Test ban treaty sought

The Washington Times Weekly - - National Security -

The Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion has launched a new ef­fort to win rat­i­fi­ca­tion of the Com­pre­hen­sive Nu­clear Test Ban Treaty, known as CTBT, which was voted down by the Se­nate in 1999.

The ef­fort is be­ing led by Jon Wolf­sthal, an arms-con­trol spe­cial­ist at two think tanks un­til he be­came a na­tional-se­cu­rity aide to Vice Pres­i­dent Joseph R. Bi­den Jr. and a staffer on the White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Coun­cil in Jan­uary.

Mr. Wolf­sthal was mak­ing the rounds in the Se­nate on Dec. 9, check­ing to see if the ad­min­is­tra­tion can drum up the 67 votes needed — a two-thirds ma­jor­ity — to rat­ify the treaty, which pre­vents un­der­ground nu­clear tests.

Con­gres­sional and ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials said the CTBT rat­i­fi­ca­tion ef­fort is part of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s new em­pha­sis on reach­ing arms-con­trol agree­ments. The of­fi­cials said the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity is work­ing on a Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Es­ti­mate that the ad­min­is­tra­tion hopes will bol­ster rat­i­fi­ca­tion ef­forts, and a fed­eral sci­en­tific study also is be­ing done as part of the push. The of­fi­cials spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause they are not au­tho­rized to speak on the record.

A White House spokesman had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

The treaty was re­jected on a party-line 51-48 vote in the Se­nate on Oct. 13, 1999. Repub­li­cans op­posed the treaty, say­ing the pact would un­der­mine na­tional se­cu­rity by en­cour­ag­ing nu­clear pro­lif­er­a­tion and pre­vent­ing the United States from en­sur­ing the reli­a­bil­ity of its nu­clear stock­pile.

Democrats fa­vored the treaty as a needed arms-con­trol agree­ment to pre­vent nu­clear test­ing.

Repub­li­cans at the time did not have the 60 votes needed to kill the treaty. As a re­sult, the pact was tabled in a pro­ce­dure that al­lows it to be brought up again for a fu­ture vote.

Pres­i­dent Obama said dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign that he planned to seek CTBT rat­i­fi­ca­tion as a high pri­or­ity.

The treaty was adopted by the U.N. Gen­eral As­sem­bly in Septem­ber 1996 but has not en­tered into force be­cause nine states are needed to rat­ify it, in­clud­ing the United States and China.

The United States signed the treaty and has im­posed a mora­to­rium on nu­clear test­ing.

How­ever, a blue-rib­bon com­mis­sion set up by the Pen­tagon re­cently iden­ti­fied ma­jor flaws in the ag­ing U.S. nu­clear arse­nal, which has called into ques­tion whether fu­ture test­ing of new nu­clear weapons may be needed, ac­cord­ing to sources fa­mil­iar with the classified re­port.

The ad­min­is­tra­tion hopes to push through the CTBT rat­i­fi­ca­tion be­fore seek­ing rat­i­fi­ca­tion of a new Strate­gic Arms Re­duc­tion Treaty. The 1991 START ex­pired Dec. 5, and its sev­eral hun­dred pages of pro­vi­sions were re­placed tem­po­rar­ily by a 45-word joint U.S.-Rus­sian state­ment say­ing both coun­tries will con­tinue to abide by its terms. tary co­op­er­a­tion will be the key to the suc­cess of the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion’s sec­ond surge strat­egy, ac­cord­ing to a U.S. mil­i­tary of­fi­cer in Afghanistan.

The of­fi­cer pro­vided In­side the Ring with an anal­y­sis of the strat­egy, an­nounced two weeks ago by Pres­i­dent Obama. It calls for the planned de­ploy­ment of an ad­di­tional 30,000 troops and sets a dead­line to start pulling them out by July 2011.

The of­fi­cer spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized speak pub­licly.

“The rapid surge will present lo­gis­ti­cal chal­lenges, a fact not lost on our en­e­mies, who are likely to ori­ent on our sup­ply-chain vul­ner­a­bil­i­ties,” the of­fi­cer said.

The of­fi­cer said Pak­istan’s se­cu­rity forces will be called on by the U.S. and its al­lies to play an im­por­tant role in se­cur­ing the force buildup. “That will be a met­ric of Pak­istani po­lit­i­cal will to sup­port this ef­fort,” the of­fi­cer said.

An­other key el­e­ment of mis­sion suc­cess will be the re­sponse of the NATO al­lies to pro­vide ad­di­tional forces be­yond the surge of 30,000 U.S. troops to round out the force ini­tially sought by the top com­man­der in Afghanistan, Gen. Stan­ley A. McChrys­tal, the of­fi­cer said.

“A fun­da­men­tal cen­ter of grav­ity of this fight is not in Afghanistan, but in Pak­istan [. . . ] and the al Qaeda safe havens,” the of­fi­cer said.

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