency (JDA), in which Nishimura argued that Japan's failure to consider possessing nuclear weapons left the nation open to "rape" in the international system. Nishimura was promptly forced to resign, though he was sent from the JDA headquarters with full military honors.

The Nishimura incident revealed several things about contemporary Japanese nuclear policy. First, there are still a handful of older right-wing politicians who harbor visions of a fully remilitarized Japan-as there always have been. Second, their views on nuclear weapons (and in this case the cavalier discussion of rape) are still unacceptable to the general public. But a third insight was revealed in the debate among politicians in the wake of the Nishimura interview as well: while it is still inappropriate to advocate nuclear weapons for Japan, it is no longer taboo to discuss nuclear strategy and the hypothetical possibility that Japan could require such weapons some day. Younger politicians in particular are more conversant and comfortable with nuclear strategic issues. Indeed, a significant number of second-generation politicians in the Diet are graduates of international studies programs in the United States. They are not looking to change Japan's basic nuclear stance, but they understand concepts like mutually assured destruction, and they are conversant with the logic of nuclear deterrence. And they are paying attention to make certain that the extended U.S. nuclear deterrent is credible.

Traditionally, Japan's nuclear policy has had three institutional pillars. The first pillar has rested on the so-called three non-nuclear principles, which prohibit Japan from manufacturing, possessing, or permitting the entry of nuclear weapons into the country or its air or sea space. These principles were first enunciated by Prime Minister Eisaku Sato in 1968 and were formalized in a 1971 Diet resolution. The second pillar is the 1955 Atomic Energy Basic Law, which specifically limits the use of nuclear energy to peaceful purposes. The third pillar is the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which Japan signed in 1970 and agreed to extend indefinitely in 1995.

However, these legal and policy instruments derive from a more fundamental source: the fact that the United States extends its own nuclear deterrent to Japan. Thus, while government regulations and the so-called nuclear allergy explain why Japan does not have nuclear weapons, it is ultimately the alliance with the United States that makes nuclear weapons unnecessary and means that Japan's ideational and institutional constraints do not have to be tested.

Because the United States is an independent actor, though, Japanese governments in the past have quietly examined the nuclear option at times of fundamental strategic shift in the international system. During the 1965 U.S.-Japan summit, Prime Minister Sato explicitly told President Lyndon Johnson that he felt Japan should acquire nuclear weapons if China had them.1 In 1969, he told the U.S. ambassador to Japan that the three non-nuclear principles were nonsense, and he lamented the Japanese public's lack of understanding of national defense issues.2

Nevertheless, when Sato secretly commissioned an advisory study group in 1967 to examine whether it was possible and desirable for Japan to develop its own nuclear forces, the panel concluded that a nuclear weapons program was not desirable because it would be too expensive, fail to engender domestic support, and generate regional security dilemmas.3 More recently, in 1995, an internal study group in the Japan Defense Agency prepared a report for internal use entitled, "A Report Concerning the Problems of the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction." It concluded that a nuclear weapons program was undesirable because the costs would be high and the benefits few.4

It would be extremely difficult and risky for Japan to develop an overt program. A covert program seems even less likely because Japan's nuclear power program is so thoroughly monitored by the IAEA that the diversion of fissile material for weapons purposes would almost certainly be discovered.5 However, like many industrialized countries, Japan has the technical capability to develop nuclear weapons. Moreover, it has accumulated a wide range of experience and expertise in satellite systems, rockets, and plutonium recycling. These capabilities function already as a "virtual deterrent" against other nuclear powers—though the Japanese government itself has never hinted at such a strategy.

Changes in the international environment could prompt Japan to move closer to nuclear weapons development. Morton Halperin, director of the policy planning staff at the State Department, has argued that Japan might develop nuclear weapons under three conditions: a consensus in Japan that the United States could no longer be counted on to defend Japan; the development of a Korean nuclear capability; or a lack of progress in nuclear disarmament, coupled with an expansion of the Chinese nuclear capability.6

These conditions would not necessarily lead Japan directly to the development of nuclear weapons. A more likely scenario would be a prolonged series of gestures to make the virtual deterrent increasingly explicit to warn the nuclear states or new proliferators in the region of the need for disarmament or to press the United States to re-establish credibility in its alliance commitments and extended deterrent.

But nor are these conditions purely hypothetical—in some respects they have already been realized. The prospect of further progress on nuclear disarmament has already been shaken by the failure of the U.S. Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in October 1999 and the obstinacy of the nuclear powers at the 2000 NPT review conference. For many Japanese, the credibility of the U.S. commitment to Japan has been called into question on several occasions. In the wake of the August 1998 North Korean launch of the Taepo Dong missile over Japan, for example, Tokyo responded with sanctions and harsh rhetoric, but Washington's initial response was tepid. Worried about domestic reactions, Japan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) demanded a formal U.S. statement that the United States would defend Japan against missile attacks from North Korea—something that should have been self-evident from the Mutual Security Treaty. Then Tokyo decided to embark on an indigenous reconnaissance satellite program, in large part because of concerns that Washington was not sharing full intelligence on the North Korean threat.

Meanwhile, after years of listening to Washington explain the need for bilateral cooperation on theater missile defenses (TMD), Tokyo has agreed to participate in joint research and committed $10 million in fiscal year 1999 for work on the U.S. Navy Theater Wide Defense.7 That is good news for U.S.-Japan relations, of course, but it also shows that Japan has bought into the logic of missile defense—that deterrence alone is insufficient against rogue states and that the nuclear umbrella after the Cold War may in fact have some holes in it. Moreover, in criticizing TMD, Beijing has argued that Japanese participation would undermine China's deterrent, and not a few Japanese observers have logically concluded from this that China must therefore target Japan with nuclear weapons despite Beijing's declared policy of no use of nuclear weapons against non-nuclear-weapon states. This has further raised Japan's sensitivity to nuclear threats in the neighborhood.

TMD has also brought into the nuclear strategy debate a broader group of players than the original cadre in the Foreign Ministry that quietly managed the U.S. nuclear umbrella for so many decades. The Japan Defense Agency, politicians, and the press are now focused on nuclear deterrence and stability questions in a new way because missile defense has given Japan its first tool (albeit a defensive tool) in the game of international nuclear strategy. Indeed, many in MOFA and the JDA speak of the need to continue with TMD as a tool for international arms control vis-à-vis China, Russia, and North Korea. U.S.-Japan joint research on TMD is an excellent idea given the proliferation threat in Japan's neighborhood, but it has broader implications for the Japanese approach to nuclear strategy.

None of these developments is pushing Japan toward nuclear weapons at this point, but they have introduced fluidity and an element of uncertainty that comes at a time of transition in Japanese domestic politics and regional security relations. It therefore behooves the United States to be extremely sensitive to how its own nuclear policies and strategic posture in Asia play in Japan at a time of heightened sensitivity to and insecurity about the external environment.


A New Assertiveness

At the same time that Japan's strategic culture is demonstrating a heightened sensitivity to regional threats and the regional balance of power (particularly vis-à-vis China), Tokyo is also under pressure to demonstrate a larger and more independent strategic voice in international affairs. In "Challenge 21," a March 1999 policy- planning document that outlines Japanese diplomatic strategy, the Foreign Ministry argued that Japan must maintain its "weight" in international relations at a time of economic stagnation by asserting itself in non-economic areas of diplomacy. In particular, "Challenge 21" noted the necessity of tapping into the Japanese public's growing awareness of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and recommended that Japan "redouble its efforts to control and reduce them."8

Picking-up on this theme, the Prime Minister's Commission on Japan's Goals in the 21st Century argued in its January 2000 report:

The world of the twenty-first century cannot necessarily expect a firm order centering on the United States. The world is too broad, too diverse, and too volatile to allow a Pax Americana to extend to every corner of the globe.... Of particular concern is the fact that during the 1990s the United States tended to incline away from strong support for the international "public purpose" and toward action based on simplistic self-interest.9 This U.S. divergence from "public purpose" is apparent to Japanese observers in the U.S. Senate's rejection of the CTBT and Washington's decreasing attention to the United Nations. Many in Tokyo argue that now is the time for Japan to make its mark as an "international global power" committed to arms control and disarmament, even if it causes a gap with the United States. Such a course would not be without its dangers. As Japanese journalist Yoichi Funabashi wrote in 1998:

[A]n unfortunate consequence may be that the United States misconstrues Japan's rejection of the nuclear status quo as equivocation about the alliance itself. Nevertheless, if Japan is to regain an honorable place in the world, protect Asian stability, and further the cause of nonproliferation, it must send a clearer message about nuclear disarmament.10

The outline of this more assertive diplomacy on non-proliferation was expressed in a 1996 speech by then-Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda, when he said Japan would work for the completion of the CTBT; the prohibition of the production of weapons-grade fissionable material; further reductions of nuclear arsenals; further dismantling of nuclear weapons; and the management and disposal of fissile materials derived from dismantled nuclear weapons.11

Japan has pursued these goals in several ways. First, for seven consecutive years Japan has introduced resolutions on nuclear disarmament to the UN General Assembly, which have usually been adopted unanimously. Japan also took the lead in the General Assembly on establishing an international arms registry, which was eventually backed by the United Kingdom and other European nations in 1992. Since 1989, Japan has hosted the UN Conference on Disarmament Issues, and from August 1998 to July 1999, Japan hosted four meetings—the "Tokyo Forum"—to discuss international non-proliferation in the wake of the May 1998 South Asian nuclear tests.

Second, Japan has been a reliable party to the Missile Technology Control Regime, the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the Biological Weapons Convention. In addition, Japan has provided financial and technical assistance for the completion of the CTBT, hosting a series of preliminary conferences on completing CTBT negotiations and actively assisting the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization. In order to enhance the effectiveness of the CTBT's verification and implementation mechanism, Japan has also supported improvements in nuclear testing detection techniques and has offered to train experts from developing countries in the field of seismology.12

Third, Japan has used its economic resources and bilateral diplomacy to discourage the development of nuclear weapons and to help with the decommissioning of submarines and the disposal of plutonium in the former Soviet Union. Japan's 1992 Official Development Assistance (ODA) Charter requires reconsideration of assistance to nations developing weapons of mass destruction. Under its "Silk Road" diplomacy, Japan has offered support for the foundation of a nuclear-weapon-free zone in Central Asia and the provision of humanitarian and developmental assistance to the Semipalatinsk region of Kazakhstan, where numerous nuclear tests have been conducted.13 Japan has also offered medical assistance programs for those who have suffered from radiation sickness. In addition, Japan has begun assisting Russia's denuclearization efforts. Japan disbursed $100 million between 1994 and 1999 and announced an additional $200 million contribution in June 1999 for submarine decommissioning and plutonium disposition.14 Assistance to Ukraine, Kazakhstan, and Belarus includes such projects as the establishment of a state system to account for and control nuclear materials.15

These steps are significant, but many Japanese scholars and government officials are frustrated that they do not yet add up to an independent and fully credible voice for Japan on international non-proliferation and arms control issues. The January 2000 report of the prime minister's commission urged Japan to "take a joint initiative for the common global interest together with Australia, Canada, Germany, the Scandinavian nations, and others that have ample technology and capacity to equip themselves with nuclear arms but deliberately refrain from doing so." The commission expressed its frustration over the institutional fragility of the existing NPT regime and called for Japan and the other non-nuclear-weapon states to look for ways to dissuade states from acquiring nuclear weapons and to persuade the nuclear powers to further reduce their arsenals. Even Japan's opposition party, the Democratic Party of Japan, has urged that Japan "renew [its] consciousness of the importance of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation" and has called for Japan to play a more independent and proactive role in this arena.16

Based on this consensus that the nation should demonstrate more leadership in non-proliferation and arms control, Tokyo has tried to seize the high ground on two recent occasions: after the South Asian nuclear tests and at the 2000 NPT review conference. The episodes demonstrate both Tokyo's new ambition and the continuing constraints and contradictions that it faces.

Tokyo saw an opportunity to raise its diplomatic profile on non-proliferation after the South Asian nuclear tests—a development that appalled the Japanese press and public. After the tests, Tokyo froze new grants and yen loans, consistent with its ODA Charter, which requires a review of aid to recipients pursuing weapons of mass destruction. Japan also introduced and cosponsored a resolution in the United Nations condemning the tests.

But those steps were not enough. Tokyo also wanted to play a "leading role in finding a new framework to keep nuclear arms from spreading," in the words of senior Foreign Ministry officials.17 The government of Prime Minister Ryutaro Hashimoto therefore proposed a nuclear non-proliferation forum that would address South Asian security concerns while calling on the permanent members of the UN Security Council to strive for nuclear disarmament. Tokyo's gesture was an attempt to strengthen the case for Japanese participation in a June 4, 1998, meeting of the five permanent members of the Security Council in Geneva on the South Asian tests, but the move backfired. Suspicious of Japanese intentions, the members excluded Japan. As one U.S. official put it, the United States was eager to work with Japan, but "Tokyo's emphasis on Article VI echoed India's rhetoric and created unease in the [State] Department."18 Instead, MOFA had to be content with establishing the Track II (or unofficial) Tokyo Forum.

Tokyo's next chance to call attention to its non-proliferation objectives came with this year's review of the implementation of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty at the United Nations. Even before the outset of the conference, Japan had been very active on NPT-related issues. In October 1999, Japan chaired a conference in Vienna on facilitating the CTBT's entry into force, and it took the initiative of sending high-level missions to the countries that had not yet signed or ratified the treaty and helping persuade them to do so. Japan's concerted actions with like-minded countries have contributed to ratification by Lithuania, Turkey, Bangladesh, Macedonia, and Chile. Japan also submitted a working paper with Australia at the beginning of the review conference proposing eight measures to further implementation of the NPT, most of which were adopted in the NPT final document.

The NPT review conference opened with intense confrontation between the nuclear-weapon states and the New Agenda Coalition (NAC), a group of seven states calling for more rapid progress in nuclear disarmament. The conference stuck completely when the NAC demanded inclusion of a statement in the final agreement that states should facilitate negotiations for nuclear disarmament by 2005. Japan found a window of opportunity as a mediator between the two parties, producing compromise language that called on the nuclear-weapon states to pursue an "unequivocal undertaking" to accomplish total nuclear disarmament, without specifying any timeline.19 While Japanese diplomats did not figure in the final deal-making between the NAC and the nuclear powers, Japan's early seizure of the middle ground between the two helped point the way to the language that ultimately appeared in the conference's final document. Japan received praise for its more proactive role, though critics at home claimed that the nuclear-weapon states should have been pressed much harder on disarmament.20


Japan's Constraints

Tokyo's arms control diplomacy—particularly after the South Asian tests and during the NPT review conference—reveals both the Japanese potential to carve a larger role in international non-proliferation policy and the continuing contradictions and constraints that have hampered that role. Idealism Versus Realism

At the core of Japan's dilemma on non-proliferation and arms control is the contradiction between the Japanese people's traditional idealism about the abolition of nuclear weapons on the one hand, and their growing realism about the threatening security environment in Northeast Asia on the other. Some Japanese scholars have argued that Tokyo should abandon the U.S. nuclear umbrella in order to establish full credibility in non-proliferation policy, but the mainstream foreign policy community recognizes that this would be a self-defeating and not terribly effective ploy—renewed suspicion of Japanese nuclear intentions would only further undermine Japan's credibility in non-proliferation.

This tension between idealism and realism has grown as Japan's own neighborhood has become more uncertain. The North Korean Taepo Dong missile launch over Japan in August 1998 brought about radical changes in Japanese perceptions of security. For the first time, Japan came within range of possible missile attack from North Korea. What is worse, the missiles could be armed with WMD payloads. Following the test, the Japanese Diet engaged in unprecedented debates about the constitutionality of preemptive military strikes, and subsequent opinion polls showed over a third of the Japanese public thought war was now probable in Northeast Asia.21

Japan is particularly worried about China. Over the past five years, Japan's thinking on China has shifted from a faith in the powers of economic interdependence to a reluctant realism, prompted by China's nuclear weapons tests in 1995, the Taiwan Strait crisis in 1996, and the dispute over the Senkaku (Diaoyutai) Islands. The Japanese government is concerned with China's deployment of over 200 short-range missiles across the strait from Taiwan, a force size projected to triple within five years.22 And, as mentioned, because of Beijing's concerns about a Japanese missile defense system, Tokyo has inferred that China targets Japan with nuclear weapons.

These developments have played against a backdrop of growing bilateral tensions with China over the treatment of wartime history and the future definition of the Asia-Pacific community. Japan still invests heavily in China and provides over $1 billion a year in concessional yen loans. Tokyo clearly wants improved relations with Beijing, if possible. But there is little question in Japan that the U.S. alliance and extended nuclear deterrent will be necessary for years to come to deal with lingering uncertainties about Chinese power and ambition.

Japan therefore faces a real bind. The popular sentiment in Japan is that the nation's status as the only victim of nuclear weapons should give some leverage and moral high ground to Japanese efforts in non-proliferation and arms control. But the reality is that this tragic history counts less in the eyes of China and the Koreas than the persecution those states suffered under Japan's wartime rule. In many respects, Japanese officials can be blind to this fact and are often surprised by the degree of suspicion created by Japanese policy on non-proliferation and nuclear issues.

This was certainly the case with Japan's approach to the NPT in the 1970s and the indefinite extension in 1995. During the negotiations over the indefinite extension in 1993, for example, the Miyazawa government dragged its feet on signing and forced other G-7 members to water down a June 1993 G-7 summit communiqué endorsing quick adoption of indefinite extension. This was not motivated by a desire for nuclear weapons so much as the aim of maintaining maximum diplomatic leverage on North Korea not to withdraw from the NPT and to resume compliance with IAEA inspections. It was also aimed at pushing the United States and the other nuclear-weapon states to reduce their arsenals in accordance with Article VI. Certainly, some Japanese wished to keep the nuclear option open, but Japan's strategy was more a matter of asserting diplomatic leverage. Nevertheless, this idealistic agenda was lost on many outside observers and Japan came under intense international criticism for dangerously hinting at its own nuclear option.

Suspicions About the Plutonium Program

Japan's single-minded focus on energy security also creates a drag on potential Japanese leadership in arms control and non-proliferation and raises suspicion in the region regarding the country's long-term intentions. Because Japan is using nuclear power technologies that most consider inefficient or dangerous, some countries fear that Japan's nuclear energy program might actually be the seed of a nuclear weapons program.

For example, Japan has been building a plant to reprocess the large amounts of surplus plutonium it has accumulated in spent fuel as part of its quest for greater energy independence and commensurate security. It is also currently developing a fast-breeder reactor—a reactor that produces more fissionable material than it consumes—to be fueled by mixed uranium-plutonium oxide (MOX). In the interim, Japan is fueling ordinary light-water reactors with MOX. The Japanese government argues that irradiating plutonium as MOX fuel in power reactors will reduce uranium consumption by 25 percent, thereby decreasing Japan's dependence on imported fuel and benefiting Japan's own energy security.23 The government also maintains that burning plutonium as MOX will reduce the vulnerability of the potentially weapons-usable material, currently contained in spent fuel that is stored in reservoirs.

However, neither of these assertions is accepted by other countries, which view MOX as both too expensive and too risky.24 Japan is also one of the few countries still planning to extract plutonium from spent fuel for civilian purposes. Critics charge that far from guaranteeing energy security and safety, MOX is actually creating new dangers because of the possibility of terrorist attack and diversion—both during sea transportation from reprocessing plants in Europe to Japan, as well as in Japan, once Japan's reprocessing plant becomes operational. In addition, most countries have already abandoned fast-breeder reactor programs, largely because of the technical difficulties they pose. Combining MOX with fast-breeder reactors, the path chosen by Japan, is considered by most to be the least desirable option for generating nuclear power.

Though the future of Japan's plutonium-reprocessing and MOX-fuel programs is uncertain at best—in particular because of the recent accident at the Tokaimura uranium processing plant—Japan's unconventional pursuit of nuclear power continues to raise questions in the region regarding its ultimate intentions.

Shifting U.S. Priorities

Meanwhile, the tension between Japan's reliance on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and its desire for a proactive arms control role has been further exacerbated by the general decline in U.S. political support for Cold War-era arms control agreements. Angered at the U.S. move on the CTBT, Japan dispatched Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Ichita Yamamoto to complain to his former Georgetown University professor, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. Tokyo was concerned that the Senate decision represented a deliberate move away from Article VI of the NPT and threatened to undermine Russian ratification of START II and future nuclear diplomacy with China. Worst of all, the Senate rejection of the CTBT widened the gap between the Japanese government's dual pledges to help maintain a robust extended U.S. nuclear deterrent and to work for total nuclear disarmament.

Japan has been more muted than Europe on the question of national missile defense (NMD), but leading Japanese figures have nevertheless voiced opposition. As Yoichi Funabashi wrote recently: "Japan must accept the hard reality that the current U.S. NMD debate warrants a serious domestic Japanese discussion of its implications for the U.S.-Japan alliance management process, as the United States could pursue a NMD policy that would be adverse to Japanese interests."25 Official Japan quietly worries that an early NMD deployment decision might increase pressure on Japan from China and Russia not to participate in the parallel TMD system, but it weighs this factor against the need to maintain alliance solidarity with the United States and to defend against the clear and present danger of North Korean—and ultimately Chinese and Russian—ballistic missiles. After all, TMD is NMD for Japan, and Tokyo cannot officially criticize U.S. NMD without undermining domestic support for its own program.

Institutional Weaknesses

Finally, Japan's nuclear non-proliferation policy is also constrained by institutional weakness, both domestic and international. The small Arms Control and Disarmament Division of MOFA, in cooperation with the Science and Nuclear Energy Division, mainly handles these issues, but its expertise is limited. Moreover, MOFA suffers from poor interagency coordination on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation with the JDA, the Science and Technology Agency, the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, and even MOFA's own North American Affairs Bureau. The larger arms control community is also shallow in expertise. Even at the university level, education focuses exclusively on anti-nuclear or total disarmament, with almost no courses on arms control. The lack of Japanese arms control professionals undermines the degree to which MOFA's small staff can call on outside help or expertise.


New Directions in Policy?

Given the desire for a more assertive voice in international affairs and the constraints listed above, where might Japan push for new initiatives in international arms control and non-proliferation or in its own nuclear-related strategy? The Scylla and Charybdis of desires for denuclearization on the one hand and dependence on extended deterrence on the other do not leave Japan much room. But the internal pressure for independent credibility on non-proliferation matters is building nonetheless.

One area to watch is Japan's approach to "no first use" (NFU). The United States maintains its policy of not renouncing the first use of nuclear weapons in order to deter other WMD or conventional aggression against it or its allies in Europe and Asia. Experts in Tokyo recognize that an official Japanese call for a U.S. policy of no first use would therefore have to be taken seriously in Washington. For those advocating a more assertive Japanese non-proliferation and arms control posture, NFU appears to offer leverage that could be used to force U.S. and even Chinese moves toward greater arms control (since Beijing has argued that the United States should drop first use).

The orthodox managers of the alliance in Tokyo are vociferously opposed to NFU, fearing that it would degrade the extended deterrent on which Japan relies. For example, in the spring of 1994, Ambassador Robert Gallucci was making a list of potential negotiating concessions with North Korea and urged that Washington drop all threats of first use once North Korea was in compliance with the NPT. However, as Leon Sigal has written, "When Gallucci broached the subject during a visit to Tokyo in March, Shunji Yanai, director of politico-military affairs in the Foreign Office, objected strenuously on the grounds that it punched a hole in the American nuclear umbrella."26

This MOFA battle over NFU replayed itself in the July 1999 Tokyo Forum. Before the opening of the final conference, Harvard Professor Joseph Nye proposed that the forum recommend universal adoption of a policy of no first use of weapons of mass destruction in the final report—as opposed to simply no first use of nuclear weapons.27 With this proposal, Nye meant to leave open the option of first use of nuclear weapons in retaliation to attacks with biological and chemical weapons. Japanese staff members, on loan from the Foreign Ministry, were at a loss as to what to do with this proposal because it would have compromised the Japanese official line formalized earlier that year by then-Foreign Minister Masahiko Komura. Specifically, Komura had stated, "Japan will secure safety by the deterrent capabilities of the U.S.-Japan security treaty. The Japanese government does not intend to endorse immediately no first use of nuclear weapons."28

Of course, because the Tokyo Forum is not a governmental organization, its recommendation does not necessarily reflect the official line of the Japanese government. Even so, the government considered suggestion of no first use of weapons of mass destruction undesirable because such a final recommendation could create momentum to oppose Japan's official policy, thus weakening the U.S. nuclear umbrella over Japan.

Eventually, the Nye proposal was dropped. But the issue of no first use of nuclear weapons has since been championed by a number of nongovernmental security experts in Japan and could find new life if the Liberal Democratic Party falls out of power or is replaced by the Democratic Party of Japan, which adopted a platform this spring in support of nuclear NFU.29 Already leading scholars in two Japanese study groups on nuclear arms control are debating the advantage of nuclear NFU.30

With changes in Japan's increasingly volatile, though centrist, politics, a new government might overrule the bureaucracy and press the United States to adopt a no-first-use policy in order to jump-start nuclear arms control talks with China and Russia. MOFA has no intention of doing so, but rumblings are increasing in academic and political circles that Japan should take more control of its nuclear arms control policy.31 This trend will become more dominant if U.S. unilateralism continues or if the nuclear-weapon states fail to move toward implementing Article VI of the NPT.

Some might be tempted to dismiss the dangers even if Japan does diverge from the United States on an issue like NFU. Certainly, Japan's options for independent nuclear arms control strategy are limited by the contradictions and impediments discussed earlier. However, if Tokyo did openly break with the United States over NFU, a host of problems would emerge. First, regional confidence in the credibility of the extended U.S. deterrent and Japan's own self-restraint on nuclear weapons might come into question. Second, the atmosphere for overall U.S.-Japan security cooperation would be poisoned, pushing Japan in unilateral directions in other security areas that might undermine U.S. interests. Finally, joint U.S. and Japanese leverage on other nuclear-weapon and potential nuclear-weapon states would be significantly undermined.

It is possible that the United States might move on its own to a variation of NFU in the future (beyond the negative security assurances it has already issued). But whatever U.S. doctrine emerges on extended deterrence, it should reflect a careful dialogue between the United States and Japan and not a tug-of-war between Tokyo and Washington that undermines the credibility of the alliance vis-à-vis allies and potential adversaries in East Asia.



To date, the growing Japanese assertiveness on nuclear disarmament issues has not undermined U.S.-Japan security relations. Nevertheless, it is critical that U.S. policy treat Japan as an independent player that has other options (albeit bad options) for both nuclear strategy and nuclear arms control policy. At the same time, the United States can and should support Japanese diplomacy when it strengthens international regimes. Indeed, the United States should be actively building a partnership with Tokyo to encourage such a role for Japan.

In March, U.S. Senior Adviser on Arms Control and International Security John Holum and MOFA Director-General for Arms Control and Scientific Affairs Norio Hattori announced the establishment of the new U.S.-Japan Commission on Arms Control, Disarmament, Non-Proliferation and Verification. This commission will take what was an ad hoc style of policy coordination between Tokyo and Washington on these issues and raise it to the status and institutionalization of consultations like those held with NATO allies. This is an important first step. Of course, the work of shoring-up Japanese confidence in the U.S. nuclear umbrella and building a better bilateral agenda for arms control and non-proliferation should go well beyond the arms control community itself. In addition to the activities of the new commission, the United States should:

• Elevate U.S.-Japan coordination and dialogue on the interoperability and strategic implications of TMD, including the ramifications of a Taiwanese TMD. Current collaboration focuses almost entirely on joint technical cooperation.

• Strengthen U.S.-Japan information exchange and coordination in support of Russian denuclearization. Leading up to the July G-8 summit, Japan had been calling for G-8 financial support to dispose of surplus plutonium from Russian decommissioned nuclear weapons, which will cost about $2 billion.32 Washington should strongly encourage Japan's initiative in this arena.

• Deepen coordination of U.S. dialogue with China on arms control issues so that Japan's concerns are met and so that there are no surprises in either U.S. or Japanese diplomacy with Beijing on issues of mutual interest, such as TMD and NFU.

• Take opportunities to reassure Tokyo that the U.S. nuclear umbrella is intact and that U.S. forces will remain in Japan. The United States should also hold regular updates of its nuclear strategy and views of extended deterrence in the formal U.S.-Japan Security Consultative Committee, possibly paralleled by a Track II or working-level discussion of the role of extended deterrence in the current East Asian security environment (including issues like NFU).

• Coordinate with Japan on implementation of the Agreed Framework with North Korea (for which Japan is providing about $1 billion in funding) and continue trilateral coordination with Seoul and Tokyo on negotiations with Pyongyang.

• Improve U.S. planning and coordination for a Japanese role in non-proliferation policy toward South Asia, including joint U.S.-Japan Track II diplomacy.

The Japanese elite is striving harder than ever to strike the best balance between its own idealism and a realism about national security interests. As Japan raises its head, the United States should be there to support a more proactive and responsible security policy in Japan. It is imperative that the United States actively support Japanese diplomatic initiatives that serve broad U.S. strategic interests. A strong and active Japan should be considered central to U.S. strategy. Policy coordination on nuclear non-proliferation and arms control should serve as a centerpiece for a larger global partnership that encourages Japan to utilize all of its diplomatic tools to prevent the spread of weapons of mass destruction that threaten both states.


The authors would like to thank Ogawa Shinichi of the National Institute for Defense Studies (Japan) and Benjamin Self of the Henry L. Stimson Center for their comments on an earlier draft of this article.

1. "Sato Hinted at Japan Nuclear Option in '65," Japan Times, May 25, 1998.

2. "Hikaku 3 Gensoku ha Nansensu" (The Three Non-Nuclear Principles Are Nonsense), Kyodo Washington D.C., June 10, 2000.

3. Interview with Royama Michio, Asahi Shimbun, November 13, 1994.

4. "Hikaku Power: Haibokushugi Tsuranuki Ginen Harae" (Non-Nuclear Power: Sustain 'Defeatism' and Expel Skepticism of Other Countries), Asahi Shimbun, August 4, 1999.

5. John E. Endicott, commentary on Morton H. Halperin's, "The Nuclear Dimension of the U.S.-Japan Alliance," presented to the Nautilus Institute, July 9, 1999.

6. Morton H. Halperin, "The Nuclear Dimension of the U.S.-Japan Alliance," presented to the Nautilus Institute, July 9, 1999.

7. Heisei 11 nendo Boei Hakusho (Defense of Japan '99), Japan Defense Agency, 1999, p. 138.

8. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Challenge 21: Japan's Foreign Policy Toward the 21st Century, January 4, 2000.

9. Japan's Goals in the 21st Century: The Frontier Within: Individual Empowerment and Better Governance in the New Millennium, January 2000, Chapter 6, p. 12.

10. Yoichi Funabashi, "Tokyo's Depression Diplomacy," Foreign Affairs, November/December 1998, p. 35.

11. Statement by Foreign Minister Ikeda Yukihiko at the Seminar on Nuclear Disarmament after the Indefinite Extension of the NPT, December 2, 1996, Kyoto, Japan.

12. Ibid.

13. "Ajia Hikakuka he Shitaji" (Paving a Way for Denuclearization in Asia), Asahi Shimbun, August 11, 1999.

14. Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Arms Control and Disarmament Division, Japanese Cooperation for the Dismantling Nuclear Weapons in the former Soviet Union, OUTLINE, February 1, 2000.

15. Ibid.

16. The Democratic Party of Japan, Nuclear Policy, April 18, 2000.

17. Interview with senior MOFA official, Washington, D.C., June 19, 2000.

18. Interview with U.S. official, Washington, D.C., July 23, 1998.

19. NPT/CONF.2000/WP.1 (NPT conference document), April 24, 2000, and interviews with senior U.S. and Japanese officials.

20. See, for example, "NPT Taisei Ayausa mo Rotei" (NPT Regime Exposes Its Fragility), Yomiuri Shimbun, May 22, 2000.

21. "More Japanese See Danger of War, Support Alliance With U.S.," Japan Digest, May 16, 2000.

22. Bates Gill and Michael O'Hanlon, "China's Hollow Military," The National Interest, Summer 1999, p. 60.

23. "Japanese Nuclear Game," The Economist, October 9, 1999, p. 101.

24. David Albright, et al., Plutonium and Highly Enriched Uranium 1996 (New York: Oxford University Press), 1997, pp. 24-25.

25. Yoichi Funabashi, "Tokyo's Temperance," The Washington Quarterly, Summer 2000, p. 135.

26. Leon V. Sigal, Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy With North Korea (Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press), 1998, p. 112.

27. Interview with Joseph S. Nye, February 25, 2000.

28. Cited in "Kaku Haizetsu no Michi he Seisaku Susumeru Toki" (Now is the Time to Promote Policy of Total Abolition of Nuclear Weapons), Asahi Shimbun, August 4, 1999.

29. "Minshu ga Kaku Seisakuan" (Democratic Party Announces Its Nuclear Policy), Asahi Shimbun, April 14, 2000.

30. The Tokyo Foundation Study Group on U.S.-Japan Alliance and Nuclear Disarmament, and a group organized by the National Institute for Research Advancement.

31. See, for example, the policy recommendation by the Japan Forum on International Relations, Inc., "Examining Together with the U.S. the Feasibility of a No-First-Use Declaration on Nuclear Weapons" in Japan's Initiatives towards US, China and Russia, April 19, 1999.

32. Asahi Shimbun, June 29, 2000.

Michael J. Green is senior fellow for Asian security at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, D.C., and Katsuhisa Furukawa is a research associate for Asian security at the Council on Foreign Relations.

New Ambitions, Old Obstacles: Japan and Its Search For an Arms Control Strategy

Russian Duma Approves Test Ban Treaty

May 2000

By Philipp C. Bleek

A week after approving START II and only days before the opening of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review conference, the Russian Duma approved the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) by an overwhelming majority. Once it formally ratifies the treaty, Russia will become the third nuclear-weapon state, after France and Britain, to join the test ban. The U.S. Senate rejected the treaty last October, and China has submitted the test ban to the National People's Congress but has not indicated when it might approve the accord.

In a statement on the day of the April 21 vote, Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov praised the Duma for taking a "very important first step…in the interests of Russian security and…international stability." The Russian lower house of parliament approved the test ban by a vote of 298-74, with three abstentions. In a necessary but largely symbolic step in the ratification process, the Federation Council, Russia's upper house of parliament, is likely to vote on and approve the CTBT in the coming weeks. President Vladimir Putin is expected to formally ratify the treaty shortly thereafter.

President Bill Clinton said that he was "pleased" that the Duma had approved the treaty. Administration spokesman Joe Lockhart called the vote "an important step," adding, "We hope that as time goes on…our Senate will follow the lead of many other countries around the world and ratify an important treaty."

Completion of negotiations on a comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty by 1996 was one of the conditions, formalized in a "principles and objectives" document, for indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995. The test ban is seen by the non-nuclear-weapon states as a litmus test of the nuclear-weapon states' commitment to eventual nuclear disarmament. The Duma's approval of the CTBT, together with Russia's recent ratification of START II, is likely to deflect criticism of Russia at the NPT review conference, being held in New York April 24-May 19, for the nuclear-weapon states' lack of disarmament progress.

Criticism of the United States for its failure to ratify the test ban last fall resurfaced in the first week of the NPT review conference. Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy echoed the concerns of many diplomats in his April 25 opening statement to the conference when he expressed anxiety about a U.S. "drift towards unilateral options," and called the Senate's rejection of the CTBT "a significant step backwards."

Since being opened for signature on September 24, 1996, the CTBT has been signed by 155 countries and ratified by 56. Of the 44 nuclear-capable states that must sign and ratify the treaty before it can enter into force, 41 have signed and 28 have ratified the treaty. The three signatory hold-outs are India, North Korea, and Pakistan.

The treaty's newest state-party is Morocco, which formally ratified the test ban April 17. On April 27 at the NPT conference, Belarus announced its parliament had approved the CTBT, but the instruments of ratification have yet to be deposited with the United Nations. The Chilean Congress approved the CTBT on April 5, and according to press reports, the Chilean government plans to file its ratification document with the UN soon. Belarus and Chile are two of the 44 states whose ratification is required for the CTBT to enter into force.

Russian Duma Approves Test Ban Treaty

Administration Launches CTBT Effort

April 2000

On March 13, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and retired General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, formally launched the Clinton administration's renewed push for U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Shalikashvili's appointment to head the administration's task force on the test ban was announced in late January. (See ACT, January/February 2000.)

Shalikashvili will serve as special adviser to the president and the secretary of state on the test ban. According to Albright, Shalikashvili "will meet with senators and others to hear their concerns and suggestions, help clear up misconceptions about the treaty, and recommend steps the administration might take to gain a favorable Senate vote." He will be supported by former Ambassador James Goodby and by John Holum, senior adviser for arms control and international security.

At the State Department press briefing announcing the new effort, Shalikashvili emphasized that the administration was not planning to resubmit the treaty during the remainder of President Clinton's term. According to Shalikashvili, the current effort is an attempt to "lay the groundwork for eventual ratification" of the treaty and to reassure other signatories about U.S. intentions regarding the treaty.

For example, China, which was sharply critical of the U.S. Senate's rejection of the treaty, is not expected to ratify the CTBT before the United States does. China reportedly submitted the CTBT to the National People's Congress for approval prior to the legislature's first full annual meeting on March 5, but there have been no indications that the body has acted on the treaty to date.

The CTBT has continued to pick up ratifications. Bangladesh ratified the treaty March 8, shortly before Clinton's visit to South Asia, and Macedonia ratified the treaty March 14. Lithuania and Turkey have also ratified the treaty in recent months. The CTBT has now been signed by 155 countries and ratified by 55. Of the 44 states required to ratify the treaty before it can enter into force, 28 have done so.

Administration Launches CTBT Effort

CD Ends First Part of 2000 Session

April 2000

The UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) concluded the first part of its 2000 negotiating session March 23 without a work program agreement, thereby preventing any negotiations from starting. Germany, on behalf of 22 members, including the United States, tried to break the CD deadlock with a work program proposal on the final day, but failed.

The 66-member conference, which operates by consensus, has not conducted any substantive negotiations since completing the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and has not agreed on a work program for two of the last three years. The current impediment to a work program agreement is a dispute between the United States and China over negotiating priorities. Beijing wants formal negotiations on the prevention of an arms race in outer space, while Washington wants to renew negotiations, agreed to in both 1995 and 1998, on a fissile material cutoff treaty.

The German proposal called for establishing ad hoc committees—the CD subsidiary body for negotiations—on a cutoff treaty and negative security assurances, as well as for appointing special coordinators to head consultations on anti-personnel landmines, transparency in armaments, review of the conference agenda, expansion of CD membership, and improvement of the conference's functioning. On nuclear disarmament and outer space, Germany proposed continuing talks to agree on the appropriate way to deal with these issues. Though countries in addition to the 22 associated with the statement voiced support for the German proposal, it failed to elicit the necessary consensus for action. The conference will start the second of three parts of its 2000 negotiating session May 22.

CD Ends First Part of 2000 Session

U.S., Japan Establish Arms Control Working Group

April 2000

The United States and Japan recently announced a joint working group on a wide range of issues related to non-proliferation and arms control. In a joint statement released in Tokyo March 8, John Holum, senior adviser for arms control and international security, and Norio Hattori, director-general for arms control and scientific affairs at the Japanese Foreign Ministry, announced the creation of the U.S.-Japan Commission on Arms Control, Disarmament, Nonproliferation and Verification.

The commission will meet every six months to discuss progress toward and offer direction on a wide range of non-proliferation goals, including strengthening the non-proliferation regime, encouraging early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), establishing a verification protocol for the Biological Weapons Convention, and generating movement toward negotiation of a fissile material cutoff treaty in the UN Conference on Disarmament. Immediate priorities include the CTBT and ensuring the success of the upcoming nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference.

The commission intends to capitalize on shared interests between the United States and Japan to move beyond consultation on non-proliferation issues to actual cooperation. While there will not be permanent commissioners, each government will commit officials with appropriate expertise to each cooperative enterprise.

The first act of the commission, which first met in early March, was to establish the Technology Cooperation Working Group, which will focus on the use of technology for arms control verification. The working group's first project will be to improve the CTBT's International Monitoring System. Detailed work plans are set to be completed mid-April, when funding and implementation schedules will be discussed. The next meeting of the full commission has not yet been scheduled.

U.S., Japan Establish Arms Control Working Group

Shalikashvili to Lead Administration Test Ban Effort

January/February 2000

Following the State of the Union address, in which President Clinton called for "a constructive bipartisan dialogue to work to build a consensus which...will eventually lead to the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," Secretary of State Madeleine Albright announced January 28 that retired General John Shalikashvili, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, will spearhead administration efforts to build domestic support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Shalikashvili will work with key senators to address concerns regarding the CTBT and will also make recommendations directly to the president and the secretary of state. An administration-appointed task force, whose creation was announced November 10 but whose composition and objectives still remain unclear, will support Shalikashvili's efforts.

In a January 28 briefing, State Department spokesman James Rubin said that President Clinton would not seek Senate ratification before the end of his term but that the administration hoped Shalikashvili's appointment would lay the foundation for Senate approval "in the near future." Rubin explained, "We think pursuing this effort is important for its own sake to develop support for ratification. An additional benefit we see is that other countries hopefully will regard this effort as a signal that the United States does intend eventually to ratify the CTBT...."

Shalikashvili to Lead Administration Test Ban Effort

What Went Wrong: Repairing Damage to the CTBT

The game of politics rarely produces clear winners or even final results. In the case of the Senate's 51-48 rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on October 13, 1999, both proponents and opponents lost, and national and international security were damaged. The highly partisan debate and vote placed the United States in a state of test ban policy limbo that is detrimental to U.S. security.

By rejecting the CTBT, the Senate deprived the United States of the moral and legal authority to encourage other nations not to conduct nuclear test explosions, and it denied the United States the benefits of the treaty's extensive nuclear test monitoring and on-site inspection provisions. It has increased the likelihood of a fractious NPT review conference this April, and it has multiplied the damage that could be done by a U.S. decision to deploy a limited national missile defense. The Senate vote has also put Russia and China on guard and has shaken U.S. allies' confidence in the United States' ability to deliver on its arms control commitments.

Though it is highly unlikely that the Senate will formally reconsider the CTBT in 2000, the debate over U.S. nuclear testing policy and the CTBT is far from over. The failure of the Senate to approve the CTBT is a severe blow that sets back-but does not kill-efforts to secure U.S. ratification and the other 15 ratifications necessary for global entry into force of the treaty. As Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) wrote in a press release immediately following the vote: "Treaties never die, even when defeated and returned to the Executive Calendar of the Senate. Therefore, we will have another chance to debate the CTBT."

In the coming months, the Senate will continue to examine and "debate" the CTBT and related policies, and in doing so will shape the context in which the treaty will be considered in the future. Staunch CTBT opponents can be expected to try to compound the effect of rejecting CTBT ratification in a number of ways: by attempting to eliminate U.S. funding for the CTBT's international monitoring system; by disputing the legal basis of the United States' commitment as a signatory to the CTBT not to conduct nuclear test explosions; and by building their case for the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing. If such attacks on the test ban regime go unchecked, the chances for U.S. ratification and global entry into force will become more remote.

If the CTBT is to enter into force within the next few years, the president and treaty proponents must carefully examine the course of events leading to the 1999 Senate vote and adjust their approach, actively engage senators in an ongoing exchange of views on the CTBT, and reinforce the existing international norm against testing.

The Run-up to the Vote

The record of the CTBT in the Senate from 1997 to October 1999 suggests that the October 13 vote was not simply "about the substance of the treaty," as Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS) claimed in a press conference afterward. It was much more. The "no" vote was the consequence of the political miscalculations of treaty proponents; the failure of many senators to understand core issues; the deep, partisan divisions in the nation's capital; and the president's failure to organize a strong, focused and sustained campaign for what he called "the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in nuclear arms control."

When the president submitted the CTBT to the Senate, treaty opponents initially pursued a blocking strategy. In January 1998, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) wrote the president, announcing that he would not hold hearings on the CTBT "until the administration has submitted the ABM protocols and the Kyoto global-warming treaty." The delaying strategy stifled debate on the treaty and led many proponents and opponents to postpone preparations for the CTBT debate because they believed that the Republican Senate leadership would not agree to schedule time for debate and a vote.

In the early weeks of 1998, the Clinton administration made repeated statements supporting the CTBT and urging timely Senate consideration of the treaty. The administration also secured valuable support for the treaty from four former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nuclear weapons laboratory directors and the members of NATO, but it failed to build upon the strong base of expert and public support for the CTBT and take the case for the treaty directly to the Senate.

In January 1998, National Security Advisor Sandy Berger called the CTBT "one of the president's top priorities," but in truth the administration had other concerns to which it gave precedence. Domestically, the White House was keen to pursue several policy objectives in the run-up to the midterm elections, and Helms' "hostage-taking" strategy had raised the political cost of pushing for the CTBT.<1>

For its part, the administration's national security team was preoccupied with securing Senate approval for NATO expansion. Instead of appointing a coordinator to build CTBT support, national security officials relied upon the possibility that Russia would ratify START II, thus enabling them to send the ABM and START II protocols to the Senate for consideration and breaking Helms' stranglehold on the CTBT. But the Duma did not ratify START II, and other crises emerged. Through the first half of 1999, the CTBT remained on the political back-burner as the Clinton administration and the Congress were immobilized by the impeachment hearings and trial and, soon after, by NATO's airwar against Yugoslavia and charges of espionage at the nation's nuclear weapons laboratories.

Following the end of hostilities in the Balkans in the late spring of 1999, Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and pro-treaty non-governmental organizations (NGOs) redoubled efforts to raise attention to the plight of the treaty and to press the Senate leadership to begin the process of considering the treaty. On July 20, a bipartisan group of nine senators held a press briefing, citing overwhelming public support for the treaty and calling for prompt Senate action. That same day, all 45 Democratic senators wrote to Senate Majority Leader Lott, asking for "all necessary hearings...to report the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for timely consideration before the [Article XIV] CTBT inaugural conference." In a separate letter, Republican Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Jim Jeffords (R-VT) also urged the Senate leadership to begin the process of CTBT consideration.

As he had done for nearly two years, Helms rebuffed his Senate colleagues, sarcastically writing to Senator Dorgan, "Inasmuch as you are clearly concerned about the need for swift Senate action on treaties, perhaps I can enlist your support in respectfully suggesting that you write to the President urging that he submit the ABM Protocols and the Kyoto Protocol to the Senate? I will be very interested in any response you receive from him." The Raleigh (NC) News & Observer characterized Helms' letter as a "playful response to supporters of the treaty [that] underscores his failure to take any of those concerns seriously. That's a very unbecoming and dangerous attitude to have toward the serious problem of nuclear proliferation."<2> The exchange simply reinforced attitudes on both sides.

Non-governmental CTBT advocates accelerated their public education and Senate lobbying efforts. They encouraged concerned citizens to call their senators about the treaty, pushed newspapers to editorialize on the topic,<3> and collected support from former military and government officials, independent nuclear weapons scientists and hundreds of public interest organizations.<4>

By late August, news reports suggested that the White House and Senate Democrats were preparing for a pitched battle and were threatening to bring the Senate to a standstill unless Republicans agreed to hold hearings on the CTBT in 1999.<5> The renewed effort by CTBT proponents to jump-start Senate consideration of the treaty appeared to be all the more credible to CTBT opponents because of the appearance of White House-led coordination. But in reality, most in the Clinton administration remained dubious about the prospect of real action on the treaty, and little more was done to build support.

Through August and September, treaty opponents responded by accelerating preparations for a possible vote on final passage. In consultation with Senator Lott, Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and former Secretary of Defense and Energy James Schlesinger stepped up their lobbying efforts, which were aimed at uncommitted Republican senators. In addition, a number of prominent former national security officials were called upon to voice their opposition. At the same time, Lott continued to try to prevent the scheduling of a vote. He told Dorgan and other Senate treaty supporters that he would speak with Senator Helms about allowing hearings, but that "this is a dangerous time to rush to judgment on such an important issue.... If it is called up preemptively, without appropriate consideration and thought, it could be defeated."<6> Lott would soon propose a schedule that allowed less than five working days for consideration of the treaty.

In late-September, without information about the opposition's quiet lobbying effort, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), along with other leading Senate CTBT proponents and the White House, decided to try to advance the issue by introducing a non-binding Senate resolution that called for beginning the process to consider the CTBT and scheduling a vote on the treaty by March 31, 2000. The plan to press for the resolution, which was never introduced, was agreed to at a meeting between Berger and the Senate Democratic leadership on the evening of September 22. At the meeting, participants weighed the possibility that Senator Lott might try to schedule a vote on the treaty at short notice, but they considered the possibility low and decided to press forward.

On September 29, having been informed of the Democrats' intention to introduce their resolution, Senator Helms and Senator Lott abandoned their blocking strategy and proposed a vote on final passage of the treaty by October 7. Lott calculated that the Democrats might not agree to his terms for a truncated debate, and that even if they did, he could assemble the votes need to block ratification. According to Senator Kyl, 34 senators had been persuaded to vote against ratification by September 14.<7>

Indeed, Lott's initial proposal for 10 hours of debate on the treaty with only six days notice was not accepted by the Democratic leadership. Some Senate supporters, the White House and the NGO community criticized the offer, calling it a "rush to judgment" because it did not provide sufficient time for hearings and a thorough and informed debate. In consultation with the White House, Senate Democratic leaders negotiated for more time and a more thorough series of hearings. But on the afternoon of Friday, October 1, they decided to accept Senator Lott's final "take it or leave it" counteroffer for a vote as soon as October 12.

The decision to accept the offer was motivated, in part, by the belief that the effect of continued inaction on the treaty could be as severe as outright defeat. It was very likely that if a vote were not scheduled before the end of 1999-and therefore before the 2000 election season-the treaty would not come before the Foreign Relations Committee and the Senate until the middle of 2001 or later. As Senator Biden said on October 2, "The question is: If you are going to die, do you want to die with no one knowing who shot you, or do you want to go at least with the world knowing who killed you?"<8>

With the final vote on the CTBT just days away, President Clinton, the secretary of state and the secretary of defense finally launched a high-profile, high-powered effort to win Senate support for the treaty. The White House highlighted the fact that the treaty enjoyed the overwhelming support of America's senior military leadership, its leading weapons scientists and its seismological experts. The president met with several undecided senators at the White House, while Secretary of Defense William Cohen and Secretary of State Madeleine Albright also engaged in efforts to lobby undecided senators and communicate the importance of ratification of the treaty in the news media.

Treaty supporters had recognized from the beginning of their campaign that they would need the support of several influential "internationalist" Republicans to win over the large block of undecided votes. But over the course of 1998 and 1999 proponents made little headway, as most senators ignored the issue, and by late September 1999, with treaty opponents already working the hallways, a late effort from the White House and too little time for a thorough exchange of views, it was already too late.

Before the administration's CTBT effort moved into high gear during the week of October 4 and before the conclusion of hearings on the treaty on October 7, most of the senators needed to secure the requisite two-thirds approval had committed to vote "no." By the end of the first day of Senate floor debate (October 8), the most crucial senators-John Warner (R-VA), Pete Domenici (R- NM), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Chuck Hagel (R-NE)-as well as other Republican moderates, had declared their intention to vote against the treaty.

But many Republicans were clearly disturbed by the politically charged nature of the debate and frustrated with the situation presented to them by the leadership. As Senator Hagel observed on the opening morning of the Senate floor debate: "We are trapped in a political swamp as we attempt to compress a very important debate on a very important issue. My goodness, is that any way to responsibly deal with what may, in fact, be the most critical and important vote any of us in this chamber ever make? It is not." Even as he outlined his reasons for voting against the treaty, an anguished Senator Lugar acknowledged that "under the current agreement, a process that normally would take many months has been reduced to a few days. Many senators know little about this treaty. Even for those of us on national security committees, this has been an issue floating on the periphery of our concerns."

Sorting Fact From Fiction

A lack of familiarity with the subject and the short time allowed for debate made the ratification process vulnerable to the dubious claims of a small but powerful nucleus of treaty opponents-claims that were legitimized by their association with prominent former national security officials, most of whom had not been involved in government since the end of the Cold War or the 1992 nuclear test moratorium.<9> Hampered by the short 12-day schedule, treaty proponents were unable to effectively counter the decades-old arguments against the treaty and a few new questions and falsehoods that treaty opponents presented. The result was that many senators who voted "no" based their judgments on erroneous assumptions and distorted representations of the role and purpose of nuclear weapons test explosions; what constitutes an effective stockpile stewardship program; and whether other states can gain militarily significant advantages relative to the United States under the CTBT regime.

One incorrect assertion advanced by Senator Lott and other treaty opponents was that "testing is required to find problems [in nuclear warheads] and to assess the adequacy of the fixes that are implemented." Citing an outdated 1987 Lawrence Livermore report,<10> Lott, Kyl and others claimed that "one-third of all the weapon designs introduced into the stockpile since 1958 have required and received post-deployment nuclear tests to resolve problems related to deterioration or aging or to correct a design that is found not to work properly under various conditions. In three-fourths of these cases, the problems were discovered only because of the ongoing nuclear testing."

Nuclear test explosions are actually a very poor way to detect defects in warheads arising from age-induced changes in nuclear-weapons components and materials. A nuclear test explosion cannot be used directly or indirectly to "detect" age-related flaws in warhead components or materials. Those findings have always been made through an extensive stockpile surveillance, disassembly, and component inspection program based on valid statistical random sampling techniques.

The most recent assessment on the subject, a 1996 tri-lab study of the stockpile surveillance program, reveals that of some 830 specific findings of defects in stockpile weapons from 1958 to 1993, less than 1 percent were "discovered" in nuclear tests, and all but one of these tests involved weapons that entered the stockpile before 1970 and have since been removed. Only one out of 387 tests-or 0.25 percent of the nuclear test explosions conducted since 1970-actually served to "detect" an age-related flaw in a nuclear weapon.<11>

Another misleading assertion put forward by Senator Kyl was that "the CTBT eliminates the possibility of improving the safety of current weapons through the incorporation of existing, well-understood safety features." Kyl implied that the arsenal is not safe and that nuclear test explosions are needed to make nuclear warheads even safer than they are today. But in reality, the current arsenal is "safe" in that it meets modern "one-point" safety standards against accidental nuclear detonation, and the benefits of marginal safety improvements have not been proven to outweigh the costs. In agreeing to the extension of the original nine-month test moratorium established by the 1992 Hatfield-Exon-Mitchell Amendment, the Joint Chiefs of Staff reviewed the option of conducting an additional 15 tests over four years in order to increase plutonium-dispersal safety in 400 W-88 warheads and incorporate fire-resistant pits in two other weapon types. These upgrades were rejected by the Department of Defense, the Navy and the Air Force as inefficient investments, particularly because post-Cold War changes in storage and alert procedures had reduced the likelihood of the very scenarios the proposed upgrades were designed to address.

In addition, many warhead parts relevant to safety or use control (such as detonators, fusing and arming systems and permissive action links) can be improved without modifying the nuclear explosive package design. If greater safety margins are deemed necessary, substandard weapons can be retired, safety improvements that do not involve major changes to the nuclear explosive package can be implemented and/or operational procedures can be adjusted to minimize the exposure to potential accident environments of those weapons with the greater plutonium dispersal risk.

Several treaty opponents seized on the October 7 testimony delivered by the lab directors, which implied that because the program will not be fully completed "until the middle of the next decade," confidence in the success of the program cannot be guaranteed. Without such a guarantee, concluded some senators, the United States must be able to resume a limited program of nuclear explosive testing. This assertion, however, incorrectly assumes that absolute guarantees against possible nuclear weapons safety or reliability problems are necessary to maintain the credibility of the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

As the three nuclear weapons laboratory directors clarified in a letter the day after their testimony, "While there can never be a guarantee that the stockpile will remain safe and reliable indefinitely without nuclear testing, we...are confident that a fully supported and sustained stockpile stewardship program will enable us to continue to maintain America's nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing." If that turns out not to be the case, the laboratory directors noted, "Safeguard F-which is a condition for entry into the Test Ban Treaty by the U.S.-provides for the President, in consultation with the Congress, to withdraw from the Treaty under the standard 'supreme national interest' clause in order to conduct whatever testing might be required."

The assessment of the laboratory directors that the arsenal is safe and reliable and can be maintained without nuclear testing has been repeatedly confirmed. As early as 1995, a report by the JASON division, a group of senior nuclear weapons laboratory experts, concluded that "nuclear warhead device problems which occurred in the past...have been corrected and that weapon types in the enduring stockpile are safe and reliable." The report, which informed the president's decision to pursue a "zero-yield" test ban, examined the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons stockpile and whether continued nuclear testing at various yields would add to "stockpile confidence." It concluded that the United States' abilities to maintain its nuclear arsenal without underground testing "are consistent with U.S. agreement to enter into a CTBT of unending duration."<12> These conclusions were reinforced by a Department of Energy review of the stockpile stewardship program released in December 1999, which found that "the program is working today, as evidenced by three [annual nuclear weapons] certification cycles, and is structured to sustain this success long into the future."<13>

Thus, the elements most helpful to maintaining the existing U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile are already in place. As Richard Garwin testified before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, all warhead types in the U.S. nuclear arsenal have been thoroughly proven. To maintain high confidence in nuclear weapons performance, limited-life components in the weapons can be replaced at appropriate intervals, and a representative sample of the arsenal is inspected annually to check for signs of deterioration. When potential problems are detected, they can be repaired, replaced or, in the case of the warhead primary, remanufactured to the previous explosion-proven specifications. Garwin told the committee on October 7, "If they are remanufactured to the same specifications as they were initially produced, they will be as good as the day they were first made. This can be done any number of times, and is the basis for my confidence in the future stockpile."

A far greater risk to future stockpile confidence could result from the changes in the design or processes by which untestable items are fabricated. Such changes may result if a decision is made to introduce significantly modified warheads or new warhead types into the arsenal-an objective being pursued by the weapons laboratories and supported by some test ban opponents.<14>

The Senate's uncertainty about maintaining the nuclear arsenal in the absence of nuclear testing is due, in part, to the laboratory directors' emphasis on the importance of continued funding for uncompleted, cutting-edge stockpile stewardship projects like the National Ignition Facility and the Accelerated Strategic Computing Initiative, which will allow "virtual testing" of nuclear warheads and allow weapons scientists to experiment with advanced design concepts. This emphasis is due, in part, to the impulse of the nuclear weapons laboratories to emphasize the challenges the program faces in order to maximize their annual congressional budget appropriations. In the future, the White House, the Department of Energy and the nuclear weapons laboratories should make clear that the new three-dimensional nuclear explosion simulation capability that is a goal of the program can be useful, but is not essential for maintenance of a reliable U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile. The job of maintaining the arsenal without testing can continue to be achieved without nuclear explosive tests primarily through existing stockpile surveillance and remanufacturing facilities and processes.

In his October 7 testimony to the Senate Armed Services Committee, Paul Robinson, director of the Sandia National Laboratory, presented another misleading argument cited by opponents of the CTBT. Robinson testified that "nuclear testing in the subkiloton range could have utility for certain types of nuclear designs. However, it is very unlikely that the threshold for detection and yield measurement...will ever reach the level to identify these yields as nuclear tests...." However, this argument misses the point on verification and implies that low-yield tests are militarily significant. The key to effective verification is that a potential violator must believe that the risk of getting caught is greater than the benefit of the violation. Conversely, the verifier must be convinced that the security benefits of identifying (and thus deterring) tests of substantial yield exceeds the military threat posed by any small test that might escape detection. The combined capabilities of the CTBT's International Monitoring System, national intelligence tools and civilian seismic networks can monitor tests with a one-ton (TNT equivalent) yield or lower. But clearly the very lowest yield nuclear explosions, including hydronulcear tests, may slip below the detection threshold. However, tests below a few hundred tons do not permit an adequate assessment of the performance of a two-stage thermonuclear weapon. In addition, as the 1995 JASON study judged, there is little to be learned from the very lowest yield hydronuclear experiments toward the development of a new type of weapon.

Too Little Time, Too Little Talk

By taking up the treaty in what Senator Lugar called "an abrupt and truncated manner that is so highly politicized," the Senate was unable, and the leadership unwilling, to sort out these and other test ban related issues. Unlike previous Senate deliberations on arms control treaties, there was no negotiation or exchange of views concerning the president's six proposed CTBT "safeguards" or other possible conditions that might assuage concerns and win the support of skeptical senators. Without the time necessary to achieve clarity and political consensus, the doubts and questions raised about the CTBT effectively undercut potential support for the treaty.

Recognizing that the opportunity for give and take was absent and that the votes needed for ratification were not there, 62 senators wrote the leadership on October 12 "in support of putting off final consideration until the next Congress." Prominent Republicans, including President Bush's former secretary of state, Lawrence Eagleburger, argued that "if the Senate cannot bring itself to do the right thing and approve the treaty, then senators should do the next best thing and pull it off the table."<15>

However, agreeing to postpone the vote required the same kind of "unanimous consent" agreement needed to schedule the vote, and some CTBT opponents had publicly said they opposed any such agreement. On the eve of the vote, Majority Leader Lott and Minority Leader Daschle were on the verge of an agreement to postpone the vote. But Senators Paul Coverdell (R-GA), Helms, James Inhofe (R-OK), Kyl, and Bob Smith (R-NH) reportedly raced to the majority leader's office to tell him that they were prepared to block any new agreement that would postpone the vote.<16> These senators were motivated as much by their political instincts as their discomfort with the CTBT. As Senator Smith said in an October 12 floor speech: "Postponing a vote on the CTBT will allow the White House to claim victory in saving the treaty, and will allow the White House to continue to spin the American people by blaming opponents for not ratifying the treaty. There is no conservative victory in that." In the end, Senator Lott was either unwilling or unable to persuade this small group of hard-liners to delay the vote.

Whether it might have been possible to win this Senate's approval for the CTBT with greater presidential leadership, a more collegial Senate culture and a more effective presentation of the case for the treaty will never be known. It is clear, however, that the future of the CTBT may well be determined by the lessons that decision-makers and the public draw from the 1997-1999 period and by the course of events in coming year.

The Next Phase of the Debate

Despite the fact that the Senate failed to provide its advice and consent for ratification of the CTBT by a stunning 16 votes, the president and the Congress will have to continue to deal with test ban-related issues: test ban monitoring, nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship, the future of the U.S. nuclear test moratorium and international non-proliferation challenges.

Several senators have expressed disappointment about the vote and have indicated that they will revisit the unfinished question of CTBT ratification. Two centrist senators, Joseph Lieberman (D-CT) and Hagel noted that "our constituents and our country's allies have expressed grave concerns about our hasty rejection of the treaty and the impact of that rejection on the treaty's survival. They need to know that we, along with a clear majority of the Senate, have not given up hope of finding common ground in our quest for a sound and secure ban on nuclear testing."<17> This will only be possible if the executive branch, in cooperation with Senate CTBT supporters and skeptics alike, work together to reinforce the existing non-testing regime and to lay the groundwork necessary to convince the Senate to reconsider and approve the treaty.

A first step toward repairing the damage from the October 1999 debate and building consensus on the CTBT should be a more thorough and substantive exchange of views between the executive branch and the Congress on core issues and facts concerning the treaty, including the following:

• the effect of U.S. ratification (or lack thereof) on nuclear non-proliferation objectives;

• the overall national security costs and benefits of ratifying the treaty;

• the role and purpose of the stockpile stewardship program in assuring warhead reliability, and determining what degree of assurance is necessary and how it can be maximized;

• combined yield detection thresholds and capabilities of the CTBT's International Monitoring System, national and scientific monitoring networks, and on-site inspections, as well as the plausibility of evasion;

• the capabilities of various states (including the United States) to maintain or develop nuclear weapons without nuclear test explosions;

• the capability to detect and respond to prohibited activities through the CTBT's International Monitoring System, on-site inspection and confidence-building measures, as well as national technical means and civilian/scientific seismic monitoring networks; and

• whether or not there is a demonstrable U.S. national security requirement or practical military purpose for new types of nuclear warheads that is worth the cost of resuming nuclear test explosions.

In addition to addressing Senate skeptics' concerns, the administration and other CTBT proponents must more effectively communicate the overall benefits of U.S. leadership and ratification of the treaty. The CTBT can impede the development of advanced, new types of two-stage nuclear warheads, which are more easily deliverable by ballistic missiles, and will strengthen international support for the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and U.S. leadership abroad. Because the United States does not now, nor likely will ever, need to conduct another nuclear explosive test, it is in America's interest to ratify the treaty to encourage others to do so and to implement the treaty's verification provisions to ensure that other nations are not conducting nuclear tests.

Nearly one month after the Senate vote, the administration announced a tentative step toward addressing the concerns of senators who voted "no." In a November 10 speech to the Chicago Council on Foreign Relations, Secretary Albright announced that the Clinton administration "will establish a high-level administration task force to work closely with the Senate on addressing the issues raised during the test ban debate." Albright said: "It is essential that the dialogue on the CTBT continue and bear fruit. In our discussions with the Senate, we will be open to a variety of possible approaches for bridging differences, including at an appropriate point the potential need for additional conditions and understandings."

Although the Clinton administration should have established such a task force shortly after the transmittal of the CTBT to the Senate in September 1997, the secretary's announcement is nevertheless a useful first step toward building support for the CTBT. The job of the CTBT task force will be all the more challenging as the 2000 election season heats up and as arms control again moves to the front of the political stage when President Clinton's national security team and the Congress turn their attention to the divisive question of deployment of a "limited" national ballistic missile defense and the stalled strategic nuclear arms reduction process with Russia.

Whether and how the Clinton administration task force will address these post-vote challenges is uncertain. If it does not prove effective, others may fill the leadership void, although with less certain results. Senator Warner, for instance, has introduced legislation (S.1812) that would set up a bipartisan commission in order "to devise a nuclear testing treaty seen clearly as in our national interests." Warner, like many other senators, notes that "much of the confusion [about the treaty] is based on misconceptions and wrong information."

On the surface the proposal appears reasonable and could, if modified, serve to help answer outstanding questions and address misconceptions about the CTBT. However, rather than exploring how and whether greater consensus can be achieved on the existing CTBT through additional or modified safeguards and conditions to the articles of ratification, the outcome of the Warner commission's work might easily be the drafting of a wholly different treaty. Some commentators have explicitly proposed renegotiating key elements of the existing treaty to make it finite in duration and to allow for low-yield nuclear explosions.<18> Such changes would undercut the core purposes of the treaty. Furthermore, it is impractical and naive to expect that the international community would agree to reopen talks on a treaty that was negotiated by 61 states and has been signed by 155.

A second and equally important post-vote task will be to mitigate damage from further attacks on the existing CTBT regime. Even without ratification of the CTBT in the near term, the United States has no plans or need to conduct nuclear test explosions, and it is in both the national and the international interest to detect and deter other nuclear capable states from conducting nuclear explosions. Under these conditions, the United States must communicate that the Senate vote does not represent a shift in U.S. non-proliferation policy, which could prompt other states to respond in ways that lead to vertical or horizontal proliferation. The United States must also continue to work to improve national and international nuclear test monitoring capabilities.

The administration has indicated that it will continue to seek funding for the United States' share of the CTBT Organization's (CTBTO) preparatory work, including construction of the International Monitoring System, which is scheduled to be completed in 2001. The United States provides approximately 25 percent of the CTBTO's annual budget, which was $74.7 million in 1999 and is $79.9 million for 2000. U.S. spending on the international network has been characterized as a "very valuable" investment by the director of the Defense Department's nuclear treaty program office, Ralph Alewine. "We're buying into a big system at 25 cents on the dollar, and this provides us data we couldn't get otherwise."<19>

Before the Senate voted on the treaty, foreign operations appropriations committees had already approved the full U.S. contribution for FY2000 . However, as a result of the CTBT's rejection, congressional support for continuing U.S. contributions to the CTBTO may not be sustainable over the long term. Efforts were made in both 1998 and late 1999 to strip CTBTO funding out of the appropriations bill. Those efforts failed, but Senator Helms-and perhaps others-are likely to try once again to cut support for the program.

Additionally, in a valuable effort to mitigate the effect of the Senate CTBT vote on U.S. foreign relations and non-proliferation efforts, Secretary Albright said in an October 18 letter to foreign leaders that the United States "will continue to act in accordance with its obligations as a signatory under international law, and will seek reconsideration of the treaty at a later date when conditions are better suited for ratification."<20> As a signatory to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, the United States is obligated to refrain from acts that would defeat the "object and purpose" of any treaty it has signed until "it shall have made its intention clear not to become a party to the treaty...."<21> The object and purpose of the CTBT is to ban "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion."

Senators Lott and Helms were quick to criticize these positions and are likely to continue to do so in the future. Lott has asserted that the Senate's rejection of the CTBT "serves to release the United States from any possible obligations as a signatory of the negotiated text of the treaty." Senator Helms claims that "since the Senate is a co-equal [in treaty-making] and the Senate has overwhelmingly vetoed the CTBT, the intention to never become a party has been made crystal clear."<22> They are both incorrect.

According to long-accepted constitutional practice, the president, not the Senate, decides when to stop observing the basic purpose of a treaty that the Senate has not ratified. For example, when the Senate failed to ratify SALT II, President Carter decided that, consistent with international law, he would continue observing the purpose of that treaty. The Reagan administration decided to observe the treaty as a matter of policy, not international law. But in both cases the president, not the Senate, made the decision.

Of course, the policy of future presidents on the CTBT may be different. Both candidates running for the Democratic presidential nomination have said they would return the CTBT to the Senate for its consideration and approval and would continue the U.S. test moratorium. The leading contender for the Republican nomination has been more ambiguous. A spokesperson for the George W. Bush campaign said that the candidate backs the current testing moratorium, but "doesn't support the [comprehensive test ban] treaty."<23> Some Bush campaign officials lean in favor of testing. Former Reagan appointee Richard Perle, who is now a Bush advisor, told test ban opponents in October that he endorses nuclear testing, saying, "low-yield testing that carries no negative environmental effects should not be regarded as an evil." Another leading Republican presidential candidate, Senator John McCain (R-AZ), voted against the CTBT saying, "I must vote against ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at this time." But he also said, "Preferably, this vote would be delayed until a more appropriate time, but barring that, I cannot support ratification right now."


On the surface, the Senate's 51-48 rejection of the CTBT may appear to some as an endorsement of the argument advanced by the CTBT opposition: that arms control is ineffective and that the United States should reject any limitation on its military capabilities, even when such limitations, like the CTBT, help to prevent the emergence of military threats to U.S. and international security. However, these perspectives are not yet embraced by a majority of Senate Republicans, let alone a majority of the Senate. Rather, the rejection of the CTBT was a consequence of the dubious claims and calculated actions of a small nucleus of opponents, an atmosphere of distrust and confrontation between the White House and the Congress, and the absence of a consistent leadership from the president in support of the treaty. In this context, treaty opponents were able to win the support of the majority leader, take advantage of the short time frame allotted for treaty consideration by raising more doubts that proponents had time to refute, and, in the final hours, stubbornly reject the option of postponing the vote against the wishes of 62 of their colleagues.

Repairing the damage caused by the Senate vote on the CTBT and averting other imprudent nuclear weapons policy decisions will require a much more balanced debate of core issues and key facts surrounding U.S. nuclear weapons and nuclear testing policy: the role and purpose of nuclear weapons test explosions; what constitutes an effective stockpile stewardship program; and whether other states can gain militarily significant advantages relative to the United States under the CTBT regime. As these issues are addressed, policymakers should consider that defending the United States against nuclear attack no longer depends on maintaining an overwhelming arsenal of nuclear weapons for delivery against Soviet targets. Further, it is important to consider how, in the absence of the CTBT, the United States will effectively be able to prevent nuclear testing and the emergence of new nuclear security dangers.

In order to create the conditions for a more balanced, less politicized debate on the CTBT and other vital nuclear security issues, there must be new leadership from the executive branch, as well as internationalist "moderates" in Congress. The administration and the Senate must avoid becoming engaged in post-vote reviews of the CTBT that primarily serve partisan political purposes and focus on how CTBT-related questions and concerns can be addressed so that the United States can be a party to the treaty and play a constructive role in curbing nuclear proliferation worldwide. As Secretary Albright has noted, the challenge is to "overcome the scars left by past arguments, put aside partisan distractions, and come together around concrete measures that will keep Americans secure." Whether this is likely-or even possible-is yet to be determined.


1. For further details, see Daryl Kimball, "Holding the CTBT Hostage in the Senate: The 'Stealth' Strategy of Helms and Lott," Arms Control Today, June/July 1998.

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2. "Nukes-Not Fun and Games," Raleigh News & Observer, July 30, 1999.

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3. Since the CTBT was transmitted to the Senate on September 23, 1997, over 120 editorials have been written in support of the CTBT, while fewer than 10 recommended rejection.

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4. For a list of supporters, see The Congressional Record, pp. S12262-63, October 8, 1999.

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5. Eric Schmitt, "Democrats Ready for Fight to Save Test Ban Treaty," The New York Times, August 30, 1999.

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6.The Congressional Record, September 10, 1999, p. S10722.

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7. Richard Lowry, "The Test-Ban Ban," National Review, November 8, 1999.

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8. "Nuclear Test Ban Vote Set for October," Associated Press, October 2, 1999.

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9. A September 9, 1999 letter to Senator Lott from 52 CTBT opponents organized by the lobby group Center for Security Policy contained key arguments against the treaty that would appear in the October debate and the speeches and statements of several senators voting "no." For analysis and rebuttal of these arguments, see Christopher Paine, "Tall Tales of the Test Ban Opposition," Natural Resources Defense Council, October 6, 1999.

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10. "Report to Congress on Stockpile Reliability, Weapon Remanufacture, and the Role of Nuclear Testing," Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, 1987.

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11. For a detailed analysis of this issue and a rebuttal of CTBT opponents arguments, see Christopher Paine, "Facing Reality: Resuming Nuclear Test Explosions Would Harm U.S. and International Security-A Reply to CATO Policy Analysis No. 30 'The CTBT: The Costs Outweigh the Benefits' by Kathleen C. Bailey," Natural Resources Defense Council, February 1999.

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12. "Nuclear Testing," July 1995, by the JASON division of the MITRE Corporation.

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13. "Review Concludes Stockpile Stewardship Works," DOE News, December 10, 1999; "Stockpile Stewardship Program 30-Day Review," U.S. Department of Energy, November 23, 1999.

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14. See Richard Garwin, "The Future of Nuclear Weapons Without Nuclear Testing," Arms Control Today, November/December 1997; Greg Mello, "That Old Designing Fever," The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January/February 2000, pp. 51-57.

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15. Lawrence S. Eagleburger, "The World Is Watching: Don't Kill the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," The Washington Times, October 11, 1999.

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16. Eric Schmitt, "Senate Kills Test Ban Treaty in Crushing Loss for Clinton; Evokes Versailles Pact Defeat-Vote is 51 to 48," The New York Times, October 14, 1999; Richard Lowry, "The Test-Ban Ban," National Review, November 8, 1999.

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17. Joseph I. Lieberman and Chuck Hagel, "Don't Give Up on the Test Ban," The New York Times, October 16, 1999.

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18. Arnold Kanter and Brent Scowcroft, "How to Fix the CTBT," The Washington Times, October 27, 1999.

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19. William J. Broad and Eric Schmitt, "Foes of Test Ban Treaty Now Take Aim at Monitoring System," The New York Times, October 29, 1999.

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20. Bill Gertz, "Albright Says U.S. Bound by CTBT," The Washington Times, November 2, 1999.

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21. "Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties," Article XVIII (a).

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22. Bill Gertz, "Lott Hits Clinton's Stance on Nuke Pact: Says He's Risking Ties With Senate," The Washington Times, November 3, 1999.

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23. Neil King Jr., "White House Tries To Woo Senate GOP To Support Global Ban on Nuclear Tests," The Wall Street Journal, October 5, 1999.

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Daryl Kimball is executive director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers. [Back to top]


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