What do certain gun control measures and the Comprehensive Test Ban
Treaty (CTBT) have in common? They are both supported by liberals and
would unilaterally disarm the good guys and empower the bad guys.
Clinton signed the CTBT on Sept. 24, 1996, and has been urging the
Senate to ratify it ever since. After refusing to hold hearings on the
issue for more than two years, last week, Senate Leader Lott
surprisingly announced it would be rushed to the Senate floor for a
Now, the president is in a panic and seeking a delay, knowing that he
doesn’t have the two-thirds majority necessary for ratification.
Again at stake is Clinton’s ephemeral legacy — he has set nuclear
nonproliferation as one of his top foreign policy priorities. He says
that if the U.S. doesn’t ratify the nuclear test ban treaty, nuclear
weapons will proliferate because we will be giving other nations “a
green light” to produce them.
On its face, the CTBT would permanently ban all explosive tests of
nuclear weapons, establish a global monitoring system and allow on-site
inspections, but opponents point to flaws in every aspect of the ban.
Baker Spring, of the Heritage Foundation, examines the CTBT in the
context of America’s arms control agreements of the 20th century and
concludes that it would make the U.S. less, rather than more, secure.
Without being able to conduct explosive tests, says Spring, our own
weapons will become less reliable, and our allies, feeling less secure,
may build their own nuclear arsenals.
The administration argues that computer calculations will ensure the
reliability of our weapons. But directors of our nation’s nuclear labs
have testified that this sophisticated computer testing system will not
be fully operational for five to ten years. And even then, sterile
computer tests will never be an adequate substitute for field-testing.
Nuclear blasts below a certain level are undetectable and would
continue to be, despite how elaborate any monitoring system built under
the treaty might be. Critics point to India’s sizable nuclear explosions
of last year, which did not even register on the existing global network
Experts from the CIA and the Department of Energy say that the U.S.
would have a hard time knowing if foreign states were secretly setting
off small blasts. Lawrence Turnbull, a top CIA seismologist, warns that
nations could use large mines or caves to conceal their tests.
Beyond crippling our ability to maintain and modernize our nuclear
weapons, the treaty’s opponents say that it is neither effectively
verifiable nor enforceable.
I downloaded the text of the treaty and discovered some disturbing
provisions. For example, decisions to approve on-site inspections of
suspected violator nations would require the vote of at least 30
nations. Plus, nations will be allowed to declare certain sites up to 50
square kilometers (restricted-access sites) off limits to inspection.
Moreover, the treaty confers enforcement authority on the United
Nations Security Council, with each member, including China and Russia,
having full veto power. Haven’t we learned by now that we can’t entrust
our national security to these nations and others?
Our formidable nuclear arsenal has not only contributed to our
national security but to world peace because it has deterred our enemies
from attacking our allies and us. What on earth could make us want to
undermine that deterrent and increase world instability?
This administration insists that our national security depends on
this treaty. But national security is hardly this administration’s
strong suit. It a) gave nuclear delivery technology to China, b) covered
up its theft of our nuclear secrets in exchange for campaign
contributions and c) opposes the strategic defense initiative (SDI) —
the single most important program in safeguarding the United States from
Whether we like it or not, the nuclear genie is out of the bottle. We
are not going to put it back in with some Pollyannaish treaty that will
eventually make our nuclear stockpile obsolete, while granting rogue
nations the relative freedom to catch up and exceed our capabilities.
The sobering reality is that in this dangerous world, no matter what
well-meaning laws we pass, the criminals and despots will continue to
have cutting-edge weaponry, and we can only protect ourselves by
remaining fully armed and forever vigilant.
The Senate must reject this treaty.