ACA Candidates' Forum: The Questions in 1996

Arms Control Today, September 1996 | Go to article overview
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ACA Candidates' Forum: The Questions in 1996


Since 1976, the Arms Control Association has provided a "Candidates' Forum" in Arms Control Today for the major presidential candidates to present their views on a range of important arms control and national security issues.

Their responses to the candidates' questionnaire have provided ACT readers, the interested public and the media with the opportunity to assess the candidates' detailed opinions and plans on some of the most crucial foreign policy questions facing the country today.

Invitations to participate in this year's forum, the sixth to appear in ACT, were extended to Bill Clinton, Bob Dole and Ross Perot. Unfortunately, ACA's long tradition of providing the views of the main challenger ended this year when the campaign of Republican Party nominee Bob Dole declined to provide responses to any of the questions posed in the 1996 forum. Reform Party nominee Ross Perot also declined to participate.

In this issue of ACT, we present President Bill Clinton's responses to the 10 questions comprising this year's questionnaire.

Is a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the US. national interest? If so, what steps should be taken to bring it into force? If not, should the United States end its moratorium on nuclear weapon tests?

I am proud that on September 24,1996, at the United Nations, I became the first world leader to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Within one week, almost 100 nations had followed suitincluding the other four declared nuclear powers (Russia, China, France and the United Kingdom)-creating a compelling international norm against nuclear testing even before the treaty formally enters into force.

The CTBT will constrain the development and improvement of nuclear weapons and create a formidable barrier to the development of new generations of weapons. This quest is all the more urgent because of the efforts of rogue states and terrorists to acquire weapons of mass destruction. For the five nuclear-weapon states, there will be no way to test more advanced and more destructive devices. For states that do not possess nuclear weapons, the ban on testing will make it more difficult to develop reliable weapons and fit them for sophisticated missiles and bombers.

Signing the CTBT fulfilled a quest begun by Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy-a quest I took up as president. In July 1993, my administration extended the moratorium on testing begun at the insistence of Congress the year before. This U.S. initiative energized the Geneva Conference on Disarmament (CD) to begin work on a CTBT. When negotiations reached an impasse over the scope of the treaty's prohibition on testing, the United States broke the deadlock by announcing support for a true "zero-yield" banone that would forbid any nuclear weapons test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.

In order for the CTBT to enter into force-which cannot be earlier than two years after signature all participating memberstates of the CD with nuclear research and/or power reactors, a total of 44 countries-must ratify the agreement. Thus we will have two years to gather the necessary ratifications, and we will work hard to achieve that goal. If, three years after signature, one or more of the 44 states have not ratified the treaty, the CTBT provides for an annual conference to consider what measures may be taken to accelerate the ratification process and the treaty's entry into force. These provisions provide an effective pathway to implement the treaty.

The United States will continue its nuclear testing moratorium pending entry into force of the treaty. We can meet the challenge of maintaining our nuclear deterrent under a CTBT through a Science-Based Stockpile Stewardship Program without nuclear testing. I directed the implementation of such a program almost three years ago so that we would be ready for the treaty's implementation.

Should the United States seek strategic arms reduction agreements beyond those called for under START II?

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