Helms Asks Administration to Reject Arms Control Treaties

By Bleek, Philipp C. | Arms Control Today, April 2001 | Go to article overview

Helms Asks Administration to Reject Arms Control Treaties


Bleek, Philipp C., Arms Control Today


SENATOR JESSE HELMS (R-NC), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, has asked the Bush administration to formally reject a range of international agreements, including the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a 1997 package of agreements concerning the Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty, and the Ottawa Convention banning anti-personnel landmines.

Helms' request was made in a March 12 letter to Secretary of State Colin Powell and first reported March 29 by Knight Ridder. In the letter, Helms complains about the Clinton administration's neglect of the Senate in the treaty-making process and says that "the administration's sorely misguided arms control policies" must be "undone."

A Bush administration official declined comment but emphasized that the status of various agreements was under consideration in the context of ongoing reviews.

Noting the opposition of both the president and the secretary of defense to the test ban and Powell's January 17 pledge not to seek the treaty's approval during the 20012002 Congress, Helms called on the administration to "articulate a new policy on nuclear testing, to withdraw the U.S. signature from the CTBT, and to terminate funding to CTBT organizations." Although he does not support the test ban, President George W. Bush has pledged to maintain the testing moratorium initiated under his father's presidency.

Despite the Senate's October 1999 rejection of the test ban, the United States has continued to fund the CTBT Organization Preparatory Commission, which is currently assembling a network of sensors that will serve as the treaty's "eyes and ears" to verify compliance. While most experts think that the United States benefits from the verification resources the treaty provides even though it has not ratified the treaty, Helms argued at a March 29 Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing that the resources do not benefit and may actually hamper the U.S. intelligence community's efforts to monitor other nations. …

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