Russia, China, U.S. Allies Condemn Senate Defeat of Treaty

By Cerniello, Craig | Arms Control Today, September/October 1999 | Go to article overview
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Russia, China, U.S. Allies Condemn Senate Defeat of Treaty


Cerniello, Craig, Arms Control Today


THE SENATE'S REJECTION of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on October 13 (see page 26) drew a barrage of criticism from Russia and China, as well as from U.S. allies in Europe and Asia. Although Moscow and Beijing have indicated that they will continue to adhere to the CTBT, which they both signed in September 1996, pressures to resume nuclear testing may intensify in the absence of U.S. ratification. The nuclear weapons establishments in both countries have long opposed the CTBT, presumably because they are more dependent on nuclear testing than the United States, which has a sophisticated stockpile stewardship program.

Russian and Chinese Reactions

In an October 14 statement, the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs said, "We express our regret and serious concern about the Senate's refusal to ratify this treaty, at all stages of the development of which the U.S. Administration took the most active part and was the first to sign it. This decision delivers a serious blow to the entire system of agreements in the field of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, [e]specially to the future of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."

One week before the Senate vote, Foreign Ministry spokesman Vladimir Rakhmanin had announced that the Russian government was in the process of finalizing its CTBT ratification documents for the Duma, the lower house of parliament. However, the Duma is unlikely to consider the treaty anytime soon, given its concern over the Senate vote and its need to complete action on START 11, which was submitted more than four years ago. Parliamentary elections scheduled for December 1999 may also complicate efforts to make serious progress on CTBT ratification.

On October 14, the Chinese Foreign Ministry said it "deeply regrets" the Senate's rejection of the CTBT, but ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue indicated that Beijing would continue to observe its moratorium on nuclear testing, which has been in effect since 1996, and would intensify its efforts to ratify the treaty.

Allied Reactions

just days before the vote, French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder made a highly unusual plea to the Senate not to reject the CTBT. "Failure to ratify the [CTBT] will be a failure in our struggle against proliferation. The stabilizing effect of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, extended in 1995, would be undermined. Disarmament negotiations would suffer," they wrote in an October 8 New York Times op-ed.

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