WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, delivered the following opening remarks Wednesday at a hearing on ‘The Administration’s Proposal for a UN Resolution on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty’:
“Well Chairman Corker, thank you for calling this hearing and I certainly concur in your observations as to the prerogatives of the United States Congress and the Senate. We do not have any proposed language that the Administration is seeking in regards to the United Nations actions, so we are going right now by what has been presented to us by the Administration and I have been told that what is being negotiated would not legally affect the actions of the United States in regards to the prerogatives of the United States Congress or the prerogatives of the United States Senate in ratification of a treaty.
“You reference a letter we got today, dated September 7th, from Secretary Kerry. I was reading it – not to, I didn’t observe every word that you said – as you were giving your opening statement and I’ll read one sentence out of that letter which says, “We are not proposing and do not support the adoption of the UN Security Council resolution imposing a legally binding prohibition on nuclear testing.” I would ask that that letter from Secretary Kerry be made part of our record.
“We do need to talk a little bit about the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty because it’s kind of unique, of course every treaty has some unique features to it. We will celebrate this month the 20th anniversary of the adoption by the United Nations General Assembly of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. It was ratified by 164 nations, if my staff information is correct. It has not yet entered into force and I think we all will agree that it is unlikely it will enter into force, not because the United States has not ratified the treaty, because it required ratification by countries that haven’t signed it and show no interest in signing it such as North Korea, and such as, unfortunately Pakistan and India, and Iran would have to sign the treaty and ratify it, and we’re not expecting to get cooperation there. So it’s unlikely that this treaty is going to go into effect anytime in the near future, but since 1992 the United States policy has been to impose a moratorium of nuclear explosive testing that was proposed by President George Herbert Walker Bush and supported by the United States Congress. That was done regardless of the ratification of the treaty. It was thought to be the right policy for America and one which I certainly believe is in our best interest. President Clinton then tried to enshrine that in the negotiations of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.
“None of us want to live in a world, as we did during the Cold War, where nuclear tests were a regular frightening occurrence—a reminder of the terrible destructive power of these weapons. I think the United States is safer and the world a better place without nuclear testing. So the real question, Mr. Chairman, is that the administration has indicated that there will be no legal impact in what they’re talking about in the United Nations, why are we doing this in the United Nations? I think that’s the question we should be asking and it seems to me that what we are attempting to do is to get more countries to follow the policy that we adopted in 1992 and not to do active nuclear testing. Why? Because it’s in our national security interests and in the security interests of the global community.
“If nuclear tests could be verifiably ended worldwide, the United States would disproportionately benefit. We don’t need nuclear tests to ensure our weapons are effective or secure. Year after year our National Laboratory Directories have certified the Stockpile Steward Program provides us with 100% confidence that the United States’ nuclear weapons are reliable without nuclear testing. We do not need nuclear active testing to have our deterrent stockpile. It’s the countries that are trying to develop a stronger capacity in nuclear weapons that could benefit by active nuclear testing. It’s those countries that we don’t want to test. It is in our national security interest that they don’t test. Therefore, as I look at this, if we are capable of putting more pressure on those countries not to test, it’s in our national security interest.
“The world we seek is the one President Reagan sought in his second inaugural address, and I quote President Reagan, “We are not just discussing limits on a further increase of nuclear weapons. We seek, instead, to reduce their number. We seek the total elimination one day of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth.” I certainly agree with President Reagan in that desire and it seems to me the actions the Obama Administration is taking now might be furthering that objective by getting countries that could develop a greater capacity for nuclear to have the pressure of the P5, the world leaders, to say ‘we’re not testing and we believe you should not test,’ and that we will continue to pursue avenues to enforce that through our individual actions in our countries.
“So I look forward to hearing from our witnesses and I certainly agree with the Chairman that this is an important subject for the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. We have the jurisdiction in the Senate on treaty ratification. A legal document needs to have the support of Congress.”