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State Dept Briefing On CTBT

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE Office of the Spokesman

For Immediate Release March 13, 2000


Washington, D.C. March 13, 2000

MR. FOLEY: Good morning and welcome to the State Department. I'm pleased to introduce Secretary Albright, who is here with a special announcement on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty today. She will be making a statement, and then she will be turning the podium over to General Shalikashvili, who will have a statement and then will take, rather briefly, your questions. He has a tight schedule today, but he will be assisted by Senior CTBT Coordinator, Ambassador Goodby and Senior Advisor for Arms Control, John Holum. I'd remind you Secretary Albright will be having a press availability later this afternoon when she meets with the South Korean Foreign Minister.

QUESTION: Do you have copies of the statement?

MR. FOLEY: Yes, we will. Madame Secretary.

SECRETARY ALBRIGHT: Good morning. Before we get to the main event, I want to announce the release today of a letter from six of my predecessors -- Secretaries of State Kissinger, Haig, Shultz, Baker, Eagleburger and Christopher -- calling upon Congress to approve permanent Normal Trade Relations with China. Like my predecessors, I believe there are clear and compelling reasons to grant permanent Normal Trade Relations, and that's why I view this as a foreign policy priority.

Implementing our WTO Agreement with China would dramatically lower import barriers for American goods and services without requiring us to change any of our own current market access policies. Within China, it would encourage the rule of law and spur the development of a more open society. This letter recognizes that China NTR is in our own national interest and, obviously, so is stemming the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Last October, the Senate's rejection of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty disappointed many Americans and sent tremors around the globe. But the CTBT is far too important to abandon. We are determined to continue working for the Treaty and to join with others around the world to halt the development and spread of more advanced nuclear arms.

The Senate's action made it painfully clear that the Administration and Congress, acting together, must develop a new consensus on how to respond to the world's gravest threats. That's why I am so pleased to announce the appointment of General John Shalikashvili as Special Advisor to the President and Secretary of State for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

The General is highly respected on both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue and both sides of the aisle. He has a deep understanding of US military requirements, including nuclear deterrence and, obviously, excellent grasp of technical issues and a reputation as a straight-shooter on Capitol Hill. I can think of no better person to work with Senators of both parties on the crucial national objective of CTBT ratification.

General Shalikashvili will meet with Senators and others to hear their concerns and suggestions, help clear up misconceptions about the Treaty, and recommend steps the Administration might take to gain a favorable Senate vote.

Let me be clear: We do not expect Senate action on the CTBT this year, but the Treaty was painstakingly negotiated and equal pains must be taken in considering it. America deserves an unhurried, nonpartisan, de-politicized dialogue on the CTBT. In this effort, General Shalikashvili will remain an independent outside expert, not unlike Bill Perry during the Perry process on North Korea.

Within the government, he will be supported by Ambassador James Goodby, who is himself a highly distinguished arms control negotiator, and, of course, Senior Advisor John Holum will continue to coordinate our interagency process within the Administration. And needless to say, General Shalikashvili will have my total support and help whenever necessary.

But the mechanics, to my mind, are secondary. The overriding point is that this Treaty needs to be dealt with in a more full and fair and nuanced process, and I'm delighted that we have a superb team in place, led by a superb general, to see that it is. With their help, I'm convinced that America will ultimately ratify the CTBT and, thus, help to ensure that the nuclear arms race becomes a relic of the 20th century, not a recurring nightmare of the 21st.

Thank you. General.

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: Thank you very much, Secretary Albright. I welcome this opportunity very much to help on an issue of such great importance to national security.

Some of my friends have asked why I'm willing to leave the West Coast and devote much time and much energy now when the Senate is unlikely to vote again this year on this issue. The answer is simple: This is not about politics, as far as I'm concerned, or the legacy of a particular administration, for that matter; for me, this is about national security, global stability and American leadership.

Therefore, the Test Ban Treaty is just too important, as I see it, to leave on a shelf. Instead, we must use this time to lay the groundwork for eventual ratification by engaging, as Secretary Albright said, in a low key, nonpartisan dialogue with every Senator interested in understanding better the different views on issues and in exploring ways to bridge those differences. Regrettably, such a dialogue did not precede the short and sharp October ratification debate.

This is water over the bridge now. What matters now is having a thorough but quiet discussion of the issues, to include the Treaty's impact on the US nuclear deterrent, its verifiability and its net contribution to national security. And our allies and the rest of the international community need straight answers about US intentions at the same time that senators deserve straight answers to their concerns.

I hope to start meeting with a broad range of senators, scientific experts and others to hear their concerns and their suggestions on a way ahead. And I am certainly willing to consider various ways that senators' concerns might be addressed to make eventual ratification possible.

At the appropriate time, I will make my recommendations to the President and to the Secretary of State. As Secretary Albright mentioned, Ambassador Goodby will serve as the Senior CTBT Coordinator and, as such, will be my right-hand man in working with senators and with their staffs. And he will be the one who will ensure that the task force and I make the best use of the expertise on nuclear test ban issues in and out of government.

With that, John Holum, who is here with us today, Jim Goodby and I are ready to try to answer any questions you might have.

QUESTION: General, you and the Secretary and others seem to be proceeding as if, if there were just enough time, the Treaty wouldn't have been rejected. Those of us who go all the way back to SALT I, believe it or not, never underestimate the reactionary or deeply conservative opposition to almost any arms control agreement.

Are you suggesting that the Treaty didn't go down partly on substance? Do you expect to be able to change the minds of people who are always skeptical of any arms control agreement, and that you don't even know you're going to have a friendly President in the White House next year on this Treaty? So do you think you have this particular George Bush lined up, and how are you going to convert the right wing in the Senate, which doesn't trust arms control agreements generally?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: The premise of your question is that this is a hopeless situation.

QUESTION: No, the premise of my question is if there were only enough time, if reasonable men only had a few more hours to talk about doing away with nuclear testing, the outcome would have been different. I think the opposition wasn't only a matter of short discussion but a matter of substance. A lot of people don't believe in stopping testing of nuclear weapons; they like to test nuclear weapons.

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I believe that if we use the time wisely we can have a dialogue that just might increase the chances that we can find ways to bridge the differences between the two sides. The alternative is to do nothing and just sit and let the Treaty sit on a shelf and whither away. I think that would be irresponsible.

I am willing to devote my time and my energy to a dialogue that is hopefully, in fact, low key and nonpartisan so that we can better understand what really the issues are and then begin, with the help of all involved, to try to bridge those differences. We might not be able to bridge them all. No one can guarantee that this process will yield ratification, but I can assure you that without it there is zero chance of that.

I happen to think that this is a very worthwhile effort and so I'm willing to devote my energy to it. And my sense is, from talking to at least a few members on the Hill so far, that they are enough up there on the Hill who feel like I, that it is worthwhile to make the effort, even if none of us can be sure what the outcome of that effort will be.

QUESTION: General, there were a couple of amendments to the Treaty, or loopholes -- I don't know what you call them exactly, kind of legal clauses -- that the Administration wanted to amend to attach to the Treaty before it was considered in the Senate, and Lott refused to allow them.

When you say that you're willing to work out ways to address the concerns, is this what you're talking about -- amending the Treaty, putting ways for the United States to avoid full compliance when it affects US national security?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I will tell you that I'm looking for ways to first understand what the concerns are and, secondly, to find ways to bridge those short of having to renegotiate the Treaty. It might not be possible to do that in the end, but it would be irresponsible not to try to find ways. Whether that is through understandings that I included or some other such provisions, it's too early to tell.

I think sometimes we run into trouble when we're trying to find a solution to a problem we haven't yet identified. We know we have problems because we know that the feelings are very deeply held and that they aren't all political feelings; some are in substance. But let us first go out and try to understand where people stand today and then see if we cannot, in fact, find solutions to these problems, to these differences, short of having to renegotiate the Treaty.

QUESTION: General Shalikashvili, with your announcement coming as it does less than week before President Clinton travels to South Asia, do you hope that the announcement of having a point person and a point team on getting CTBT through at some point in the near future will help bolster the Administration's efforts at negotiating to get India and Pakistan to sign CTBT?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I cannot answer that, whether it will or will not. I can tell you that I am here today because I couldn't get here sooner. I injured my back on an overseas trip, and so the cortisone shots in my back didn't take hold in time to come here any sooner. So my being here today is really tied to when I could come. Whether the result will be helpful or not, we will have to see. I don't know. But that certainly was not timed because of that.

QUESTION: Can either Ambassador Goodby or Mr. Holum answer whether or not they think it would help with CTBT and India and Pakistan?

SENIOR ADVISOR HOLUM: I really don't think there is a way to judge that. It seems to me that the issue is likely to be on the agenda in both countries. It's been part of our dialogue. But this, as General Shalikashvili said, this event was timed fortuitously the same week the President is going, not deliberately.

QUESTION: General, you'll be having dialogue with the Senate. Will you also be having a dialogue or any interaction with the countries that haven't signed CTBT?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I don't know yet. I think what is important to understand -- and hopefully you can help also in that respect, and the rest of you -- it's important not just that we have this low key, bipartisan effort ongoing here trying to find a way to eventually get to ratification. But it is also important that our allies and the rest of the international community understand that the United States has, in fact, an effort ongoing to try to find a way to reach ratification of this Treaty.

Whether this will require me -- whether it would be advantageous for me -- to visit those countries that are also having this internal debate, I don't know yet. Much of it is, you know, the Secretary of State will have to decide whether she considers that to be a useful effort or not, and I personally will have to decide whether what I've been asked to do that would help.

But it is important that the world understand that here in the United States we are making a serious effort to try to bridge our differences and to eventually, at the right time, ratify the Treaty.

QUESTION: General, you said earlier that you wanted to identify the differences with points of contention, but it seems to me those are pretty clear already. Don't you already know what they are? I realize you don't want to -- you can't go into this thinking that you're going to -- you have to go in optimistically. But the differences are pretty stark and didn't seem -- and there was quite, in spite of the short time in October and just before the vote in the Senate, there was quite a push from the Administration.

What makes this push different than what happened last year, and do you really think that there are other significant differences of opinion on this that you're not already aware of?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I think that, first of all, it is hard for me to believe that we really had the kind of debate on the issues, the dialogue on the issues, outside of the limelight of TV cameras and the politics that get involved that allowed for the exploration of not only what the issues really are but potential solutions. I wish such a dialogue has preceded that short debate in October. It did not, so it's not very useful now to get into it.

But you also ought to not conclude that we now really understand what people think today the core issues happen to be. And if this dialogue that I am proposing only reconfirms what we already have in the written record, then so be it. Then we understand. It might be that it isn't. It might be that some things were said and done for others -- on both sides, by the way, of the issue. I just think it's worthwhile to begin fresh and say let's forget about October; where are we now and what bothers you, and is there a way that we can, through various mechanisms that are available to us short of renegotiation, answer your concerns.

QUESTION: General, do you have any idea how long this might take you to assess this? And do you think that ratification this year is absolutely not possible?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I don't know how long it will take me. I am prepared for it to go to the end of this year, and then the next administration will have to decide whether they want to -- you know, whether they have enough information to make a decision what to do or whether they want to continue such an effort with me or with somebody else. That's for others to decide. But as far as I'm concerned, I am here hopefully for the long haul, which to me means the end of this year.

Now having said that, the second part of your question, I asked early on whether this Administration intended to submit this Treaty for ratification during the remainder of President Clinton's term. I was told they do not intend to do so. That was important to me because I think it would be very difficult for me to maintain this bipartisan, not politicized approach if someone would misinterpret a desire for earlier ratification, as just, you know, political one-upmanship or something. So it was an important point for me. I was very glad to hear that that was the case, because I think that increases the chances of this effort being successful. So I do not expect this Administration to call for a vote. I do not expect the Senate to bring it up for a vote. I think that's for next year or beyond, whenever the time is right.

QUESTION: General, a representative of the Lawyers Committee for Nuclear Policy expressed very serious concern that the renewed enthusiasm, for want of a better word, for the development of a missile defense shield or Star Wars would undercut all arms control treaties, particularly the CTBT. So how would you see resolving what appears to be a contradiction?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I'm not sure it's a contradiction. Whether the premise is correct or not, it does not detract from the need to undertake what I have agreed to undertake. As a matter of fact, I would tell you, if anything, it heightens the need to do something like that. So I would really -- while everything in the world is linked, as far as I'm concerned, the CTBT on its own merit is important enough for me and for others to devote all of their energy to trying to come to closure on this issue because there are just enough other things ongoing that make it important that we have a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

QUESTION: General, what is the future in general of the CTBT at the global level, let's say the United Nations and the membership? And also, as the President travels to Bangladesh, Bangladesh has already ratified and signed it before he goes there. Do you think at the global level it will be ratified and signed within the time frame without the United States and India and Pakistan?

GENERAL SHALIKASHVILI: I have my own views on it, but someone who can give you a much more informed view on this, I'm sure, is John Holum. So, John, would you.

SENIOR ADVISOR HOLUM: Well, one of the things we're doing is encouraging other countries to continue with their ratification efforts. We now, as you point out, have the ratification of Bangladesh, also Turkey. We're up to 28 of the 44 countries who are indispensable for the Treaty's entry into force. We're hopeful that that number will keep climbing. It's impossible to predict how the remaining countries will proceed, what the timetables will be.

Among the 44 who are the essential for the Treaty's entry into force, 43 have signed -- I'm sorry -- 41 have signed. The only three who haven't are India, Pakistan and North Korea. And so we'd expect that those numbers would continue to climb since those countries have all committed to proceed. And, of course, you know what the state of play is on India and Pakistan.


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