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Western Press Review: National Leaders Call For Test Ban Treaty Ratification

By Don Hill and Ranji Sinha

Prague, 8 October 1999 (RFE/RL) -- Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty on Nuclear Weapons continues to draw Western press commentary. European leaders French President Jacques Chirac, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder -- in a remarkable commentary published today in the New York Times -- urge the U.S. Senate to ratify the treaty.

NEW YORK TIMES: Rejection would give great encouragement to proliferators

They say the decision will determine, as they put it: "The safety of the world we bequeath to our children." They add this: "Failure to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty will be a failure in our struggle against proliferation."

The three national leaders conclude their commentary with this warning: "Rejection of the treaty in the Senate would remove the pressure from other states still hesitating about whether to ratify it. Rejection would give great encouragement to proliferators. Rejection would also expose a fundamental divergence within NATO.

"The United States and its allies have worked side-by-side for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty since the days of President Eisenhower. This goal is now within our grasp. Our security is involved, as well as America's. For the security of the world we will leave to our children, we urge the United States Senate to ratify the treaty."

NEW YORK TIMES: The Republican leadership has paid little heed to America's international interests

The New York Times says today, in its own editorial, that if the treaty fails, U.S. Republicans will deserve much of the blame. The newspaper also faults the administration of U.S. President Bill Clinton, who is a Democrat, for failing to build a strategy for winning a two-thirds Senate majority. The newspaper says that the Republican leadership, in the editorial's words, "has behaved in a narrowly partisan fashion that paid little heed to America's international interests and that trivialized the Senate's constitutional role in evaluating treaties."

The editorial closes with the following: "There is every reason for Republicans of conscience to vote for this treaty, but little chance that they will. Clinton's challenge now will be to sway enough Senate votes to make ratification possible before he leaves the White House."

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The treaty deserves ratification

The Los Angeles Times today joined a long list of major U.S. newspapers urging ratification, including the Washington Post and the Boston Globe. Today's Los Angeles Times says in an editorial that the United States, in the editorial's words, "now finds itself in the humiliating and self-wounding position of being unable to put its leadership behind its principles."

The editorial says it became evident this week that the Senate would refuse to approve the treaty. It adds this: "It's now painfully clear that next Tuesday's scheduled vote would find the treaty without the support of even a majority of senators, let alone the two-thirds whose votes are required."

The editorial declares bluntly that the Senate has failed in its responsibility to advise and consent on treaties. The newspaper singles out the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Republican Senator Jesse Helms, for blame, calling him "obstructionist."

The editorial concludes: "The treaty is not foolproof. But it is a powerful deterrent to proliferation, and it advances a goal that has been part of U.S. nuclear policy under nine presidents. It deserves ratification, most of all because it serves American national security."

WALL STREET JOURNAL: What needs to be defeated is not merely one treaty

Today's Wall Street Journal Europe takes a contrary view. It scoffs at the notion that a test ban treaty would contribute to world or national security. In an editorial, the newspaper quotes U.S. President Clinton as saying: "If the Senate rejects the treaty, we run a far greater risk that nuclear arsenals will grow and weapons will spread to volatile regions, to dangerous rulers, even to terrorists." The editorial says this: "In other words, a sheaf of paper will protect Americans from Saddam, the North Koreans and 'that woman.'"

As the editorial puts it: "A vote against (the treaty) would be the first formal rejection of an arms-control agreement since World War Two. What needs to be defeated is not merely one treaty, but the notion that the arms control process needs to be preserved even if the agreements it produces are demonstrably bad."

WASHINGTON POST: Some non-nuclear countries would regard U.S. failure to ratify the treaty as a broken promise

The Washington Post's William Drozdiak, writing from Vienna, says in a news analysis that U.S. ratification is almost certainly doomed. He is in Vienna covering a conference of ministers and officials from more than 100 countries and groups seeking to advance the treaty's implementation.

In his analysis, Drozdiak says that what he calls "particular concern" has developed at the conference that, as he put it, "some non-nuclear countries would regard (U.S.) failure to ratify the treaty as a broken promise that would relieve them of the obligation to comply with key parts of another accord, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation treaty."

The Washington Post writer adds this: "International anxiety also has been compounded by new worries over U.S. efforts to escape constraints imposed by the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, which limits the ability of the United States to build systems to defend against missile attack."

BOSTON GLOBE: Washington should exert pressure on Moscow to take up Chechen offers of dialogue

On another topic, the Boston Globe recalls Stalin's mass deportations in condemning Russia's modern attacks in Chechnya. In an editorial, the newspaper calls Russia, in the editorial's words, a "lawless colonizer (that is) firing blindly into the territory of a lost colony that has fallen into the hands of its own outlaws."

The Globe says Russia's assault is an insanity that simply can't achieve its goals of apprehending terrorists or protecting against Islamist troublemakers. The paper says this: "For the sake of stability in the Caucasus and democracy in Russia, Washington should exert pressure on Moscow to take up Chechen offers of dialogue, mediation and acceptance of peacekeeping observers."

SUEDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Attempts to haggle would be scandalous

German commentator Hans Leyendecker writes today in the Sueddeutsche Zeitung on the issue of reparations to people who the Nazis used as slave laborers during World War Two. He says that any further delay by German companies in beginning payments would be cynical.

He criticizes a debate that, he says, has degenerated into a mere argument about money. He says this: "The very idea that the slave-laborer victims of Nazi Germany's extermination through economic exploitation should settle for a mere four-figure reparation is unimaginable -- and attempts to haggle would be scandalous."

Leyendecker also writes the following: "Anyone who is still wriggling, maneuvering, waffling and ducking more than half a century after the last bullet of the war was fired lays himself wide open to charges of delaying until the last slave laborer has died off."