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"[Arms Control Today] has become indispensable! I think it is the combination of the critical period we are in and the quality of the product. I found myself reading the May issue from cover to cover."

– Frank von Hippel
Co-Director of Program on Science and Global Security, Princeton University
Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

Testing the CTB Regime

After a 10 week delay, the CIA finally conceded that the much publicized seismic event on August 16 in the Arctic Ocean was not caused by a nuclear explosion as it had previously strongly suggested. This conclusion was quietly revealed on November 4 in a press release that was more concerned with justifying the agency's dilatory performance than clarifying the nature of the event. The statement could simply be dismissed as an egregious example of self righteous bureaucratic protectionism were it not for the unwarranted doubt it cast on the ability to monitor the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, even though the so called Novaya Zemlya seismic event actually demonstrated that the CTB regime can be "effectively" verified.

Having detected renewed activity at the old Soviet underground nuclear test site on the island of Novaya Zemlya, U.S. intelligence was understandably alarmed when reports were received of a seismic event whose initial location was deemed sufficiently uncertain to possibly include the test site. As more information became available, however, both U.S. government seismologists and the international seismological community concluded that the event had occurred 130 kilometers from the test site and beneath the bottom of the Arctic Ocean. The location alone should have established that it was a natural earthquake unrelated to the test site activity. But the CIA continued to insist that the event could be a nuclear explosion despite a growing consensus among U.S. and foreign seismologists, working with open data, that the seismic signals were consistent with those from earthquakes and similar to a small earthquake recorded previously in the same general area. Moreover, a very small aftershock, characteristic of an earthquake, had occurred several hours after the main event at the same location. For its part, the Russian government promptly denied there had been a nuclear test and explained that activity at the Novaya Zemlya site related to permitted subcritical tests similar to those being conducted concurrently at the U.S. test site in Nevada.

In the end, Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet, unable to resolve the issue internally, convened an outside panel which concluded that the event was indeed not a nuclear explosion. Unfortunately, the panel inexplicably avoided identifying the event unambiguously as an earthquake, an evasion that incorrectly left a misleading impression about the capabilities of the regime's international monitoring system. The CIA's failure to take a clear stand on the nature of the event is most unfortunate given the critical importance of the powerful array of U.S. national intelligence assets to the discovery of potentially suspicious activities relating to any of the very large number of natural seismic events that occur (averaging some 50 a day more powerful than the recent event). Suspicious activities, however, do not turn an earthquake into a nuclear explosion. To insist that seismic events may be nuclear tests when the technical information available to the international community demonstrates the contrary undercuts the credibility of U.S. intelligence, which is rightfully internationally respected and will be critical to marshaling support to respond to suspected clandestine tests under the CTB Treaty.

The lesson of the August 16 event is not, as the CIA emphasized in its statement, that very small seismic events are hard to identify, which is well known, but rather that the capability exists to verify the CTB effectively. Even before becoming fully operational, the international monitoring system was able to locate the event accurately and identify it as an earthquake with an equivalent yield of around 100 tons of TNT, or one tenth the system's advertised identification threshold of 1 kiloton, as well as an aftershock of around 10 tons, or one hundredth of the identification threshold. At such low yields, undetected tests would not constitute a threat to U.S. security. Such tests would not give the nuclear powers confidence in new designs for higher yield weapons and would not provide potential proliferators with an exploitable path to a first weapon. Moreover, the success of U.S. intelligence capabilities in detecting activities at the Novaya Zemlya test site should help deter others because such activity collocated with a truly suspicious seismic event or other incriminating information would indeed be persuasive evidence of a nuclear test.

The CTB regime successfully passed the test presented by the August 16 earthquake, demonstrating its effectiveness and underscoring the imperative of maintaining the international credibility of U.S. intelligence as a central input to verification of the CTB Treaty. The power and objectivity of this unique U.S. capability must not be called into question by crying wolf when other countries are capable of judging for themselves whether there are any wolves or by failing in the future to draw obvious conclusions about treaty compliance when the evidence is clear.

Senate Panels Begin Hearings On CTB Treaty and Stewardship

October 1997

By Craig Cerniello

In late October, two preliminary Senate hearings were held on the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty and the Clinton administration's Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP), a $4.5 billion a year plan designed to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing. Although they did not break any new ground, the hearings marked the Senate's first attempt to examine these issues since the administration's September 22 transmittal of the treaty, and provided an early indication as to the types of concerns that may dominate the CTB ratification debate in the months ahead.

Due to its preoccupation with NATO enlargement, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee will not hold its hearings on the ratification of the CTB Treaty until next year. The administration hopes that a Senate floor vote on advice and consent to ratification will take place in the spring of 1998.

During the hearings, which were held on October 27 and 29 in the Governmental Affairs Subcommittee on International Security, Proliferation and Federal Services and the Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, several key administration officials testified that the SSMP is capable of fulfilling its objectives and that the CTB Treaty will enhance U.S. and international security. Critics, however, questioned whether the United States would be able to maintain the safety and reliability of its nuclear stockpile in the long term without nuclear testing.

Addressing these concerns, Secretary of Energy Federico Peña said, "I have visited each of the department's three weapons laboratories, and have personally engaged each of the weapons laboratory directors in discussions about the strength and adequacy of stockpile stewardship. . . . I am pleased to report that there is a strong consensus that stockpile stewardship is the right program to address the challenges of maintaining our nuclear deterrent without underground nuclear testing." Peña also stated that he and Secretary of Defense William Cohen will soon certify to President Clinton that the U.S. nuclear stockpile is currently safe and reliable, the second such certification since the annual procedure was established by Clinton in August 1995.

Furthermore, Peña said during his October 29 testimony that the United States will be able to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile under the CTB Treaty because of the six "safeguards" Clinton announced more than two years ago.

These safeguards include the conduct of the SSMP; the maintenance of modern nuclear laboratory facilities and programs in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology; the maintenance of the basic capability to resume nuclear testing; the continuation of a research and development program to improve our treaty monitoring capabilities and operations; the continued development of a broad range of intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities; and the option of withdrawing from the CTB under the "supreme national interests" clause in the event that a high level of confidence in the safety and reliability of a nuclear weapon type critical to the U.S. nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified.

Appearing before both subcommittees, Victor Reis, assistant secretary of energy for defense programs, said, "We can maintain the safety and reliability of the nuclear weapons in the stockpile indefinitely without underground testing and keep the risks to manageable levels." (Emphasis added.) According to Reis, the basis for this optimism stems from the belief that the United States already has a substantial understanding of the nuclear stockpile due to its extensive experience with nuclear testing. In response to concerns that the SSMP will not be capable of meeting its objectives, Reis pointed out that stewardship efforts are working now, as demonstrated by the fact that the nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable today even though it has been five years since the last U.S. nuclear test.

Representing the Department of Defense, Franklin Miller and Harold Smith testified that the CTB Treaty will strengthen U.S. security and is effectively verifiable. Miller said the treaty "is an important element of our approach to national security in the post Cold War world. . . . It will constrain nuclear and non nuclear weapons states from developing more advanced nuclear weapons capabilities."

Smith added that the United States will be able to monitor compliance with the CTB through its own intelligence capabilities, on site inspections permitted under the treaty, bilateral agreements with key countries (including Russia) and various open sources.

 

Critical Testimony

In their October 27 testimony, James Schlesinger, former secretary of defense and energy, and Robert Barker, assistant to the director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, both challenged the capacity of the SSMP to be a viable alternative to nuclear testing. Despite the best efforts of the SSMP, Schlesinger claimed that confidence in the reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile will "inevitably" decline over the next several decades if the Senate approves the CTB Treaty. He said that U.S. nuclear weapons will be "vulnerable to the effects of aging" under the test ban and that "there is no substitute for nuclear testing" when it comes to ensuring weapon reliability. Schlesinger argued that he was especially concerned about the permanent nature of the CTB as well as its complete ban on nuclear tests, even those involving low yields.

In his prepared testimony, Barker said that "sustained nuclear testing, with no less than six tests per year, is the only demonstrated way of maintaining a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent." He stated that confidence in the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal has already declined since the cessation of nuclear testing in 1992, and that the SSMP will never be a perfect "substitute" for nuclear testing. In a statement for the record, C. Bruce Tarter, director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, contradicted these views and said he is "quite optimistic" that the SSMP will enable the United States to preserve confidence in the safety and reliability of its nuclear stockpile under the CTB.

In late October, two preliminary Senate hearings were held on the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty and...

The Issues Behind the CTB Treaty Ratification Debate

On October 20, just days before the Senate was to begin hearings on the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers held a press conference to discuss some of the key issues likely to arise during the debate over ratification. The coalition, a national alliance of 17 of the country's largest and most active arms control organizations, including the Arms Control Association, has played a key role in informing the Congress, the media and the public about the national security benefits of the treaty.

Moderated by coalition Executive Director Daryl Kimball, panel participants included Robert Bell, special assistant to the president for national security affairs at the National Security Council; Charles Curtis, former undersecretary and deputy secretary of energy and a member of the Nuclear Weapons Council from 1994 to 1997; Richard Garwin, a long time consultant on nuclear weapons and national security who is Thomas J. Watson Fellow Emeritus at IBM Research Laboratories; and Lynn Sykes, Higgins Professor of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University and a leading expert on seismic detection of underground nuclear tests.

The following is an edited version of the press conference, which took place prior to the CIA announcement that the Novaya Zemlya seismic event was not a nuclear explosion.

 


Robert Bell

We were very glad to get the treaty to the Senate on September 22 with the president's announcement of submission when he gave his speech to the United Nations. We worked hard to get the treaty before the Senate formally this session, including several months of very focused work on getting the funding issue settled for the stockpile stewardship program—one of the key aspects of the Senate's consideration of the treaty. We have been clear with the Senate leadership and with [Senate Foreign Relations Committee] Chairman [Jesse] Helms [R NC] that we do not expect them to try to come to a judgment on this treaty this session. Our goal, this session, is to get hearings started to have a foundation to work from by informing senators and their staffs about the treaty and the arguments for the treaty.

The Foreign Relations Committee, as many of you know, is very deeply invested now in the issue of NATO enlargement. It is going through a commendable series of hearings, with the support of the leadership of both parties, to try to have the informational phase of NATO enlargement completed before the Senate goes out. The idea being that the single, short protocol, which is the instrument of accession for the three states, should come before the Senate early next year and be acted on, we hope and trust favorably, as soon as March. While NATO enlargement is the priority for the Foreign Relations Committee, we think that the Senate, at the informational level, can do two or more things at once. We are looking forward to the hearings that Senator [Pete] Domenici [R NM] and Senator [Thad] Cochran [R MS] will be having in about a week. We hope there may yet be an opportunity for hearings in the Foreign Relations Committee, but we are not pressing to get this to a floor vote before the Senate goes out. We will deal with that next spring.

In terms of the treaty itself, I would just make five points. First, it is important to recognize that this is a historic treaty. I don't mean to suggest that some of the treaties that we have moved in the last couple of years have not been important. But as the president said, this is "the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms control." The attainment of a comprehensive test ban has been a goal of U.S. foreign policy dating back to President Eisenhower, who, we understand, considered the failure to achieve a CTB to be one of his main regrets as a two term president. We also understand that President Kennedy considered his greatest legacy as president to have been the attainment of the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty. So we hope that the historic dimension of the CTB Treaty will be very much on the minds of senators as they turn their attention to it.

Second, it is important to understand that we are out of the nuclear testing business, based on unilateral decisions that were made in this country. The Hatfield Exon Mitchell legislation of 1992 enacted a permanent ban on nuclear testing [after September 30, 1996] unless another state tested, in which case the legislation drops. As the CTB is debated, I think it is important to distinguish between concerns that individual senators may have about parts of the treaty, whether it is verification or costs or whatever, and the corollary proposition, which to me seems untenable, that the United States resume nuclear testing. It is hard for me to imagine that there is majority support in either body of this Congress for a proposition that we resume nuclear testing. If we are indeed out of the nuclear testing business in the same way that we decided to get out of the chemical weapons production business, then it seems to me that it is fundamentally in our interest, through a treaty, to try to get as near to universal adherence to that norm as possible.

We have the good fortune in this case of being joined separately by decisions by Russia, China, France and Britain, which came together in roughly the same timeframe, to end their testing programs as well. There really is an opportunity here to make universal a norm that is shared not only by the United States unilaterally, but by the five nuclear weapon states collectively.

The third point is that whether or not there is a CTB, the U.S. intelligence community has got to give priority to monitoring nuclear related activities of the nuclear powers and the nuclear "wanna bes." The CTB Treaty gives them new tools to do that job better and it is a net plus for the intelligence community. Whether the CTB rises or falls in the Senate, and we are, of course, confident that it will rise, the intelligence community has got to fulfill this role with or without a CTB.

The fourth point is that we do have a very sound program to maintain high confidence in our nuclear inventory absent actual nuclear explosions. We are in the fourth or fifth year of developing the Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program [SSMP] and we are committed to it, as evidenced by our recent decision to increase—by about $300 million per year—the amount of money we propose to spend on this effort. We are putting our money where our commitments are in terms of maintaining that confidence.

The last point is simply that it is clear to us that the American public overwhelmingly supports the CTB Treaty. I do hope that this is a case where what the people want is appreciated "inside the beltway." Just as with the Chemical Weapons Convention [CWC], it seems to me the question is: "Are we better off with the treaty or without it?" The Clinton administration is convinced that we are better off with the treaty. That is the argument we will present to the Senate.

Now, with regard to Novaya Zemlya, I want to stress a couple of points. First, I want to emphasize that the U.S. government never accused Russia of having conducted a nuclear test. We made explicit in each statement that we were not "accusing" the Russian government of having conducted a nuclear test. There appears to be a debate now about whether we should retract an accusation, but we did not make an accusation.

Second, there also seems to be a debate now about whether we acted "too hastily." I would simply say two things. One, the information about the seismic event was almost immediately available on the internet. So we felt we were in a countdown situation before there was going to be a public debate about what the information suggested. I hope this does not come as a shock to this audience, but we do occasionally have leaks. When there is information available throughout the intelligence community or the defense community, it is often just a matter of hours before there is a story in which someone, contrary to their obligations under the law, has taken it upon themselves to give their spin on information that is still being analyzed. We not only knew that there was a possibility of a leak in terms of what individuals might have thought of this event, but we knew that the fact in and of itself was on the internet. It seemed incumbent to us to approach the Russian government and be very clear in what we were saying and not saying, namely, that there had been an event where the information could suggest a nuclear test, but that alternate interpretations were possible. We were not accusing them of having conducted a nuclear test, but we were keenly interested in asking them to cooperate with us in helping decide what it was or wasn't.

Now, in terms of where we are today, the best information I have still, as of this hour, is that we have a set of information on the technical side that is somewhat of an enigma. You cannot rule out that it was an earthquake and you cannot rule out that it was explosive in nature. We cannot prove that it was an earthquake and we cannot prove that it was not an earthquake. I think this makes the point that the CTB Treaty brings added value to the equation. With the CTB you have a mechanism under very tight timelines in terms of when you need to react and how much time you have to decide these things. The CTB also brings added tools in terms of consultation, clarification and on site inspection that helps shed light on events that are not necessarily clear cut.

 


Charles Curtis

I would like to talk about the science based Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program of the Department of Energy [DOE], which is the principal safeguard on which the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty rests. A steward is someone who is entrusted, usually with the keeping of an estate; in this case it is with the keeping of an enduring nuclear stockpile with a high degree of confidence that it is both safe and reliable. President Clinton in 1993 established the task of developing a science based stockpile stewardship program that could discharge that responsibility in the absence of testing.

When I arrived at DOE, the planning for that program was in the initial stages, and there was a fair amount of skepticism within the laboratories and within the department itself, and certainly within the Department of Defense, as to whether that challenge could be effectively met. I think that for this treaty to be accepted by the Congress, the departments of Energy and Defense and the administration, collectively, will have the burden of persuading the Senate and the Congress generally on a bipartisan basis that this challenge can indeed be met with a high degree of confidence. What I tried to bring to that process was what auditors bring to their task, namely, a healthy skepticism. In the nearly four years I was at the department, I helped contribute to the maturation of the planning process.

There are a couple points that I think often get lost in this discussion, but are important to keep in mind. First of all, this is not just the invention of the Department of Energy. The science based stockpile stewardship program is a carefully constructed and detailed program plan that has been worked out in close collaboration with the Strategic Command and the Joint Staff at the Department of Defense, and it represents the very considered collective view of the departments of Defense and Energy with respect to what is required to make this plan work. That detailed program plan is embodied in something called the Green Book, a classified document that is now in the second stage of iteration and that will be, I expect soon, transmitted to the Congress. The first iteration has already been provided. It represents the collective view of those involved in the process as to what is in place and what is planned to discharge the stewards' duty to provide a high degree of confidence in the safety and reliability of the stockpile.

The second thing that I would like to emphasize is the linkage of the science based stockpile stewardship program with the annual certification process for the U.S. nuclear arsenal. This certification process involves the directors of the three weapons laboratories—Livermore, Los Alamos and Sandia—the commander in chief of the Strategic Command, the Joint Staff and the Nuclear Weapons Council. The council is composed of the undersecretary of defense for acquisition, the vice chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a designee of the Department of Energy. In the period I was at DOE, that was me. It is usually the undersecretary or the deputy secretary, as the secretary of energy specifies. This wholly transparent and disciplined process provides assurance to the president, through the secretaries of Defense and Energy, that the weapons in the enduring stockpile are indeed safe and reliable and sufficient for their military missions. It is a process that, now in its second year, has been and will continue indefinitely to be an important part of the safeguard regime.

The third point I would like to make is that one of the important roles of the stewardship program is to greatly enhance the stewardship process underway today, in advance of bringing on the new proxies for testing in the form of new facilities and equipment. The Department of Energy has greatly improved the surveillance mechanism in place to create a dual track process to validate each of the weapons in the enduring stockpile involving both of the design laboratories. As we start to bring the new proxies into the stewardship program, we are committed to the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore and the reinstituted construction of the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility at Los Alamos, and we have also invested in greatly improving the computational capability of the department through the Advanced Strategic Computing Initiative.

Lastly, we acted on what is perhaps the most significant challenge, which is to retain and renew the talent of the laboratories. We have done that by providing for a long term investment in the laboratories to attract the best and the brightest.

We often refer to a nuclear weapons system as consisting of limited life components. Probably the weakest link in the system is the limited life component of our scientists who are engaged in nuclear weapons work in our laboratories. In the post Cold War period, this is not the most exciting endeavor to recruit personnel for. So it is very important that we support this enormous challenge of providing for the stewardship of this enduring stockpile by equipping these laboratories with the facilities to do great science and to give these laboratories and this program budgetary support over a long time period. Incidentally, the latest actions to provide a budget deal with the Congress have provided the ability to sustain a long term budgetary commitment. For three of the four years that I was at DOE, the ability to speak in any credible way to budget out years was frankly non existent while the budgetary conflict waged. Now, with the budget deal, it is possible for the first time to provide for that out year budget security, which is so essential to support this program and was identified in the president's safeguard regime as well.

 


Richard Garwin

The U.S. interest in the CTB Treaty arises because the treaty severely restricts or eliminates significant nuclear weapons advances by other nuclear weapon states and by those countries that might acquire nuclear weapons. Such advances might include a reduction in the amount of fissile material required to make a weapon, which would increase the number of nuclear weapons in the other stockpiles. The treaty alleviates U.S. concerns about and competition for new types of nuclear explosion powered weapon systems and it frees resources that can be used for maintaining a safe and reliable stockpile. An indirect, but critically important, benefit of the CTBT is non proliferation. By ending the testing, and hence the advancement, of nuclear weaponry by the five nuclear weapon states, the CTBT legitimizes U.S. non proliferation efforts and provides the basis for universal enforcement of a CTBT even against the few nations that may not adhere.

As for the impact of the treaty on U.S. nuclear weapons programs, I am convinced that the U.S. can confidently maintain its nuclear weapon stockpiles safely and reliably for dozens or even hundreds of years. To do this will require a surveillance program of the same type that we have operated over the last decades. You have heard from Charlie Curtis that we now have an enhanced surveillance program and in due time we'll have a facility for remanufacturing every element of a nuclear weapon. A stockpile stewardship program has been instituted by the Department of Energy to carry out this activity. I support it as an important contribution to maintaining our nuclear stockpile for as long as we have nuclear weapons.

However, if the program is expected to allow the development of new types of nuclear weapons or to permit major changes in the untestable portions of a nuclear weapon—the primary and the secondary explosive charges—then the program will lead to a lack of confidence in the regime. The proper role of the program is to provide the basis for confidence in a conservative remanufacturing and surveillance program. I don't blindly support everything that has an SBSS label stuck on it, but I do believe that a program that will cost $4 billion or $4.5 billion a year is appropriate for this important task.

In the evolution of the U.S. position on the CTBT, the weapons laboratories at one time were divided on the desirability of allowing so called hydronuclear tests with nuclear yields up to the equivalent of 2 kilograms of high explosive, that is, 4 pounds or one ten millionth of the first nuclear weapons. The JASON committee review of the information one could obtain from such experiments convinced us that such extreme modifications in the weapon were required to reduce the yield to this level that the U.S. would gain very little benefit from such tests. Accordingly, a true zero yield CTB Treaty should be more acceptable than one that permits hydronuclear tests. These tests were, however, important in the past in certifying that our present weapons designs are "one point safe" against accidental detonation of the high explosive; but once accomplished, those tests do not need to be repeated. So that is a dead issue.

Now, as for verification of a CTBT, the U.S. should not sign a treaty for which it cannot adequately verify the compliance of the other participants. The CTB Treaty creates an international monitoring system that is augmented by unilateral intelligence capabilities. The word "adequate" is an important qualifier in assessing arms control treaties, emphasized by Paul Nitze as relating to militarily significant violations of a treaty. The four components of the treaty's international monitoring system provide confidence that we will be able to detect a 1 kiloton nuclear explosion on Earth, and the capability is much better in the vicinity of the declared test sites of the nuclear powers. Furthermore, it should be expected that the U.S. would focus additional resources to augment this international system.

An additional deterrent to non compliance is posed by the on site inspection rights under the treaty, which will allow for the detection, in some cases, of the radioactive gases leaking from an underground nuclear test. That the CTBT bans activities that cannot be detected by the system is not a weakness of the treaty but a strength. If a threshold test ban treaty banned only nuclear explosions above 1 kiloton, we could be more confident of detecting violations although there would be the problem of ensuring that an explosion that registered at 0.6 kilotons was not, in fact, 2 kilotons.

Between the 1 kiloton threshold that we can confidently verify worldwide—not to mention the substantially lower detection levels obtainable at the declared test sites and many areas around the world—and the zero yield limit of the CTBT is a vast range of lower yields with less and less, and eventually zero, military utility to a violator of the CTBT. Nevertheless, we should care if a CTBT member violates the regime by testing at a nuclear yield of 2 kilograms or 10 tons, but not because we will be militarily disadvantaged by the results. Normal intelligence gathering systems will provide some probability of detection of such militarily irrelevant violations, which should be sufficient to deter such actions by others. The CTBT is of indefinite duration and I personally hope that conditions are such that it endures forever.

In reality, any signatory to any treaty can be expected to renounce the treaty if the survival of the nation or its supreme national interests are at stake. A mechanism for invoking the supreme national interest clause is written into some treaties. In the case of the CTB Treaty, President Clinton has specified that if the Department of Energy cannot certify the continued safety and reliability of the enduring stockpile, this would be grounds for the abandonment of the treaty.

In summary, the CTBT will make a major contribution to U.S. national security through the imposition of limits on the weapons of potential adversaries and through the support it gives against proliferation of nuclear weapons. U.S. nuclear weapons in the enduring stockpile can be maintained safely and reliably under such a treaty through the science based Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program. The treaty can be adequately verified in the sense that militarily significant violations can be detected with confidence. In sum, the U.S. is far better off with a CTBT than without it.

 


Lynn Sykes

First, some general remarks about verification, which has always been a central U.S. concern. The U.S. government insisted on very high standards of verification during the negotiations for the test ban treaty. I believe that the United States, in fact, got what it wanted in terms of the four major types of global monitoring systems under the international monitoring system [IMS]. These consist of seismological, underwater sound, atmospheric infrasound and a sampling of radionuclides produced by nuclear explosions. This monitoring system provides for monitoring of all different types of environments.

In addition to these international monitoring systems, of course, the United States, under the treaty, is allowed to use its so called national technical means of verification; that is intelligence gathering systems that include satellite imagery and other types of sensors. For example, with regard to seismology, the treaty provides for a global network of 170 stations and also an international data center. Many people may not be aware that, in fact, both of these have been operating for almost three years. At the present time, of those 170 stations, 121 are now operating and by the end of this year we should have 10 more.

In addition, around the world, particularly in a number of the countries in which there is concern about proliferation, including North Africa and the Middle East, there are other so called auxiliary seismic stations. The field of seismology, just like that of meteorology, has had a very long history of exchange of international data. For example, today modern digital data are accessible from many of these other stations very rapidly.

Let me turn now to the August 16 seismic event. On August 28, The Washington Times carried the story that the Russians were suspected of having carried out a nuclear test at their arctic test site at Novaya Zemlya. I believe that the data are very strong—both from the international monitoring system and from other key stations that were available almost instantaneously, as well from Europe and Asia—and show that the event was a small earthquake in the ocean and not a small nuclear explosion. On my hand out, the location of a small earthquake in 1987 is shown. Many people are not aware that there were four previous small earthquakes or small seismic events, and three of those also caused considerable concern within the U.S. government, although I think it is fair to say not as much as the present event. The data, particularly from seismic stations in northern Finland and Norway, show that, based on the ratios of certain seismic waves, all five of these events were earthquakes. The largest one was in 1986 and there is multiple evidence that it was an earthquake.

What are some of the reasons for believing that this latest event was an earthquake? It was located more than 80 miles from the Russian nuclear test site. It occurred in the ocean. The ratio of so called "sheer" waves to "compressional" waves, the S:P ratio, providing it is taken at moderately high frequency and at stations a distance of no more that 1,000 kilometers, indicates that the event had the character of an earthquake. It was quite different from previous nuclear explosions that the Russians detonated up until the time that they stopped testing in 1990. There is also a report by British scientists, who have worked in this field for many decades, that compared the signals from this most recent earthquake with the 1986 event, which they showed quite unambiguously to be an earthquake. They put in the mechanism for the 1986 earthquake and they were able to explain the suddenness or lack of suddenness of certain seismic waves, the P and S waves, at the various stations that recorded the 1997 event. Finally, in going back over the 1997 data, it became apparent that there was an aftershock four hours after the main event. I think that all these pieces of evidence show quite unambiguously that this was an earthquake.

 


Questions and Answers

Q: Can those in Congress who oppose the CTB Treaty, and arms control treaties in general, say since you cannot even decide what the August 16 event was, how can we have confidence that the international monitoring system is going to work under the test ban?

Bell: I think you have to step back and put the whole debate into context. We are making the argument that on balance we are better off with the CTB than without it. We are making no claim that the CTB will prevent nuclear proliferation or prevent countries from acquiring nuclear capability. If a state wants to build a crude nuclear device without testing it, obviously the CTB does not come into play. You have to accept that. Beyond that, we are quite clear in saying what the strengths of the verification regime are and what the limitations are. If you are asking the CTB to provide high confidence that you can detect and confirm any very low yield test or hydronuclear test, then you are asking too much of the CTB. Does that mean, though, that you should reject the CTB? No, because our basic argument is that the CTB constrains proliferation both in vertical and horizontal dimensions.

In his letter of transmittal to the Senate, President Clinton said the treaty is "effectively verifiable." We believe the treaty is effectively verifiable because, in our view, the tests that a state would have to conduct to advance its nuclear capability—both in terms of number and yield—will likely be detected under this treaty. Of course, you can remanufacture or build any nuclear device you want and tell yourself that you have made it more capable, more deadly or more sophisticated. But the issue is whether you have confidence that you have achieved that goal. Our view is that most nuclear powers, given the realities of the CTB, are not going to take a chance on putting some new weapons type into their inventory that has never been tested, or take a chance at some tests below the full level of the primary and then try to extrapolate the results. Beyond that you have to ask yourself why would you take the risk at all.

Moreover, it is one thing to say that we will not have high confidence that we could detect very low yield testing. That does not mean, however, you do not have any chance of detection. You have other means available, such as human intelligence and signal intelligence. These are sources beyond the treaty's international monitoring system. Is any state going to take that chance for a technical result that is of such meager value? Our assessment is no. That is why we assert that the treaty is effectively verifiable.

Garwin: Let me add two specific points. First, when the CTBT enters into force, I hope that there will be open seismographs at the test sites so this sort of thing would not happen in the future. We would know very well the time of origin of the event, and then by analyzing the seismic data we would be able to determine the depth and a better estimate of the location of the event. It is very important though that this information be made available, as provided by the treaty, openly and promptly. It is now available to all of the nations in the prototype international monitoring system, but it is not available, really promptly, to the independent seismological community. It would be much better if it were rather than having to rely on leaks, or American seismologists having to get data from the Norwegians rather than from the data center here in Arlington.

Finally, since we all agree that this event took place either in the Kara Sea or below the sea floor there, if it was a nuclear explosion there are fission products in the water. There are going to be people going around looking for those fission products, so we will find out. What anybody would do with a 5 ton nuclear yield test is not at all clear. If it is below the ocean floor, how did they do it? How did they dig a hole deep enough to contain a 100 ton test without being noticed? If you are worried that in the future somebody is going to dig into the sea bottom and detonate an explosive, that is a pretty bizarre scenario without military benefit so far as I can see.

Q: While there were a lot of activities at the Russian test site that caused legitimate concern, the Russians have said they are identical to those experiments that the United States conducted last summer at the Nevada Test Site. There have been proposals to have these permitted activities be mutually verified, but the U.S. has turned them down. Wouldn't it make sense to come up with a proposal for mutual verification of these activities?

Bell: The short answer to your question is yes, but I'm afraid you have it backwards. We have proposed transparency at our mutual test sites, but unfortunately, to date, we have not been able to reach agreement with the Russian government on a set of measures that could be mutually applied at the test sites to increase transparency and confidence that the kinds of experimental activities undertaken at the sites are, in fact, not in violation of the treaty. But we are still in the middle of those discussions. I am cautiously optimistic that we will work out an arrangement with the Russians that will allow us to have more confidence as to what is going on at Novaya Zemlya and allow the Russians to have a clear understanding of what is going on at the Nevada Test Site.

Q: Could you comment on the issue of verifying other activities at test sites?

Garwin: If you talk to the Russians about monitoring, informally and non governmentally, they say it might be okay to have bilateral monitoring but not international monitoring because that could lead to proliferation. Whether you believe that or not, there is a distinction in their minds between the two. If we are interested in bilateral monitoring then we have to make that clear to them.

With regards to transparency, the JASON committee's report on sub critical experiments went into considerable detail as to how much plutonium would be used with how much high explosives. The Department of Energy announcement of the second sub critical experiment also included these details. I think that is a good development. We do not have anything like that in the way of transparency from Russia, and we cannot insist on it. Yet, it would be good to have a Russian presence, in my opinion, at the Nevada Test Site and a U.S. presence at Novaya Zemlya.

Sykes: An additional set of data is available from the IRIS Consortium, a university based seismic research group located in the U.S. In fact, it is available over the internet. Of the 170 modern seismic stations worldwide, more than 50 are run by this consortium and some of those are getting plugged into the international monitoring system. There were two key stations that were not plugged in. I believe if those data had been fed into the process within a day or so after the event, they would have made a difference in terms of providing a better location of this event.

I think that there is now no question that the event was not at the Russian test site but was in the ocean. That conclusion I think will be developed over the next few weeks in articles by U.S. scientists and British scientists looking at the ratio of seismic waves, and looking at other small events near Novaya Zemlya and how they compare with some of the previous Russian tests there before the Russians stopped testing. The data exists, particularly data from Norway, that show, quite unambiguously, that the event was an earthquake. In fact, augmented by these key stations, the international monitoring system is doing quite a good job.

There is no question that calibration chemical explosions at the U.S., Russian and, I hope, Chinese test sites would give us additional confidence, as would seismic stations at these sites and personnel who would be there at the time any chemical explosions are set off. I understand that there are plans to have some chemical explosions at the Nevada Test Site, and if the Russians did this at their test site this would be helpful. I think that there are reasons for having some observers with equipment there or announcing explosions of that type as well as sub critical explosions.

Q: One of the questions asked by some Senate critics of the CTBT is why do we have to ratify this treaty now since there is not a deadline involved unlike the case of the Chemical Weapons Convention? How do you respond to that?

Bell: There are two points. One is the U.S. should lead. We have taken the lead for 40 years. We took the lead in the negotiations at the Conference on Disarmament [CD] in getting this treaty completed. President Clinton took great pride in being the first head of state to sign the CTB a year ago. I hope we would be in the vanguard of states to get the treaty ratified. Second, there is more of a direct issue concerning the entry into force conditionality of this treaty. The treaty requires the ratification of India and Pakistan for entry into force at the earliest opportunity a year from now. You are all familiar with India's position on this. In the endgame in negotiating the treaty, we had a choice: not to have a treaty because China was not going to agree to the treaty unless there was a prospect of India being in it, or come up with a middle ground position, which we were able to get at the very end of the negotiations, that there would be two ways to secure entry into force. The first is through the front door; 44 states, including India and Pakistan have to ratify for the treaty to enter into force in the fall of 1998. If that fails though, there is the three year mark in the fall of 1999, when the states that have ratified the treaty get to vote on calling an extraordinary conference to figure out how to get the treaty into force despite these provisions. The catch is that you have to have ratified the treaty to be able to vote to convene that conference.

If the U.S. were to take the position that it is not going to act until India acts, I think it would be a fundamental mistake. We would not even get to have a say then in whether there is an extraordinary conference to explore an alternative means of getting this treaty into force. So I think that it is incumbent that the Senate act on this treaty next year both to maintain the U.S. position of leadership on this issue to ensure that we are in a position to talk to the Indian government with moral force, in terms of already having ratified the treaty, and so that we are in a position to call for this treaty conference in the fall of 1999.

Q: There has been an amazing coalition supporting the stockpile stewardship program. Will this coalition fall apart when the Senate begins its consideration of the CTB Treaty? Do you think the Clinton administration will be able to stave off the criticism from the arms control community of some of the facilities involved in the program?

Bell: I think its critical that the broad base of support we have for the stockpile stewardship program continues through the years. It is in the best interest of the arms control community to maintain its strong support of this and not leave the field once the treaty is secured. As Dick Garwin pointed out, the submission to the Senate makes clear we are asking the Senate to adopt a condition in its resolution of ratification that will lock in this mechanism under which the secretary of energy and secretary of defense, as advised by the lab directors, the head of the Strategic Command and the Joint Staff each year in perpetuity, must certify as to their high confidence in the safety and the reliability of these weapons. If, in any year, they could not be so certain, the president has said that he is prepared to withdraw from the treaty and conduct the necessary testing required to fix a weapons type that is crucial to our deterrent. That does not mean some old bomb that is about to come out of the inventory and be retired, but a warhead on which our deterrent rests. You can fill in the blanks whether it is a D 5 or Minuteman missile and there is a crisis with regard to the confidence in that weapon's ability to perform. We are making this position very clear and we are putting it into the resolution of ratification.

Now, to be able to avoid that, President Clinton was very clear when he announced this in 1995 that he does not anticipate that eventuality ever coming to bear. We have got to deliver on the stockpile stewardship program. For the sake of the treaty, I would hope that all arms controllers would agree that it is in everyone's interest to maintain support for these facilities so we can make those certifications year after year.

Garwin: We are still in the early stages of the stockpile stewardship program and we will know more about it as time goes on. Costs may increase; costs may come down. It is possible that as we accumulate information we will be able to do stockpile stewardship and retain people for less money, but it might cost more. So what is important, in my opinion, is the outcome. I support strenuous efforts for economy and efficiency as well. Some of these major systems are not the most important part of the stewardship program; the most important part is the enhanced surveillance and the remanufacturing.

Q: How do we make sure that the United States is not designing new kinds of nuclear weapons that would upset the spirit of the CTB Treaty?

Garwin: We have statements going back to President Bush that we are not doing that, and that we don't have any need for it from the Strategic Command. Weapon designers are always thinking about preliminary designs. But the people who are in charge of the design efforts take seriously the directive that we are not to do this and they are not doing it. I do not believe that we have any significant effort to design new kinds of weapons. And I would say that a new kind of weapon is not only one that exceeds the parameters, such as higher yield, of weapons we already have. You could have a brand new weapon, but dangerous from the point of view of low confidence, which was designed to reproduce exactly the yield of an existing weapon but claimed to be safer or more reliable. In the absence of testing, this would be a wolf masquerading in sheep's clothing. I hope that we will have the good sense not to do any thing like that.

Bell: I think Dick is exactly right. You have to begin by appreciating that there is a fine line here. We are asking our nuclear establishment to maintain their capability into the indefinite future. You cannot build a nuclear weapon and put it in a warehouse somewhere and come back 20 years later and take it off the shelf. They are very vibrant and dynamic entities. For the indefinite future, they have to be able to fix and replenish and repair, and if necessary swap parts when suppliers leave the business, so that you can maintain their effectiveness on this level of certification. The idea that our military establishment would come up with a secret plan to replace our current inventory with new types that have never been tested, in which performance was based strictly on computer extrapolations, I think stretches the doable.

Q: There is an enormous amount of work going on at the labs improving non nuclear components of the weapons that will give them new capabilities. What does not seem apparent from the program is when you cross the line from present capability to advanced capability that constitutes a new weapon, even though you have not done any new development on the physics package. How can you tell the American public and international community that we are not designing new weapons?

Bell: Let me cite just one example. The W 61 Model 11 is a case where a proven, thoroughly tested physics package was repackaged in terms of the weapon that it was placed in. I think that it is good that we have done this, because we are able to recycle an existing physics package into a new container. This means we have been able to retire a much more dangerous nuclear weapon. We were able to take a 9 megaton airblast behemoth that we have relied upon to take out deeply buried and hardened command centers and replace it with this repackaged weapon. So, by any standard of arms control, it seems to me this is a good development. But it is not a new nuclear design.

Garwin: I have no trouble supporting activities that maintain the physics package and replace the other elements on a cost effective basis, including the electromechanical switches. I think that is a good thing and the CTBT is not the forum in which to fight that. If you are against that, then you want to fight it in a forum addressing numbers and uses of nuclear weapons. I am in favor of this development, but I am also for restrictions on numbers of nuclear weapons in the future.

CTB Treaty Signatories and Ratifiers

CTB Treaty Signatories and Ratifiers

During his September 22 address to the UN General Assembly in New York, President Bill Clinton announced that he was formally transmitting the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.

The treaty was opened for signature at the United Nations on September 24, 1996. On that day, 71 countries, including all five of the declared nuclear weapon states, signed the treaty. The next day, Israel—one of the three nuclear "threshold" states together with India and Pakistan—signed. As of September 1997, 147 states have signed and seven have ratified the CTB.

The CTB Treaty will formally enter into force 180 days after 44 designated states have deposited their instruments of ratification with the secretary general of the United Nations, but in no case earlier than September 24, 1998. These 44 states include the five declared nuclear weapon states, the three threshold states and 36 other states that are participating members of the Conference on Disarmament and recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency as possessing nuclear power and/or research reactors.

Of the 44 states that must deposit instruments of ratification for formal entry into force, 41 (identified in bold in the roster below) have already signed the CTB Treaty. The other three states are India, North Korea and Pakistan. India has repeatedly stated that it will not sign the treaty, while Pakistan maintains that it will not sign unless India does. The list below identifies the states that have signed and ratified (ratifiers are identified in italics) the CTB Treaty as of September 1997.

—For more information, contact ACA.

Country Signature
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
Armenia 10/1/96
Australia 9/24/96
Austria 9/24/96
Azerbaijan 7/28/97
Bahrain 9/24/96
Bangladesh 10/24/96
Belarus 9/24/96
Belgium 9/24/96
Benin 9/27/96
Bolivia 9/24/96
Bosnia and Herzegovina 9/24/96
Brazil 9/24/96
Brunei 1/22/97
Bulgaria 9/24/96
Burkina Faso 9/27/96
Burundi 9/24/96
Cambodia 9/26/96
Canada 9/24/96
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 Republic1 10/4/96
Costa Rica 9/25/96
Cote d'Ivoire 9/24/96
Croatia 9/24/96
Cyprus 9/24/96
Czech Republic 11/12/96

(Ratified 9/11/97)

Denmark 9/24/96
Djibouti 10/21/96
Dominican Republic 10/3/96
Ecuador 9/24/96
Egypt 10/14/96
El Salvador 9/24/96
Equatorial Guinea 10/9/96
Estonia 11/20/96
Ethiopia 9/25/96
Fiji 9/24/96

(Ratified 10/10/96)

Finland 9/24/96
France 9/24/96
Gabon 10/7/96
Georgia 9/24/96
Germany 9/24/96
Ghana 10/3/96
Greece 9/24/96
Grenada 10/10/96
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
Iceland 9/24/96
Indonesia 9/24/96
Iran 9/24/96
Ireland 9/24/96
Israel 9/25/96
Italy 9/24/96
Jamaica 11/11/96
Japan 9/24/96

(Ratified 7/8/97)

Jordan 9/26/96
Kazakhstan 9/30/96
Kenya 11/14/96
Kuwait 9/24/96
Kyrgyzstan 10/8/96
Laos 7/30/97
Latvia 9/24/96
Lesotho 9/30/96
Liberia 10/1/96
Liechtenstein 9/27/96
Lithuania 10/7/96
Luxembourg 9/24/96
Madagascar 10/9/96
Malawi 10/9/96
Mali 2/18/97
Malta 9/24/96
Marshall Islands 9/24/96
Mauritania 9/24/96
Mexico 9/24/96
Micronesia 9/24/96

(Ratified 7/25/97)

Moldova 9/24/97
Monaco 10/1/96
Mongolia 10/1/96

(Ratified 8/8/97)

Morocco 9/24/96
Mozambique 9/26/96
Myanmar 11/25/96
Namibia 9/24/96
Nepal 10/8/96
Netherlands 9/24/96
New Zealand 9/27/96

Country Signature
Nicaragua 9/24/96
Niger 10/3/96
Norway 9/24/96
Panama 9/24/96
Papua New Guinea 9/25/96
Paraguay 9/25/96
Peru 9/25/96
Philippines 9/24/96
Poland 9/24/96
Portugal 9/24/96
Qatar 9/24/96

(Ratified 3/3/97)

Romania 9/24/96
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
Seychelles 9/24/96
Slovakia 9/30/96
Slovenia 9/24/96
Solomon Islands 10/3/96
South Africa 9/24/96
South Korea 9/24/96
Spain 9/24/96
Sri Lanka 10/24/96
Suriname 1/14/97
Swaziland 9/24/96
Sweden 9/24/96
Switzerland 9/24/96
Tajikistan 10/7/96
Thailand 11/12/96
Togo 10/2/96
Tunisia 10/16/96
Turkey 9/24/96
Turkmenistan 9/24/96
Uganda 11/7/96
Ukraine 9/27/96
United Arab Emirates 9/25/96
United Kingdom 9/24/96
United States 9/24/96
Uruguay 9/24/96
Uzbekistan 10/3/96

(Ratified 5/29/97)

Vanuatu 9/24/96
Venezuela 10/3/96
Viet Nam 9/24/96
Yemen 9/30/96
Zambia 12/3/96

NOTES

1. The Democratic Republic of The Congo, formerly Zaire. [Back to table]

Sources: UN, ACDA, and ACA.

Clinton Sends CTB Treaty to Senate: Hearing Set to Begin in October

NEARLY ONE YEAR after signing the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, the Clinton administration on September 22 formally transmitted the accord to the Senate, setting the stage for a likely battle with conservative Republicans who appear to be in no rush to consider the treaty. Although the Senate is expected to hold hearings in October on the treaty as well as the administration's Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP), which is designed to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing, a floor vote on advice and consent to ratification is not anticipated until spring 1998 at the earliest.

President Clinton announced the U.S. move toward ratification during a September 22 address to the 52nd session of the UN General Assembly in New York. Citing over 40 years of test ban negotiating history, he called the CTB Treaty "the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms control," and said it "will help to prevent the nuclear powers from developing more advanced and more dangerous weapons" as well as "limit the possibilities for other states to acquire such devices." In his transmittal letter to the Senate, Clinton said the CTB "will significantly further our nuclear non proliferation and arms control objectives and strengthen international security."

In a White House briefing that same day, Robert Bell, senior director for defense policy and arms control at the National Security Council, addressed some concerns related to the treaty's rigid entry into force provisions. Under Article XIV, the treaty cannot enter into force until 180 days after it has been signed and ratified by 44 specific countries, including the five declared nuclear weapon states and the three "threshold" states (India, Israel and Pakistan).

As of September 30, only seven of the 147 states that have signed the test ban have ratified the treaty, including only one of the 44 named states. (See p. 34.) If Indian opposition to the CTB continues to prevent the treaty's entry into force, Bell said a special conference may be called in 1999 (three years after the test ban was opened for signature) by a majority of states parties to explore alternative ways of bringing the treaty into force. Bell stressed that Senate approval of the CTB will be important so that the United States may actively participate in this conference, should it become necessary.

 

View From the Hill

In the weeks preceding Clinton's transmittal of the treaty, several key senators expressed strong support for the CTB. Senator Joseph Biden (D DE), ranking minority member on the Foreign Relations Committee, said September 10: "With U.S. leadership in ratifying this treaty, the CTBT will gain near unanimous international support and keep pressure on India and many like minded countries to ratify it—or at least to refrain from testing." Two days later, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D NM) said, "It serves the peaceful interests of the United States and the peaceful interests of countries throughout the world to take this important step to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and eliminate nuclear testing."

Without stating his position on the CTB, Senator Pete Domenici (R NM), chairman of the Energy and Water Development Appropriations subcommittee and an influential voice in the nuclear testing debate, said September 12 that he intends to conduct a series of hearings on the treaty in October. Senator Thad Cochran (R MS), chairman of the Governmental Affairs subcommittee on international security, proliferation and federal services and a likely critic of the CTB, has scheduled a hearing on the SSMP for late October.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee must approve the CTB before a floor vote can occur. A spokesman for committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R NC) said the CTB is not a "front burner issue," especially because "it's unlikely...to come into force in the next year." The committee will consider NATO enlargement in hearings beginning in October before taking up the CTB Treaty.

Clinton Set to Submit CTBT to Senate; Japan Ratifies

 

Craig Cerniello

ON JULY 8, JAPAN became the first country to formally ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty among the 44 states whose ratification is necessary before it can enter into force. Two days later, Britain became the first of the five declared nuclear-weapon states—all of which signed the treaty when it opened for signature on September 24, 1996—to begin the ratification process. The Clinton administration has not yet submitted the treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification.

Japan deposited its instrument of ratification with UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, the depositary of the treaty. As of mid-July, 144 states had signed the treaty and three others had ratified (Fiji, Qatar and Uzbekistan). The CTB Treaty cannot enter into force until it has been signed and ratified by the five declared nuclear-weapon states, the three "threshold" states (India, Israel and Pakistan) and 36 other states that are participating members of the UN Conference on Disarmament and recognized by the International Atomic Energy Agency as possessing nuclear power and/or research reactors. All 44 key states have signed the treaty with the exception of India, North Korea and Pakistan. India has repeatedly said it will not sign the treaty in its present form; Pakistan maintains that it will not sign unless India does.

In an effort to break this logjam, Japanese Foreign Minister Yukihiko Ikeda, during his July 21-23 visit to Islamabad, urged Pakistan to unilaterally sign the CTB Treaty. Not surprisingly, Pakistani President Farooq Leghari told Ikeda that "it is not possible for Pakistan to make unilateral commitments without simultaneous pledges by India to respect regional and international obligations." The Japanese foreign minister also was unable to convince India to sign the treaty during his July 23-25 visit to New Delhi.

On July 10, the British government introduced legislation for CTB ratification in the House of Lords, which may consider any amendments or conditions to the legislation and then decide whether to approve it by a simple majority vote. If approved by the House of Lords, the House of Commons must also approve the treaty before legislation is submitted to the queen for final approval. Some observers expect Britain to complete the ratification process by the end of 1997.

Action by the United States may not be far behind. Senior Clinton administration officials have indicated that the treaty will be submitted to the Senate for its advice and consent in the near future, probably in early September when Congress returns from its August recess. Although achieving Senate approval of the CTB is likely to be difficult, the prospects for ratification improved on July 15 when Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM)—a key Republican voice in the nuclear test ban debate—said that he is "leaning strongly" in support of the treaty.

Construction Begins on National Ignition Facility

On May 29, ground was broken for the construction of the National Ignition Facility located at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. The laboratory is a key facility in the Department of Energy's (DOE's) science-based stockpile stewardship and management program designed to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal under the recently signed Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty. The $1.2 billion facility, which will contain the world's largest laser, is expected to be completed by the year 2003.

During the ground-breaking ceremony, Energy Secretary Federico Pena said, "The National Ignition Facility has been designed to create for the first time ever in a laboratory, brief bursts of self-sustaining fusion reactions...that will allow us to study nuclear weapons physics without conducting underground nuclear tests as we have done in the past." The 192beam laser facility will simulate the temperatures and pressures that occur during nuclear weapon explosions to study fusion ignition and to monitor the effect of aging on the reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. The facility would also contribute to the effort to explore fusion for civilian power in the Inertial Confinement Fusion (ICF) program, which is viewed as acceptable under the CTB Treaty.

DOE maintains that the National Ignition Facility is necessary to ensure the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile and is compatible with the CTB Treaty. The facility has been strongly criticized by some observers, however, who claim that it is not necessary for the stewardship program and could be seen as contributing to U.S. efforts to develop new nuclear weapons contrary to the spirit of the CTB Treaty.

Send Senate CTB Treaty Now


 

Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr.

President Clinton should move quickly to send the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty to the Senate for its advice and consent to ratification. Although Senate debate on the treaty, which the United States signed almost a year ago, threatens to be long and heated, any further delay will not improve the prospects for the treaty's approval and will raise serious questions internationally as to the U.S. commitment to the treaty.

When the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was extended indefinitely in 1995, the nuclear-weapon states agreed to complete the CTB Treaty in 1996. Largely through Clinton's policy initiatives, agreement on a text was reached on schedule, and the treaty has now been signed by 144 countries, including the five nuclear-weapon states.

In the eyes of the world, the next step depends on the willingness of the nuclear-weapon states to ratify the treaty, and Russia and China will certainly wait for the United States to act. Failure by the administration to start the CTB Treaty ratification process would be widely viewed as a repudiation of the political commitment it gave to obtain consensus support for the indefinite extension of the NPT. Extended delay would severely undercut the U.S. leadership role in efforts to strengthen the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Paradoxically, the United States and not India, which has stood virtually alone in refusing to sign the CTB, would then be seen as the barrier to achieving the long-sought goal of ending nuclear testing.

Despite the international imperative to act promptly on CTB ratification, some administration officials and outside observers have counseled delay on the grounds that the necessary 67 votes for approval cannot be mustered in the present Senate. It is far too early, however, to forecast the vote on this issue, and the composition of the Senate is unlikely to be more favorably disposed on this issue after the next election. The debate on the CTB will not really be joined until senators are faced with the prospect of an actual vote. Then, undecided senators will have to face the fact that public opinion, editorial commentary and knowledgeable experts overwhelmingly support the treaty. Treaty opponents cannot look for support from the military, which has outgrown its earlier infatuation with nuclear weapons. Moreover, the weapons laboratories, which have historically been outspoken opponents of a test ban, will not plead the need for continued testing, having accepted a new role as managers of a well-funded stewardship program designed to assure the long-term reliability and safety of existing weapons without nuclear testing.

In the debate, the oft-repeated arguments against a CTB Treaty will have lost much of their force and will be easily rebutted. The reliability and safety of the existing U.S. nuclear arsenal is assured by a gold-plated stewardship program. The U.S. deterrent is overwhelming and secure and will not depend on the development of new nuclear warheads, which would require testing. With provisions for on-site inspections of suspicious events, the treaty's international monitoring system, buttressed by independent U.S. technical intelligence assets, will be capable of verifying whether any significant nuclear testing has occurred anywhere in the world.

When all is said and done, individual senators will have to decide whether they want to be identified as advocates of a resumption of nuclear testing that would seriously set back nuclear nonproliferation efforts when it is most unlikely there will ever be a need for another U.S. nuclear test. As a harbinger of this decision process, Majority Leader Trent Lott (R-MS), who originally opposed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), supported the convention when the final vote was taken. While it is true that the CWC was President Bush's treaty and the Republican Party in recent years has opposed the CTB, it is also true that the CTB, which was first championed by President Eisenhower in 1958, will be a much higher profile issue than the CWC and the political penalty for holding it hostage or killing it will be far greater.

Senate approval of the CTB Treaty will be a hard fight that can, and will, be won. In fact, obtaining Senate approval should be much easier than negotiating the detailed treaty in the Conference on Disarmament with 60 participating states, some of which, in addition to India, did not really want the ban. But to win, the president must submit the treaty as soon as possible and no later than early September if there are to be Senate hearings this year leading to a vote in 1998. If the president should be persuaded to wait for a more propitious moment, he runs a serious risk that Senate action on the CTB will not be completed during his term in office, with far-reaching adverse implications on the prospects for progress on his nuclear non-proliferation agenda.

The Arms Control Agenda at the UN: Breaking New Ground or Breaking Old Habits?

Rebecca Johnson

Every year the UN General Assembly adopts a host of resolutions on disarmament without really expecting that most of them will be acted on. Some, however, convey important signals. For many years, the General Assembly had overwhelmingly endorsed resolutions calling for an end to nuclear testing. When the resolution achieved consensus in December 1993, it meant that the nuclear weapon states were finally ready to give a test ban a chance. The result was the long awaited Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) that was opened for signature in September 1996.

In 1993, the General Assembly also unanimously agreed on a resolution calling for a global ban on the production of fissile materials for weapon and explosive purposes. But in 1995 and 1996, the General Assembly did not vote on any so called "fissban" resolution, and this too sent a strong, but more somber, message. In this case, the main players at the Geneva based Conference on Disarmament (CD) were so divided over what kind of fissile material cutoff regime they wanted that they would not risk putting a fissban resolution to a vote at the United Nations. Advocates of such a treaty were afraid that a split vote in the assembly would undermine the authority of the consensus endorsement achieved in 1993. At the same time, opponents of a cutoff regime rejoiced in the absence of a UN vote.

During the 51st session of the United Nations, a number of important debates and resolutions on disarmament issues were addressed by the UN First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, which met in New York in October and November 1996. All 46 draft resolutions and decisions adopted by the First Committee also obtained majority support in the General Assembly on December 10, 1996. However, although every UN member state has an equal vote in the General Assembly, some votes are more equal than others.

There is inevitably a handsome majority for disarmament resolutions, especially nuclear disarmament. But to assess a resolution's significance, it is more important to look at which countries co sponsored it; whether a resolution did better or worse in previous sessions; and the balance of power on the vote, particularly which states registered votes against. Consensus at the United Nations can be an indication of a significant breakthrough in support of a resolution, which could lead to negotiations and ultimately a new security enhancing arms control treaty. Alternatively, a UN consensus may simply reflect widespread endorsement of diplomatic rhetoric on an issue that no one wants to be seen as being against, but which is not likely to move forward.

Among the many resolutions considered during the 51st session, only a handful stand out as significant or with the potential to break new ground. Malaysia and its colleagues in the non aligned movement (NAM) laid the first foundation stone for a nuclear weapons convention that would ban all such weapons, just as the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) are intended to ban other types of weapons of mass destruction. The United States, backed by 112 others countries, called for a complete ban on anti personnel landmines, although it did not specify how or where this should be negotiated. The United States and Russia co sponsored a resolution on bilateral arms control which not only underlined the high priority to be accorded to further bilateral reductions, but also urged Russia to ratify START II, a singling out that was unusually strong and significant. The United States and Israel were isolated in opposing a special session of all UN member states, which the vast majority of countries—including the European Union—want to be convened in 1999 to discuss a disarmament and security agenda for the 21st century.

The United Nations strongly endorsed the CWC and exhorted both the United States and Russia to ratify it before it enters into force on April 29, 1997. For many delegates, the biggest disappointment was the failure for the second consecutive year to adopt a resolution supporting a ban on the production of fissile materials.

 

Nuclear Weapons Convention

Malaysia's resolution built on the advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice (ICJ), delivered on July 8, 1996, in response to a request by the United Nations in 1994. Underlining the unanimous conclusion of the court that "there exists an obligation to pursue in good faith and bring to a conclusion negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament in all its aspects under strict and effective international control," the resolution "calls upon all states to fulfill that obligation immediately by commencing multilateral negotiations in 1997 leading to an early conclusion of a nuclear weapons convention prohibiting the development, production, testing, deployment, stockpiling, transfer, threat or use of nuclear weapons and providing for their elimination."

In introducing the resolution, Malaysia's ambassador, Hasmy Bin Agam, backed U.S. Russian arms control efforts such as the START accords and called the views of the Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons "particularly pertinent." However, he said, the existence of "tens of thousands of nuclear weapons in the arsenals of the nuclear weapon states, 28 years after the signing of the NPT [nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty], is a sobering reminder that the negotiations on nuclear disarmament ... have been carried out neither in good faith nor in earnest." Exhorting that the present window of opportunity must not be lost, he said it was now necessary to start negotiations leading to the con clusion of a nuclear weapons convention.

Four of the five nuclear powers led the opposition, objecting that the resolution "selectively quoted" from the NPT. The United States complained that the resolution omitted the commitment to complete and general disarmament, "distorting the meaning" of treaty Article VI, which requires states "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament." Russia protested that the resolution was silent on the question of the use of nuclear weapons, about which the judges on the ICJ had been unable to agree. Several European delegations echoed these concerns, but the resolution had widespread support from the developing countries. Chile argued that it was appropriate for the resolution to quote verbatim from the part of the court's advisory opinion about which the 14 judges had been unanimous, since the ICJ's judgment on the question of use had been hedged with caveats and potential ambiguity. However, in its unanimous judgment, the ICJ was not merely repeating Article VI obligations under the NPT, but intended to provide an interpretation of the legal situation, informed by the NPT and other relevant treaties and international legal instruments.

Stressing the importance of the ICJ opinion, Iceland feared that the resolution would "subordinate bilateral nuclear arms negotiations to the work of the Conference on Disarmament." The United States and Britain argued that the resolution was not really about the ICJ at all, but repeated calls "for immediate multilateral negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention." In fact, the Malaysian resolution puts the demand for a nuclear weapons convention into the international arena for the first time. Importantly, the resolution did not call for a nuclear weapons convention to be immediately negotiated, but called for commencement of negotiations leading to a nuclear weapons convention. (Emphasis added.)

The breakdown of votes on the Malaysian resolution was interesting, with the NAM generally solidly in support and cracks showing among European, NATO and allied countries. There was considerable switching in the three votes covering two particular paragraphs and the whole resolution, with some U.S. allies voting "for" while others were resolutely opposed. Russia abstained on both paragraphs but voted against the resolution as a whole. The United States, Britain and France voted "no" throughout, while China voted "yes" on all parts. Canada had requested one of the paragraph votes so that it and other Western countries would be seen as endorsing the unanimous opinion of the ICJ on the legal obligation to bring nuclear disarmament negotiations to conclusion.

With 139 for, seven against (the United States, Britain, France, Latvia, Monaco, Romania and Turkey) and 20 abstentions, the vote clearly reflected the influence of public opinion on these issues. Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Finland, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden and Ukraine joined the NAM and China in endorsing the ICJ opinion. Russia, the Netherlands, Portugal, Spain and various Eastern European countries abstained, including Belarus and Kazakstan, which until recently stored large numbers of former Soviet nuclear weapons on their territories. Only 110 states voted for the specific paragraph calling for negotiations leading to a nuclear weapons convention to begin in 1997. There is some evidence indicating that had the date 1997 been omitted from the call to commence multilateral negotiations, there would have been a higher number voting in support.

In the General Assembly vote on the full resolution, 115 countries voted in favor, 22 states voted against and 32 members abstained. The resolution was supported by the NAM states, China, New Zealand, Sweden and Ireland. Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Germany, Spain and Turkey joined the Western nuclear powers, Canada and Russia in voting against the resolution. Australia, Austria, Denmark and Finland joined Israel, Japan, Norway and several Eastern European countries in abstaining.

While no one imagines that this resolution will result in negotiations next year, Malaysia's call for a nuclear weapons convention received surprisingly solid support on the first vote, clearly reflecting a shift in perceptions. Whereas just five years ago the idea of a treaty banning nuclear weapons would have been regarded as too idealistic, there is now a growing body of international public opinion, including retired military officers as well as scientists and politicians, which views a nuclear weapons convention as something reasonable to aspire to and achievable with sufficient political will.

With four nuclear weapon states opposed (and China's support lacking practical credibility), negotiations on a convention could not be successfully undertaken until much more has been achieved to reduce these states' nuclear arsenals and their reliance on nuclear weapon based security policies through unilateral initiatives, further U.S. Russian agreements and the involvement, sooner rather than later, of Britain, China and France. For this reason, several countries which consider that a nuclear weapons convention could play an important role in achieving nuclear disarmament worldwide tried to persuade Malaysia to omit the reference to 1997. The non aligned states privately say the date was not important; the point of the resolution was to start the ball rolling.

They recognize that it could take years before a nuclear weapons convention is truly on the negotiating agenda, but they wanted to serve notice on the nuclear powers that what is possible for chemical weapons is even more necessary where nuclear weapons are concerned. They intend for the call for a nuclear weapons convention to become an annual resolution both in the First Committee and General Assembly, and expect that the resolution will gather new votes each year until the momentum is unstoppable.

 

U.S. Russian Arms Control

In 1996, the First Committee and General Assembly also conveyed some interesting messages on U.S. Russian arms control efforts. As in previous years, there were two resolutions on this subject. The resolution supported by the NAM noted the "significant nuclear arsenals" remaining and argued that the responsibility for nuclear disarmament lies primarily with the nuclear weapon states with the largest arsenals. By contrast, the United States introduced a resolution (co sponsored by Russia, Britain and France) which welcomed "significant reductions" in the nuclear arsenals. This resolution focused on the START process, explicitly expressing the hope that Russia will soon ratify START II. With Russian co sponsorship, this departure from the usual rule against singling out particular states is clearly intended to encourage the Russian Duma to ratify START II.

Ratification of START II by the Duma is currently held up for five principal reasons: funding for dismantlement; a perceived imbalance in the provisions of START II in favor of the United States; the vigorous campaign to expand NATO; efforts by the United States to undercut the 1972 ABM Treaty; and internecine conflict and disarray in the Duma, compounded by lack of effective leadership on this issue from the Yeltsin government. With both START II and CWC ratification now held up by the Duma, democrats in Russia will need to take greater initiative and responsibility to pilot these important measures through the ratification process. The United States could do much more to alleviate the first four concerns. For example, the initiative started by the Nunn Lugar security assistance program should be expanded. The sooner that Russian missiles and facilities can be dismantled, the safer the world will be.

Leaders of the Duma argue that full compliance with START II will leave Russia at a strategic disadvantage and force it to manufacture new land based missiles to bring it up to the levels permitted by the treaty. Senior Russian diplomats and Duma members have told U.S. officials that Russian ratification of START II would be easier if the United States would enter into negotiations on the next phase of reductions—a START III accord, bringing warhead levels down more equally to 1,000 to 2,000 each. So far, the U.S. response seems to be: "Ratify START II first and then we'll talk."

The proposed expansion of NATO is probably the ultimate example of a short sighted policy that could create the very threat that it presumably is intended to defend against. NATO's existing advantage in nuclear and conventional forces should deter any possible future attack without making present day Russia, which is not a threat, feel surrounded and threatened. Already there is growing support in Moscow for the argument that rather than reduce its nuclear weapons, Russia should compensate for its conventional weakness by ensuring that it has sufficiently flexible and convincing nuclear force to deter attacks by potential foes. In this context, it is imperative that the United States move quickly to help Russia safely dismantle its nuclear weapon systems and aging facilities so that the substantial arms reduction already underway becomes irreversible. That cannot happen if the United States pursues policies which increase Russia's sense of vulnerability, such as initiating a new race for missile defenses and expanding NATO to Russia's borders. Reducing Russia's huge nuclear arsenal can only be achieved bilaterally, with the United States showing that it is willing to undertake equivalent cuts and assisting an impoverished Russia so that dismantlement becomes a priority.

In addition, Russia has for some years expressed growing concern about U.S. plans to develop theater and strategic ballistic missile defenses. Many in Russia fear that the rationale for the ABM Treaty is being undermined by the United States. As a consequence, there are a growing number of voices objecting to further arms reductions on the grounds that Russia's deterrence posture will require all the weapons it has to overwhelm such defenses. The hard liners are using these arguments to erode Russian support for START II and now the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), both of which must be ratified by the Duma to enter into force.

U.S. efforts to expand NATO to Russia's borders and undercut the ABM Treaty will not enhance U.S. security. If these U.S. policies lead to a negative decision by the Duma on START II, the CWC or the CTBT, this will have a disastrous impact on the General Assembly's agenda calling for major steps in nuclear disarmament.

By voting for a General Assembly resolution with such an explicit criticism of Russia's failure to ratify START II, the Yeltsin government sent a brave message to the Duma. This resolution was endorsed by 160 countries, with just 11 abstentions; no country voted against it. By contrast, most NATO members and Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) countries voted against the NAM resolution, or abstained from voting, viewing it as a vehicle to push for "timebound" nuclear disarmament.

 

Eliminating Nuclear Weapons

A similar voting pattern could be discerned with two more traditional resolutions on nuclear disarmament. A NAM sponsored resolution urged the nuclear weapon states to stop immediately the qualitative improvement and stockpiling of nuclear warheads and delivery systems, and called on them to undertake phased reductions with a view to their total elimination "within a timebound framework." This resolution garnered 110 votes in favor, 39 votes against (mostly NATO and OSCE countries) and 20 abstentions.

A more moderate resolution introduced by Japan, entitled "Nuclear Disarmament With a View to the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons," received 159 votes in favor, with 11 abstentions. The United States, Russia, Britain and France were among those in favor; China abstained. Intended to capture the middle ground but maintain moral pressure on the nuclear weapon states, Japan's resolution focused on the commitments and program of action adopted by NPT parties when they made the treaty permanent in May 1995. Calling for "best efforts for a smooth start of the strengthened review process," the resolution also urged the nuclear weapon states to reduce their arsenals with the ultimate goal of eliminating them. Though moderate by comparison with the NAM sponsored call for timebound nuclear disarmament, the language of Japan's resolution is stronger than that proposed in previous years, indicating growing pressure by U.S. allies for further practical commitments to nuclear disarmament. The fact that the United States, Russia, Britain and France felt obliged to vote in favor of this resolution indicates the unacceptability of old intransigence on this issue.

Significantly, this focus on the NPT was underscored during a December 1996 conference hosted by Japan in Kyoto that was attended by Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) Director John Holum as well as several key disarmament ambassadors. The chair's summary of the proceedings, which was made public, emphasized that there had been general agreement "that the review process starting in 1997 should place particular emphasis on substantive matters, and thus be dynamic and different from past practice of the reviews." Clearly, there are concerns on the part of some countries that, having achieved the indefinite extension of the NPT, the nuclear powers will prove the non aligned correct by placing political or procedural barriers in the way of further progress on nuclear disarmament. Japan and other countries with a vested interest in international stability are anxious that such an attitude by the nuclear weapon states could undermine the non proliferation regime, with disastrous consequences in the future.

 

Cutoff' Divisions Continue

One significant arms control failure during the 51st session of the General Assembly was the withdrawal of a resolution supporting a worldwide ban on the production of plutonium and highly enriched uranium (HEU). Canada had earlier circulated a draft resolution that called for the "prohibition of the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices." The Canadian draft recalled the December 1993 consensus resolution by the General Assembly, welcomed the negotiating mandate adopted by the CD in March 1995 and called for "the immediate commencement and early conclusion" of cutoff negotiations. However, early on in its consultations with other delegations, Canada decided that it would be impossible to achieve consensus. Considering that a split vote could polarize states even further, the resolution's supporters decided not to risk taking the resolution any further.

This failure confirms the growing view that the CD will not be able to convene an ad hoc committee for cutoff talks and get the negotiations underway early in 1997. It is now clear that the international community needs urgently to reconsider the options for initiating cutoff talks including, if necessary, abandoning the CD mandate and seeking a more viable route toward controlling production and reducing the proliferation threat from fissile materials. The main problems remain whether and how to address existing stockpiles and the relationship of a fissile material cutoff to nuclear disarmament. The CD has been deadlocked on this issue for nearly two years. Even if negotiations were to get started in Geneva, prospects for agreement are slim.

For many non nuclear weapon states, a cutoff regime that does not address existing stockpiles of fissile materials would simply freeze the nuclear status quo. For Pakistan and Egypt, looking toward the nuclear weapons potential of India and Israel, respectively, the status quo is not acceptable. Four of the five nuclear powers (the United States, Russia, Britain and France) have already declared a voluntary halt on their production of plutonium and HEU for weapons, and the United States and Russia are now awash with fissile material from dismantled weapons. China is now believed by some observers to have stopped its production as well. For many countries, putting this de facto moratorium into law should be done by the five major nuclear powers themselves. Negotiations at the CD would not, in their view, guarantee agreement by India, Israel and Pakistan and is not therefore a sufficient priority to spend much time or money on.

A number of non aligned states are also concerned that the fissban issue will be used to tie up the resources and work of the CD for a long time, making further negotiations on nuclear disarmament impossible. Their anxiety could be alleviated if the nuclear weapon states were willing to put a target date on a first step cutoff treaty, in return for an acceptance from the non aligned to keep the controversial and more complicated issue of fissile material stockpiles for a later measure. Providing that there were some assurance that stockpiles and the larger issue of the production of all weapon useable plutonium and HEU could be considered as further steps, with preliminary discussion in an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament, for example, such a trade off might shift the logjam.

This kind of trade off also stands a good chance of winning the support of the bulk of non aligned countries, including Egypt. Despite wanting stockpiles addressed, Cairo is especially interested in involving Israel in the process of negotiating fissile material controls. Whether such a deal would bring India and Pakistan on board is open to question, and there is certainly no guarantee that the final stages of cutoff talks at the CD would not replicate the fiasco that nearly derailed the CTBT. Once again, some of the declared nuclear weapon states will insist on having the signature and ratification of the so called "threshold" states (Israel, India and Pakistan) as a binding condition before such a treaty would enter into force. And once again, India is likely to balk, demanding (as it already has) that the cutoff regime should be linked with nuclear disarmament. That does not necessarily mean that the measure is doomed. But if the United States is going to continue to demand that this treaty be negotiated at the CD, it should at least acknowledge the likely scenario. However, this time the CD should be better prepared to let the General Assembly adopt a cutoff treaty if consensus is blocked in Geneva.

Considerable diplomatic finesse may be required to overcome the opposition of Pakistan to a cutoff treaty that does not address existing stockpiles, or the political hostility of India to a regime that is not linked to "timebound" nuclear disarmament. The establishment of a CD ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament may be the price these countries set for allowing a cutoff initiative to go forward. Presently, the United States, Britain and France are not yet willing to pay that price, even if the non aligned states are persuaded to accept a non negotiating role for the committee to begin with. If the nuclear powers are unwilling to go further than a basic cutoff, they should seriously consider alternative ways of making it legally binding among themselves. Refusing to do so implies that they do not regard a cutoff among the five most advanced nuclear weapon states to be intrinsically valuable. That sends all the wrong signals to the rest of the world.

 

Breakthrough On Landmines

Once again there were two resolutions related to anti personnel landmines, though both came from the Western side. Sweden introduced a resolution on the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) that was adopted by consensus. The resolution supported the work already underway on strengthening the CCW and commended the recently amended landmine protocol to the CCW (Protocol II) and the new protocol (Protocol IV) on blinding laser weapons, as agreed by the 1996 review conference.

The United States and more than 110 co sponsors went much further with their resolution calling for "an effective, legally binding, international agreement to ban the use, stockpiling, production and transfer of anti personnel (AP) landmines with a view to completing the negotiations as soon as possible." This resolution was overwhelmingly endorsed by 155 countries in the General Assembly, with no votes against and only 10 abstentions. Because the U.S. sponsored resolution did not specify a forum for negotiations, it steered clear of the controversy generated by the so called "Ottawa Process," a Canadian initiative to negotiate and sign, at a special conference, a global ban in 1997.

On January 17, 1997, the White House issued a statement calling for negotiations on a worldwide treaty banning anti personnel mines, and expressing the Clinton administration's view that the CD "offers the most practical and effective forum for achieving our aim of a ban that is global." This U.S. move has raised the stakes in Geneva. Although Britain and France moved swiftly to back the U.S. initiative, other countries were less comfortable. Advocates of a global landmines ban are concerned that 1) the CD could slow down and possibly derail the Ottawa Process; 2) at best, the CD would only be able to manage a "step by step" progress and, at worst, the landmine issue could become hopelessly bogged down in Geneva's arcane procedures; and 3) negotiations on landmines could become all consuming, thereby preventing the CD from addressing nuclear weapons issues. Mexico, which in New York supported a landmines ban but declared "Any other forum but not the CD," has continued its vehement opposition to this approach. Other advocates of a total ban, such as Austria, Belgium, Canada and the Netherlands, have decided not to block the establishment of landmines negotiations at the CD but are skeptical of its chances of success. These states prefer that the Ottawa process continue as well.

A special conference of concerned states could likely negotiate and sign a formal ban in less than a year, thereby establishing an international legal basis for the prohibition of anti personnel landmines. However, against this backdrop is the concern that such a conference, by excluding some of the world's biggest producers (namely Russia and China), would simply become a club for the virtuous, with little political impact on the widespread problem. Negotiations at the CD, on the other hand, would involve all the players, but with the drawback that talks could be prolonged and possibly unsuccessful, thereby delaying actual progress on the issue.

Advocates of the Ottawa approach argue that once a global legal norm has been established, international pressure will be more effectively brought to bear on landmine producers. They contend that, all things considered, the Canadian initiative would be a speedier and surer way to get Russia, China and others on board than through lengthy, multilateral negotiations at the CD, which some now regard as the kiss of death for arms control endeavors. A twin track approach appears acceptable to the White House, which mentioned support for the Ottawa process in its statement calling on the CD to commence negotiations. However, as Russia has been quick to point out, if the Ottawa process concludes a total ban this year, the two approaches may find themselves on a collision course.

Russia and China are the strongest opponents of a landmines ban and among the 10 states to abstain on the U.S. resolution at the General Assembly. Both countries have said the CCW is the appropriate forum for discussing landmines. While China said it supported "reasonable restrictions" on landmines, it claimed the weapons were a legitimate means of military defense. Russia, which called the Ottawa initiative a "road leading nowhere," said discussions at the CD were feasible. However, Moscow raised questions over the scope of the proposed accord and its verifiability, and argued that emphasis should instead be on intensifying international mine clearance efforts and maintaining the moratoria on exporting anti personnel mines.

In addition to Mexico, several non aligned countries remain to be convinced to back landmines negotiations at the CD. Their fear that this is a ploy by the United States to prevent the CD from addressing nuclear issues could be allayed if the United States, Britain and France withdrew their objections to the establishment of an ad hoc committee on nuclear disarmament. Only time will tell whether their other concern—that the CD will paralyze further progress on getting a landmines ban—is legitimate.

 

The Disarmament Agenda

The United States was almost totally isolated in its opposition to the convening in 1999 of a UN special session devoted to disarmament. (The United Nations has convened such sessions in 1978, 1982 and 1988.)

With the exception of a few countries, the entire UN membership backed the non aligned states' call for a fourth special session in 1999, primarily because they believe that there is a clear need for a new security and disarmament agenda as the world enters the 21st century. The United States did not argue against the idea of a special session but rather it opposed the proposed date, wanting the session to be held no earlier than 2001. Washington's arguments ranged from fear of failure (and the possible consequences for the NPT review conference in 2000), to worry that it would be used exclusively to put pressure on the nuclear weapon states for nuclear disarmament, to concern that India could manipulate the 1999 special session.

Inevitably, the UN session will be used to exert pressure for nuclear disarmament. The disappearance of the Cold War has caused many more people to question the utility and morality of nuclear weapons. Providing that there is continued progress on reducing the vast U.S. Russian nuclear arsenals and the other nuclear weapon states are at least engaging in multilateral discussions on nuclear disarmament, the United States has little to fear. But if progress toward the elimination of nuclear weapons has been blocked or reversed, then it is legitimate for the international community to try to get it on track again. The United States appears troubled by the possibility that an unsatisfactory UN special session in 1999 could harm the NPT review in 2000. However, delaying a UN special session until after 2000 could result in the non nuclear weapon states venting their frustration at the NPT review conference, which the United States says it wants to avoid.

It is inconceivable that the fourth UN special session would ignore the importance of conventional arms issues such as landmines and light weapons. Not only are these issues becoming increasing salient in the international court of public opinion, but by 1999 it will be clear whether the General Assembly's resolve on banning landmines is being fulfilled either by the CD or through the Ottawa Process.

While the U.S. concern that India may try to use the session as a platform is realistic, such an event could also be utilized by the international community to pressure hold out states that have refused to sign the CTBT. Of 44 designated countries whose accession is necessary before the test ban treaty can take effect, only three—India, Pakistan and North Korea—have not yet signed. Applying pressure on India at a UN special session would likely be more effective than criticizing its non accession to the test ban at a specially convened CTBT conference or through the NPT regime, from which India and Pakistan are excluded as non members.

All things considered, the U.S. opposition to debating a new international disarmament agenda for the coming decade seems ill considered. The United States should withdraw its opposition to holding a special session in 1999 and engage positively in UN discussions scheduled for April and May that will determine the scope and agenda for the session. The fourth UN Special Session on Disarmament, if carefully planned for and utilized wisely by UN member states, can codify new thinking on arms control and disarmament issues and contribute to constructive solutions. Surely the United States would welcome that.

Rebecca Johnson is director of the Disarmament Intelligence Review in London.

CTB Treaty Signatories Reach 137

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