September 23, 1997 in Nation/World

Clinton Pushes Nuclear Test Ban Treaty President Asks Senate To Ratify Pact And Asks General Assembly To Cut U.S. Share Of U.N. Costs

Josh Friedman Newsday
 

President Clinton announced Monday he formally has asked the U.S. Senate to ratify a global nuclear test ban treaty that has eluded world leaders since the Kennedy administration.

As if assessing the historical impact adoption of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would have, Clinton called it “our commitment to end all nuclear tests for all time - the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control.”

He chose his annual speech at the opening of the U.N. General Assembly session to announce he has sent the treaty to the Senate. He signed the treaty just after he spoke to the United Nations last year - the first of 146 leaders who have signed the bill.

Senate debate on the treaty is expected to be heated, but U.S. ratification is necessary to push other nuclear powers such as Russia, France and China to ratify, arms control experts say. President Kennedy signed the documents of ratification for a nuclear test ban treaty with Britain and the Soviet Union in 1963.

While Clinton was exhorting other U.N. members to follow the United States’ lead, he also pleaded with them to approve his administration’s request to reduce the U.S. share of U.N. costs by adopting “a more equitable scale of assessment.”

He linked a reduction of U.S. dues to U.S. support for enlarging the Security Council, a quid pro quo sought by Japan and Germany in exchange for making up for a shrinking U.S. financial role.

Ratifying the treaty and shrinking the U.S. role at the United Nations are linked to a delicate relationship between the Clinton administration and outspoken Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Jesse Helms, R-N.C.

Reducing the U.S. share of U.N. general costs from the current 25 percent to a proposed 20 percent is one of the prices Helms has exacted in exchange for going along with at least partial payment of the $1.5 billion the United Nations says the United States owes in back dues.

But there is little support for allowing the United States to shrink its role as the United Nations’ biggest patron. British Foreign Minister Robin Cook plans to demand in the General Assembly today that the United States pay everything it owes and continue to pay more than a 20 percent share, an aide said Monday.

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NUCLEAR HOLDOUTS

The accord is not binding until it has been ratified by all 44 nations that conduct nuclear research or have nuclear reactors. India, Pakistan and Israel have not yet signed.

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