Clinton Can Energize Nonnuclear Treaties

MOMENTUM and expansion. Those are elements that United States policy leaders must maintain if a worldwide nuclear-weapons test ban is to be agreed upon in Geneva this year.

The US must energize negotiations since a comprehensive nuclear test ban (CTB) must precede the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) conference in April 1995. Emerging nuclear-weapon states will want to drag their heels.

The US must also encourage expansion of the number of countries directly involved in the CTB negotiations as the surest way to secure broad support and adherence to a nuclear test ban and nuclear nonproliferation.

President Clinton has added significant momentum to the test ban talks: The White House decided in March to continue the US testing moratorium until September 1995. The president agreed at the United Nations in August to handle CTB negotiations not in the exclusive nuclear club, but in the multilateral UN negotiations in Geneva. The US insisted - with France, Britain, and Russia - that the moratorium of those four states continue despite renewed Chinese nuclear tests.

Mr. Clinton can quicken the pace of the sluggish Washington bureaucracy and Geneva negotiations by stating a desire to sign a treaty by the end of this year. He can prod further by pressuring for continuous negotiating sessions until the CTB is achieved. Many negotiators in Geneva feel that technically a treaty is achievable this year - given the requisite political will. Summits with President Francois Mitterrand, President Boris Yeltsin, Prime Minister John Major, and President Jiang Zemin would add additional momentum-building opportunities for Clinton.

Setting such a deadline offers only political gain. Clinton established nonproliferation as a major foreign-policy objective for his first term.

Clinton can succeed where three other presidents of both parties failed. A successful CTB in 1994 would immediately roll over into a successful NPT review conference.

These two achievements would truly shut the door on emerging nuclear states and squelch nuclear-weapon flirtations by others. They would provide a worldwide legal basis for sanctions and enforcement against states that do not comply. The risk lies in drawn-out CTB bickering and a failed NPT due to a perceived lack of commitment in the nuclear club to stop testing.

A failed CTB and a delayed NPT would spell disaster for nonproliferation in many volatile settings around the globe. Instability in Russia and the uncertain future of Mr. Mitterrand provide additional incentives to complete the CTB while Mr. Yeltsin and Mitterand, strong supporters of a test ban, are still in power.

It is a good idea to keep the nuclear club exclusive. But it is not a good idea to exclude states from the CTB or NPT negotiations if they want to join. Exclusivity breeds envy and mischief.

The president must be prepared to take some political heat by allowing any state, even Iraq or Iran, to join the CTB negotiations. All states, especially nuclear threshold and nuclear rogue states, must participate in the CTB and NPT. Then it will be up to the UN to hold offenders to their treaty commitment, as in the current case of North Korea. A signed treaty in 1994 means that the rule of law and the norms of a treaty can help push all states into adherence and compliance.

Success in the CTB and NPT arms-control forums is crucial to the success of Clinton's nonproliferation objective. Expansion of membership and momentum are key. Clinton should set a target date and encourage all states to join the process so that the threat of nuclear-weapons use can be reduced significantly worldwide.

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