1999-2002: The United States and the CTBT

Page 2: 1999-2002: The United States and the CTBT

1999: The US Senate rejects the Treaty

After attempts to negotiate more time for consideration of the Treaty failed, Senate Democrats finally agreed to Senator Lott’s “take it or leave it” offer to hold 14 hours of debate and vote as early as 12 October 1999. This decision was partially motivated by concerns that the Treaty would suffer defeat due to continued inaction.

Prior to the hearings, President Clinton assembled a team of advisors, cabinet members, nuclear weapons scientists, seismological experts and public interest organizations to rally support for the Treaty.

Treaty proponents sought to underscore the wide-ranging national security benefits to the United States by emphasizing the Treaty’s broad support amongst the military leadership and its top nuclear weapons scientists.

On 13 October 1999, the US Senate voted 51-48 against
the Treaty with one senator registering only “present”.

Opponents raised arguments against the Treaty pertaining to the possibility of monitoring a zero-yield test ban and the US ability to maintain its nuclear arsenal under the Stockpile Stewardship Program without testing. In the end, the limited deliberations precluded any opportunity to address these concerns sufficiently and it became clear that the Republicans would in fact vote against the Treaty. There were efforts to delay the vote, but Treaty proponents did not have the support needed to postpone it.

1999: The US Senate votes against the CTBT

On 13 October 1999, the US Senate voted 51-48 against the Treaty with one senator voting “present”. The Clinton Administration not only failed to achieve the necessary 67 votes (or two-thirds majority) for Treaty ratification, but also fell short of a simple majority. Only four Republican Senators voted in favour of the Treaty, Lincoln Chaffee of Rhode Island, Jim Jeffords of Vermont, Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania and Gordon Smith of Oregon. The CTBT remains in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee awaiting reconsideration.