Friday, 8 October 1999 Washington, DC
1. CTBT I: PHYSICS NOBELISTS LEAD THE PUSH FOR THE TEST BAN.
A letter signed by 32 physics Nobel laureates calling ratification
of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty "imperative," was delivered
to every member of the Senate on Tuesday. The letter, organized
by APS President Jerome Friedman, called the treaty "central to
future efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons." The
Nobelists had been sitting on the letter for a year, waiting for
some sign of activity in the Senate. On Wednesday, eight of them
were present at the White House to join President Clinton and the
Joint Chiefs of Staff in urging ratification. Charles Townes
spoke eloquently for the physicists. Nevertheless, the 67 Senate
votes needed to ratify simply are not there.
2. CTBT II: POLITICS PUSHES THE SENATE TOWARD THE BRINK.
Debate on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty began today. If the Senate
votes next Tuesday on ratification, as scheduled, the treaty will
almost certainly be rejected, perhaps ending any hope of limiting
the spread of nuclear weapons. It will be rejected, not because
of any flaw in the treaty, but because both parties are seeking
political advantage. Republicans are determined that credit for
the treaty not go to President Clinton; Democrats see a powerful
campaign issue if Republicans kill the treaty. Only two days are
allocated to debate what is arguably the most important treaty in
history, compared to the 25 days spent debating impeachment.
Surely "the world's greatest deliberative body" can do better.
In this afternoon's debate, John Warner (R-VA), Chair of Armed
Services, and Carl Levin (D-MI), Ranking Member, are calling for
a delay in the vote to avoid certain defeat.
3. CTBT III: AMERICA'S ALLIES URGE RATIFICATION.
Today's New York Times ran a remarkable op-ed signed by Jacques Chirac, Tony
Blair and Gerhard Schroder. The final paragraph says it all:
"The United States and its allies have worked side by side for a
Comprehensive Test Ban since the days of President Eisenhower.
This goal is now within our grasp. Our security is involved, as
well as America's. For the security of the world we will leave
to our children, we urge the United States to ratify the treaty."
4. CTBT IV: SEISMOLOGISTS SAY COMPLIANCE CAN BE MONITORED.
A statement released Wednesday by the American Geophysical Union
and the Seismological Society of America expressed confidence
that the combined worldwide monitoring resources provided for
under the treaty, including 170 seismic stations, will meet the
treaty's verification goals. A CIA report leaked over the weekend
expressed doubt that the CIA could detect violations, which is
almost certainly true--the CIA seems to have trouble detecting a
lot of things. The treaty, however, establishes an International
Monitoring System. As the President pointed out, the world will
detect far more tests with the treaty than without it.