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With a Stroke of the Pen, President Begins New Era in Nuclear Arms Control

(Washington, D.C. September 24) President Clinton's signature on the Comprehemsive Test Ban Treaty at 9:30 AM Tuesday, September 24 is a Milestone in the global efforts to reduce and prevent the dangers inherent in nuclear weapons. It has been a long time coming.

Scientists began urging a test ban shortly after the first atomic tests in 1945. President Dwight D. Eisenhower actively pursued a ban. President John F. Kennedy came close to a complete ban but could only realize the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty barring tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, and under water. President Jimmy Carter came close again in 1979, only to have the negotiations falter after the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. As Kennedy noted, "The conclusion of such a treaty - so near and yet so far - would check the spiraling arms race in one of its rnost dangerous areas." It is a moment worth savoring and celebrating.

We do not know yet when the treaty will enter into force. But the practical effect of the treaty will begin immediately upon signature of the five nuclear-weapon states (United States, Russia, China, United Kingdom and China). States will be bound by their signature not to do anything that would obstruct the goals and purposes of the treaty.

What does this mean? Since the first nuclear test explosion on July 16, 1945, there have been 2,046 nuclear tests, or one every nine days. The United States has conducted 1,030 of these tests, or one every 17 days. In all likelihood, we have seen the last US nuclear test and the last test by any of the world's five nuclear-weapon states. Of the three undeclared nuclear-weapon states. lsrael has said it will sign the treaty, Pakistan voted for the treaty at the Untied Nations earlier this month but said it cannot sign unless Indis does. India has said it will not sign, but New Delhi will find it very difficult to test in the face of almost universal support of a global ban.

President Clinton deserves a great deal of credit for honoring his pledge to be "out front pulling" in the two and a half year negotiations that achieved this historic pact. He received a great deal of support and advice from Secretary of Energy Hazel O'Leary, ACDA Director John Holum, OSTP Director John Gibbons. as well as Senators Mark Hatfield (R.-Or.), James Exon (D.-Neb.) and George Mitchell (D-Me.) whose passage of the 1992 testing moratorium began the recent push for a test ban treaty.

Many more in and out of the adminstration worked hard for this moment, and there is more to be done. But today, all should feel proud that, together, they have taken this treaty the final mile over the finish line.

Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers
Council for a Livable World Education Fund
110 Maryland Ave., NE, Suite 505, Washington, DC 20002
Phone (202) 546-0795 - Fax (202) 546-7970

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