ACTING UNDER SECRETARY OF STATE JOHN HOLUM
Before the Senate Committee on Governmental Affairs
March 18, 1998
Good afternoon Mr. Chairman and members of the Subcommittee. I am pleased to join you to discuss the national security benefits of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). I am equally pleased that your Committee is holding hearings on this historic Treaty now pending in the Senate. Your first hearing last October helped focus on the issues. I trust this hearing will further the process of rendering Senate advice and consent.
As you know, the President has called on the Senate to provide its advice and consent this year. As soon as the Senate has approved NATO expansion, it should act expeditiously to consider and approve the CTBT. These agreements, individually and together, will ensure that the next century brings us a safer and more secure world. But continued U.S. leadership is required. Just as the United States led the successful effort to negotiate the CTBT among the 61 members of the Conference on Disarmament and was the first state to sign the Treaty, we should be among the initial states to ratify it as well.
The CTBT overwhelmingly serves our national interest. Let me describe how it does so.
First, by constraining the development of more advanced nuclear weapons by the declared nuclear powers, the CTBT essentially eliminates the possibility of a renewed arms competition such as characterized the Cold War. Without the ability to conduct nuclear explosive tests, none of the weapon states will be able to develop, with high confidence, new, more advanced weapons. For prudent military planners, this means that advanced new types of nuclear weapons will be precluded.
With all five declared nuclear weapon states effectively frozen at current levels of weapons development, a 50-year spiral of escalation will be ended. The United States is currently in a position to reap maximum benefits from such a freeze. Prompted by Congressional legislation, the U.S. has effectively left the testing business -- the last U.S. nuclear test explosion was in 1992. We have no plans and no military requirements to test. All the more reason, then, to hold others to the same standard we already observe.
The CTBT and the strategic nuclear arms reduction process are mutually reinforcing. The test ban provides confidence that neither side is making significant qualitative improvements in its arsenal, thus fostering a stable environment for further reductions. The CTBT will not eliminate a single nuclear weapon. But it will enhance the START process and help us further reduce the roles and risks of nuclear weapons.
Second, the CTBT also is a nonproliferation treaty. It will erect a further barrier to the development of nuclear weapons by states hostile to our interests and others. Even if a non-nuclear weapon state were able to assemble sufficient nuclear material to produce a simple fission weapon, the CTBT would force it to place confidence in an untested design (which military leaders might find unacceptable), and it would constrain the development of nuclear weapons beyond simple fission designs. Without access to testing data, a would-be proliferator cannot develop with any degree of confidence a compact boosted weapon. Design of a two-stage thermonuclear weapon is even more complicated, and confident development even more dependent on test data.
Some observers point out that the bomb used in Hiroshima was never tested. True enough, but we had to dig a hole under a B-29 to load it aboard. It would be a challenging task for an emerging nuclear weapon state, likely requiring nuclear explosive tests, to design nuclear weapons in the sizes, shapes and weights most dangerous to us -- compact weapons deliverable in long-range airplanes and missiles, or very small, low-yield, nuclear weapons to be used as terrorist devices or in regional conflicts.
Third, quite apart from the sheer technical obstacles to nuclear weapon development posed by a CTBT, the existence of the Treaty will strengthen international nonproliferation standards and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty regime, and give the U.S. a stronger hand to lead the global nonproliferation effort.
The nuclear weapon states' commitment to conclude a CTBT in 1996 was instrumental in achieving the indefinite and unconditional extension of the NPT in 1995. This was to be expected. The non-nuclear weapon states have always seen a ban on nuclear testing as an essential step by the nuclear weapon states to fulfill their part of the NPT bargain in exchange for a commitment from the others to forego nuclear weapons.
Largely due to U.S. initiatives, agreement on the CTBT text was reached on schedule, and the Treaty has now been signed by 150 countries, including the five nuclear-weapon states. The next step is ratification by the U.S. and the other nuclear weapon states, and concerted efforts to bring the Treaty into force.
Ratification is also critical to our ability to effectively enforce the NPT regime, which is no easy task. The NPT, now with nearly universal membership at 185 states, has established a global norm of nonproliferation which discourages most states from even considering nuclear weapon programs. The CTBT will reinforce this global norm against weapons development, and hold the existing programs of other states in check.
However, as recent history demonstrates, not all states feel bound by norms or Treaty obligations. Even states that appear to be complying with the legal obligations of the NPT may go quite far in pursuit of nuclear weapon capabilities without clearly violating it. Thus, a challenge for the U.S. is to insist on strict compliance by the non-nuclear weapon states with both the letter and the spirit of the NPT obligation to forego nuclear weapons. That requires a united world, with the means to isolate and sanction those who do not respect the law. It requires a strong global political commitment to the NPT, so countries will be prepared to negotiate new agreements with the International Atomic Energy Agency incorporating the strong new safeguards we finally achieved last year.
Think about the potential proliferation consequences of an extended delay in U.S. ratification, accompanied, as would probably be the case, by such a delay in ratification by Russia and China. It could be seen as a repudiation of the political commitment made at the time of the NPT Extension Conference and during the course of CTBT negotiations. It could send the message that the weapon states are unwilling to ever break with their Cold War reliance on nuclear arms -- exactly the wrong signal to send. Under these circumstances, we would have significantly harmed U.S. efforts to persuade the international community to join us in insisting on strict compliance with the NPT and to use the "strengthened review process" agreed to at the 1995 NPT Review Conference to advance our nonproliferation goals.
The fourth reason to ratify the CTBT is that it is effectively verifiable. The U.S. successfully fought for tough verification provisions in the negotiations and would not have signed the Treaty if it were not effectively verifiable. What do we mean by this term?
Let me begin with what it does not mean: effective verification does not mean that the U.S. has a guarantee that it would be able to detect and attribute all tests worldwide, under all circumstances, should violations occur. Effective verification involves political judgments as well as technical ones; it involves determinations of acceptable levels of uncertainty. To make a judgment about what is acceptable, we need to weigh the benefits of the treaty compared to the likelihood of violations and the potential costs to the U.S.
Thus, our judgment that the Treaty is effectively verifiable reflects the belief that U.S. nuclear deterrence would not be undermined by nuclear testing that the United States might fail to detect. It further reflects our belief that the Treaty will effectively deter violations in light of the significant possibility of detection in combination with the high political costs if a violation is detected. Moreover, the Treaty's verification regime, along with our national intelligence means and diplomatic efforts, will limit an evader's options and provide us with the means to take prompt and effective counter action should we suspect a violation has occurred. In sum, we believe that the benefits of the Treaty to U.S. national security clearly outweigh the potential costs and likelihood of undetected violations.
We would be concerned about the possibility of any violation, even a test with a nuclear yield of a few pounds. Quite apart from the potential military significance of such a test, it would have serious political consequences and, moreover, could provide us important information about another states' weapons program. With or without a CTBT, monitoring the nuclear-related activities of the nuclear powers and potential proliferators will continue to be a high priority job of the intelligence community. This brings me to a fifth reason to ratify the Treaty: it will improve our nuclear test monitoring capabilities.
The CTBT augments the current national technical means for monitoring worldwide nuclear testing with additional tools and data not previously available to the United States. It is a net plus. The CTBT establishes global networks of four different types of sensors -- seismic, hydroacoustic, radionuclide and infrasound -- that can detect explosions in different physical environments. These networks, comprising 321 monitoring stations, are called the International Monitoring System (IMS). Data will be coming in continuously from the IMS. Some of this data will be recorded at stations in sensitive parts of the world to which we would not otherwise have access. Consider, for example, that the IMS includes 31 monitoring stations in Russia, 11 in China and 17 in the Middle East.
The CTBT permits any party to request an on-site inspection to clarify whether or not a violation has occurred, and allows for the use of a range of technologies during that inspection to gather any facts which might assist in identifying a possible violation. With the assent of the CTBT decision-making body, the Executive Council, the U.S. would thus be able to ensure that ambiguous evidence is further investigated. The Treaty further provides for consultation and clarification of ambiguous situations and confidence building measures that will enhance our confidence in our monitoring capabilities. The Treaty also provides the legal basis and an international forum with which to promote and enforce a global end to nuclear testing.
We had a demonstration of some of these capabilities last summer. In the Kara Sea, near a former Soviet nuclear testing facility where there had been ongoing activity, seismic sensors detected an event. This raised red flags about a potential tests in the area and we began collecting and analyzing data. The event, with a seismic signal equivalent to about one-tenth of one kiloton, was detected by several IMS stations in Russia, Norway, Sweden and Finland. Our intelligence community could confidently locate the event in the Kara Sea even though a major seismic station in the region was out of commission.
After analysis, we were satisfied that there was no nuclear explosion, based solely on remote sensing and study. If the Treaty were in force we could, of course, choose to use its on-site inspection regime or consultation and clarification procedures if there are similar incidents.
Sixth, the CTBT will allow us to maintain a safe and reliable nuclear deterrent.
As a condition of U.S. support for a zero-yield CTBT in the summer of 1995, President Clinton announced safeguards which collectively recognize and protect the continued important contribution of nuclear weapons to U.S. national security. The first safeguard mandated the conduct of a Stockpile Stewardship program -- for which there must be sustained bipartisan support from Congress -- to ensure a high level of confidence in the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons stockpile.
Such a program to maintain our nuclear deterrent under a CTBT was established in 1993 by the Department of Energy in close collaboration with the Strategic Command and the Joint Staff at the Department of Defense. The program builds on DOE's longstanding, rigorous program of stockpile surveillance and component testing with more sophisticated laboratory experimentation and advanced computations. Its point of departure is a rich database from over 1,000 past nuclear weapon tests that characterize the operation of our weapons and will serve as a benchmark for analyzing the operation of our weapons in the future.
The program has earned the confidence of our military leaders, independent weapon scientists and the Directors of the three nuclear weapon laboratories. During a February visit to Los Alamos National Laboratory, President Clinton was joined by the laboratory Directors -- Dr. Browne of Los Alamos, Dr. Robinson of Sandia and Dr. Tarter of Lawrence Livermore. The Directors affirmed that [they] "are confident that the Stockpile Stewardship program will enable us to maintain America's nuclear deterrent without nuclear testing."
If, in the unlikely event doubts about our ability to maintain the arsenal under a CTBT arise at some point in the future, the Treaty provides for withdrawal from the Treaty if a party decides that its supreme interests are jeopardized. President Clinton has decided (and stated as one of the Safeguards that condition U.S. support for the Treaty) that the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons is a supreme national interest.
To implement this condition, the President established a certification process requiring the weapon design laboratories and the Department of Defense to review annually all nuclear weapon types. The Secretaries of Energy and Defense, based on the independent advice of the laboratory Directors, the Nuclear Weapons Council, and the Commander-in-Chief of Strategic Command, are required to report annually to the President whether the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile is, to a high degree of confidence, safe and reliable. If our nuclear deterrent cannot be so certified, the President, in consultation with the Congress, has made it clear that he would be prepared to withdraw from the Treaty under the "supreme interests" clause in order to conduct whatever testing might be required.
I am pleased to report that the Administration forwarded to the Congress February 12 the second annual certification from the Secretaries of Defense and Energy that the nuclear stockpile remains safe and reliable, confirming that the U.S. will enter the CTBT regime with a proven, well-tested arsenal.
In addition to the two safeguards referred to above, U.S. adherence to the CTBT is conditioned on four other safeguards related to our stockpile stewardship program and Treaty monitoring. Together these six safeguards include:
B. Modern nuclear laboratory facilities and program in theoretical and exploratory nuclear technology which will attract, retain, and ensure the continued application of our human scientific resources to those programs on which continued progress in nuclear technology depends.
C. Maintenance of the basic capability to resume nuclear test activities prohibited by the CTBT should the United States cease to be bound to adhere to this treaty.
D. A comprehensive research and development program to improve our treaty monitoring capabilities and operations.
E. Continuing development of a broad range of intelligence gathering and analytical capabilities and operations to ensure accurate and comprehensive information on worldwide nuclear arsenals, nuclear weapons development programs, and related nuclear programs.
F. The understanding that if the President of the United States is informed by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of Energy (DOE) -- advised by the Nuclear Weapons Council, the Directors of the DOE's nuclear weapons laboratories and the Commander of the U.S. Strategic Command -- that a high level of confidence in the safety or reliability of a nuclear weapon type which the two Secretaries consider to be critical to our nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified, the President, in consultation with Congress, would be prepared to withdraw from the CTBT under the standard "supreme national interests" clause in order to conduct whatever testing might be required.
Some may ask, why should we act now to ratify? The condition for the Treaty's entry into force is ratification by 44 identified countries -- members of the Conference on Disarmament possessing nuclear power or nuclear research reactors. Of the 44, North Korea, India and Pakistan have not even signed, although Islamabad voted to adopt the Treaty at the United Nations General Assembly.
If the Treaty is in our interests -- as I believe it is -- and especially if we are going to comply with it anyway, then we should work to bring it into force as soon as we can.
U.S. ratification will encourage further ratifications, just as U.S. ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention facilitated ratification by Russia, China, Pakistan and Iran. The most effective means of moving reluctant states is to make them feel the sting of isolation on this issue and not to provide them with the "cover" of U.S. inaction. U.S. delays in ratification would compromise our efforts to encourage others. In particular, with regard to India and Pakistan, it is important that when the President travels to the subcontinent later this year he does so with U.S. ratification in hand.
In addition, if the CTBT has not entered into force by September 1999, that is three years after it was opened for signature, the Treaty provides for an annual conference of countries that have ratified to consider how to facilitate early entry into force. The U.S. should be there. But, to participate, the U.S. must ratify.
Moreover, even before entry into force, our ratification and that of other key states will help to constrain non-signatories from conducting nuclear tests. The CTBT already has advanced the goal of ending nuclear weapon testing by promoting an international norm against testing. The five nuclear weapon states unilaterally declared moratoria on testing at different points during the past eight years in anticipation to or in response to the Treaty negotiations. The international community endorsed the Treaty after the conclusion of negotiations by a 158-3 vote in the United Nations General Assembly. In the 18 months since it was opened for signature, 150 states have signed.
If U.S. ratification is delayed for an extended period, the norm that we seek to advance could unravel. Moreover, we would run the risk that other nuclear weapon states -- which are currently observing self-imposed moratoria on test explosions -- could decide, in the absence of firm legal constraints, to declare they do not intend to ratify the Treaty and to resume testing.
Lastly, it is essential that the U.S. continue to demonstrate leadership with regard to the crucial treaties and regimes that strengthen our global nonproliferation effort, as it did during the CTBT negotiations. The U.S. needs to promote the CTBT's entry into force, not complicate it.
Mr. Chairman, I have endeavored to elaborate for the Committee the reasons the CTBT is in the national security interests of the United States. Its obvious benefits have led four former chairmen of the Joint Chiefs of Staff -- Generals John Shalikashvili, Colin Powell and David Jones, and Admiral William Crowe -- to endorse the Treaty. And, significantly, the Treaty enjoys overwhelming public support. A recent nationwide poll 10 showed 70 percent of the people, Republicans and Democrats alike, favor a treaty to prohibit further nuclear explosions worldwide.
At its very core, here is what the CTBT issue comes down to, what the Senate must consider when making its decision: the nuclear arms race is over; arsenals are shrinking; our dramatically fewer remaining weapons can be kept safe and reliable by other means; we don't need tests; proliferators do; the American people overwhelmingly want testing banned.
Mr. Chairman, this concludes my prepared remarks. I would be happy to take your questions now or for the record.