Congressional Record, October 24, 2007, pp. S13357-S13358
Mr. KYL. Mr. President, I rise today to bring the attention of the Senate to a provision of the fiscal year 08 Defense Authorization Act, now in conference. Section 3122 of the bill undermines the Senate’s position on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, CTBT, without the benefit of neither the historical treaty consideration process nor a senous policy debate.
It has been 9 years since the CTBT was the subject of any deliberation by the Senate, which ultimately concluded that its ratification was not in the Nation’s interests. There were numerous objections that proved determinative then and remain true today. First, the U.S. deterrent cannot be maintained without testing. U.S. nuclear weapons have the highest average age of any in the world. Some, like the W-76 warhead, the backbone of the submarine-based component of our nuclear triad, date back to 1966, making them more than four times as old as the average American car.
Given the high average age, now at its highest point in the six decade history of nuclear weapons, they require substantial, ongoing modification if they are to be maintained as a viable deterrent. As the then-Director of Sandia National Laboratories, Dr. C. Paul Robinson, testified to the Senate, “To forego validation through testing is, in short, to live with uncertainty.” We cannot afford uncertainty when it comes to the reliability, safety, and credibility of our most important weaponry.
Some believe that the reliable replacement warhead, RRW, can be developed and introduced without underground testing. Even if that judgment proves correct, it will be many years before we no longer need to rely on the older designs in the current arsenal for deterrence. As the administration noted in a recent statement by Secretaries Bodman, Gates, and Rice, “delays on RRW also raise the prospect of having to return to underground nuclear testing to certify existing weapons.” But, underground testing would be an option permanently denied to the United States through ratification of CTBT as section 3122 endorses. This permanent loss of the testing option would be even more problematic if we need to continue to rely on these aging designs for decades more as we would if current plans, including those passed by the House and proposed in the Senate, that eliminate RRW funding are not rejected.
Further, the cuts proposed to RRW compound the impact of current plans to cut more than $500 million in funding for the nuclear weapons complex that supports, maintains, and refurbishes the weapons currently in the complex. These proposed cuts to RRW and the nuclear weapons complex have been rejected by individuals of great authority, including Secretaries Kissinger and Schultz, and Dr. Sidney Drell. The second reason the Senate rejected the treaty in 1999, and would do so again today, is that the treaty is not verifiable. Militarily significant covert nuclear testing can—and almost certainly will—be conducted at low yields or in other ways aimed at masking the force of an explosion.
Assistant Secretary Paula DeSutter of the State Department’s Bureau of Verification, Compliance, and Implementation recently made this point. She stated that the International Monitoring System set up to monitor compliance with CTBT is “aimed to detect detonations over 1 kiloton; smaller or concealed detonations are less likely to be identified. Evasion techniques can easily reduce the signature of a nuclear explosion by factors of 50 or 100.”
Third, CTBT’s unverifiability means a ban will not have uniform effects. Our inability under CTBT to monitor the state of foreign nuclear weapons programs effectively means that hostile or potentially hostile countries will be able to modernize their weapons even as the U.S. arsenal steadily degrades. As a result, the long-term effect of CTBT accession would translate into the inevitable, if gradual, unilateral disarmament of our Nation’s deterrent.
Fourth, CTBT would damage the struggle against proliferation. On the one hand, the inherent unverifiability of the CTBT can be expected to encourage rogue state regimes to believe they could pursue nuclear weapons programs with impunity. On the other, the attendant erosion of our deterrent would mean that allied countries—notably, Japan, Taiwan and perhaps South Korea—that currently rely on the U.S. deterrent “umbrella” would be more likely to develop their own nuclear weapons.
As Dr. James Schlesinger remarked in testimony before the Armed Services Committee in 1999, “the chief barrier to proliferation in these last 55 years since Hiroshima has been confidence in the protection offered by the American deterrent. It is the reason, quite simply, that nations like [South] Korea or Japan, or more complicated, in the case of Germany, have not sought nuclear weapons. Because of the NATO agreement, because of the Japan Treaty, because of our agreements with the Koreans, they have not felt the necessity of taking that final plunge. As confidence on their part in the U.S. deterrent wanes over a period of . . . years, what is the likelihood that those nations will refrain from seeking nuclear weapons? I think that it is very modest.”
Finally, the Senate rejected the CTBT in 1999 because it realized that the Stockpile Stewardship Program, SSP, is a “crap-shoot,” as Troy Wade, a retired Department of Energy nuclear scientist, referred to it in his testimony before the Committee on Foreign Relations in 1999. It remains doubtful whether the SSP, supported by CTBT advocates as a substitute for nuclear testing, can adequately meet the maintenance and refurbishment needs of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. As a result, it will become ever more likely that dangerous anomalies in our weapons will pass unnoticed.
Despite these abiding concerns and the Senate vote in 1999, the 2008 Defense authorization bill would put the Senate on record in support of CTBT’s ratification without hearings or debate. How can new Senators—37 since 1999--be expected to have reached such a conclusion? Preordaining the ratification of a treaty, as is done in section 3122 of this bill, does a disservice to the Senate’s history of thoughtful consideration of treaties proposed for ratification, especially when the treaties were on issues with the gravity of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
I would be remiss if I didn’t reference the comments of Secretary of State Rice in a recent letter. She stated that the administration does not support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and “does not intend to seek Senate advice and consent to its ratification.” I also call the attention of the Senate to the Statement of Administration Policy on this bill which states strong opposition to section 3122 due to its dangerous implications for the reliability of our nuclear deterrent.
Mr. President, I note that these are not simply the concerns of this Senator. The letter I will ask to have printed in the Congressional Record makes clear that 40 of my fellow Senators share many of these concerns about the CTBT and the unprecedented approach taken by this bill. My colleagues recognize as I do that since the reasons for the rejection of this treaty in 1999 have not changed, neither should the Senate’s position.
Mr. President, I ask unanimous consent to have the letter to which I just referred printed in the Record.
There being no objection, the material was ordered to be printed in the Record, as follows:
Washington, DC, October 23, 2007.
Hon. Carl Levin,
Chairman, Committee on Armed Services, U.S. Senate,
Dear Chairman Levin: One of the Senate’s most important national security debates of the last decade was whether to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In the end, following a rigorous and thorough debate, 51 Senators voted to reject the CTBT, 17 more than necessary to assure its defeat.
The principal reasons the Senate rejected the CTBT were its lack of verifiability, adverse effect on the safety and reliability of our nuclear stockpile, and potential to increase nuclear proliferation.
We are not aware of any congressional hearings on this treaty since its rejection in 1999. The total absence of discussion in the more than eight years since its rejection belies the assertion in section 3122 of S. 1547 that the CTBT now should be ratified. Moreover, the 37 Senators who have joined the Senate since this treaty was rejected deserve to have the benefit of a careful and measured review of this treaty. There is no basis on which they can conclude that CTBT should be ratified.
The Constitution of the United States invests an extraordinary responsibility in the Senate to provide measured and thoughtful review of treaties when submitted by the President for our consideration. The Senate has not had the opportunity for such review since 1999. In a recent letter, Secretary of State Rice stated that the Administration does not support the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and “does not intend to seek Senate advice and consent to its ratification.” The Statement of Administration Policy on S. 1547 likewise states strong opposition to section 3122 due to its dangerous implications for the reliability of our nuclear deterrent.
Under all of these circumstances, we believe it denigrates the serious role of the U.S. Senate to claim in section 3122 to express the “sense of the Congress” that the CTBT should be ratified.
Jon Kyl, John McCain, Johnny Isakson, James Inhofe, Mike Crapo, Wayne Allard, Jeff Sessions, Michael B. Enzi, Sam Brownback, C.S. Bond, Larry E. Craig, Bob Corker, Saxby Chambliss, John Thune, Trent Lott, John Cornyn, Jim DeMint, Jim Bunning, David Vitter, John Ensign, Kay Bailey Hutchison, Ted Stevens, Pete V. Domenici, Olympia Snowe, Mitch McConnell, Elizabeth Dole, John Barrasso, Richard C. Shelby, Thad Cochran, Chuck Grassley, Norm Coleman, Richard Burr, John E. Sununu, Judd Gregg, Orin Hatch, Lamar Alexander, Pat Roberts.