TlME FOR A COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN Since the dawn of the nuclear age, concerned citizens, scientists, physicians, and political leaders have worked tirelessly to end nuclear weapons testing. Ending nuclear testing has been widely acknowledged as a key step on the road to nuclear disarmament. That work has begun to pay off. Progress has been made to Iimit test yields and to ban explosions in the atmosphere, outer space, and underwater. Now, 50 years after the first nuclear test lit up the predawn New Mexico sky, we have a historic opportunity to achieve finally a comprehensive ban on nuclear weapons tests. The Comprehenslve Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) currently being negotiated at the 37-member Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, Switzerland would permanently ban all nuclear explosions worldwide. A Step Toward Nuclear Disarmament The CTBT would sharply curtail a nation's ability to develop and deploy new, sophisticated nuclear weapons. France used its recent series of six nuclear tests to finish development of a number of new nuclear weapons, including a 110 kiloton warhead for a new submarine-launched ballistic missile. China is on a crash course to modernize its nuclear arsenal before the CTBT comes into effect. U.S. officials expect four more Chinese tests this year. The nuclear weapons establishments in the United States and France have advocated new post-Cold War missions for nuclear weapons. New nuclear weapons that have been under consideration in the United States over the last few years include 'mini-nukes,' earth-penetrating nuclear weapons for burrowing into underground bunkers, nuclear weapons that would destroy a targeted country's electronlc communications systems, and other esoteric directed energy weapons. Part of an emerging 'counter-proliferation' doctrine, these bombs are designed as first-strike weapons for potential use on third world battlefields. The CTBT would make these new, destablizing weapons more difficult, if not impossible, to develop and deploy. A Curb Agairrst Nuclear Proliferation The CTBT would help prevent new nations from joining the nuclear club. It will also make it difficult for nations that are believed to have an existing nuclear capability, such as India, Pakistan, and Israel, to confidently develop deploy more sophisticated nuclear weapons. The CTBT reassures non-nuclearand would-be nuclearstates that the existing nuclear powers are moving away from the nuclear arms race. An Environmental Treaty Even though nuclear weapons testing now takes place underground, a significant number of nuciear tests still harm the environment by 'venting' radioactivity into the atmosphere or water. Officials in Mongolia and Kazakhstan have detected higher levels of radioactivity after underground tests at the Lop Nor Test Site in neighboring China and independent scientific studies indicate that past underground tests at the French South Pacific test site, Moruroa atoll, vented radioactive isotopes into the surrounding water. In the United States, the most notorious incident of venting took place in 1970 when the underground 'Baneberry' blast sent a radioactive cloud across the United States into South Dakota. AIl underground tests create long-lived radioactive contaminates that can ultimately leach into groundwater. SAMPLE LETTER TO PRESIDENT CLINTON The Honorable William J. Clinton attnˇ Anthony Lake, Assistant to the President for National Security affairs Ground Floor, West Wing The White House Washington, DC 20500 Dear President Clinton, I strongly support your stated goal of securing a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty by June 1996, Thanks to your leadership, this long-sought disarmament and non-proliferation accord is finally within reach. However, I am perplexed at your administration's plan to conduct "subcritical experiments" at the very moment your negotiators will be in Geneva trying to secure a ban on all nuclear tests. The potential negative political fallout from these experiments stands to outweigh any perceived scientific gains for the nuclear weapons establishment. You are running the risk of thwarting your laudable goal of achieving a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, Conducting underground high explosive experiments using plutonium at the Nevada lest Site sends the wrong message to the world about U.S. commitment to end nuclear testing we are serious about a permanent end to nuclear testing then we should unilaterally announce our willingness to close down the Nevada lest Site. Please rib not sabotage your own chance for success and put the CTBT in jeopardy. Call off the subcritical experiments and strengthen your push for completion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty this year ar the next Step on the road toward global nuclear disarmament.