Statement by Senator Lugar (R-IN) in Opposition of the CTBT

Lugar Press Release
October 7, 1999

Press Releases
U.S. Senator Richard G. Lugar

Date: October 7, 1999
Lugar Opposes Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Sen. Dick Lugar, a senior member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, Foreign Relations Committee and National Security Working Group, released the following statement today announcing his position on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty:

The Senate is poised to begin consideration of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty under a unanimous consent agreement that will provide for 14 hours of general debate, debate on two amendments, and a final vote on ratification.

I regret that the Senate is taking up the treaty in an abrupt and truncated manner that is so highly politicized. Admittedly, the CTBT is not a new subject for the Senate. Those of us who over the years have sat on the Foreign Relations, Armed Services, or Intelligence Committees are familiar with it. The Senate has held hearings and briefings on the treaty in the past.

But for a treaty of this complexity and importance a more sustained and focused effort is important. Senators must have a sufficient opportunity to examine the treaty in detail, ask questions of our military and the administration, consider the possible implications, and debate at length in committee and on the floor. Under the current agreement, a process that normally would take many months has been reduced to a few days. Many Senators know little about this treaty. Even for those of us on national security committees, this has been an issue floating on the periphery of our concerns.

Presidential leadership has been almost entirely absent on the issue. Despite having several years to make a case for ratification, the administration has declined to initiate the type of advocacy campaign that should accompany any treaty of this magnitude.

Nevertheless, the Senate has adopted an agreement on procedure. So long as that agreement remains in force, Senators must move forward as best they can to express their views and reach informed conclusions about the treaty.

In anticipation of the general debate, I will state my reasons for opposing ratification of the CTBT.

The goal of the CTBT is to ban all nuclear explosions worldwide: I do not believe it can succeed. I have little confidence that the verification and enforcement provisions will dissuade other nations from nuclear testing. Furthermore, I am concerned about our country’s ability to maintain the integrity and safety of our own nuclear arsenal under the conditions of the treaty.

I am a strong advocate of effective and verifiable arms control agreements. As a former Vice-Chairman of the Senate Arms Control Observer Group and a member of the Foreign Relations Committee, I have had the privilege of managing Senate consideration of many arms control treaties and agreements.

I fought for Senate consent to ratification of the INF Treaty, which banned intermediate range nuclear weapons in Europe; the Conventional Forces in Europe Treaty, which created limits on the number of tanks, helicopters, and armored personnel carriers in Europe; the START I Treaty, which limited the United States and the Soviet Union to 6,500 nuclear weapons; the START II Treaty, which limited the U.S. and the former Soviet Union to 3,500 nuclear weapons; and the Chemical Weapons Convention, which outlawed poison gas.

These treaties, while not ensuring U.S. security, have made us safer. They have greatly reduced the amount of weaponry threatening the United States, provided extensive verification measures, and served as a powerful statement of the intent of the United States to curtail the spread of weapons of mass destruction.

I understand the impulse of the proponents of the CTBT to express U.S. leadership in another area of arms control. Inevitably, arms control treaties are accompanied by idealistic principles that envision a future in which international norms prevail over the threat of conflict between nations. However, while affirming our desire for international peace and stability, the U.S. Senate is charged with the constitutional responsibility of making hard judgments about the likely outcomes of treaties. This requires that we examine the treaties in close detail and calculate the consequences of ratification for the present and the future. Viewed in this context, I cannot support the treaty’s ratification.

I do not believe that the CTBT is of the same caliber as the arms control treaties that have come before the Senate in recent decades. Its usefulness to the goal of non-proliferation is highly questionable. Its likely ineffectuality will risk undermining support and confidence in the concept of multi-lateral arms control. Even as a symbolic statement of our desire for a safer world, it is problematic because it would exacerbate risks and uncertainties related to the safety of our nuclear stockpile.

STOCKPILE STEWARDSHIP: The United States must maintain a reliable nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future. Although the Cold War is over, significant threats to our country still exist. At present our nuclear capability provides a deterrent that is crucial to the safety of the American people and is relied upon as a safety umbrella by most countries around the world. One of the most critical issues under the CTBT would be that of ensuring the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons stockpile without testing. The safe maintenance and storage of these weapons is a crucial concern. We cannot allow them to fall into disrepair or permit their safety to be called into question.

The Administration has proposed an ambitious program that would verify the safety and reliability of our weapons through computer modeling and simulations. Unfortunately, the jury is still out on the Stockpile Stewardship Program. The last nine years have seen improvements, but the bottom line is that the Senate is being asked to trust the security of our country to a program that is unproven and unlikely to be fully operational until perhaps 2010. I believe a National Journal article, by James Kitfield, summed it up best by quoting a nuclear scientist who likens the challenge of maintaining the viability of our stockpile without testing to "walking an obstacle course in the dark when your last glimpse of light was a flash of lightning back in 1992."

The most likely problems facing our stockpile are a result of aging. This is a threat because nuclear materials and components degrade in unpredictable ways, in some cases causing weapons to fail. This is compounded by the fact that the U.S. currently has the oldest inventory in the history of our nuclear weapons programs.

Over the last forty years, a large percentage of the weapon designs in our stockpile have required post-deployment tests to resolve problems. Without these tests, not only would the problems have remained undetected, but they also would have gone unrepaired. The Congressional Research Service reported last year that: "A problem with one warhead type can affect hundreds of thousands of individually deployed warheads; with only 9 types of warheads expected to be in the stockpile in 2000, compared to 30 in 1985, a single problem could affect a large fraction of the U.S. nuclear force." If we are to put our faith in a program other than testing to ensure the safety and reliability of our nuclear deterrent and thus our security, we must have complete faith in its efficacy. The Stockpile Stewardship Program falls well short of that standard.

The United States has chosen to re-manufacture our aging stockpile rather than creating and building new weapon designs. This could be a potential problem because many of the components and procedures used in original weapon designs no longer exist. New production procedures need to be developed and substituted for the originals, but we must ensure that the re-manufactured weapons will work as designed.

I am concerned further by the fact that some of the weapons in our arsenal are not as safe as we could make them. Of the nine weapon designs currently in our arsenal, only one employs all of the most modern safety and security measures. Our nuclear weapons laboratories are unable to provide the American people with these protections because of the inability of the Stockpile Stewardship Program to completely mimic testing.

At present, I am not convinced the Stockpile Stewardship Program will permit our experts to maintain a credible deterrent in the absence of testing. Without a complete, effective, and proven Stockpile Stewardship program, the CTBT could erode our ability to discover and fix problems with the nuclear stockpile and to make safety improvements.

In fact, the most important debate on this issue may be an honest discussion of whether we should commence limited testing and continue such a program with consistency and certainty.

VERIFICATION: President Reagan’s words "trust but verify" remain an important measuring stick of whether a treaty serves the national security interests of the United States. The U.S. must be confident of its ability to detect cheating among member states. While the exact thresholds are classified, it is commonly understood that the United States cannot detect nuclear explosions below a few kilotons of yield. The Treaty's verification regime, which includes an international monitoring system and on-site inspections, was designed to fill the gaps in our national technical means. Unfortunately, the CTBT’s verification regime will not be up to that task even if it is ever fully deployed.

Advances in mining technologies have enabled nations to smother nuclear tests, allowing them to conduct tests with little chance of being detected. Similarly, countries can utilize existing geologic formations to decouple their nuclear tests, thereby dramatically reducing the seismic signal produced and rendering the test undetectable. A recent Washington Post article points out that part of the problem of detecting suspected Russian tests at Novaya Zemlya is that the incidents take place in a large granite cave that has proven effective in muffling tests.

The verification regime is further bedeviled by the lack of a common definition of a nuclear test. Russia believes hydro-nuclear activities and sub-critical experiments are permitted under the treaty. The U.S. believes sub-critical experiments are permitted but hydro-nuclear tests are not. Other states believe both are illegal. A common understanding or definition of what is and what is not permitted under the treaty has not been established.

Proponents point out that if the U.S. needs additional evidence to detect violations, on-site inspections can be requested. Unfortunately, the CTBT will utilize a red-light inspection process. Requests for on-site inspections must be approved by at least 30 affirmative votes of members of the Treaty's 51-member Executive Council. In other words, if the United States accused another country of carrying out a nuclear test, we could only get an inspection if 29 other nations concurred with our request. In addition, each country can declare a 50 square kilometer area of its territory as off limits to any inspections that are approved.

The CTBT stands in stark contrast to the Chemical Weapons Convention in the area of verifiability. Whereas the CTBT requires an affirmative vote of the Executive Council for an inspection to be approved, the CWC requires an affirmative vote to stop an inspection from proceeding. Furthermore, the CWC did not exclude large tracts of land from the inspection regime, as does the CTBT.

The CTBT’s verification regime seems to be the embodiment of everything the United States has been fighting against in the UNSCOM inspection process in Iraq. We have rejected Iraq’s position of choosing and approving the national origin of inspectors. In addition, the 50 square kilometer inspection-free zones could become analogous to the controversy over the inspections of Iraqi presidential palaces. The UNSCOM experience is one that is best not repeated under a CTBT.

ENFORCEMENT: Let me turn to some enforcement concerns. Even if the United States were successful in utilizing the laborious verification regime and non-compliance was detected, the Treaty is almost powerless to respond. This treaty simply has no teeth. Arms control advocates need to reflect on the possible damage to the concept of arms control if we embrace a treaty that comes to be perceived as ineffectual. Arms control based only on a symbolic purpose can breed cynicism in the process and undercut support for more substantive and proven arms control measures.

The CTBT’s answer to illegal nuclear testing is the possible implementation of sanctions. It is clear that this will not prove particularly compelling in the decision-making processes of foreign states intent on building nuclear weapons. For those countries seeking nuclear weapons, the perceived benefits in international stature and deterrence generally far outweigh the concern about sanctions that could be brought to bear by the international community.

Further, recent experience has demonstrated that enforcing effective multilateral sanctions against a country is extraordinarily difficult. Currently, the United States is struggling to maintain multilateral sanctions on Iraq, a country that openly seeks weapons of mass destruction and blatantly invaded and looted a neighboring nation, among other transgressions. If it is difficult to maintain the international will behind sanctions on an outlaw nation, how would we enforce sanctions against more responsible nations of greater commercial importance like India and Pakistan?

In particularly grave cases, the CTBT Executive Council can bring the issue to the attention of the United Nations. Unfortunately, this too would most likely prove ineffective, given that permanent members of the Security Council could veto any efforts to punish CTBT violators. Chances of a better result in the General Assembly are remote at best.

I believe the enforcement mechanisms of the CTBT provide little reason for countries to forego nuclear testing. Some of my friends respond to this charge by pointing out that even if the enforcement provisions of the treaty are ineffective, the treaty will impose new international norms for behavior. In this case, we have observed that "norms" have not been persuasive for North Korea, Iraq, Iran, India and Pakistan, the very countries whose actions we seek to influence through a CTBT.

If a country breaks the international norm embodied in the CTBT, that country has already broken the norm associated with the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Countries other than the recognized nuclear powers who attempt to test a weapon must first manufacture or obtain a weapon, which would constitute a violation of the NPT. I fail to see how an additional norm will deter a motivated nation from developing nuclear weapons after violating the long-standing norm of the NPT.

CONCLUSION: On Tuesday the Senate is scheduled to vote on the ratification of the CTBT. If this vote takes place, I believe the treaty should be defeated. The Administration has failed to make a case on why this treaty is in our national security interests.

The Senate is being asked to rely on an unfinished and unproven Stockpile Stewardship Program. This program might meet our needs in the future, but as yet, it is not close to doing so. The treaty is flawed with an ineffective verification regime and a practically nonexistent enforcement process.

For these reasons, I will vote against ratification of the CTBT.