September 24 marks the 46th anniversary of ratification of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. In 1963, in the midst of the Cold War, matters moved more quickly than now. The treaty was ratified in a matter of months by a thundering vote of 80-19. Then Republican leader Dirksen stepped up and supported the ratification and President Kennedy’s efforts. A majority of Senate Republicans voted for the treaty’s ratification.
Today the Republican leadership continues its unabated destructive negativity. So even though the Cold War has ended, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) faces a stiff challenge from the Senate Republican leadership. These Senate leaders believe that any thwarting of an Obama effort will be turned into an Obama Waterloo. They believe that even if CTBT ratification advances our national security it must be opposed.
The case for the CTBT is overwhelming. National security minded former Republican Secretaries of State (Henry Kissinger and George Shultz) support CTBT ratification. Our current military leaders and Secretary Gates support ratification. Many retired Generals and Admirals do as well. These leaders validate the direction that the President is taking us to end the risk of nuclear war and nuclear terrorism.
President Obama in his April 2009 Prague speech outlined concrete actions by the US to reduce the dangers constantly posed by nuclear weapons. He is following through fully. On the 46th anniversary of the US ratifying the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty the US plans to introduce a resolution in a special session of the UN Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. That session will be chaired by President Obama which adds powerfully to its purpose.
In multiple ways President Obama is putting the Administration’s energy behind CTBT ratification. Now is the time for those of us who believe in ending the danger of nuclear weapons to step up and support CTBT ratification. The late Senator Edward Kennedy was the only Senator in US history to have voted twice for treaty ratification–once in 1963 and once in the second Clinton Administration when ratification failed. If Senator Kennedy had lived he would have voted for CTBT ratification three times.
Our job is to make sure ratification succeeds. Nothing less will do.