Axis of rejection? U.S., Iran, North Korea snub nuclear test ban pact
There is a saying in English that people are judged by the company they keep. If this applied to countries, the United States would not fare well when it comes to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Although Washington signed the pact, which would ban all nuclear tests if it ever comes into force, in 1996, U.S. lawmakers have never ratified it. Eight other countries with nuclear activities must ratify the treaty before it can enter into force.
Those other hold-out countries are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and Pakistan. Two of those — Iran and North Korea — are members of a trio which U.S. President George W. Bush once referred to as the “axis of evil.”
Iraq, which was a member of Bush’s axis of evil until the U.S. invasion in 2003 toppled Saddam Hussein’s government, signed the treaty last month, though Iraqi parliament has yet to ratify it.
The treaty opened for signatures 12 years ago. Since then, 179 nations have signed and 144 ratified it. Costa Rican Foreign Minister Bruno Stagno Ugarte told a news conference on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly in New York that “these nine countries must not hold the international community at bay.”
Ugarte was one of some 40 foreign ministers who issued a joint statement calling on the United States, Iran, North Korea and the rest to ratify the treaty.
Even veteran Hollywood Actor Michael Douglas, a U.N. messenger of peace, appeared at the United Nations in support of the CTBT alongside former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and the Costa Rican, Australian and Austrian foreign ministers.
When the United States signed the treaty in 1996, President Bill Clinton, a Democrat, was in charge, but the then-Republican-majority U.S. Senate rejected it in 1999. When Bush took office in 2001 his administration made clear it did not want its options limited by such a treaty and never resubmitted it. It has has, however, continued to observe the U.S. moratorium on nuclear testing that began in 1992.
Perry, who was in Clinton’s cabinet when Washington signed the CTBT in 1996, made it clear that he supports Democratic Sen. Barack Obama, who Perry expects will push the U.S. legislature to ratify the treaty if he becomes president. Even Republican candidate Sen. John McCain, Perry said, might make a U-turn from the Bush administration on this issue in an attempt to reingratiate Washington with allies overseas.
Some analysts have said that if the United States fails to ratifies the treaty, it will most likely die.
What do you think? Should the next U.S. president push for ratification of the treaty banning all nuclear tests or would it be better to keep the door open to research on new and improved atomic weapons in the interest of keeping the United States and its allies safe?