June 10, 1998
Secretary of State Madeleine Albright appealed to Russia and the U.S. Congress to ratify a treaty reducing by half U.S. and Russian long-range nuclear warheads. Albright hopes this treaty will set an example for India and Pakistan.
A RealAudio version of this segment is available.
June 4, 1998
Nuclear powers urge India and Pakistan not to conduct more tests.
June 3, 1998
A report on the CIA's failure to forsee India's nuclear tests.
May 29, 1998
Examining regional implications of the nuclear struggle between India and Pakistan.
May 28, 1998
The Pakistani ambassador to the U.S. , the Indian ambassador to the U.S. and National Security Advisor Samuel Berger discuss the India/Pakistan dispute.
Browse the NewsHour's coverage of the military and Asia.
Information on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
Treaty on the Non Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: The United States, along with 148 other nations, signed the 1996 comprehensive test ban treaty, which bans all nuclear explosions of any size anywhere. But the U.S. Senate has yet to ratify the treaty or to hold major hearings on it.
We get four views on the comprehensive test ban treaty now: Michigan Senator Carl Levin is a Democrat and served on the Senate Armed Services Committee; Arizona Senator Jon Kyl is a Republican and serves on the Senate Energy & Natural Resources Committee, which oversees the national laboratories that design and maintain America's nuclear weapons; Sidney Drell is Professor of Theoretical Physics at Stanford University, he's on two presidential panels dealing with nuclear weapons; and Robert Barker was Assistant to the Secretary of Defense for Atomic Energy during the Reagan and Bush administrations. He's now at Lawrence Livermore Lab, but is speaking for himself. Thank you all for being with us. Senator Levin, do you agree with the Secretary's statement that there is a new urgency for the Senate to act now on the treaty?
A need for action?
SEN. CARL LEVIN, (D) Michigan: Very much so. There's no excuse for the Senate to at least not consider the treaty. And if there's arguments pro and con, then let's listen to those arguments, but to bottle this treaty up in committee without a hearing in committee and without bringing it to the Senate, it seems to me, is just totally wrong in the atmosphere that we now find ourselves. This treaty, according to the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, our top military official, the previous four chairmen of the Joint Chiefs, our Secretary of Defense, our Secretary of Energy, will add to the security of the United States by making it more difficult, harder for other countries to bring about nuclear weapons, or to improve the nuclear weapons they have. And if this treaty enters into force, it will make it possible for us to monitor a lot better any nuclear explosion around the world. So our top military people strongly agree with Secretary Albright.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Senator Kyl, how do Republicans see this treaty?
SEN. JON KYL, (R) Arizona: Well, it's not just a partisan issue, but I think most Republicans believe that we should not put our reliance upon a treaty. Understand that in order for the comprehensive test ban treaty to have any impact at all a nation would already have had to violate the existing treaty, NPT, or Non-Proliferation Treaty, that bans the development of nuclear weapons. The CTBT, by contrast, bans their testing. So a nation would have had to specifically violate the NPT, having developed a weapon, in order for the CTB to be relevant. It's obvious that if that's happened, there's no point in putting reliance upon that country abiding by a treaty.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: But, Sen. Kyl, do you agree with Sen. Levin that the Senate should act on this?
SEN. JON KYL: No. The whole point here is that we have to act in our self interest to ensure that we can defend ourselves. And the best way to do that is through the development of missile defenses and through helping countries like India and Pakistan work out differences that have created the need for this testing on their part. But to rely upon a piece of paper, a treaty, that's already been violated numerous times-and I'm talking now about the NPT and a CTBT that would also be violated--is to put our faith in a cloud in the air. It simply won't provide for our national security.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sidney Drell, do you think the Senate should ratify the treaty?
SIDNEY DRELL, Stanford University: Definitely. On national security grounds, as a physicist, on technical grounds I believe it's in our interest. The weapons in the enduring stockpile now had a very good pedigree. They're well tested. We have great confidence in them. The way to preserve that confidence is by doing the kinds of detailed diagnostics-I would say forensic work now going on in the laboratories under the stockpile stewardship program. That is-
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: What do you mean by-you mean looking at the weapons in ways other than exploding them?
SIDNEY DRELL: We take them apart and we fingerprint them. We see whether they're aging. With the modern diagnostic techniques, with the advanced computers, we are now able with confidence to get data and see that the weapons are behaving the way they were calculated to behave and the way we learned they behave by an extensive test program over the past years. Earlier, we tested to develop new weapons and because we didn't have the diagnostics, or the computer power to do this type of work in the laboratory, I'm confident we are putting our resources where they are most needed now in the program. In addition, we will be beefing up under treaty our ability to monitor activities that may prove threatening to us in the nuclear realm around the world. The number of stations will more than triple.
What the treaty means for the U.S. arsenal.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Let's come back to that aspect of the treaty. Robert Barker, let's divide this up and right now let's talk about the effects of the treaty just on the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Do you support the treaty? I know you don't support the treaty. And is it-how-why not? How do you think it will affect the safety and the reliability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal?
ROBERT BARKER, Former Pentagon Official: Elizabeth, you have correctly characterized my position. My concern is that with any treaty it's a risk/benefit situation. The benefits-purported benefits-have to do with non-proliferation. I believe that India's and Pakistan's successful tests of nuclear explosives show that a CTBT will not prevent the development of workable nuclear weapons in the world. But such a stop cessation of testing does have a very, very high risk as far as the U.S. nuclear stockpile is concerned. Our entire stockpile was developed and designed with the expectation that we would be able to test it as we needed when we discovered problems in that stockpile. President Clinton's decision to cease testing has resulted in the Department of Energy developing a very, very comprehensive program that Dr. Drell has just described. I strongly support that program as an alternative until we really sit down and can evaluate that program, I believe ultimately we will decide that nuclear testing is the only tried and true way of establishing reliability of our stockpile.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Why?
ROBERT BARKER: These weapons have been developed, Elizabeth, with that in mind. Our understanding of the physics, the technical behavior of these weapons is not well understood. Dr. Drell described some of the very, very complex programs that are no underway to try to improve that situation so we can depend more upon laboratory experiments than calculations. But until these tools have been demonstrated to actually deliver their promise, we live with the risk that any day we will discover a problem that we do not know how to fix without testing. I think it's much better for us to be in a position to test without breaking the treaty than would be required if we had to break a treaty to test. During my six years in the Pentagon five times I was presented by surprise from the Department of Energy with a major problem with a weapon and a weapons system in the stockpile, a problem that potentially affected every weapon there. It took us a while to sort out what fraction of the weapons were banned and what weren't. In several cases nuclear testing was required to resolve the problem. I don't think things have changed that much.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. I'll come back to you, Sidney Drell in one second. But Sen. Kyl first, is this a major concern of yours too?
SEN. JON KYL: Yes, it is. Not only is the United States precluded from developing new safety measures for our weapons, but also determining the verifiability and reliability of these weapons as they deteriorate with the passage of time. Their life cycle is far exceeded in some cases. I want to go back to another point too. I simply refuse to believe that world opinion, as Secretary Albright pointed out, is going to stop anyone from violating the treaty if they believe it's in their national self-interest to proceed with the development of a nuclear program. Both India and Pakistan new full well that world opinion would be very much against them. They were even willing to suffer severe sanctions because their domestic political situation and their perceived national security interest deemed it important for them to go ahead with these nuclear programs. So a treaty is not going to help.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Sen. Levin, just on the question of the effect of this treaty on the U.S. nuclear arsenal, where do you come down on that?
SEN. CARL LEVIN: Well, I listen to the heads of the laboratories that are nuclear weapons laboratories. The heads of those laboratories support this treaty, and they feel that we can very safely maintain a stockpile through the stewardship program without testing. They are the heads of the laboratories. The top uniformed military officers of the United States support this treaty. They must certify that we can safely maintain this stockpile. They have done so, so we ought to listen to the heads of the labs. And Mr. Barker is, I think, an employee of the lab, but the head of the labs say that we can safely maintain this stockpile, and one other thing-I'm kind of amazed to hear that the CTBT doesn't protect us from testing in India and Pakistan. They are not members of the CTBT. That's the problem. We are urging them to join this treaty, and we have no standing to persuade them to do so if we, ourselves, not only don't ratify the treaty but won't even have a debate on the Senate floor, have it bottled up in the Foreign Relations Committee.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. I'm going to come back to that, but back still on the issue of the effect on our stockpile, how do you respond to these-especially to Mr. Barker's comments?
SEN. CARL LEVIN: The heads of nuclear weapons labs say we can protect the stockpile's safety and reliability. The heads of the nuclear weapons labs have certified that we can do that.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Yes. Sidney Drell.
SIDNEY DRELL: Well, more data is always helpful. No scientist is against it. But the judgment, as Senator Levin says, of the heads of the labs of some of the major premier designers with whom I've worked is that it is not necessary. It would be easier to get some data. What's critical is to do the analysis work that's now going on, and I think when you balance the risks and the benefits, getting the added power into our ability to verify activities around the world, which we will with the comprehensive test ban, accepting the judgment of many, including the lab directors, that testing is not necessary, we should go with it for one very important reason. The goal of the game is to try and restrain proliferation of nuclear weapons around the world, making them more available to terrorists. The Non-Proliferation Treaty, when it was extended-this is a 1970 treaty-
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Making sure they're not available to terrorists.
SIDNEY DRELL: Making sure they're not available. In 1973--they received its final formal review in 1995, all the countries of the world, save for India, Pakistan, and Israel, signed up on the assumption and on the condition that we would stop testing. Now, the Non-Proliferation regime is a great success. It has not failed because of India and Pakistan. Four nuclear countries in the 1990's abandoned nuclear weapons: Belarus, Kazakstan, Ukraine, and South Africa. Four more on the way to nuclear capability abandoned them--Argentina and Brazil, North Korea, now in the deal for nuclear power, and because of the war Iraq. So we have a regime that is working that has the whole world united. If the United States is to be a leader in preserving this important regime and try and restrain non-proliferation, we must ratify the treaty to be sitting at the table as a leader.
An end to testing?
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Okay. Robert Baker, staying on the proliferation aspects of all this now, isn't it true that the non-proliferation regime, the Non-Proliferation Treaty, did assume that the major nuclear powers would stop testing?
ROBERT BARKER: Certainly, one of the traditions of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty was that the nuclear weapons states would work towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, and certainly the United States and Russia, the Soviet Union, have been very successful in that regard, but I would remind you that during the Reagan and Bush administrations it was made very, very clear that the sensation of nuclear testing only made sense the same day that you eliminated the entirety of nuclear weapons.
In fact, George Bush on the next to last day in office on January 1993 made a very, very clear statement in a report to the Congress that he viewed nuclear testing as being continually necessary in order to enhance the safety or maintain the safety and reliability of the stockpile. I agree with Dr. Drell, that a non-proliferation regime is very successful, and he pointed to very successful stories that occurred without a comprehensive test ban treaty, in fact, successes that occurred while the United States was continuing to use nuclear tests to preserve the safety and reliability of its stockpile. The day may come when I may feel that the risks are acceptable. Right now, I don't. The stockpile stewardship program for the U.S. is a relatively new program. Only two certifications of the stockpile have taken place since the cessation of nuclear testing. I'd like to see the Senate dig into that whole procedure and discover for itself-determine for itself whether that-whether this certification process is an acceptable substitute for nuclear testing. This seems to me to be a step to be taken way before the Senate considers ratification of the comprehensive test ban.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Sen. Kyl, but on the proliferation issue, what is your response to Sidney Drell's concerns that the whole Non-Proliferation regime, as he puts it, depends on the stopping of testing by the major nuclear powers?
SEN. JON KYL: Bob Baker had it right. If Sid Drell is proud of the fact that certain countries backed off of development of weapons while we were testing, the question is then of what matter is it whether a country is testing or not. In the past two and a half years we've had five countries test nuclear weapons, including France, China, perhaps Russia--verification is too hard to know for sure-and, of course, Pakistan and China. Also, countries that signed the NPT, including Argentina, Brazil, Iran, Iraq, North Korea, South Korea, South Africa, and Taiwan have all broken parts of the NPT.
So merely because you have a treaty doesn't mean that countries are going to abide by it, or, as I said before, that there will be any incentive for them to comply with it simply because of world opinion. Might I also make one other point regarding the lab directors that my friend, Carl Levin, referred to? One of the lab directors, the head of Los Alamos National Laboratories, made it crystal clear that the CTBT can't work in terms of verification. In fact, he said that he can state-and I'm quoting-categorically that zero yield test ban-which is what CTBT is-is beyond the verification capabilities of our national technical means. So even if it made sense to have a CTBT, it cannot be verified and, therefore, it's unworkable.
Leading by example.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Senator Levin, where do you come down on this? And please finish up by telling us what you think will happen in the Senate with this treaty.
SEN. CARL LEVIN: We can verify CTBT when 44 countries, including India and Pakistan, agree to it, because then we'll be able to put monitors on their soil, which we now cannot do. We have no standing to try to persuade India and Pakistan to sign a treaty, which most of the world has signed, when we, ourselves, refuse to ratify that treaty. I think the chances are only fair that that treaty will be brought to the floor of the Senate. There's about thirty-five or forty of us that are co-sponsors of a resolution urging hearings and urging that the Senate at least debate this treaty. And I don't think we have any standing in the world, any credibility, to argue against proliferation of nuclear weapons when we, ourselves, will not debate and consider the comprehensive test ban treaty, which our military leaders say will reduce the threat of nuclear proliferation in this world.
ELIZABETH FARNSWORTH: Well, gentlemen, Senators, thank you very much.