"Though we have acheived progress, our work is not over. That is why I support the mission of the Arms Control Association. It is, quite simply, the most effective and important organization working in the field today." 

– Larry Weiler
Former U.S.-Russian arms control negotiator
August 7, 2018
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Russia, China Continue to Support CTBT

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

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

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

CTBTO Funding Remains in U.S. Budget

Despite Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in October, U.S. funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's (CTBTO) network of monitoring stations remained untouched in the Foreign Operations FY2000 Appropriations bill. Under the auspices of the CTBTO's Provisional Technical Secretariat, the International Monitoring System (IMS) and International Data Centre (IDC) are responsible for establishing the 321 monitoring sites that will track nuclear explosions and share the data on a global telecommunications network.

According to an October 29 New York Times article, a handful of senior aides to Republican senators, in an attempt to ensure the CTBT did not come up for vote in a new Congress, tried to gut funding for the monitoring system in the foreign operations bill. However, the budget passed the Senate on November 19 with no change to the $15 million appropriated for the CTBTO.

A State Department source said that there was never any real threat to the money in the budget and that the issue was "overblown" by the Times article. There is a possibility that some aides or senators will try to push the issue again in next year's budget, he said, but the funding remains intact for now.

The United States is the largest contributor to the monitoring system, accounting for about 25 percent of the CTBTO's total operating budget of $75 million, with Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Germany also contributing significant amounts. In addition to the $15 million included in the foreign operations bill, the Pentagon budgets an average of $5 million per year for the IMS.

The verification regime, which was formed in 1995 during treaty negotiations, will be completed around 2001, according to the CTBTO. One hundred of the 321 monitoring stations already operational and transmitting data through the global network. Ninety countries will host stations upon completion, including China, Argentina, Russia and Italy.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT): A Damage Assessment of Senate Action



An Arms Control Association Press Breakfast

Thursday, October 14, 1999

The Brookings Institution

The Arms Control Association assembled this panel to assess the domestic and international security implications of U.S. Senate action on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Topics addressed included the impact on the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, prospects for further progress in arms control and the credibility of U.S. leadership in fighting the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The final, edited version of the panel discussion appears in the September/October 1999 issue of Arms Control Today.

The Panelists:

(Click on the underlined names of the participants to jump directly to their portions of the transcript in the September/October 1999 issue of Arms Control Today.)
Please note that this is a rush transcript. An edited version will be posted as soon as available.

  • Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., President and Executive Director of the Arms Control Association; former Deputy Director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
  • Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., President of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security; former Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament from 1994-1997 and leader of U.S. efforts to indefinitely extend the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty
  • John Steinbruner, Senior Fellow, Brookings Institution; Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, as of November 1, 1999
  • John Isaacs, President and Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World
  • Questions and Answers

The presentations were followed by a brief period of questions and answers which is included at the end of the transcript.

Background Material:

See the CTBT Debate briefing for background material and analysis.

ACA Press Conference

Russia, China, U.S. Allies Condemn Senate Defeat of Treaty

THE SENATE'S REJECTION of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on October 13 (see story) drew a barrage of criticism from Russia and China, as well as from U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. Although Moscow and Beijing have indicated that they will continue to adhere to the CTBT, which they both signed in September 1996, pressures to resume nuclear testing may intensify in the absence of U.S. ratification. The nuclear weapons establishments in both countries have long opposed the CTBT, presumably because they are more dependent on nuclear testing than the United States, which has a sophisticated stockpile stewardship program.

Russian and Chinese Reactions

In an October 14 statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "We express our regret and serious concern about the Senate's refusal to ratify this treaty, at all stages of the development of which the U.S. Administration took the most active part and was the first to sign it. This decision delivers a serious blow to the entire system of agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, [e]specially to the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

One week before the Senate vote, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin had announced that the Russian government was in the process of finalizing its CTBT ratification documents for the Duma, the lower house of parliament. However, the Duma is unlikely to consider the treaty anytime soon, given its concern over the Senate vote and its need to complete action on START II, which was submitted more than four years ago. Parliamentary elections scheduled for December 1999 may also complicate efforts to make serious progress on CTBT ratification.

On October 14, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it "deeply regrets" the Senate's rejection of the CTBT, but ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue indicated that Beijing would continue to observe its moratorium on nuclear testing, which has been in effect since 1996, and would intensify its efforts to ratify the treaty.

Allied Reactions

Just days before the vote, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schröder made a highly unusual plea to the Senate not to reject the CTBT. "Failure to ratify the [CTBT] will be a failure in our struggle against proliferation. The stabilizing effect of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, extended in 1995, would be undermined. Disarmament negotiations would suffer," they wrote in an October 8 New York Times op-ed.

Such sentiment was echoed the day after the Senate vote. An aide to Chirac said, "The president expressed his dismay. This decision is a setback to the process of non-proliferation and disarmament." German Foreign Minister Joschka Fischer said he was "deeply disappointed" by the vote and Defense Minister Rudolph Scharping called it an "absolutely wrong" decision. Canadian Foreign Minister Lloyd Axworthy stated, "A world accustomed to U.S. leadership in the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament can only be deeply disturbed by this turn of events, which will be welcomed by those who remain uncommitted to that cause."

George Robertson, the newly appointed secretary-general of NATO and former British defense minister, called the Senate action "very worrying."

"We've got to persuade the American Congress that this is in the interest, not just of international security, but also of the United States, and I hope that we can do that and this is not a permanent position," he said in an October 14 radio interview.

U.S. allies in Asia were equally disapproving of the Senate rejection, with strong criticism coming from the Japanese, South Korean and Philippine foreign ministries. "The adverse effects are inestimable…We had hoped for the U.S.'s leadership in nuclear disarmament and in preventing nuclear proliferation," said Japanese Foreign Minister Yohei Kono. Philippine Foreign Secretary Domingo Siazon called the U.S. vote "an enormous blow to all our efforts to make the world a safer place to live in."

Of particular concern was the potential reaction from South Asia, where the Senate vote weakens the Clinton administration's ability to persuade India and Pakistan to sign the CTBT and refrain from conducting further nuclear tests. But in an encouraging development before the vote, New Delhi hinted that it might be prepared to sign the treaty once its new parliament was in place. Brajesh Mishra, India's national security adviser, stated October 3, "Consensus is building in the country about our stand on the CTBT, and after the parliament meets, we will be in a position to take concrete steps." Moreover, one day after the vote, External Affairs Minister Jaswant Singh stated, "India will not stand in the way of entry into force of the CTBT." However, because the treaty cannot come into effect without U.S. ratification, much of the pressure on India and Pakistan to ratify has been lifted for the time being.

Damage Assessment: The Senate Rejection of the CTBT (continued)

An Arms Control Association Press Conference

Back to the first page

John Isaacs:

What happened in the U.S. Senate over the last two weeks is unprecedented in my 27 years experience working around Capitol Hill. An important international issue, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, became a purely partisan fight and led to an almost straight party-line vote. You've heard the old cliché "politics stops at the water's edge"; this time politics washed over the entire continental shelf.

What was particularly significant was the fact that Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott dealt with the test ban treaty the way he has domestic issues—budget questions, gun control, patient's bill of rights, minimum wage. He worked hard to unite his colleagues against a Democratic president and cracked the whip to make sure enough of his colleagues went along to deny the treaty the two-thirds majority. Thus, for Senate Republicans, critical non-proliferation became just another domestic political issue. International political implications be damned, it was politics full speed ahead.

The root cause of what happened, I believe, is that the Republicans so distrust and so despise President Clinton that they're quite willing to inflict damage to Bill Clinton even if it means damage to U.S. national security. As I watched the maneuvering over the last couple of weeks, it became clear to me that the debate during that time was at least three parts politics for every one part substance.

A week ago it became clear the votes simply were not there for this test ban treaty. And that trend became especially true when we saw the positions announced by such key internationalist Republicans as Richard Lugar of Indiana, Pete Domenici of New Mexico, John Warner of Virginia, who all opposed the treaty. And then last evening, they were joined by another key internationalist, Ted Stevens of Alaska. All four senators had supported the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC]. All four senators, along with many of their colleagues from both parties, preferred to delay consideration of the treaty last night rather than to reject it outright.

However, last-minute negotiations to win that delay floundered when Majority Leader Lott, who I should call from now on "Henry Cabot Lott," was unable or unwilling to override the small band of extremists, the new isolationists in the Republican Party: the Helmses, the Kyls, the Inhofes. The face of the Republican Party is now the face of Jesse Helms, who took great partisan delight last night right before the vote in taunting the president and couldn't resist bringing up Monica Lewinsky.

As we look at the wreckage of the past two weeks, it is useful to focus on one of the old maxims of arms control, and that is that a Republican president has a much easier time gaining a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate than a Democratic president. Last evening, of course, the test ban treaty failed. It took more than four years for President Clinton to get the Chemical Weapons Convention through the Senate, including one postponement right before the 1996 presidential election—four years before Clinton could win a 74-26 majority for a treaty that President Bush had negotiated and signed.

I'm confident that if President Bush had been re-elected in 1992, the CWC would have sailed through the U.S. Senate. START II was approved a little bit more easily in 1996, but it was still delayed for a considerable period of time by another one of Jesse Helms' sit-down strikes. The previous Democratic president similarly had problems with arms control treaties, and never could win approval of the SALT II agreement. On the other hand, Presidents Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush had a much easier time in dealing with the Senate on arms control issues.

Is President Clinton crippled for the remainder of his 15 months in office? I would argue no. The president and the Democratic Party still are effective players on many issues, including the ongoing budget negotiations, patient's bill of rights and gun control. And there is, moreover, no reason why Bill Clinton can't be successful on a number of foreign policy issues as he tries to help secure a Middle East peace settlement, work for a final settlement in Ireland or improve relations with China. But I think you can forget any international agreement requiring a two-thirds majority in the U.S. Senate over the next 15 months.

Technically, the test ban treaty remains at the desk of the Senate and could be brought back at any time. But in reality, I think it will take a new president—a Gore, a Bradley, a Bush, a McCain—to resurrect the treaty in 2001. And in fact, if George W. Bush is elected, I think the treaty, if he is so inclined, could easily sail through the U.S. Senate.

The question that I and others will focus on in the next weeks is whether Republican senators who voted "no" last evening can be made to pay a political price for opposing the wishes of 80 percent of their constituents and joining with the new isolationists. I am referring to people like Olympia Snowe of Maine, Spencer Abraham of Michigan and Conrad Burns of Montana. Will they be made to pay a price? I can't answer that question, but we will certainly try to make them pay that price in the coming weeks and months before the 2000 election.

Questions & Answers:


Are some of the opponents of the treaty taking their position because they are afraid that this is simply a step towards disarmament, which they consider an unacceptable goal?


That's a little bit like somebody standing in Bayonne, New Jersey and taking a few steps west and starting to worry about falling into the Pacific Ocean. It's an absurd statement that a ban on additional testing in the presence of eight validated test designs and thousands of weapons is going to be a direct route to unilateral disarmament. People in this country have the right to say anything they want, but there is an issue as to which arguments the political system will choose to take seriously. The argument that there is an immediate danger of unilateral disarmament is, quite simply, ridiculous.


Though it may be a ridiculous point of view, it's clearly shared by people like Helms, Inhofe, Kyl and Bob Smith of New Hampshire. I don't believe, however, that that point of view is shared by anywhere near the majority of the Republican Party, but at this point, the right wing is leading the Republican Party. Majority Leader Lott chose to go along with those senators and that point of view rather than to go with the internationalist wing of the party, which I believe is much larger, including the Warners, the Domenicis, the Stevenses.

There are also Republicans outside the Senate, like Brent Scowcroft, Henry Kissinger and others, who may have had reservations about the treaty, but who would have much preferred a postponement to the outright defeat last night. So what you're describing is a point of view held by very few people, but those people control the Republican Party today.


If one accepts this as a legitimate concern, particularly in the case of the comprehensive test ban, which does not oblige the United States to do anything to eliminate or even reduce its nuclear weapons, you are essentially accepting a proposition that any arms control is a bad thing because it can lead to more arms control. That argument leads to the conclusion that we should not only not have any further efforts in arms control, but should abolish the constraints that have already been agreed upon. I cannot believe that in an extended debate that would be the position of the majority of even the present Republican senators. It certainly is not the attitude of the American people.


Do you think it would be useful to follow the advice of some senators who believe the treaty fatally flawed and attempt to renegotiate the treaty with a finite, say 10-year, duration and a threshold below which testing would be permitted?


I think that is a totally impractical proposal because to renegotiate this multilateral treaty with fundamental changes of that sort would not be accepted and would underscore the unilateral privilege of the nuclear-weapon states to continue testing. Moreover, I think it would also be opposed by the same group in the Republican Party that has opposed the present CTBT so vehemently. If such a watered-down treaty had somehow come to pass, it would still validate the process of constraining testing, which is precisely what the opponents don't want. One of the most alarming aspects of the debate was the number of people who not only called for testing for reliability and safety reasons, but also said we needed to test to improve, modify and upgrade our nuclear capabilities for new and extended future capabilities. These people are not interested in a threshold test ban even for a limited period. The rest of the world would see a fixed-period treaty as a U.S. maneuver to organize a new test series while they fell further behind.


A threshold test ban, of course, is totally non-negotiable. There is no chance of even getting in the door with that. With respect to making CTBT a treaty of limited duration, which was our position for a while early in the negotiations—to have a special 10-year withdrawal—I think that might be negotiable, at a price. The non-aligned, non-nuclear-weapon states would say, "Fine. We'll make it a 10-year CTBT as long as we make NPT a 10-year treaty." That would be their counter. In fact, that was their counter at that time, and that solution would be piling disaster on disaster. I think that it's very important to keep beating the drums for ratification of the CTBT, but as it was negotiated.


Why was President Clinton, as a deft political operator, not able to be more successful in managing this affair with Congress.


Since the president was elected in 1992, his first interest and love has always been domestic issues: welfare reform, balanced budget, minimum wage and other issues. Foreign policy has generally been a second thought. Therefore, his greatest amount of time and effort went into his work on various domestic issues, and issues like the test ban treaty and many other international issues were always his second priority. So the deftness that you describe—and which has not always been there even on domestic issues—has been more often than not absent on foreign policy issues in part because that's not where the president's interests and attentions were focused.

The president went pretty far in the last few days to move toward the Republican position by agreeing to ask the Senate not to consider the treaty. But he was not willing to go to the point of agreeing not to ask the Senate to consider the test ban treaty before he leaves office, feeling that such an ironclad commitment would undermine even more the credibility of our non-proliferation policies.

So the two sides came close to an agreement, but again, the Senate hardliners—the Kyls, the Helmses, the Inhofes—simply did not want to agree to withdraw. They wanted a vote to kill the treaty.


But why did the Clinton administration not anticipate problems ahead of time and take much earlier action to facilitate support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in the Senate?


Well, to go back a little bit, a number of Democrats—and certainly arms control organizations—had been pressing for a vote on the test ban treaty for years. Several senators took a particularly active lead to press Lott and Helms for hearings and a date certain for a vote. And that was the strategy agreed to by the administration, by key Democratic senators and by our organizations. But I would have to say, in a misjudgment on all our parts, no one anticipated the issue would become so partisan so quickly. No one thought that virtually every Republican would oppose a major international treaty. As has been pointed out, that has not happened since the Treaty of Versailles. And no one thought when the agreement to have a vote was made about two-and-a-half weeks ago that we would not win the Warners, the Domenicis, the Lugars. So I have to concede that there were misjudgments all around on that.


Was it better to have the Senate vote up or down, or would it have been better to have a deferral to the indefinite future and no action now?


I'd argue that postponement leaves ambiguity. Ambiguity is always a venue in which governments, politicians and leaders can operate for months and years, as opposed to the hard rejection last night that puts an apparent end to the test ban treaty prospects, at least for the immediate future. The postponement was favored by almost all. However, if you wish the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to be a political issue, if you want to see if Republicans that oppose the treaty lose votes in the 2000 election, then a vote might be better than postponement.


I think that internationally a decision to postpone without a firm date for a vote, given all the negativism that surrounds this issue, would be seen as tantamount to rejection. I don't think that what happened last night in terms of the international reaction will make things much worse than they already were, and they already were very bad.

If the decision had been to postpone it to a specific date in February or March, that's different. But that would not have been seen as a rejection. And perhaps, just perhaps, a decision to postpone it but to hold extensive hearings next year—thereby indicating the treaty was still very much alive—might have been a sufficiently positive move toward eventual ratification that some of the negative international effects could have been avoided. And that was a possible compromise that was being considered. But I think between indefinite postponement and rejection, given all the negativism, there's not much difference.


Deferral with no date set, which would essentially take the whole matter off the table, would seem to imply presidential agreement with the action that had taken place. So while I think the immediate shock effect of rejection is worse than deferral would have been, it does have the advantage that the president has now come out with an extremely strong statement that it's his intention to continue to honor the treaty, to continue to press for its ratification, and the Senate Democrats have taken a very strong position on their intention to keep this issue before the body at every possible opportunity. Given the unfortunate way it has become a central partisan issue, we are in the position that you really have to take the issue to the American people to have any prospects of reversing this in the foreseeable future.


You've all said that the Republicans are trying to take aim at the arms control regime in a larger way. What are the elements of that agenda and what can we expect to see next?


Well, first, I would say that next on the agenda would be the ABM Treaty. And, of course, if the ABM Treaty is in some way eliminated or severely crippled, then that will probably eliminate the START process also. So I would think those would be the next items on such an agenda.


If the president and the administration really had time to campaign for the CTBT, could they had gotten the two-thirds majority that they got for the Chemical Weapons Convention?


I think it's conceivable that if the administration had had the opportunity to have an extensive set of hearings in the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, and Intelligence Committees, extending over several months, then, yes, I think there might have been a chance to gain ratification. But that possibility was foreclosed by the way the treaty was handled by the Senate.


We certainly felt that, given sufficient time, the president, who has the bully pulpit, could have roused public opinion and worked with key Republicans to produce a two-thirds majority. And that meant, I think, at least a period of six weeks or so from September 30, when they made this unanimous consent agreement, or an agreement to vote sometime next year. In the short time frame in which we and the administration operated, things jelled so quickly with the Republicans—with almost all the Republicans—against the treaty, it was impossible to change that.

Now if the Republicans had been determined to unite against the treaty no matter what, no matter if the vote were in 10 days or 10 weeks or 10 months, then it's hard to see how the treaty would have passed anyway. But again, I think Lott was able to operate on a short time frame when the public wasn't paying that much attention. But if, over a longer period of time, the president could mount that public campaign, I think those views could have been overridden.


What can be done to minimize the negative impact of this Senate action, and what are the prospects that this issue will, in fact, become a significant issue in the presidential campaign?


I think that the effect of this decisive rejection is to remand the issue to the American political system as a whole. And the only way to have an immediate alleviating effect is to generate some demonstration of majority sentiment that is believable to the rest of the world.

The Republicans have guaranteed that this will now be an election issue. Gore was immediate in his reaction to say that he would immediately resubmit the treaty as a fundamental issue, and George W. Bush opposed the treaty but said he supports the moratorium on testing. So there will be a political debate about this.

My own feeling is that that is a good thing. Let's hope it works. The American people, you would have to say, have gone to sleep on this question. They don't think that nuclear weapons are an imminent danger today. That is not a realistic judgment. Nobody likes to think about this. So the question is, will they care to pay enough attention to bring the majority sentiment to bear, or will the intense minority rule the day?

That is always a problem in this political system and an open question. But the only way to really have an immediate reassuring effect on the rest of the world is for the American political system as a whole, through public discussion, to demonstrate that it does, in fact, support the treaty and will eventually ratify it.

[Back to first page]

Damage Assessment: The Senate Rejection of the CTBT

An Arms Control Association Press Conference

On October 13, the United States Senate voted 51-48 to reject the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The next morning the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the ramifications of that historic vote, including the possibility of resumed nuclear testing, the damage to U.S. credibility abroad and the injury to other arms control agreements. (For more information on the CTBT vote, see our news coverage and the chart of signatories and ratifiers.)

Panelists for the press conference were Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., president and executive director of the Arms Control Association; John Steinbruner, currently senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and soon to be professor of public policy at the University of Maryland; Ambassador Thomas Graham, president of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security; and John Isaacs, president and executive director of the Council for a Livable World.

This is an edited version of their remarks and the question-and-answer period that followed.

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.:

The Senate's very unfortunate repudiation of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT] yesterday was a shock to all of us when it actually occurred, even though I think the outcome was in the end generally anticipated. As has been frequently noted, this is the first rejection of a security-related international treaty by the U.S. Senate since the ill-fated Treaty of Versailles, and we're all familiar with the history subsequent to that action.

I believe the Senate action is the most serious setback to the arms control regime in the 40 years since President Eisenhower first introduced the comprehensive test ban in 1958. It seriously undercuts the ability of the United States to play a leadership role in its central foreign policy objective of preventing further proliferation of nuclear weapons and also in its goal of further progress in arms control in general.

For many years, the comprehensive test ban has been seen as the litmus test of the willingness of the nuclear-weapon states to follow their obligation under the Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] to move away from dependence on nuclear weapons as the central component of their military establishment and policy. Many non-nuclear-weapon states that strongly support the NPT and have no nuclear aspirations nevertheless consider the NPT inherently discriminatory because it allows the nuclear-weapon states not only to maintain their nuclear capability, but also to test, which, short of nuclear war, is widely seen as the most blatant manifestation of nuclear weapons capabilities.

When, in 1995, the Non-Proliferation Treaty came up for review and extension, the United States was able, with great effort, to build an international consensus in support of indefinite extension. But to achieve that outcome, the United States committed itself—and the other nuclear-weapon states also committed themselves—to achieving a comprehensive test ban in 1996. The treaty was completed under U.S. leadership, and President Clinton was the first to sign the treaty in September 1996.

The world will see the Senate action as a repudiation of this clear U.S. commitment. I think that in a damage assessment of where we stand, it is self-evident that this action greatly undercuts the ability of the United States to persuade or pressure other countries not to continue or initiate nuclear weapons programs.

The most specific example is the case of India and Pakistan, where current events indicate the extreme instability in the region and where I think there is little question that the Indian nuclear establishment would very much like to continue testing. There is no way the ambitious objective laid out for the Indian nuclear program can be met with the few tests, which may not have been that successful, that have occurred to date.

In a broader and perhaps more dangerous ramification from the point of view of U.S. security, I think there's a real chance that unless this action can be reversed, we will see China and Russia, in due course, resume nuclear testing. It was with great difficulty that they were persuaded to go along with the comprehensive test ban. It was strongly resisted by their nuclear weapons establishments. Russia is in a position where, with its economic crisis and its nuclear establishment in disarray, there is no way it can duplicate, even on a small scale, the kind of stewardship program for which the U.S. is paying $4.5 billion a year to maintain the reliability and safety of its nuclear stockpile and integrity of its nuclear weapons establishment.

China also has economic problems, and its program is much less mature. Based on personal conversations, I believe that their nuclear weapons establishment would very much like to be able to continue nuclear testing. If the United States establishes that it is free to resume nuclear testing whenever it wishes, it will be increasingly difficult to prevent a resumption of testing in Russia or China.

Domestically, the vote underscores a new fierce partisanship relating to arms control that really reverses a general overall bipartisan approach to arms control. There have been differences, but the Republicans can certainly claim as much credit as the Democrats for success in this area over the last four decades.

In this regard, I was just shocked at the poor quality of the debate, and particularly that of those who opposed the treaty. We're not here to rehash that debate, but it really was a new low in partisan rhetoric. The arguments that alleged inability to maintain the reliability and safety of the stockpile were totally incorrect and misleading.

But what disturbed me the most were the frequently repeated charges that the treaty would endanger the U.S. deterrent. This is something like shouting "fire" in a crowded theater. The notion that our stockpile, which has more than half a dozen different designs of nuclear weapons and several thousand deployed weapons, would suddenly, despite the tremendous resources available to the stewardship program, become unreliable, unusable and known to be so by the rest of the world, is simply absurd.

The most distressing aspect was the complete disregard for the advice of the military on this subject. As you all know, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs [of Staff], the vice chairman and the heads of the four services all joined in supporting the treaty, as did four previous chairmen of the Joint Chiefs. These are the people who have responsibility for the reliability of the forces and for the safety of their personnel, and they certainly are not known as flaming radicals. On the contrary, they have a very conservative and cautious approach to their responsibilities. Their advice and support—freely given support—seemed to carry no weight at all.

I think the fact that almost all Republicans lined up against this measure in an exhibition of party loyalty demonstrates the alarming fact that the Republican Party has been taken over by a very small group of extremists in this area, led by Jesse Helms [R-NC], James Inhofe [R-OK], Jon Kyl [R-AZ] and others, and strongly supported by Majority Leader Trent Lott [R-MI].

Their approach is not just to disapprove of the comprehensive test ban as a special case. I think it's pretty clear from the statements in debate that they are opposed to all arms control and will object to anything that is brought forward, and that they actually are anxious to dismantle as much of the existing arms control framework as possible.

Well, what is to be done? The president obviously must forcefully and continually restate our support for the comprehensive test ban, despite its rejection by the Senate. It's his responsibility, not theirs, as to what happens next and to do the best he can to assure people that this issue will be revisited. And I think the Democratic senators, since their effort to defer the vote was also rejected out of hand, have an obligation to maintain this issue continually and strongly before the Senate so the issue is kept alive.

Finally, since the Republican Party has chosen to make this a partisan issue—a test of party loyalty, in fact—I think that although I have always felt it's critical to have a bipartisan approach to arms control, there's no choice now but to make this a partisan issue and take it to the people, who have demonstrated their strong support for arms control, and particularly the comprehensive test ban.

Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr.:

Last night, the United States Senate voted against ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, with only four Republicans crossing party lines. I would like to address the likely impact that this unfortunate decision will have on international efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

The Senate's inability to approve CTBT ratification is far and away the most disastrous development in international nuclear non-proliferation policy in recent years. It is a decision in the Versailles Treaty tradition, and we know where that took us. There is also something wrong when a majority of the Senate votes down a treaty that 82 percent of the American public not only wants ratified, but wants ratified promptly.

From the beginning of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime in 1968, non-nuclear-weapon states have regarded the CTBT as a litmus test as to whether the nuclear-weapon states will live up to their half of the basic NPT bargain: 182 countries have forsworn nuclear weapons in exchange for negotiation toward eventual disarmament by the nuclear-weapon states.

When the indefinite extension of the NPT was negotiated in 1995—something the United States very much wanted—an associated consensus agreement called the Statement of Principles and Objectives specifically called for the completion of the test ban by the end of 1996. This was the only objective that was given a specific time frame for achievement. And while the CTBT was opened for signature in 1996, failure to ratify it will be seen as an act of bad faith by significant non-nuclear-weapon states that only reluctantly agreed to a permanent NPT in 1995, freeing them from a committment they now consider void, their commitment to a permanent NPT.

This vote could have disastrous implications. CTBT rejection is tantamount to stating to potential proliferators, as has been said by others, that although we have not tested in seven years and have no intention of testing in the foreseeable future, you others have the green light.

To repeat, this is the most serious setback to U.S. national security in recent years. As President Chirac of France, Prime Minister Blair of the United Kingdom and Chancellor Schröder of Germany noted in their unprecedented October 8 op-ed in The New York Times, "As we look to the next century, our greatest concern is proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and chiefly nuclear proliferation. We have to face the stark truth that nuclear proliferation remains the major threat to world safety."

The NPT regime is the fundamental component of international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. CTBT rejection has raised the prospect of the NPT regime gradually unraveling, perhaps beginning at the April 2000 NPT review conference, with nuclear weapons spreading widely around the world. This would create a nightmarish situation for U.S. and world security. Also, as Chirac, Blair and Schröder noted, U.S. CTBT rejection creates a fundamental divide between the United States and its NATO allies.

With U.S. rejection of the treaty, China and Russia may resume testing. China only reluctantly joined the CTBT in 1996 and has been waiting—explicitly waiting—for U.S. leadership. Russia has announced the formulation of a new nuclear doctrine requiring new types of tactical nuclear weapons, which some are already saying necessitates further Russian nuclear testing.

It is likely that India and Pakistan will now refuse to sign the CTBT, as they had promised to do, and perhaps will conduct further nuclear tests. Nations such as Iran, Iraq, North Korea, Indonesia and Egypt eventually may test nuclear weapons. Should any of these latter states test nuclear weapons, it is quite likely that many other states, such as Japan, South Korea and others, would reconsider their status as non-nuclear-weapon states under the NPT. This would, of course, completely destroy the NPT regime, which could never be revived. We would just have to be prepared to live in a widely proliferated world.

This week's military coup in Pakistan, the first in a nuclear-equipped nation, underscores the danger of nuclear weapons spreading to unstable regimes and regional adversaries. Ratification and entry into force of the CTBT would benefit U.S. national security for that reason. It is of the highest importance to U.S. and world security that the U.S. Senate reverse its decision in the near future. In the meantime, the president should make clear that we will maintain the testing moratorium, and he and others should keep reiterating that it remains U.S. policy to seek ratification as soon as possible.

The bargaining by the United States and others for the CTBT in 1995 led to achieving our objective of a permanent NPT, something we very much wanted. This is an important commitment that we made in the context of a strong, viable and permanent Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, which is central to our security in the future. We are a nation that believes in the rule of law. Therefore, we should keep our commitments and ratify the CTBT.

John Steinbruner:

Let me say at the outset that we have unquestionably experienced some very serious damage as a result of the Senate's action, and I believe that most of the world will be surprised and shocked. This act was a partisan maneuver within the American political system, and other nations will predictably find it very difficult to comprehend because the CTBT is widely judged to be overwhelmingly in the interest of the United States. It's therefore probable that much of the world doesn't yet know what to do. As a result, the vote is not likely to have any noticeable effect in the short term.

It is clear that both India and China have some internal pressures to resume testing themselves. Most analysts still believe that there is sufficient political restraint at the top of those governments to prevent testing in the near future. But we have set a clock ticking in both political systems, and there will probably be tests unless there is some change in the situation.

I think that most of the world will choose to believe that somehow this decision will be reversed, leading to ultimate ratification by the United States. So it's still possible to believe that this is a temporary setback from which we can recover. But we should also examine the possibility that it could be a lot worse than that. In that regard, I thought it was ironic that HBO was showing the movie "Titanic" this week. There's a chance we've hit an iceberg here, and we're in the early stages of fathoming what has happened and what it means.

I want to talk, however, about the larger context of events that magnifies the risks of this specific development. Russia is undergoing a monumental internal transformation, and that poses grave dangers to us because they are, at the same time, trying to run a military establishment that is simply overwhelmed by its security burden. The Russians have no international help worthy of mention. They are in implicit confrontation with NATO and with China. They have the longest and the most turbulent border, the most exposed territory. They have by far the greatest security problem in the world.

They have an economy that is somewhere between 2 and 7 percent of ours, depending on which numbers you believe, for a society of 146 million people. Their economy also has very deep structural problems and will not grow in macroeconomic terms any time soon because they do not have, and nobody has for them, a viable reform design to handle large establishments that are so far from market conditions.

The result is that the Russians simply cannot afford their military establishment, which currently has less than 10 percent of the minimum amount of money required to maintain its personnel and equipment and thereby preserve its internal coherence. As a result of this condition, Russian military forces are deteriorating and have been for the entire history of the Russian republic.

That same establishment is running a deterrent operation directed against the United States. As we speak, there are 3,000 Russian weapons on rapid-reaction alert, primed to respond within 10 minutes after the detection of an attack with a mass attack on the United States and to begin to execute it within 20 minutes.

The associated early-warning system does not have comprehensive coverage of Russian territory either in space or in time, and it will not acquire it any time soon. In addition the entire mechanism of internal control required to hold weapons on this degree of alert and keep them from being launched accidentally or without authorization has deteriorated.

This situation is by far the gravest physical danger to the United States, and there is nothing in our current policy that will alleviate that threat. Quite the contrary, the entire thrust of our policy is exacerbating the problem. Although we do have the very useful Nunn-Lugar program to help reinforce Russia's internal control mechanisms, that activity is a small element of a much larger context that has been dominated recently by three developments. First, there is NATO expansion, which intensifies the pressure on the Russian military establishment to a degree that our political system has not fathomed. Second is our intervention in Kosovo, where we demonstrated that NATO, despite its claim to be a defensive alliance, will initiate offensive operations outside of its territory, not in response to attack on any of its members and without consideration for international mechanisms, including the UN Security Council. Russia sees this as a very serious threat.

Finally, the United States is saying that it will deploy a national missile defense, basically presenting the Russian political system with an ultimatum: either you accept the revisions to the ABM Treaty or we will deploy a national missile defense in defiance of the treaty. That presents Russia with a severe policy dilemma. They do not believe they can responsibly accept a limited national missile defense deployment in their own interests. However, if they reject it, the entire framework of restraint, as they view it, is destroyed. We have put them into an extremely serious corner, and they're trying to figure out what to do. There is some possibility—I don't want to exaggerate it but I think it would be irresponsible not to look at it—that the entire framework of arms control will become seriously unglued.

Our political system has not fathomed the nature of this problem. We don't understand the real danger to us. And that is why one thinks about the Titanic—people oblivious to the danger, acting with unbelievable irresponsibility and supreme arrogance. We're on the outskirts of that situation, and we may have triggered a sequence here that we will not be able to reverse.

We may see severe negative consequences if the resonant features of this situation begin to kick in. The full sequence would be a policy catastrophe. If the repudiation of the CTBT foreshadows the end of the ABM Treaty and offensive strategic restraints and the NPT, we will be in an entirely new and very dangerous situation. When you add the element of internal deterioration in Russia and the progressive loss of control over a large weapons inventory, you've got a truly explosive situation. It's time for all of us to wake up.

[On to next page]

An American Tragedy

In rejecting ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Senate willfully plunged a dagger into the heart of U.S. efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The international community, overwhelmingly supportive of the treaty, looked on in shocked disbelief as an American tragedy unfolded, replete with mean-spirited politics, outrageous rhetoric and obsessive fears of diminished nuclear potency and multinational obligations constraining U.S. freedom of action. This calculated and perverse Senate action, the first rejection of a multilateral security agreement since the Versailles Treaty, has severely undercut the credibility of U.S. leadership in efforts to strengthen the non-proliferation regime. The damage will not be easily repaired.

The success of the small group of ultra-conservative hawks, led by Senators Jesse Helms (R-NC), James Inhofe (R-OK) and Jon Kyl (R-AZ) and Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), in corralling all but four courageous Republicans in lockstep opposition to the CTBT signaled the end of the long-standing bipartisan approach to arms control. The cavalier fashion in which a matter of such importance was rushed to a vote without adequate hearings or debate cast shame on "the world's greatest deliberative body."

In the outrageously truncated schedule of hearings and debate, dictated by Lott in an obvious effort to dispose of the treaty as quickly as possible, Republican senators dismissed administration arguments that the treaty was critical to building international support for the non-proliferation regime and focused their attention on the test ban's impact on the reliability and safety of the U.S. stockpile and the treaty's verifiability. Their oft-repeated assertion that it would not be possible to maintain a credible deterrent without testing, even with a $4.5 billion annual stewardship program, demonstrated that they did not understand the reliability problem, the concept of deterrence or the stewardship program. The notion that the several thousand strategic nuclear warheads of a half dozen different types would all suddenly fail despite monitoring by a highly sophisticated surveillance and replacement program is patently absurd. It was indeed shocking that these senators put their own uninformed judgments above those of the chairman and vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) and the four service chiefs, all of whom endorsed the treaty, as did four former JCS chairmen. These are the cautious professionals who have real-life responsibility for the reliability and safety of their forces. In a written statement, the three nuclear laboratory directors also expressed their confidence in guaranteeing the U.S. nuclear deterrent.

Republican senators also denounced the treaty as "unverifiable" because of the threshold below which seismic detection of underground tests is not possible—although such testing might be revealed by other means. They dismissed the fact that such small tests, which are not useful for thermonuclear weapons development, do not threaten U.S. security and are not necessary for maintaining the U.S. stockpile. And they could not grasp why U.S. security would be better served by limiting violators to at most a few small-yield tests than by allowing them to conduct unlimited tests at any yield.

By design, the abbreviated schedule prevented negotiation of conditions on the resolution of ratification to respond to possible concerns as was done in the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention. In fact, in rejecting approval of the resolution, the Republicans also rejected six conditions that the Democrats had attached guaranteeing inter alia funding of the stewardship program and obligating the president to exercise the treaty's withdrawal option if testing were found necessary to insure reliability of the stockpile.

President Clinton attempted to blunt the negative impact of the Senate vote by announcing that he would continue to honor the CTBT, which precludes testing, and would seek future Senate approval of ratification. Some Republicans clearly regretted the outcome, 17 having sided with the Democrats in a last-minute effort to defer a vote. But there is now little chance to revisit the treaty during Clinton's administration.

In the final analysis, the Republican-dominated Senate willfully converted a U.S. diplomatic triumph into a repudiation of U.S. international responsibilities. With Republican foreign and security policy in the hands of Helms, Inhofe, Kyl and Lott there is no chance for change unless the overwhelming public support for the treaty is reflected in the electoral process. Democratic presidential candidates Al Gore and Bill Bradley have made clear their strong support for the CTBT and intention to make it a campaign issue, while all Republican hopefuls have rushed to support the Senate action. The Republican presidential candidate and every Republican senatorial candidate should be held accountable for the American tragedy their party orchestrated.

The CTB Treaty: Signatories and Ratifiers

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature at the United Nations on September 24, 1996. President Clinton was the first to sign the treaty that day, followed by the representatives of 70 other nations, including Britain, France, Russia and China. To date, 155 states have signed the CTBT and 51 have ratified.

The CTBT will formally enter into force after 44 nuclear-capable states, specified in Annex 2 of the treaty, have deposited their instruments of ratification with the secretary-general of the United Nations. Those 44 states include the five declared nuclear powers, India, Israel, Pakistan and 36 other states that are recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency as possessing nuclear power and/or research reactors.

The near-term prospects for entry into force were dealt a severe blow October 13 when the United States Senate voted against ratification of the treaty, prompting harsh international criticism and raising fears that some states might resume nuclear testing. (See press conference, and news article.) The vote came just days after states that have already ratified the CTBT held a conference in Vienna to consider measures to bring the treaty into force.

Of the 44 specified nations, all except India, Pakistan and North Korea have signed, but only 26 have ratified the treaty. Britain and France are the only declared nuclear-weapon states to have ratified. The following chart identifies the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty's signatories and ratifiers as of October 31, 1999. States whose ratification is required for entry into force are in bold.

Country Signature Ratification
Albania 9/27/96  
Algeria 10/15/96  
Andorra 9/24/96  
Angola 9/27/96  
Antigua and Barbuda 4/16/97  
Argentina 9/24/96 12/4/98
Armenia 10/1/96  
Australia 9/24/96 7/9/98
Austria 9/24/96 3/13/98
Azerbaijan 7/28/97 2/2/99
Bahrain 9/24/96  
Bangladesh 10/24/96  
Belarus 9/24/96  
Belgium 9/24/96 6/29/99
Benin 9/27/96  
Bolivia 9/24/96 10/4/99
Country Signature Ratification
Bosnia and Herzegovina 9/24/96  
Brazil 9/24/96 7/24/99
Brunei Darussalem 1/22/97  
Bulgaria 9/24/96 9/29/99
Burkina Faso 9/27/96  
Burundi 9/24/96  
Cambodia 9/26/96  
Canada 9/24/96 12/18/98
Cape Verde 10/1/96  
Chad 10/8/96  
Chile 9/24/96  
China 9/24/96  
Colombia 9/24/96  
Comoros 12/12/96  
Congo 2/11/97  
Congo Republic 10/4/96  
Cook Islands 12/5/97  
Costa Rica 9/24/96  
Cote d'Ivoire 9/25/96  
Croatia 9/24/96  
Cyprus 9/24/96  
Czech Republic 11/12/96 9/11/97
Denmark 9/24/96 12/21/98
Djibouti 10/21/96  
Dominican Republic 10/3/96  
Ecuador 9/24/96  
Egypt 10/14/96  
El Salvador 9/24/96 9/11/98
Equatorial Guinea 10/9/96  
Estonia 11/20/96 8/13/98
Country Signature Ratification
Ethiopia 9/25/96  
Fiji 9/24/96 10/10/96
Finland 9/24/96 1/15/99
France 9/24/96 4/6/98
Gabon 10/7/96  
Georgia 9/24/96  
Germany 9/24/96 8/20/98
Ghana 10/3/96  
Greece 9/24/96 4/21/99
Grenada 10/10/96 8/19/98
Guatemala 9/20/99  
Guinea 10/3/96  
Guinea-Bissau 4/11/97  
Haiti 9/24/96  
Holy See 9/24/96  
Honduras 9/25/96  
Hungary 9/25/96 7/13/99
Iceland 9/24/96  
Indonesia 9/24/96  
Indonesia 9/24/96  
Iran 9/24/96  
Ireland 9/24/96 7/15/99
Israel 9/25/96  
Italy 9/24/96 2/1/99
Jamaica 11/11/96  
Japan 9/24/96 7/8/97
Jordan 9/26/96 8/25/98
Kazakhstan 9/30/96  
Kenya 11/14/96  
Kuwait 9/24/96  
Kyrgyzstan 10/8/96  
Laos 7/30/97  
Country Signature Ratification
Latvia 9/24/96  
Lesotho 9/30/96 9/14/99
Liberia 10/1/96  
Liechtenstein 9/27/96  
Lithuania 10/7/96  
Luxembourg 9/24/96 5/26/99
Macedonia 10/29/98  
Madagascar 10/9/96  
Malawi 10/9/96  
Malaysia 7/23/98  
Maldives 10/1/97  
Mali 2/18/97 8/4/99
Malta 9/24/96  
Marshall Islands 9/24/96  
Mauritania 9/24/96  
Mexico 9/24/96 10/5/99
Micronesia 9/24/96 7/25/97
Moldova 9/24/97  
Monaco 10/1/96 12/18/98
Mongolia 10/1/96 8/8/97
Morocco 9/24/96  
Mozambique 9/26/96  
Myanmar (Burma) 11/25/96  
Namibia 9/24/96  
Nepal 10/8/96  
Netherlands 9/24/96 3/23/99
New Zealand 9/27/96 3/19/99
Nicaragua 9/24/96  
Niger 10/3/96  
North Korea    
Norway 9/24/96 7/15/99
Oman 9/23/99  
Country Signature Ratification
Panama 9/24/96  
Papua New Guinea 9/25/96  
Paraguay 9/25/96  
Peru 9/25/96 11/12/97
Philippines 9/24/96  
Poland 9/24/96 5/25/99
Portugal 9/24/96  
Qatar 9/24/96 3/3/97
Romania 9/24/96 10/5/99
Russia 9/24/96  
Saint Lucia 10/4/96  
Samoa 10/9/96  
San Marino 10/7/96  
Sao Tome and Principe 9/26/96  
Senegal 9/26/96 6/9/99
Seychelles 9/24/96  
Singapore 1/14/99  
Slovakia 9/30/96 3/3/98
Slovenia 9/24/96 8/31/99
Solomon Islands 10/3/96  
South Africa 9/24/96 3/30/99
South Korea 9/24/96 9/24/99
Spain 9/24/96 7/31/98
Sri Lanka 10/24/96  
Suriname 1/14/97  
Swaziland 9/24/96  
Sweden 9/24/96 12/2/98
Switzerland 9/24/96 10/1/99
Tajikistan 10/7/96 6/10/98
Country Signature Ratification
Thailand 11/12/96  
Togo 10/2/96  
Tunisia 10/16/96  
Turkey 9/24/96  
Turkmenistan 9/24/96 2/20/98
Uganda 11/7/96  
Ukraine 9/27/96  
United Arab Emirates 9/25/96  
United Kingdom 9/24/96 4/6/98
United States 9/24/96  
Uruguay 9/24/96  
Uzbekistan 10/3/96 5/29/97
Vanuatu 9/24/96  
Venezuela 10/3/96  
Vietnam 9/24/96  
Yemen 9/30/96  
Zambia 12/3/96  
Zimbabwe 10/13/99  

Vienna Conference Final Declaration

On October 8, 1999, 92 ratifers and signatories to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) adopted a Final Declaration to the Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT, held in Vienna from October 6-8. The purpose of the conference was to assess "the extent to which the requirement for the entry into force of the Treaty had been met and to agree on measures consistent with international law to accelerate its ratification." Although the treaty will not enter into force until all 44 nuclear-capable nations ratify it (see factfile), the Final Declaration urged current ratifiers to continue to apply international pressure to these nations to ratify the treaty as soon as possible.

1. Recalling the responsibilities which we assumed by signing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and pursuant to Article XIV of that Treaty, we the ratifiers, together with the Signatory States, met in Vienna from 6-8 October 1999 to promote its entry into force at the earliest possible date. We welcomed the presence of representatives of non-Signatory States, international organizations and non-governmental organizations.

2. Determined to enhance international peace and security throughout the world, we reaffirmed the importance of a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty. We reiterated that the cessation of all nuclear weapon test explosions and all other nuclear explosions, by constraining the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and ending the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons, constitutes an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects and thus a meaningful step in the realization of a systematic process to achieve nuclear disarmament. We therefore renewed our strong determination to work for universal ratification of the Treaty, and its early entry into force as provided for in Article XIV.

3. In accordance with the provisions of Article XIV of the Treaty, we examined the extent to which the requirement set out in paragraph 1 had been met and decided by consensus what measures consistent with international law may be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process in order to facilitate the early entry into force of the Treaty.

4. Since the Treaty was adopted at the United Nations General Assembly and opened for signature three years ago, 154 States have signed and 51 States have deposited their instruments of ratification. Of the 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty whose ratification is required for the entry into force of the Treaty, 41 have signed, and 26 have both signed and ratified the Treaty. A list of those States is provided in the Appendix. The ratification process has accelerated. We welcomed this as evidence of the determination of States not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under their jurisdiction or control.

5. Since the opening for signature of the CTBT, nuclear explosions have been carried out. The countries concerned subsequently declared that they would not conduct further nuclear explosions and indicated their willingness not to delay the entry into force of the Treaty.

6. We noted with satisfaction the report of the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to the Conference on progress made by the Preparatory Commission and its Provisional Technical Secretariat since November 1996 in fulfilment of the requirement to take all necessary measures to ensure the effective establishment of the future CTBTO.

7. Conscious of the objectives we all share and of the importance of universal adherence to the Treaty, welcoming the ratifications of all the States that have done so, and stressing particularly the steps required to achieve its early entry into force, as provided for in Article XIV of the Treaty, we:

a. Call upon all States that have not yet signed the Treaty to sign and ratify it as soon as possible and refrain from acts which would defeat its object and purpose in the meanwhile;

b. Call upon all States that have signed but not yet ratified the Treaty, in particular those whose ratification is needed for its entry into force, to accelerate their ratification processes with a view to their early successful conclusion;

c. Recall the fact that two States whose ratification is needed for the Treaty's entry into force but which have not yet signed it have expressed their willingness not to delay the entry into force of the Treaty, and call upon them to fulfil these pledges;

d. Note the fact that one State whose ratification is needed for the Treaty's entry into force but which has not yet signed it has not expressed its intention towards the Treaty, and call upon this State to sign and ratify it so as to facilitate the entry into force of the Treaty;

e. Note the ratification by two nuclear weapon States, and call upon the remaining three to accelerate their ratification processes with a view to their early successful conclusion;

f. In pursuit of the early entry into force of the Treaty, undertake ourselves to use all avenues open to us in conformity with international law, to encourage further signature and ratification of the Treaty; and urge all States to sustain the momentum generated by this Conference by continuing to remain seized of the issue at the highest political level;

g. Agree that ratifying States will select one of their number to promote cooperation to facilitate the early entry into force of the Treaty, through informal consultations with all interested countries;

h. Urge all States to share legal and technical information and advice in order to facilitate the processes of signature, ratification and implementation by the States concerned, and upon their request. We encourage the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization and the Secretary-General of the United Nations to support actively these efforts consistent with their respective mandates;

i. Call upon the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to continue its international cooperation activities demonstrating the benefits of the application of verification technologies for peaceful purposes in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty, thus encouraging signature and ratification of the Treaty by the States concerned;

j. Appeal to all relevant sectors of civil society to raise awareness of and support for the objectives of the Treaty, as well as its early entry into force as provided for in Article XIV of the Treaty.

8. We reaffirm our commitment to the Treaty's basic obligations and our undertaking to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty pending its entry into force.

9. We remain steadfast in our commitment to pursue the efforts to ensure that the Treaty's verification regime shall be capable of meeting the verification requirements of the Treaty at entry into force, in accordance with the provisions of Article IV of the Treaty. We will continue to provide the support required to enable the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization to complete its tasks.

10. The Conference addressed the issue of possible future conferences and took note of the provisions contained in paragraph 3 of Article XIV of the Treaty.

Illuminating Global Interests: The UN and Arms Control

In January 1998, Jayantha Dhanapala was appointed United Nations undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs. A career diplomat with extensive arms control experience, Dhanapala is perhaps best known for his skillful handling of the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review and extension conference, at which he was able to secure unanimous support for indefinite extension of the treaty.

Dhanapala joined the Sri Lankan foreign service in 1965 after spending several years in the private sector. He held diplomatic posts in London, Beijing, Washington and New Delhi until 1984, when he was appointed ambassador and permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations. In 1987 Javier Perez de Cuellar named him director of the Geneva-based United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). Dhanapala returned to Sri Lanka in 1992, where he served as additional foreign secretary and then as ambassador to the United States.

When he retired from the foreign service in 1997, Dhanapala joined the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies as diplomat-in-residence, a post he held until his current appointment. He attended the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and received a master's degree in international studies from American University in Washington, D.C.

On September 28, Arms Control Today editor J. Peter Scoblic met with Dhanapala at UN headquarters in New York to discuss the United Nations' involvement in a wide range of arms control issues, including the future of the Conference on Disarmament, the prospects for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the disarming of Iraq and the regulation of the conventional arms trade. The following is an edited version of their conversation.

Readers should note that this interview was conducted before both the October 6–8 Vienna conference on the CTBT's entry into force and the U.S. Senate's October 13 rejection of the test ban. However, following the Senate vote, Dhanapala submitted a brief statement to Arms Control Today (see Statement).

ACT: How broad is the scope of current UN arms control activities?

Dhanapala: The United Nations has been involved in disarmament from its very inception. The first General Assembly resolution adopted by the UN was on disarmament, and since 1945 the UN has covered the entire gamut of disarmament issues—weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms, confidence-building measures, regional disarmament. In doing so, it has attempted to develop a consensus among its membership so that there could be commonly agreed goals and action toward the achievement of those goals.

The three special sessions of the General Assembly that have been convened have been able to achieve this consensus, and following the first special session on disarmament in 1978, we have developed a machinery for the UN to work on disarmament that is divided basically into two arms: the deliberative machinery, which consists of the First Committee of the General Assembly and the Disarmament Commission; and the negotiating machinery, which consists of the Conference on Disarmament [CD], which has recently been expanded to 66 members.

In addition, there is the Department of Disarmament Affairs, recently re-established as part of Kofi Annan's reforms; the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, a group of eminent persons in the field of disarmament that advises the secretary-general; and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research. All these elements in the UN system contribute toward not only advising the secretary-general himself on disarmament issues, but also providing assistance to member states on disarmament issues in terms of information and objective data.

We also work in the area of outreach activities with the general public through our regional centers in Katmandu, in Lima, and in Lome, as well as through our headquarters here in New York. We organize conferences; we have public lectures, seminars and symposia; and we produce and disseminate a large number of publications. All this is part of our advocacy of disarmament. We are a norm-based organization, and therefore the propagation of those norms to the general public and to member states is part of our mission.

ACT: The Conference on Disarmament is one of the UN's major arms control institutions, but for the past three years there have been no substantive negotiations, and for two of those years members have not even been able to agree on a working program. Do you think there is a future for the CD?

Dhanapala: I share the concern of the international community over the fact that for three years the Conference on Disarmament has not adopted a program of work nor made any meaningful progress in negotiating disarmament agreements after it negotiated the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT]. But we must, at the same time, recall that during the Cold War, there were many years—many more than three years—when the CD was inactive and unable to make any progress. At that time, I did not hear the same clamor for the abolition of the CD or, as the Tokyo Forum Report calls for, the suspension of the CD. I think those are very extreme and drastic views.

I believe that when there is a forum that has been established for the discussion of multilateral issues and disarmament, we should preserve that forum as far as possible. And we should try to examine why the CD has been allowed to be inactive in these three years. I believe it is a symptom of the international situation, that the deep disagreements among the great powers, the permanent five members of the Security Council [P-5], intensified in 1999. It is no secret that the bilateral nuclear talks between Russia and the United States have made no progress since 1995—we have had agreements, but we have not had treaties signed. START II remains to be ratified, and the CTBT is still unratified by the U.S. There are clearly problems, and in such a situation, the fact that the CD has not been able to make any progress is not a surprise really. I believe that the key to the CD beginning to work successfully lies in the general improvement of the international situation.

ACT: On a more specific level, would it be desirable, or even possible, to amend the consensus rule and move to a different procedure for agreeing?

Dhanapala: That would be difficult to achieve at this point in time. Disarmament touches on the security of sovereign nation-states, and it would be extremely difficult to have disarmament treaties with a few countries being outvoted. It certainly does not augur well for international peace and security if you isolate a minority in a general majority vote in favor of specific treaties. I think the objective should be to try to be as inclusive as possible, and the original purpose of the consensus rule was that it would bring a convergence of views of all states-parties. Unfortunately, the actual operation of the consensus rule has worked differently.

The views on the question of consensus have been very subjective. If countries are in the majority, they would be in favor of abolishing the consensus rule. If you are in a minority, you would be very wary of making such a recommendation. So, I believe that we must still move toward consensus, and decisions that have been arrived at through consensus are more likely to ensure the universality of global treaties on disarmament, and they will also be more likely to ensure their durability—and that is an important factor.

I would therefore advocate caution in rushing to abolish the consensus rule because it might lead to a steamroller majority, which would be counterproductive and which could lead to polarization and a very fractious minority acting against the interests of international peace and security out of frustration that the system is iniquitous or not sufficiently cognizant of its security interests. What we have to do internationally—and the UN provides a forum for doing this—is to try to draw all these different national interests into a global common security interest.

ACT: What are the prospects for the CTBT's entry into force and what do you anticipate in the upcoming conference in Vienna?

Dhanapala: First we must recognize that the CTBT is unique in having an entry-into-force provision in Article XIV that is unprecedented. Article XIV requires 44 specified countries to sign and ratify the treaty before its entry into force. That requirement is not in any other disarmament treaty. So there is an built-in handicap against the entry into force of the CTBT. Having said that, I think it is most unfortunate that we have today only 154 signatories of the treaty and 45 that have ratified it [as of September 28]. And of those 45, many of the countries specified in Annex 2 of the CTBT are missing, including three of the nuclear-weapon states: the United States, Russia and China.

I will be present at the October 6-8 meeting of the states-parties to the CTBT to which the secretary-general as depositary has invited signatory states as well as non-signatory states at the request of the ratifying states. I can see that the meeting will, after three days, end with a declaration, which cannot do very much more than exhort the international community to enable the treaty to enter into force as soon as possible. [See Final Declaration.]

We have very important countries, including three nuclear-weapon states, who have not ratified the treaty, and I do not think that their non-ratification is a function of the international situation that we were talking about, which has led to the general pause in the whole progress of disarmament. I think in certain cases it is domestic issues. In the case of India and Pakistan, we have of course seen the tests in South Asia, but we also have promises of both countries to sign the treaty, and I'm confident that those promises will be fulfilled sooner rather than later.

I think, therefore, in the short term, the prospects for entry into force of the CTBT are not very rosy, but I remain optimistic that if the ratification of the CTBT takes place in the United States, this itself would be a catalyst for others to follow suit.

ACT: If the CTBT does not enter into force in the short term, what effect will that have on the five-year review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] to be held next April?

Dhanapala: Well, clearly it will have a negative effect on the 2000 NPT review conference, but it is more than the non-entry into force of the CTBT that acts as a unfortunate preparation for this important conference, which will be the first review conference since the treaty was indefinitely extended. I believe the fact that there has been inadequate progress in the implementation of Article VI of the NPT, in which the P-5 agreed to work toward disarmament, will be cited by many non-nuclear-weapon states—as indeed they already have in the preparatory process—as being an indication that the promises of the 1995 conference have not been completely fulfilled. The Statement of Principles and Objectives is one aspect of it. The resolution on the Middle East is another aspect. And so there are a number of factors in addition to the non-ratification of the CTBT that will place a great strain on the NPT regime unless something dramatic happens between now and April.

ACT: What besides the entry into force of the CTBT would serve that purpose?

Dhanapala: I think a demonstration of the political will of the nuclear-weapon states toward making deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals—either through a statement or through actual negotiations—would greatly help to allay the concerns of the non-nuclear-weapon states. As you know, there is an ongoing review of NATO's nuclear doctrine as a result of the efforts of Germany and Canada. There is also the public opinion pressure built up through the New Agenda Coalition of seven countries who had a resolution in the UN General Assembly last year and who will repeat that resolution in the General Assembly this year. There is also the Tokyo Forum Report, a report of a group of international nuclear disarmament experts that has had a considerable international impact and that will, no doubt, also be the subject of discussion when the First Committee of the General Assembly meets. So all these developments could help to avert what I see as a very serious debate in April 2000 on the nuclear non-proliferation regime, of which the NPT is the crucial element.

ACT: What is the future of UNSCOM?

Dhanapala: UNSCOM in its present form is clearly not going to survive for very much longer, and I would think that the draft resolutions that are now being circulated in the Security Council, which alone is empowered to act on this matter, make it very clear that a successor organization to UNSCOM is already being contemplated. Precisely what form it will take and what the details of that organization will be are not clear, but at its center it will have the implementation of the Security Council resolutions, beginning with Resolution 687 to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and missiles with a range over 150 kilometers.

The panels that were organized at the beginning of this year under the chairmanship of Ambassador [Celso] Amorim of Brazil, who was president of the Security Council earlier this year, did produce a great deal of very useful material. I was a member of the disarmament panel, but there were also two other panels on the humanitarian aspects and on the question of prisoners of war and Kuwaiti property. In the disarmament panel alone there were a number of recommendations that were agreed upon, but the political decision on what should be done had to be taken by the Security Council, and we know that for several months the Security Council has been locked in disagreement on this issue.

Last week, P-5 foreign ministers held discussions and decided that the permanent representatives here will continue with the negotiations on this issue. So clearly UNSCOM is no longer operational; it is unable to go back to Iraq to fulfill the Security Council resolutions. That is also the case with the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], which helped UNSCOM in the implementation of the Security Council resolutions.

But at the same time, it must not be forgotten that both organizations destroyed more weapons of mass destruction in Iraq than were destroyed during the Gulf War. In the process, they also acquired a great deal of expertise on the subject of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. The Amorim panel felt that a reinforced monitoring and verification work plan could take into account the remaining disarmament obligations of Iraq. The ongoing monitoring and verification plan already envisaged in Resolution 715 is a basis on which one could build a successor organization to UNSCOM that, together with IAEA, would be able to fulfill those obligations. So it is now a matter for the Security Council to take up this issue.

ACT: Given the recent developments in U.S. negotiations with North Korea, what are the prospects for resolving the North Korean nuclear and missile issue?

Dhanapala: Well, on the nuclear issue, I think, as the director-general of the IAEA said in Vienna yesterday, the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] must come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA and restore its good status in the NPT regime. I remain hopeful that the agreements that were worked out under the Agreed Framework will be fulfilled, and I think it's also a beneficial development that the United States has reached an agreement with the DPRK on the subject of its missile program and that, for the moment, the DPRK has agreed to desist from any missile tests. We are aware that in conducting missile tests, the DPRK was not violating any norms—unlike in the case of the nuclear issue—because there are in fact no internationally negotiated agreements on missile issues, which is perhaps a lacuna in disarmament agreements that should be addressed by the international community.

But the tests did create a great deal of tension, particularly in Northeast Asia, and the fact that the tests will be suspended is certainly something to be welcomed. It is difficult to predict what will happen hereafter, but I think the way in which diplomacy can be used to check proliferation has been demonstrated by these recent bilateral discussions between the United States and the DPRK. The UN can only applaud political solutions to problems instead of the use of force, and so we also welcome this bilateral agreement for that reason and hope very much that it will endure.

ACT: It has been over a year since India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests. What has been the damage to the non-proliferation regime?

Dhanapala: Again, as the secretary-general stated at the time of the South Asian nuclear tests in May 1998, neither India nor Pakistan violated a treaty or any convention when they tested because they did not belong either to the NPT or to the CTBT. But there is no question that both countries caused a very serious setback to the momentum that had been generated, particularly after the Cold War, toward nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. With 187 countries today being members of the NPT, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is very much customary international law, so a norm has been practically established. In addition to that, when we—all of us, including India and Pakistan—are advocating nuclear disarmament, that cause is not advanced by two more countries crossing the threshold, whatever the security compulsions of those countries may be.

So, my conclusion, therefore, is that it has been a setback, but that that setback could be mitigated to some extent by both countries joining the CTBT, and with the statements made in the fall of 1998 here in New York by the prime ministers of both countries that they will do so, we remain optimistic. But beyond the signing of the CTBT by these two countries, restraint is absolutely necessary in terms of the weaponization programs, in terms of the development and deployment of delivery systems, in terms of command and control systems. That is why the secretary-general supports the continuation of the Lahore process between these two countries. It would be a way forward for two neighboring countries that have demonstrated their nuclear capability to solve the bilateral issues between them.

ACT: Is there any hope of rolling back the nuclear programs of those two countries?

Dhanapala: In the short term I see no prospect of that. The elections that are ongoing in India are likely to see the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], the party that launched India on the nuclear road, return to power, and there is already a draft nuclear doctrine that has been published. [See ACT, July/August 1999.] It does not appear from this evidence that there is going to be rollback of India's nuclear weapons program. And it follows—because the Pakistani nuclear program was a reaction to the Indian program—that Pakistan's program will remain. My hope is that the solution of the political problems, together with general progress on the international nuclear disarmament front, will persuade these countries to rollback. But it has to be linked to progress in international nuclear disarmament.

ACT: So you see the draft doctrine that India issued as a serious document as opposed to a political document released to influence the elections?

Dhanapala: Well, the timing of the publication may have been related to the election campaign to indicate the incumbent government's seriousness in following through with its nuclear plans after the May 1998 tests. But I think that it also is consistent with the statements that were made in the Indian parliament, in the United Nations and in other international forums about India's plans. For example, the concept of "no first use" was always mentioned by India as being an essential element of its nuclear doctrine, and that has been reflected in the draft nuclear doctrine.

It has been stated that the doctrine as published is a discussion document, and the intention is to have as widespread a discussion as possible within India and for the new government, when it is firmly in the saddle, to then decide on making the draft a permanent document. So I think there are serious elements in it that have to be considered, but the timing of its publication was probably dictated by electoral considerations.

ACT: What is the UN doing in the field of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons?

Dhanapala: We have an entire branch devoted to the subject of conventional arms. While we recognize that the greatest threat to humankind remains weapons of mass destruction, and in particular nuclear weapons, the wars that have been fought since 1945 have been fought with conventional weapons and have caused an enormous number of deaths and an enormous amount of destruction. Most recently, the use of small arms and light weapons during conflicts within countries has resulted in an appalling cost in terms of civilian lives.

Small arms and light weapons have thus emerged as a major item on the disarmament agenda. The UN took the lead in recognizing this issue in 1997 by commissioning a group of government experts, who issued a report with recommendations to arrest the proliferation and the accumulation of small arms and light weapons. That report was followed by another that was issued this year. There have also been several resolutions in the General Assembly—four last year—together with the consideration of the issue at the Security Council level. Last week, the secretary-general spoke at a special session of the Security Council, presided over by the minister of foreign affairs of the Netherlands, that was devoted entirely to the subject of small arms.

We also had the secretary-general designate the Department for Disarmament Affairs as the focal point in the UN system for action on small arms and light weapons, and we have established a mechanism called the Coordinating Action for Small Arms [CASA] to serve as a clearinghouse for information on the activities of the entire UN system in this area, together with forging new initiatives in a multifaceted way. The small arms issue embraces a wide variety of aspects—the security aspect, the humanitarian and human rights aspect, the developmental aspect, and the environmental aspect—all of which have to be addressed holistically when we look at this problem.

ACT: What is the UN doing to control exports and imports of conventional weapons?

Dhanapala: We have developed a number of initiatives that build on the initiatives of member states, such as those of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], which has established a moratorium on the import, export and manufacture of small arms and light weapons; the OAS [Organization of American States] convention on firearms; and the Joint Action of the European Union regarding arms exports. All these are building blocks toward a growing international consensus on what should be done. Right now, we are planning an international conference on the illicit trafficking of small arms in all these aspects, which is likely to be held in 2001 in Geneva.

We are also assisting member states in collecting and destroying weapons, particularly in post-conflict situations. The failure to destroy surplus weapons after a conflict can pose a grave risk in terms of recurrence of that conflict, but that risk can be eliminated by collecting the weapons and by finding employment for the demobilized combatants. In addition, we have to look into the protection of civilians in conflict, where easy availability of weapons tends to increase criminality.

Now this means, of course, that exporters have got to be very responsible. We recognize that small arms and light weapons are legitimately used by established governments of sovereign states in the normal defense of their security. But we are talking about surplus arms and the proliferation of small arms well beyond these legitimate security needs. The supply of such weapons has to be arrested if we are to make any impact on current conflicts and on terrorist groups, criminal gangs and drug cartels. So the conference in 2001 will be crucial.

ACT: What is the role of the UN Register of Conventional Arms?

Dhanapala: The Register of Conventional Arms, which was established in 1992, increases transparency in the export, import and national production of conventional arms, and as such serves as an important confidence-building measure. It embraces seven categories of conventional weapons—major weapons, not small arms—but, unfortunately, only 90 countries participate in this registry, approximately. I hope we can expand the number of countries in the registry and also widen its scope to include more categories.

We also have a standardized instrument for the reporting of military expenditure, which again is inadequately used by member states, and we need to also universalize that. Our regional centers in Katmandu, Lima and Lome also assist in our task with the Conventional Arms Register, in organizing seminars with regard to small arms and light weapons, and in developing regional registers.

ACT: What specifically can the UN do to get a handle on the illicit trafficking of weapons?

Dhanapala: A number of proposals are being made. First, I think governments need to agree on measures that will allow more accurate tracing of the journey between exporter and end user through more rigorous customs cooperation. Very often there is a gray market through which some of these exports enter, and their end user is very different from the original destination of these weapons. Therefore if customs, intelligence agencies, Interpol and the entire machinery of both national governments and international organizations work together, we would be able to trace these links much better and prevent the diversion of these exports to undesirable destinations.

Second, some have proposed international markings that would enable tracing of firearms or guns and other small arms. There are also suggestions regarding regional registers and subregional registers of small arms. We are also looking into a study on the feasibility of restricting trade of such weapons to authorized dealers so that it would be possible to locate responsibility more clearly. I think the extent to which governments can agree on these proposals will determine the success of the 2001 meeting I mentioned.

ACT: In recent months, a number of observers have noted that there has been a slowdown in arms control. Some have even referred to the "death of arms control." What is your comment on those observations and what can be done to reverse that perception?

Dhanapala: Well, I'm not ready to deliver an autopsy because I don't think that there has been a death of arms control and disarmament. I think it is not surprising, as I said earlier, that given the post-Cold War euphoria and the international consensus that existed then for disarmament, we had a number of disarmament agreements in quick succession, culminating in the CTBT of 1996. We have seen a change in the international situation since then, and the plateau that we are now on as far as disarmament is concerned is, in my opinion, a temporary lull. As soon as the international situation improves and the conditions are ripe for us to move forward, I believe there will once again be a progressive movement as far as disarmament is concerned.

Now, the elements that will go into this new situation will have to, of course, be generated by the international community, and we cannot allow the lull to last too long because that itself would be a failure and would be self-perpetuating. Therefore, I must urge the international community to look into this.

I am particularly concerned about the question of military expenditure. Global military expenditure fell very sharply after the Cold War. In 1998 it was $745 billion, according to one estimate. Projections for global military expenditure next year indicate a rise from that figure, and I fear that unless we reach disarmament agreements quickly, we are going to see once again a rise of this figure to Cold War levels. That would be a major setback to the global community because of the fundamental relationship between disarmament and development and the many other needs that have been unmet internationally—many people living below the poverty line, many people without safe water and many other global problems that have to be addressed with these resources.

ACT: You have mentioned the relationship between disarmament and the international situation several times. What aspect of the international situation needs to be changed so that disarmament may begin to move forward once again?

Dhanapala: Well, first, I think that with the end of the Cold War and the bipolar structure of international relations that it entailed, it is no longer a situation between the Russian Federation and the United States alone. There are clearly more actors today—more actors than the five permanent members of the Security Council. We have a number of important countries internationally. We are becoming increasingly a multipolar society, although we do have some countries that are clearly more powerful than others. Second, we face a great need today to strengthen the United Nations and the primacy of international law. We need to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the dealings that states have with each other and that the implementation of disarmament agreements and the forging of new disarmament norms is part and parcel of that body of international law.

Finally, I think that we need to work together more cooperatively with regard to the global interest. In today's globalized society there is a greater integration of the international economy and the political systems of countries. Therefore, in the pursuit of their national interests, states must recognize that there is a fundamental correlation between national interests and global interests, whether it is the political, military, economic or trade aspects. This global perspective has to be increasingly borne in mind.

ACT: Is part of the problem a sense of unease with the overwhelming relative power of the United States?

Dhanapala: I think inevitably after the end of the Cold War, which left the United States as the sole surviving superpower, a period of adjustment has become necessary between this overwhelmingly superior power and the rest of the world, including the United Nations. I believe there have been areas in which the United States has worked very well with the international community in achieving global norms and implementing global norms, but clearly there are areas where some elements within the United States have perceived the U.S. national interest to be at variance with the global interest. I think that the degree to which we can harmonize the U.S. national interest with the global interest will be the measure of success of U.S. leadership in the international community—leadership it is called upon to assume by virtue of its superior power.

ACT: What would be your vision of an expanded or refocused role for the UN in arms control and disarmament?

Dhanapala: I think our primary objective at this point is to reassess the global objectives in disarmament and reforge a global consensus on what the world community must set as its targets. This can be done, in my opinion, through a fourth special session of the General Assembly, which we call SSOD IV in the shorthand that we adopt here. My hope is that the member-states of the UN can agree on having that meeting in order to address the roles of multilateral disarmament in the immediate future and agree on a program of action to achieve those goals. Without that, I think we are groping and making piecemeal arrangements, whether in the area of weapons of mass destruction or the in the area of conventional arms.

It is useful to have these benchmarks, and the final document of the first special session SSOD I is already 21 years old. We have had several achievements, including the CTBT, and therefore we need to look at a fresh set of goals that should be achieved in the changed situation since the Cold War ended. And unless we do that, I think we do not have a compass for the future. SSOD IV will also help us to forge that vision, upon which the UN would very much like to see the international community agree. We must move toward an international society that places less emphasis on weaponry to solve issues that should be solved through nonviolent political means, through diplomacy.

Having a common security at lower levels of arms is the vision that the UN would have. A general and complete disarmament under international control has been the motto that has been adopted from the earliest times, but it translates really into possession of the minimum level of armaments—of conventional weaponry, that is, because I do think weapons of mass destruction should be abolished as we have abolished chemical and biological weapons—and that the minimum level required for national security would therefore pose no security threat to other countries. The realization of these goals would enable us to achieve a more peaceful and a more prosperous world.


Dhanapala Reacts to the U.S. Senate's Rejection of the CTBT

The decision to join a major international security treaty is, of course, a decision that is left exclusively to individual nation-states in the exercise of their sovereignty. The secretary-general has already expressed his regret over the U.S. Senate's recent vote against the ratification of the CTBT, reaffirming the importance of a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty in maintaining the nuclear non-proliferation regime and progress towards nuclear disarmament. The vote was all the more regrettable given the efforts of U.S. leaders over several decades to achieve such a treaty and the strong public support this goal continues to enjoy.

The fate of the CTBT will shape significantly the future of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)—a treaty whose indefinite extension in 1995 was closely tied to the conclusion of a CTBT. In April of next year, the states-parties to the NPT will assemble in New York for the treaty's next five-year review conference. I fully expect that participants will assess closely the progress made in achieving this comprehensive ban on all nuclear tests, which had been promised in 1995.

The good news is that the fundamental norm against testing remains strong worldwide and that no nuclear-weapon state has indicated any intention of ending its current moratorium on conducting such tests. The challenge ahead is to persist in a collective international effort to make this norm binding under international law and to reinforce this basic obligation with a highly reliable system of verification that is being established in terms of the treaty's process. The sooner the CTBT enters into force, the sooner both of these goals will be achieved. —Jayantha Dhanapala

Interviewed by J. Peter Scoblic


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