A senior Obama administration official on Saturday signaled the United States was not in a rush to ratify a key arms control treaty.
Rose Gottemoeller, acting undersecretary of State for arms control and international security, in remarks given in Marjuro, Marshall Islands, said the "United States will be patient in our pursuit of ratification" of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, "but we will also be persistent."
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty must still be ratified by eight advanced nuclear-energy countries, including the United States, for its prohibition against all nuclear tests to become the law of the land.
The Obama administration has long made public its desire to see Washington ratify the accord, but has acknowledged that securing two-thirds Senate approval in the currently polarized political climate would be difficult.
"It has been a long time since the CTBT was on the front pages of newspapers, so we will need time to make the case for this treaty," Gottemoeller said in her speech. The address was timed for Nuclear Remembrance Day, a national holiday in the Marshall Islands that honors the victims of U.S. atomic testing in the region.
From 1946 to 1958, the United States carried out 67 atmospheric nuclear tests above the Marshall Islands' Bikini and Enewetak atolls.
"I cannot emphasize strongly enough that it is precisely our deep understanding of the consequences of nuclear weapons -- including the dangerous health effects of nuclear explosive testing -- that has guided and motivated our efforts to reduce and ultimately eliminate these most dangerous and awe-inspiring weapons," Gottemoeller said. "Entry into force of the CTBT is one such essential part of our pragmatic, step-by-step approach to eliminating nuclear dangers."
A Senate confirmation vote for Gottmoeller -- to permanently take on the role of undersecretary of State for arms control and international security -- is expected to take place sometime this week.