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Albright CTBT letter to Senate

Secretary of State Madeleine K. Albright
Letter to all members of the U.S. Senate
About the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
Washington, DC, October 5, 1999
As released by the Office of the Spokesman, October 6, 1999
U.S. Department of State


I am writing to urge your support for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) when it comes to the Senate floor next week.

No question before the Senate is more important to ensuring our national security and our country's future safety. As President Clinton said in July, "We have a chance right now to end nuclear testing forever. It would be a tragedy for our security and our children's future to let this opportunity slip away."

First and foremost, the United States must maintain its military strength, including its nuclear deterrent forces. Our scientists have the means to do so without nuclear test explosions and have certified that our existing weapons will work as designed. The United States has not conducted a nuclear test explosion since 1992 when President Bush announced a halt to development of new types of nuclear weapons and Congress initiated a moratorium; we have no plans to test again. The CTBT will hold everyone else to that same standard. Furthermore, it will augment our national capabilities with an unprecedented international monitoring system that will strengthen our ability to detect and deter nuclear testing, thus ensuring rigorous verification.

The CTBT was proposed by President Eisenhower in 1958, and it took 40 years to realize his vision. The treaty is supported by a vast majority of the American people. It has been signed by over 150 nations and ratified by many of our closest allies. Ratifying it would provide a strong incentive to the rest of the world -- both established nuclear powers such as Russia and China as well as other countries such as India and Pakistan -- to halt their own nuclear tests. Failure to ratify would be a major setback to U.S. international leadership, especially in the area of non- proliferation and arms control. We are the world leader in the fight against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and against the forces of international terrorism that seek to acquire such weapons. If the United States rejects this treaty and treats nuclear weapons testing as "business as usual," so will everyone else -- and the nightmare of proliferation will only grow.

You and your Senate colleagues face a critical vote and carry the responsibility of deciding how best to build a safer future for America in a world where dangers abound. I ask you to look at this question, not in the context of the Cold War, but rather with respect to the range of emerging threats we face -- in South Asia, North Korea, the Middle East and elsewhere -- from the proliferation of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. The CTBT is a fundamental roadblock in the path of this trend toward proliferation. I urge you to focus on the key questions or whether America is more secure against the nuclear threats of today and tomorrow, and whether America's leadership in the world is stronger, with or without the CTBT.

The President and his national security team will be doing everything they can in the coming days to explain why we have concluded that the CTBT is in the U.S. interest, and to respond to all your questions and concerns about the treaty. In the meantime, I enclose information that I believe will prove helpful as you prepare to vote. Please do not hesitate to contact me, my staff, or other members of the team if you have questions or need additional information.

I look forward to working with you as we address this critical national security issue.


Madeleine K. Albright

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