Test Ban Treaty

November 3, 1999

A few weeks ago the U.S. Senate defeated the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, and I naively thought that that was the last we would hear of the treaty. Well, apparently President Clinton and a number of Senate Democrats want to continue to raise the issue and even make it a campaign issue.

That is why I appreciate the recent Newsweek column by George Will entitled "Politics and the Test Ban Treaty." He points out that the treaty was not defeated by "politics" but because the treaty was "unverifiable, unenforceable and incompatible with the security of the U.S. nuclear arsenal." It was also ambiguous. Senator Richard Lugar noted that Russia believes that hydro-nuclear activities and sub-critical experiments were permitted under the treaty, while other nations believed both were illegal. It's rather hard to enforce a treaty when the major nations don't even agree on what it means.

And the charge of "politics" loses weight when you realize that six former secretaries of Defense and other former high officials (including two CIA directors appointed by President Clinton) all opposed the treaty. One of the most vocal opponents was former secretary of Defense James Schlesinger, a Democrat.

One has to wonder too if the treaty would be enforceable. Rogue nations like Iran, Iraq, and North Korea are bent on developing and deploying nuclear weapons. Even if they signed the treaty, could we trust them? As Harry Truman once said, "If you can't trust a man's word, it won't help much to have it in writing."

President Clinton said the Senate vote would give "a green light to every other country in the world" to develop nuclear weapons. But George Will reminds us that hardly any country in the world "will allow themselves to be controlled by red, amber or green lights" from the United States. The test ban treaty deserved to be defeated.

I'm Kerby Anderson of Probe Ministries, and that's my opinion.