Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Toward a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban the 30th Anniversary of the Limited Test Ban Treaty Would Serve as a Poignant Moment to Announce Efforts to Negotiate a Ban That Is Complete and Permanent

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Toward a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban the 30th Anniversary of the Limited Test Ban Treaty Would Serve as a Poignant Moment to Announce Efforts to Negotiate a Ban That Is Complete and Permanent

Article excerpt

IT is now nearly 30 years since President John F. Kennedy's most lasting achievement: the signing of the world's first nuclear arms control treaty, the Limited Test Ban Treaty of 1963. The treaty followed a remarkable speech by Kennedy on June 10, 1963, at American University in Washington that dramatically altered relations between the world's two great nuclear powers. With the upcoming anniversary as a goal, President Clinton faces a historic opportunity to lead the way to a worldwide end to nuclear weapons testing and a substantial reduction of the nuclear threat.

He should use one of the upcoming 30th-anniversary dates to announce new, drastic reductions in nuclear weapons and progress toward a Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB).

Since the president was required by the Nuclear Testing Moratorium Act of 1992 - which halted US nuclear testing until July 1, 1993 - to report to the Congress whether and why he will pursue more nuclear tests and how he plans to achieve a CTB, the time for decisions that will make history is at hand. He has an excellent opportunity to be linked with his political idol by more than the youthful photograph of their hand shake so visible during the 1992 campaign.

Chastened by his brush with nuclear annihilation during the Cuban Missile Crisis in October 1962, Kennedy went to the podium at American University with a call for an end to the cold war, an end to the nuclear arms race, and greater United States-Soviet cooperation. To underscore his rhetoric, he made two brief announcements: High-level talks for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would begin shortly in Moscow; and US atmospheric nuclear testing would stop so long as other nations also stopped. Kennedy's words and deeds had a dramatic effect in Moscow. They led within only 55 days to the Aug. 5, 1963, signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT). The LTBT was then ratified on Oct. 7 and took effect on Oct. 10.

Mr. Clinton entered office preoccupied with other matters, including economic and foreign policy problems from Bosnia to Haiti that, like Berlin and Cuba, are not of his making. Meanwhile, nuclear disarmament, a CTB, relations with Russia, all demand bold action. …

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