The Obama administration will seek a formal political agreement at the United Nations that would legally bind the United States to a nuclear test ban treaty rejected by the Senate 17 years ago.
The plan was outlined in a letter from the State Department to Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R., Tenn.), who is challenging the administration’s effort to lock in American adherence to the signed but unratified Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT.
The treaty bans nuclear testing and was signed by then-President Bill Clinton in 1996. The Senate voted against ratifying the treaty in 1999. The Obama administration, as part of its anti-nuclear arms control agenda, has sought ways to codify the test ban treaty despite the constitutional requirement for Senate ratification.
Julia Frifield, assistant secretary of state for legislative affairs, stated in an Aug. 10 letter to Corker that the administration would not seek a legally binding U.N. Security Council resolution on testing.
But Frifield said the administration is working on a U.N. resolution that would affirm the current U.S. moratorium on nuclear tests, and which would mention a legal commitment not to test made in a joint statement by the five declared nuclear powers.