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Office of the Vice President

For Immediate Release October 2, 1999

     Washington, DC -- After more than two years delay, the Senate

Majority Leader yesterday suddenly scheduled a vote on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. The only possible point of giving such an important Treaty so few days debate on so few days notice after so much delay is to cut the public out of the discussion. Even so, we are going to do everything we can to make sure the American people's voices are heard, and this Treaty is ratified.

Banning all nuclear tests has been a bipartisan goal of American foreign policy since Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy, and this Treaty -- simply put -- will reduce the threat of nuclear war. President Bush stopped nuclear testing in 1992. Nonetheless, today we have a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent, and we have a program to maintain that nuclear deterrent without testing. So while the Treaty will not harm our nuclear capability, it will inhibit the development of more advanced nuclear weapons by other countries. It will strengthen global efforts to halt proliferation of nuclear weapons, and constrain efforts of rogue states to develop their own nuclear arsenals. At the same time, the Treaty will make it easier for us to detect nuclear tests worldwide.

On the other hand, if we reject the treaty, it will not enter into force for any nation. China, which has signed the Treaty, would not be constrained from testing a new generation of nuclear weapons. India and Pakistan would be far less likely to heed our calls to end testing. The consequences to our national security could be dire indeed.

The Treaty has the unanimous support of the President's National Security Team. It has been endorsed by four former Chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff from the Carter, Reagan, Bush, and Clinton Administrations. Most important in a democracy, it has the overwhelming support of the American people.

In October of 1963, one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis, President Kennedy signed the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty -- banning nuclear tests above ground, in the oceans, and in the atmosphere. On that day, he said: "This small step toward safety can be followed by others longer and less limited, if also harder in the taking." This fight we face today -- to ban all nuclear testing -- is one of the hard steps President Kennedy envisioned 36 years ago. With courage -- with an ear to the voice of the American people and an eye on the future of our children -- I am confident we can take this hard step together. America's security in the new century depends upon it.

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