THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary (Lyon, France)
STATEMENT BY THE PRESIDENT ON THE COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY
Today, the Chairman of the Geneva Conference on Disarmament's (CD) Ad Hoc Committee on a Nuclear Test Ban tabled a compromise treaty text that reflects his best efforts to record agreement and resolve remaining issues. This action brings us one step closer to the day when no nuclear weapons are detonated anywhere on the face of the earth. I applaud this milestone in our efforts to reduce the nuclear threat and build a safer world.
American leaders since Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy have believed a comprehensive test ban would be a major stride in the international effort against nuclear proliferation and toward our ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament. Over the past four decades, many world leaders, including Jawaharlal Nehru of India and Harold Macmillan of Great Britain, along with citizens from around the globe have worked hard to achieve a CTBT. Today, such a treaty is within our reach.
As President, my most basic duty is to protect the security of the American people. That's why I have made reducing the nuclear threat one of my highest priorities.
As a result, for the first time since the dawn of the nuclear age, there are no Russian missiles pointed at our people. We entered into force the START I Treaty that will, in combination with the START II Treaty pending ratification in the Russian Duma, reduce by 14,000 the number of warheads deployed by the United States and Russia just five years ago. We convinced Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan to give up the nuclear weapons left on their land when the Soviet Union broke up. We persuaded North Korea to freeze its dangerous nuclear weapons program under international monitoring. We are working with countries around the world to safeguard and destroy nuclear weapons and materials -- so that they don't fall into the hands of terrorists or criminals. We led global efforts to win the indefinite extension of the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty which bans the spread of nuclear weapons to states that do not have them.
It is now up to the 61 member states of the CD to study the Chairman's compromise treaty text and maintain the momentum toward a CTBT. I call on the members of the CD to return to Geneva in late July prepared to agree to forward a CTBT to the United Nations, so that a special session of the General Assembly can be held in August to approve the Treaty and open it for signature in the United States in September.
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