State of the CTBT

Kalpana Chittaranjan, Research Officer, IDSA


When the US Senate rejected ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in October 1999, Spurgeon M Keeny Jr. wrote, "….the Senate willfully plunged a dagger into the heart of US efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons."1 It is another matter that in a different context, those efforts at prevention of proliferation of nuclear weapons by the present Administration have been called into question as when John R. Malott, the former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for South Asian Affairs (1992-93), while commenting on whether US President Bill Clinton should include Pakistan in his South Asian itinerary was of the view that, "…the decision on the President's itinerary should be a no-brainer. For President Clinton to show up in Islamabad just months after a military coup, in a country that for years has barely escaped designation as a state supporter of terrorism and that has thumbed its nose at American nuclear nonproliferation policies for more than a decade, would put a lie to all the principles that have marked the Clinton administration's foreign policies."2

Clinton had made the achievement of a CTBT a top priority for his Administration and before the treaty was opened for signature on September 24, 1996, was involved in three years of multilateral negotiations.3 On the day he signed the Treaty, he had called it "the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in nuclear arms control." The Treaty, which can trace its origins to four decades of painstaking effort and is to a large extent a US initiative, is in a state of limbo as of now. In his last State of the Union address, Clinton called for a "bipartisan dialogue" on the CTBT which indicated that he did not intend to push the matter during the remaining days of his term in office.4 Clinton, has given an assurance that the US would continue to honour his signature of the Treaty which does not however lessen the anxiety of the rest of the world who are wondering how serious the US commitment to nuclear non-proliferation really is. Before we look at the US Senate rejection of the Treaty and its implications in more detail, it is necessary to understand what countries are getting into when they sign and ratify it.

CTBT Objectives

The CTBT, the overall accord of which contains a preamble, 17 treaty articles, two treaty annexes, and a protocol with two annexes detailing verification procedures,5 seeks to prohibit all nuclear weapon test explosions or other nuclear explosions anywhere in the world. By the Treaty's provisions, a global network of monitoring facilities is sought to be established and allowance is made for onsite inspections of suspicious events in order to verify compliance.

While the preamble lists disarmament principles and objectives and sets the overall political context of the treaty, it states that a CTBT will constitute an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation by "constraining the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and ending the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons." The scope of the Treaty is contained in Article I which establishes that all states-parties are prohibited from conducting "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion," which, on the basis of negotiating history, is understood to include all nuclear explosions with yields greater than zero. The implementing organisation, i.e., the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), is established in Article II that provides states-parties with a forum for consultation and cooperation. The CTBTO consists of a Conference of the States Parties, an Executive Council and a Technical Secretariat, to be located in Vienna which will operate in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) but will be structurally independent of the latter.

The overall governing body of the organisation is the Conference of the States Parties, which is to meet once a year unless otherwise decided and will handle treaty-related policy issues and oversee the Treaty's implementation. The Treaty's principal decision-making body is the Executive Council which will consist of 51 members.6

The primary body responsible for implementing the treaty's verification procedures is the Technical Secretariat and it is in this capacity that it will supervise the operation of the International Monitoring System (IMS) as well as receive, process, analyse and report on the system's data apart from managing the International Data Center (IDC) and performing a series of procedural tasks related to conducting on-site inspections.

An important article that establishes the Treaty's verification regime is Article IV alongwith the verification protocol. The regime will consist of four basic elements: the IMS; consultation and clarification; on-site inspections and confidence-building measures (CBMs). Until the Treaty enters into force (EIF), the verification regime will not be completely operational.

Since the purpose of the IMS is to detect and identify nuclear explosions prohibited under Article I, the monitoring system will comprise a network of 50 primary and 120 auxiliary seismological monitoring stations, 80 radionuclide stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories, 60 infrasound (acoustic) and 11 hydroacoustic stations. Annex I to the protocol lists the host state and location of each facility. The IDC, which is an essential part of the Technical Secretariat responsible for data storage and processing, will then have information collected by the IMS transmitted to it.7

While Article VII covers the amendment process, Article VIII the peaceful nuclear explosions (PNE), Article IX—the duration and withdrawal, Articles X to XIII—miscellaneous provisions, Article XIV deals with the crux of whether the CTBT ever becomes a functional reality or fades into oblivion. This article states that the Treaty will not enter into force until it has been signed and ratified by 44 states 8 - listed by name in Annex 2 of the Treaty9. These states possess nuclear power and research reactors as determined by the IAEA. A conference may be held by those states that have already deposited their instruments of ratification to "decide by consensus what measures consistent with international law may be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process if the Treaty has not come into effect "three years after the date of the anniversary of its opening for signature." This conference, which will take place annually until the Treaty's EIF, will not have the authority to waive the original provision requiring ratification by the 44 states.

Brief Review of Runup to Vote in the Senate

The Clinton Administration transmitted the CTBT to the Senate on September 23, 1997. Though the National Security Advisor Sandy Berger had described the Treaty in January 1998 as "one of the President's top priorities," the truth was that the Administration had other concerns to which it gave precedence. In the runup to the midterm elections, the White House was interested in pursuing several policy objectives in the domestic arena. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms (R-NC) wrote in the same month to President Clinton that he would not hold hearings on the CTBT "until the administration has submitted the ABM protocols and the Kyoto global-warming treaty."10 While Helms' "hostage-taking" strategy had raised the political cost of pushing for the CTBT, it also served to stifle debate on the treaty and led many proponents and opponents to postpone preparations for the CTBT debate as they believed that the Republican Senate leadership would not agree to schedule time for debate and a vote.11

In terms of effort by the Clinton Administration to push the Treaty through in the early weeks of 1998, it made repeated statements supporting the CTBT and urged timely Senate consideration of the same. The Administration succeeded in securing valuable support for it from four former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the nuclear weapons laboratory directors and the members of NATO. However, it failed to build upon the strong base of expert and public support for the CTBT by taking the case for the Treaty directly to the Senate. During this time, the Administration's national security team was preoccupied with securing Senate approval for NATO expansion. National security officials who did not appoint a coordinator to build CTBT support, relied instead on the possibility that Russia would ratify START II which would then have enabled them to send the ABM and START II protocols to the Senate for consideration which might then have resulted in breaking Helm's stranglehold on the CTBT. However, the Duma did not ratify START II12 and other crises emerged until the first half of 1999 like the impeachment hearings and trial which immobilised the Clinton Administration and the Congress; NATO's air war against Yugoslavia soon thereafter; and the espionage charges at US nuclear weapon laboratories13 which ensured that the CTBT remained on the political backburner.

When the Balkan hostilities ended in late spring 1999, there was a redoubling of efforts by Senator Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and pro-treaty non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to raise attention to the plight of the CTBT and to press for a Senate leadership to begin the process of considering the treaty. A bipartisan group of nine senators held a press briefing on July 20, 1999, and citing overwhelming public support for the treaty, called for prompt Senate action. The same day saw all 45 Democratic senators write to Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott asking for "all necessary hearings….to report the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty to the Senate for timely consideration before the (Article XIV) CTBT inaugural conference." In a separate letter, Republicans like Senator Arlen Specter (R-PA) and Senator Jim Jeffords (R-VT) urged the Senate leadership to begin the process of CTBT consideration. CTBT advocates from the non-governmental sector accelerated their public education and Senate lobbying efforts. Concerned citizens were encouraged to call their senators about the Treaty and newspapers editorialised on the subject.14 Support was garnered from former military and government officials, independent nuclear weapons scientists and hundreds of public interest organisations.15

August and September 1999 saw treaty opponents responding by accelerating preparations for a possible vote on final passage. Uncommitted Republican senators became the targets of lobbying efforts by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) in consultation with Senator Lott and former Secretary of Defense and Energy James Schlesinger. While a number of prominent former national security officials were called upon to voice their opposition, Lott continued to try to prevent the scheduling of a vote. At a meeting between Berger and the Senate Democratic leadership on the evening of September 22, Senator Joseph Biden (D-DE), alongwith other leading Senate CTBT proponents and the White House, decided to try to advance the issue by introducing a non-binding Senate resolution that called for beginning the process to consider the CTBT and scheduling a vote on the Treaty. Senator Helms and Senator Lott abandoned their blocking strategy and proposed a vote on final passage of the Treaty by October 7, 1999 on September 29, after having been informed of the Democrat's intention to introduce their resolution (which was not introduced).

Initially, Lott proposed ten hours of Treaty debate with only six days notice which was rejected by the Democratic leadership. Senate Democratic leaders negotiated for more time and a more thorough series of hearings, in consultation with the White House. On October 1, 1999, they decided to accept Senator Lott's final counter offer for a vote scheduled for October 12. President Clinton, the Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and Secretary of Defense William Cohen launched a high-profile, high-powered effort to win Senate support for the CTBT when the final vote on the Treaty was just days away by highlighting the overwhelming support that it enjoyed from the country's senior military leadership, leading weapons scientists and seismological experts. However, by that time, it was already too late as there was too little time for a thorough exchange of views.

Even before the conclusion of hearings on the treaty on October 7, most of the senators needed for gaining the required two-thirds approval had committed to vote "no"—among them—crucial senators like John Warner (R-VA), Pete Domenici (R-NM), Richard Lugar (R-IN), Chuck Hagel (R-NE), as well as other Republican moderates.

Earlier, just days before the US Senate vote, the international community gathered in Vienna from October 6-8, 1999 as the Special Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force required under Article XIV of the CTBT. The Conference closed by calling upon all states which had not yet signed and/or ratified the Treaty to do so as soon as possible. The 92 participant states also unanimously adopted a ten paragraph Final Declaration affirming commitment to the Treaty.16 Also, in an unprecedented move, the British Prime Minister Tony Blair, French President Jacques Chirac and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder appealed to the US Senate to approve the CTBT by writing in an opinion editorial published in The New York Times, "Failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be a failure in our struggle against proliferation. The stabilizing effect of the Nonproliferation Treaty, extended in 1995, would be undermined. Disarmament negotiations would suffer," and went on to caution that "Rejection would also expose a fundamental divergence within NATO."17

After 13 days of hearings and debate on the Senate floor, the Treaty was formally rejected in a largely party line vote of 48 for and 51 against.18 This action made the US Senate become the first legislature to fail to give its approval to ratification.19

Why 'No'

According to Daryl Kimball, many of the senators who had voted 'no' to ratification of the CTBT had "based their judgements on erroneous assumptions and distorted representations of the role and purpose of nuclear weapons test explosions; what constitutes an effective stockpile stewardship programme; and whether other states can gain militarily significant advantages relative to the United States under the CTBT regime."20 It was not simply about the "substance of the treaty," but the consequence of the "political miscalculations of treaty proponents; the failure of many senators to understand core issues; the deep, partisan divisions in the nation's capital; and the President's failure to organize a strong, focused and sustained campaign"21 for Treaty ratification. According to Kimball, many of the senators who had voted "no" had based their judgements on "erroneous assumptions and distorted representations." On the questions of role and purpose of nuclear test explosions, Senator Lott and other Treaty opponents had asserted that "testing is required to find problems (in nuclear warheads) and to assess the adequacy of the fixes that are implemented."22 This assertion was made on the basis of a 1987 Lawrence Livermore report which made Lott, Kyl and others claim that "one third of all the weapon designs introduced into the stockpile since 1958 have required and received post-deployment nuclear tests to resolve problems related to deterioration or aging or to correct a design that is found not to work properly under various conditions. In three-fourths of these cases, the problems were discovered only because of the ongoing nuclear testing." However, Kimball states that nuclear test explosions cannot be used directly or indirectly to "detect" age-related flaws in warhead components or an extensive stockpile surveillance disassembly, and component inspection programmes based on valid statistical random, sampling techniques.

On the issue of what constitutes an effective stockpile stewardship programme, Senator Kyl had said that "the CTBT eliminates the possibility of improving the safety of current weapons through the incorporation of existing well-understood safety features," which implied that he did not consider the nuclear arsenal safe and that nuclear test explosions are needed to make nuclear warheads safer than they presently are. Kimball feels that the current arsenal is "safe" in that it meets "one-point" safety standards against accidental nuclear detonation and the benefits of the marginal safety improvements have not been proven to outweigh the costs. Warhead parts relevant to safety or use control (such as detonators, fusing and arming systems and permissive action links) can be improved without modifying the nuclear explosive package design and if greater safety margins are deemed necessary, substandard weapons can be retired, safety improvements that do not involve major changes to the nuclear explosive package can be implemented and/or operational procedures can be adjusted to minimise the explosive to potential accident environments of those weapons with the greater plutonium dispersal risk.



Reaction to the Senate's rejection of the CTBT was immediate: domestic; international; pro- and anti-test ban treaty. President Clinton issued a statement the very same day, condemning the rejection. While expressing disappointment, he said, "This agreement is critical to protecting the American people from the dangers of nuclear war….The United States will continue, under my presidency, the policy we have observed since 1992 of not conducting nuclear tests. Russia, China, Britain and France have joined us in this moratorium. Britain and France have done the sensible thing and ratified this treaty. I hope not only they, but also Russia, China, will all, along with other countries, continue to refrain from nuclear testing. I also encourage strongly countries that have not yet signed or ratified this treaty to do so." He felt that the senators who voted against the treaty did more than disregard the benefits of the CTBT, which according to him, would "restrict the development of nuclear weapons worldwide at a time when America has an overwhelming military and technological advantage. It will give us the tools to strengthen our security, including the global network of sensors to detect nuclear tests, the opportunity to demand on-site inspections, and the means to mobilize the world against potential violators. All these things, the Republican majority in the Senate would gladly give away." The senators had "turned aside the best advice of our top military leaders, including the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and four of his predecessors. They ignored the conclusion of 32 Nobel Prize winners in physics, and many other leading scientists, including the heads of our nuclear laboratories, that we can maintain a strong nuclear force without testing. They clearly disregarded the views of the American people who have consistently and strongly supported this treaty ever since it was first pursued by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. The American people do not want to see unnecessary nuclear tests here or anywhere around the world."23 The statement, which went on to ask, "Will we ratify an agreement that can keep Russia and China from testing and developing new, more sophisticated advanced weapons ? An agreement that would help constrain nuclear weapons programmes in India, Pakistan, and elsewhere, at a time of tremendous volatility, especially on the Indian sub-continent?" answered, "For now, the Senate has said 'no'. But I am sending a different message. We want to limit the nuclear threat. We want to bring the test ban treaty into force."24

Vice President Al Gore, presumptive presidential nominee of the Democratic Party also issued a statement on the day of the ratification rejection. He said, "The responsibility for this abdication of American leadership rests on the increasingly political motives of Senate Republicans. They started a fire of political partisanship they could not put out—ultimately leaving the fate of a crucial international treaty in the hands of those who would play politics with nuclear weapons…[The CTBT] is an indispensable tool in our fight to stop the spread of nuclear weapons around the world. I support the Treaty wholeheartedly, and I will continue to work to see it ratified."25

Speaking on CNN Television, US Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright said, "I've gotten calls all week,,, [from] my fellow foreign ministers, trying to figure out what has happened here. It's very serious. It has hurt us internationally. What we've lost for the time being is the real international leadership in terms of trying to make others live up to the CTBT. But I want to assure all your viewers, around the world, that the United States is going to live up to the conditions of the treaty."26 She went on to reiterate the last point in a letter to selected foreign officials, dated October 18, 2000, which said the US is legally bound to observe the nuclear test-ban treaty, despite the Senate's rejection of the pact. She wrote, "Despite this setback, I want to assure you that the United States will continue to act in accordance with its obligations as a signatory under international law, and will seek reconsideration of the treaty at a later date when conditions are better suited for ratification." The letter went on to say, "Second, the administration continues to support strongly the treaty and the associated international regime. The United States will continue to urge others to adhere to the CTBT and to refrain from all nuclear explosive tests."27

The day after the US Senate rejection of the ratification of the CTBT, i.e., October 14, 1999, the Arms Control Association held a press conference to discuss the ramifications of this vote, including the possibility of resumed nuclear testing, the damage to US credibility abroad and the injury to other arms control agreements. The panelists included Spurgeon M. Keeny, Jr., President and Executive Director of the Arms Control Association; John Steinbruner, then Senior Fellow at the Brookings Institution and soon-to-be Professor of Public Policy at the University of Maryland; Ambassador Thomas Graham, President of the Lawyers Alliance for World Security; and John Isaacs, President and Executive Director of the Council for a Livable World.28

All these panelists, prominent US arms control and disarmament practitioners, expressed dismay and concern over the Senate action. Keeny believed that the rejection was the most serious setback to the arms control regime in the 40 years since President Eisenhower first introduced the comprehensive test ban in 1958 as it seriously undercut the ability of the US to play a leadership role in "its central foreign policy objective of preventing further proliferation of nuclear weapons and also in its goal of further progresses in arms control in general." He went on to state, "I think that in a damage assessment of where we stand, it is self-evident that this action greatly undercuts the ability of the United States to persuade or pressure other countries not to continue or initiate nuclear weapons programmes. The most specific example is the case of India and Pakistan, where current events indicate the extreme instability in the region and where I think there is little question that the Indian nuclear establishment would very much like to continue testing. There is no way the ambitious objective laid out for the Indian nuclear programme can be met with the few tests, which may not have been that successful, that have occurred to date."29

Noting what impact the rejection would have on the NPT regime, Ambassador Graham said:30

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

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

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

Steinbruner felt that there is some possibility that the entire framework of arms control would become seriously unglued as, "Our political system has not fathomed the nature of this problem. We don't understand the real danger to us. And that is why one thinks about the Titanic—people oblivious to the danger, acting with unbelievable irresponsibility and supreme arrogance. We're on the outskirts of that situation, and we may have triggered a sequence here that we will not be able to reverse."31

Isaacs was of the opinion that "The root cause of what happened, I believe, is that the Republicans so distrust and so despise President Clinton that they're quite willing to inflict damage to Bill Clinton even if it means damage to US national security. As I watched the manoeuvering over the last couple of weeks, it became clear to me that the debate during that time was at least three parts politics for every one part substance."32 He also believed that "Technically, the test ban treaty remains at the desk of the Senate and could be brought back at any time. But in reality, I think it will take a new president—a Gore, a Bradley, a Bush, a McCain—to resurrect the treaty in 2001. And in fact, if George W Bush is elected, I think the treaty, if he is so inclined, could easily sail through the US Senate."33

Voices within the US that did not correspond to the views expressed by the arms controllers were also heard. Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary for International Security Policy at the Defense Department from 1981 to 1987 and currently Fellow at the American Enterprise Institute wrote, "Like a majority of the Senate, I believe the treaty is deeply flawed. Compliance can't be verified or enforced, nor can the treaty deliver on its proponents' promise of halting the spread of nuclear weapons or even impeding it. Indeed, the argument that ratification would discourage North Korea, Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan from acquiring nuclear weapons produced laughter in the Senate cloakroom. Imprecise and badly drafted, the treaty leaves critical terms like "nuclear explosion" undefined. But most important, it raises serious concerns about the long term viability of the American nuclear deterrent. Confidence in our nuclear weapons could decline over time if we could not test them, and we might be unable to fix future problems in those weapons without tests to insure their validity. And, contrary to the claim that the Senate could have fixed its deficiencies, the treaty, by its terms, is not subject to unilateral amendment or reservation."34


The international reaction to the October 13 Senate action almost overwhelmingly expressed dismay, concern and regret. The UN Secretary General Kofi Annan's office issued a statement which said, "The Secretary General has learned with regret of the negative vote of the Senate of the United States…Both as Secretary General of the United Nations and in his capacity as Depositary of the Treaty, he has consistently appealed to Member States who have not done so to sign and ratify the Treaty in order that this important norm against nuclear proliferation and the further development of nuclear weapons should enter into force and become part of international law."35

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesperson Vladimir Rakhmanin stated, "This decision is a serious blow to the entire system of agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation… We express our disappointment and serious concern in connection with the rejection of the treaty by the US Senate. The US Administration worked very actively on all stages of its development and was first to sign it…. There is a definite trend visible in recent times in US actions and it causes deep alarm. Apart from the failure to ratify the CTBT, there is the adoption of a law on a national anti-missile defense system and a new threat of sanctions in the area of export controls and a number of other steps which are destabilising the foundations of international relations."36

The Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson, Zhang Qiyue said, "China deeply regrets that the US Senate voted to reject the ratification…The United States, as one of the 44 countries whose ratification is required for the enforcement of the treaty, has great influence on bringing the pact into force… China's position (of intending to ratify) remains unchanged."37

India's position on the treaty was made clear the day after the Senate action. A foreign ministry statement said:38

India's position on the CTBT was… reiterated by the Prime Minister in Parliament on December 15, 1998, as follows: 'India is now engaged in discussions with our key interlocutors on a range of issues, including the CTBT. We are prepared to bring these discussions to a successful conclusion, so that the entry into force of the CTBT is not delayed beyond September 1999. We expect that other countries, as indicated in Article XIV of the CTBT, will also adhere to this Treaty without conditions."

The Prime Minister has also announced a voluntary moratorium on any further underground nuclear explosive tests. India also has an unwavering commitment to the elimination of all weapons of mass destruction and to universal nuclear disarmament.

The situation regarding ratification of the CTBT, as well as the debate in the US Senate, clearly indicates that the CTBT is not a simple, uncomplicated issue. Among other things, it requires building a national consensus in the countries concerned, including India."

Pakistan's opposition leader, Naveed Qamar said, "Every country will use it as an excuse not to sign…"39 The country made clear that it would not sign the Treaty until US economic sanctions imposed on it after the May 1998 nuclear tests were lifted.40

Follow-on Events41

To date, a number of events have taken place that can affect the future course and fate of the CTBT in the USA and the rest of the world. According to a New York Times article,42 a handful of senior aides to Republican senators, tried to get funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation's (CTBTO) network of monitoring nations in the Foreign Operations FY 2000 Appropriations Bill. However, the Senate passed the budget on November 19, 1999, with no change to the $15 million which had been appropriated for the CTBTO. Apart from the Foreign Operations Bill, the Pentagon budgets an average of $5 million per year for the IMS, thus making the US the largest contributor to the monitoring system accounting for about 25 per cent of the organisation's total budget. Other significant contributor's include Japan, France, the UK and Germany. The CTBTO has stated that the verification regime which was formed in 1995 during Treaty negotiations will be completed around 2001 and at present there are 100 out of the 321 monitoring stations already operational and transmitting data through the global network.43 Meanwhile, the Organisation held its Tenth Prepcom in Vienna, Austria between November 15-19, 1999 and this session was attended by 76 states-signatories.44

Former Russian President, Boris Yeltsin, in an address to journalists at the OSCE summit in Istanbul, announced on November 17, 1999, "Today, I approved the CTBT [for Duma consideration]."45 With about half a year to go before his term's end, Yeltsin sprung a surprise when he resigned on the last day of the last century and handed over the reigns of power to Vladimir Putin.46 Earlier, elections were held for Russia's parliament, the Duma, on December 19, 1999 and thus, the Russians were entering the new millennium with a new president and parliament. Under Putin, Russia has adopted a new National Security Concept and Military Doctrine. While the Concept replaces a 1997 text47 and was approved by Presidential Decree 1300 of December 17, 1999 and issued as Presidential Decree 24 of January 10, 2000, the Military Doctrine replaces a 1993 text, and was approved by the Presidential Security Council of February 4, 2000. While the 1997 Concept stated that the threat or use of nuclear weapons would only be used in an extreme event, the new Concept has been widely characterised as having relaxed the criteria, in its formulation, "the use of all available means and forces, including nuclear weapons, [will be justified] in case of the need to repel an armed aggression when all other means of settling the crisis situation have been exhausted or proved ineffective."48

On November 25, 1999, in an interview with Xinhua News Service, the Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Department of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs reiterated the Chinese position on the Treaty, which had not changed and according to Sha, his government is actively urging the National People's Congress to ratify the treaty quickly.49

US Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright announced on January 28, 2000 that General John M Shalikashvili had "agreed to serve as an adviser to the President and me and spearhead the Administration's effort to achieve bipartisan support for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty." She further stated that, "During the Senate's debate over ratification of the CTBT last fall a number of questions were raised concerning the impact of the treaty on our national security. These issues deserve a full airing so that the American people can be assured that this Treaty will make America and the world safer without preventing us from taking steps necessary to the national defense," and "To that end, the President and I have asked General Shalikashvili to reach out to members of the Senate and to construct a path that will bridge any differences and ultimately obtain Senate advice and consent to the Treaty."50

One of the aspects that this task force will have to take into consideration is the Department of Energy's (DOE) Stockpile Stewardship Program which announced on February 4, 2000 that it had successfully completed the first-ever three-dimensional (3-D) simulation of a nuclear weapon 'primary' explosion using the IBM Blue Pacific supercomputer at DOE's Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). According to the Secretary of Energy Bill Richardson, the simulation will help towards meeting "the requirements of its national security mission to maintain the safety and reliability of America's nuclear weapons stockpile without underground testing."51

Other recent events include President Clinton's South Asian tour52 and, in the space of a week, the Russian Parliament handed President-elect Vladimir V. Putin his third overwhelming vote in a week ratifying a major arms control accord. After a seven-year delay, the Russian lower house of parliament, the Duma ratified START II53 on April 14. By this Treaty's terms, the US and Russia are to reduce their nuclear warheads from the START I levels of 6000 to 3000 and 3, 500 each by the end of 2001. However, Putin has threatened to renege on START II if President Clinton went ahead with the plan to build a national missile defense system and modify the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty in order to allow it. Putin said, "We will have the chance and we will withdraw not only from the START II Treaty but the whole system of treaties on limitation and control of strategic and conventional weapons."54 Though START II was ratified by the Federation Council55, the Russian upper house of parliament, how far Putin is willing to push for this Treaty and how far he is willing to resist the US programme to develop and deploy antimissile defenses, would become much clearer when Clinton and Putin are scheduled to meet at Moscow on June 4 and 5, 2000.56 In a major achievement for Putin, the Russian Duma ratified the CTBT by an overwhelming vote of 298-74 in a closed vote. Clinton described the ratification as "an important step toward a safer future" and said that it "renews momentum for the international effort to halt the spread of nuclear weapons and promote disarmament around the world."57 Earlier, the Russian Duma had expressed growing and considerable anxiety about ratification. According to Rady Ilkaev, Director of the Federal Nuclear Center, the results of the programme of hydrodynamic experiments, including sub-critical tests at Novaya Zemlya, designed to review the functioning of a limited number of nuclear warheads and run by officials of the Russian Ministry of Atomic Energy officials, have not been satisfactory. He said, "We have always believed that nuclear tests alone can guarantee the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, we agreed with politicians, who insisted that we had to try to solve this problem without nuclear tests. We dare say that we will manage to tackle it. But if we fail, we will have to resume nuclear tests."58


It is clear that the CTBT ratification issue will not come up before the US Senate again during the remaining days of the Clinton Administration. However, as Senator Pete Domenici (R-NM) wrote in a press release immediately following the October 13 vote, "Treaties never die, even when defeated and returned to the Executive Calendar of the Senate. Therefore, we will have another chance to debate the CTBT."59 Regardless of who emerges as the next President of the United States, when the CTBT is put up before the Senate for consideration, there will again be another round of debate on the role and purpose of nuclear weapons test explosions; what constitutes an effective stockpile stewardship programme; and whether other countries can gain militarily significant advantages relative to the US under the CTBT regime. Whether the Treaty can be ratified the next time around will depend on the sincerity of the next president in pushing it through; public opinion; composition of the Senate, bipartisan or partisan voting and the findings and report of the CTBT Task Force under General Shalikashvili.

Currently, the CTBT has been signed by a total of 155 States, which includes the P-5 countries and ratified by 56 States since September 24, 1996 when it was opened for signature. Of the 44 States required to sign and ratify it in order for the Treaty to enter-into-force (Article XIV), 41 States have signed and 29 States have ratified the Treaty.60 Among the P-5 States, Russia, Britain and France have ratified. Since the CTBT is of unlimited duration, the fate of the CTBTO will depend on how far its annual budget targets are met by member states including the US as its largest contributor.

Whether China follows through on its pledge of CTBT ratification remains to be seen. If China resumes testing because its officials believe that they cannot maintain their nuclear weapons, otherwise, or that they cannot match the US Stockpile and Stewardship programme, it would spell the death-knell for the CTBT. On the other hand, if it ratifies the treaty it could be on a moral high ground vis-à-vis the US on the non-proliferation issue, secure in the knowledge that the CTBT cannot enter-into-force until all 44 countries listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty ratify it.

As far as India is concerned, while Prime Minister A.B.Vajpayee has made it clear that he will not stand in the way of the Treaty's implementation, noted Indian defense and strategic affairs analyst, Mr K. Subrahmanyam stated on March 15, 2000, "They [the Senate] killed the treaty…It's rather indecent to ask us to sign a dead treaty."61

In conclusion, many among the 14 countries apart from the USA needed to ratify the Treaty for it to enter-into-force, are just waiting for the US to ratify, before they do so. So far, the USA has been a chest beater on non-proliferation in nuclear weapons but as it takes part in the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference scheduled for April 24, 2000 at New York, the country is sure to come in for a lot of flak. As Daryl G. Kimball noted, the US Senate was the only legislature to defeat the treaty and after the Duma's approval of the CTBT, the action "puts into sharp focus how the failure of the Senate last fall to approve the Treaty makes the United States something of a non-proliferation rogue state."62



1. Spurgeon M Keeny Jr., "An American Tragedy," Arms Control Today, September/October 1999, vol. 29, no. 6, p.2.

2. John R. Malott, "Easy Call on Pakistan," The New York Times, February 16, 2000.

3. For details describing the Clinton Administration's efforts to achieve a CTBT prior to its opening for signature, see USIS—Wireless File, "Fact Sheet-White House Chronology on Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," September 25, 1996.

4. Mark Lacy, "Clinton Claims Bragging Rights to Nation's Prosperity," The New York Times, January 28, 2000.

5. For complete treaty text, see Website: <>

6. (Africa-10; Eastern Europe-7; Latin America and the Caribbean-9; Middle East and South Asia-7; North America and Western Europe-10; Southeast Asia, the Pacific and the Far East-8). Annex I of the Treaty lists the states in each of these geographical regions. Since one seat allocated to each region will be designated on an alphabetical basis and the remaining seats determined by rotation or elections, each state-party will eventually have the right to serve on the Council.

7. For provisions and procedure governing on-site inspections, see Article IV from treaty text.

8. These countries include the five "nuclear-weapon states" of the USA , Russia, Britain, France and China as also what was formerly known as "threshold states" (India, Israel and Pakistan).

9. Actual entry into force will occur after all the 44 countries enumerated in Annex 2 of the CTBT deposit their instruments of ratification with the UN Secretary General.

10. Quoted in Daryl Kimball, "What Went Wrong: Repairing Damage to the CTBT," Arms Control Today, December 1999, vol. 29, no. 7, p. 3.

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

12. For detailed analysis of why the Duma has refused to ratify START II over the years, see Kalpana Chittaranjan, "Time to Jump-Start the START Process?" Strategic Analysis, vol.XXIII, no.2, May 1999, pp. 215-225; Kalpana Chittaranjan, "START II/III: Duma holds the Key," Strategic Analysis, vol. XXII, no. 7, October 1998, pp. 1031-1043; Kalpana Chittaranjan, "The START Process: Status and Challenges," Strategic Analysis, vol. XXI, no. 11, February 1998, pp. 1703-1718; Kalpana Chittaranjan, "START II: Stalemated over NATO Expansion Plans," Strategic Analysis, vol.XX, no. 4, April 1997, pp. 167-170.s Kalpana Chittaranjan, "Prospects for START II Ratification by Russia," Strategic Analysis, vol. XIX, no. 7, October 1996, pp. 1053-1062;

13. For issues concerning espionage charges at US nuclear weapon laboratories, see Kalpana Chittaranjan, "Leakage of US Nuclear Secrets," Strategic Analysis, vol. XXIII, no.4, July 1999, pp. 601-614.

14. For instance, see "Damaging Delay on a Test Ban," The New York Times, September 5, 1999.

15. For instance, see William J. Broad, "32 Nobel Laureates in Physics Back Atomic Test Ban," The New York Times, October 6, 1999.

16. For details, see Rebecca Johnson, "Spotlight on the CTBT: Report of the CTBT Article XIV Conference," Disarmament Diplomacy 40, September/October 1999. Website: <>

17. Jacques Chirac, Tony Blair, and Gerhard Schroder, "A Treaty We All Need," The New York Times, October 8, 1999.

18. One Senator voted "present" which is the equivalent of an abstention. US ratification procedure requires the approval of at least two-thirds, i.e., 67 votes of the Senate.

19. For a comprehensive coverage of runup to vote in the US Senate, see Daryl Kimball, n. 10; Daryl Kimball, "How the US Senate Rejected CTBT Ratification," Disarmament Diplomacy 40, September/October 1999. Website: <> and "Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty–Chronology," Arms Control Reporter, vol. 18:12, December 1999, pp. 608. B. 529-546.

20. Kimball, n.10.

21. Ibid.

22. Quoted in Ibid.

23. "Senate rejection of Test Ban: US Statements and Comment," Website: <>

24. Ibid.

25. Ibid. Gore had his first television commercial of the presidential campaign issued in Iowa, New Hampshire and nationally on CNN which sought a mandate from voters to reverse the Senate action and pass the treaty. In it he tells voters, "I believe campaigns should be about the future and there's no more important challenge than stopping the spread of nuclear weapons. I ask for your support and your mandate if elected president, to send this treaty back to the Senate with your demand that they ratify it." For full text of ad campaign see "Gore Airs Advertisement Favouring Rejected Treaty," The New York Times, October 14, 1999.

26. n.23.

27. Bill Gertz, "Albright says US bound by CTBT," The Washington Times, November 3, 1999. For a fuller exposition on Albright's thoughts on the CTBT and other arms control issues, see "Madeleine Albright on Arms Control post-Senate CTBT vote," Disarmament Diplomacy 42 at website: <>

28. See website <> for full debate or "Damage Assessment : The Senate Rejection of the CTBT", Arms Control Today, September/October 1999, vol. 29, no. 6, pp. 9-14.

29. Ibid, p.9.

30. Ibid., p.10.

31. Ibid., p. 11.

32. Ibid., p. 12.

33. Ibid.

34. Richard Perle, "Neither Isolationists Nor Fools," The New York Times, October 19, 1999. For a comprehensive coverage of immediate domestic and international reaction to the US Senate rejection of CTBT ratification, see ACR, n. 19, pp.608.B. 546-552.

35. UN Press Release SG/SM/7177, October 14, 1999.

36. Website: <>

37. Ibid.

38. See Government of India website: <> . Also, see "Clarifying India's Nascent Nuclear Doctrine: An Interview with India's Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh," (published in The Hindu, November 29, 1999) at Website: <>

39. n. 36. For more reactions, see ibid; ACR, n.34; and "Craig Cerniello, "Russia, China, US Allies Condemn Senate Defeat of Treaty," Arms Control Today, September/October 1999, vol.29, no.6, p.29.

40. Website: <>

41. Covers events upto Russian Duma ratification of CTBT on April 21, 2000.

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

43. n. 40.

44. For details, see ACR, n. 19, p. 608.B.556.

45. n. 19, ACT p.608. B. 557.

46. Celestine Bohlen, "Yeltsin Resigns, Naming Putin as Acting President to Run in March Election," The New York Times, January 1, 2000.

47. For text of new National Security Concept, see website: <>

48. "Russia's Controversial New National Security Concept," Disarmament Diplomacy 43, at Website: <>

49. Website: <>

50. "US CTBT Task Force: Statement by Secretary of State Albright, January 28, 2000," at Website: <> For more on the US CTBT Task Force by US Secretary of State Albright and General Shalikashvili, see "US CTBT Task Force Briefing and Statements, March 2000" at Website: <> and "General Shalikashvili Remarks at Carnegie Conference," Disarmament Diplomacy 44, at Website: <>

51. Department of Energy News Release, "DOE's Stockpile Stewardship Supercomputer Completes First 3-D Simulation of Nuclear Weapons Trigger," at Website: <http://www.doe/news/releases00/febpr/pr00028.htm> In this connection, for controversy regarding DOE's National Ignition Facility, see James Glanz, "A Leading Alternative to Nuclear Tests Falters," The New York Times, December 21, 1999.

52. For highlights, see "President Clinton's South Asia Visit," Disarmament Diplomacy 44, at Website: <>

53. Michael R. Gordon, "Putin Wins Vote in Parliament on Treaty to Cut Nuclear Arms," The New York Times, April 15, 2000.

54. Daniel Williams, "Putin Wins Vote on START II," The Washington Post, April 15, 2000.

55. World in Brief, "Putin Secures START II Ratification," The Washington Post, April 20, 1999.

56. David Stout, "Clinton and Putin Will Meet in Moscow in June," The New York Times, April 18, 2000.

57. Sharon LaFraniere, "Russian Duma Adopts Nuclear Test Ban Pact," The Washington Post, April 22, 2000.

58. Patricia M. Lewis, "International Implications of the US Senate Vote," Disarmament Diplomacy 40, at Website: <>

59. Quoted in n. 10. Also, see George Bunn and John B. Rhinelander, "Senate CTBT Rejection Not The End," Disarmament Diplomacy 41 at Website: <>

60. As of April 21, 2000 when Russia became the 56th State to ratify the Treaty. For list of State signatories and ratifiers of the CTBT, Website: <>

61. Quoted in n.52.

62. La Franiere n. 57.