[Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States: William J. Clinton (1995, Book II)]
[August 11, 1995]
[Pages 1252-1253]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office www.gpo.gov]

Statement on Comprehensive Nuclear Weapons Test Ban Negotiations
August 11, 1995

    One of my administration's highest priorities is to negotiate a 
comprehensive test ban treaty (CTBT) to reduce the danger posed by 
nuclear weapons proliferation. To advance that goal and secure the 
strongest possible treaty, I am announcing today my decision to seek a 
zero yield CTBT. A zero yield CTBT would ban any nuclear weapon test 
explosion or any other nuclear explosion immediately upon entry into 
force. I hope it will lead to an early consensus among all states at the 
negotiating table.
    Achieving a CTBT was a goal of both Presidents Eisenhower and 
Kennedy. Now, as then, such a treaty would greatly strengthen U.S. and 
global security and create another barrier to nuclear proliferation and 
nuclear weapons development. At the conclusion of the Nuclear Non-
Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in May, all parties to that 
treaty agreed to work to complete a CTBT no later than 1996. Today, I 
want to reaffirm our commitment to do everything possible to conclude 
the CTBT negotiations as soon as possible so that a treaty can be signed 
next year.
    As part of our national security strategy, the United States must 
and will retain strategic nuclear forces sufficient to deter any future 
hostile foreign leadership with access to strategic nu-

[[Page 1253]]

clear forces from acting against our vital interests and to convince it 
that seeking a nuclear advantage would be futile. In this regard, I 
consider the maintenance of a safe and reliable nuclear stockpile to be 
a supreme national interest of the United States.
    I am assured by the Secretary of Energy and the Directors of our 
nuclear weapons labs that we can meet the challenge of maintaining our 
nuclear deterrent under a CTBT through a Science Based Stockpile 
Stewardship program without nuclear testing. I directed the 
implementation of such a program almost 2 years ago, and it is being 
developed with the support of the Secretary of Defense and the Chairman 
of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. This program will now be tied to a new 
certification procedure. In order for this program to succeed, both the 
administration and the Congress must provide sustained bipartisan 
support for the stockpile stewardship program over the next decade and 
beyond. I am committed to working with the Congress to ensure this 
    While I am optimistic that the stockpile stewardship program will be 
successful, as President I cannot dismiss the possibility, however 
unlikely, that the program will fall short of its objectives. Therefore, 
in addition to the new annual certification procedure for our nuclear 
weapons stockpile, I am also establishing concrete, specific safeguards 
that define the conditions under which the United States can enter into 
    In the event that I were informed by the Secretary of Defense and 
Secretary of Energy--advised by the Nuclear Weapons Council, the 
Directors of DOE's nuclear weapons laboratories, and the Commander of 
U.S. Strategic Command--that a high level of confidence in the safety or 
reliability of a nuclear weapons type which the two Secretaries consider 
to be critical to our nuclear deterrent could no longer be certified, I 
would be prepared, in consultation with Congress, to exercise our 
``supreme national interests'' rights under the CTBT in order to conduct 
whatever testing might be required. Exercising this right, however, is a 
decision I believe I or any future President will not have to make. The 
nuclear weapons in the United States arsenal are safe and reliable, and 
I am determined our stockpile stewardship program will ensure they 
remain so in the absence of nuclear testing.
    I recognize that our present monitoring systems will not detect with 
high confidence very low yield tests. Therefore, I am committed to 
pursuing a comprehensive research and development program to improve our 
treaty monitoring capabilities and operations.
    Thirty-two years ago, President Kennedy called the completion of the 
Limited Test Ban Treaty in Moscow a ``shaft of light cut into the 
darkness'' of the cold war. With it, he said, the Nation could ``step 
back from the shadows of war and seek out the way of peace.'' We did, 
and the world is a safer place because of it. I believe that we are 
ready to take the next step and lead the world to a comprehensive test 
ban. This would be a fitting tribute to all those, Republicans and 
Democrats, who have worked for a CTBT over the past four decades.

Note: A fact sheet on arms control and nonproliferation and a fact sheet 
on comprehensive test ban treaty safeguards were attached to the