Obama Official: Scant Hope of Congress Weighing Test-Ban Anytime Soon

Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
See more stories about...
Rachel Oswald, Global Security Newswire
Sept. 13, 2013, 11:02 a.m.

WASH­ING­TON — Des­pite Pres­id­ent Obama’s hopes of see­ing a nuc­le­ar-test-ban treaty rat­i­fied dur­ing his second term, a seni­or ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cial on Thursday was not op­tim­ist­ic about the near-term pro­spects for put­ting the ac­cord be­fore the Sen­ate for rat­i­fic­a­tion, say­ing it was a “del­ic­ate” mat­ter be­cause of par­tis­an ten­sions in Con­gress.

An­ita Friedt, the State De­part­ment’s prin­cip­al deputy as­sist­ant sec­ret­ary for nuc­le­ar and stra­tegic policy, said “there really are no timelines set” for nam­ing a White House co­ordin­at­or to take charge of the ef­fort to se­cure Sen­ate ap­prov­al of the Com­pre­hens­ive Test Ban Treaty.

Mem­bers of the arms-con­trol com­munity have been ur­ging the White House to name an of­fi­cial who would be in charge of ral­ly­ing pub­lic and con­gres­sion­al sup­port for the CT­BT ac­cord in pre­par­a­tion for the treaty’s even­tu­al Sen­ate in­tro­duc­tion.

“I think there are good reas­ons for no timelines set for nam­ing a co­ordin­at­or,” Friedt told an audi­ence at a Wash­ing­ton event or­gan­ized by the Arms Con­trol As­so­ci­ation, Green Cross In­ter­na­tion­al and the Kaza­kh­stan em­bassy — en­tit­ies that sup­port CT­BT rat­i­fic­a­tion. “Polit­ic­ally, we just have to test the wa­ters and see where we are.”

Obama views CT­BT rat­i­fic­a­tion as a core com­pon­ent of his arms-con­trol agenda. In a high-pro­file June speech in Ber­lin on his second-term nuc­le­ar policy goals, the pres­id­ent said, “We will work to build sup­port in the United States to rat­i­fy” the CT­BT ac­cord.

Giv­en that a two-thirds ma­jor­ity in the Sen­ate would be re­quired for ap­prov­al of any treaty, the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion is seen as hav­ing a dif­fi­cult time win­ning enough Re­pub­lic­an sup­port to se­cure the test-ban’s rat­i­fic­a­tion in today’s sharply di­vided polit­ic­al cli­mate.

Lin­ton Brooks, a former head of the Na­tion­al Nuc­le­ar Se­cur­ity Ad­min­is­tra­tion un­der Pres­id­ent George W. Bush, was pess­im­ist­ic about the CT­BT ac­cord’s pro­spects for be­ing ap­proved dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

“It will be rat­i­fied in the United States when there is a Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent who sup­ports it,” Brooks told at­tendees.

Brooks noted that the New START pact, which sets new lim­its for Rus­sia and the United States’ re­spect­ive de­ployed stra­tegic nuc­le­ar ar­sen­als, was the first arms-con­trol ac­cord to be ap­proved un­der a Demo­crat­ic pres­id­ent since Pres­id­ent Kennedy se­cured rat­i­fic­a­tion of the Lim­ited Test Ban Treaty in 1963.

“I think in this par­tis­an en­vir­on­ment it is go­ing to take a Re­pub­lic­an pres­id­ent to bring this off,” he said. “I wish that wer­en’t true, but it prob­ably is.”

Still, Brooks, who served on a Na­tion­al Academy of Sci­ences pan­el that stud­ied tech­nic­al is­sues re­lated to a glob­al test-ban, said there is “no chance” of the United States re­sum­ing nuc­le­ar-weapons test­ing.

The Com­pre­hens­ive Test Ban Treaty has already been rat­i­fied by 159 coun­tries. However, for it to go in­to ef­fect, it still needs rat­i­fic­a­tion by eight ad­vanced nuc­le­ar na­tions: China, Egypt, In­dia, Ir­an, Is­rael, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States.

Re­it­er­at­ing past U.S. state­ments, Friedt said “the fact that the United States has not rat­i­fied should not hold oth­er coun­tries back from rat­i­fy­ing.”

The Kaza­kh­stani am­bas­sad­or to the United States, Kair­at Umarov, pushed back on that state­ment, say­ing that if Wash­ing­ton were to rat­i­fy, “I think the oth­er coun­tries will fol­low.”

As home to the former So­viet Uni­on’s now-shuttered test site at Semi­p­al­at­insk, which saw 456 atom­ic tri­als, Kaza­kh­stan has taken on a pub­lic role in call­ing for the glob­al ab­ol­i­tion of nuc­le­ar ex­plo­sions.

Ro­man Vassi­len­ko, am­bas­sad­or-at-large for the Kaza­kh­stani For­eign Af­fairs Min­istry, told at­tendees that get­ting to the point of treaty im­ple­ment­a­tion “is in­deed a mat­ter of trust … which the world un­for­tu­nately is lack­ing.”

What We're Following See More »
PROCEDURES NOT FOLLOWED
Trump Not on Ballot in Minnesota
1 days ago
THE LATEST
MOB RULE?
Trump on Immigration: ‘I Don’t Know, You Tell Me’
1 days ago
THE LATEST

Perhaps Donald Trump can take a plebiscite to solve this whole messy immigration thing. At a Fox News town hall with Sean Hannity last night, Trump essentially admitted he's "stumped," turning to the audience and asking: “Can we go through a process or do you think they have to get out? Tell me, I mean, I don’t know, you tell me.”

Source:
BIG CHANGE FROM WHEN HE SELF-FINANCED
Trump Enriching His Businesses with Donor Money
3 days ago
WHY WE CARE

Donald Trump "nearly quintupled the monthly rent his presidential campaign pays for its headquarters at Trump Tower to $169,758 in July, when he was raising funds from donors, compared with March, when he was self-funding his campaign." A campaign spokesman "said the increased office space was needed to accommodate an anticipated increase in employees," but the campaign's paid staff has actually dipped by about 25 since March. The campaign has also paid his golf courses and restaurants about $260,000 since mid-May.

Source:
QUESTIONS OVER IMMIGRATION POLICY
Trump Cancels Rallies
3 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump probably isn't taking seriously John Oliver's suggestion that he quit the race. But he has canceled or rescheduled rallies amid questions over his stance on immigration. Trump rescheduled a speech on the topic that he was set to give later this week. Plus, he's also nixed planned rallies in Oregon and Las Vegas this month.

Source:
‘STRATEGY AND MESSAGING’
Sean Hannity Is Also Advising Trump
4 days ago
THE LATEST

Donald Trump's Fox News brain trust keeps growing. After it was revealed that former Fox chief Roger Ailes is informally advising Trump on debate preparation, host Sean Hannity admitted over the weekend that he's also advising Trump on "strategy and messaging." He told the New York Times: “I’m not hiding the fact that I want Donald Trump to be the next president of the United States. I never claimed to be a journalist.”

Source:
×