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Web Letter

I believe Jonathan Schell underplays a major success story in nuclear arms control that followed the 1986 Reykjavik summit.

In 1992 the Congress persuaded President Bush to sign legislation establishing a moratorium on US nuclear weapons tests. In 1993, President Clinton extended the moratorium, and it continues to this very day. Thus, after conducting over 1000 nuclear tests from 1945 to 1992, our nation has not conducted another such test in nearly fifteen years. Randall Forsberg's call in 1980 for a "freeze on testing" has been accomplished, and even the current Bush Administration has been unable to reverse this (not that it hasn't tried). Because testing was used primarily to develop new types of warheads, the moratorium has so far put a stop to this qualitative aspect of the arms race--a highly significant step in the right direction.

The US moratorium on testing has, in general, been matched by the other members of the original nuclear club--Russia, China, Britain and France. None are currently testing. Furthermore, in 1996 a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was signed by these five nuclear weapons states and 66 other nations. Currently, 177 nations have signed the treaty and 138 have also ratified it, including Russia, Britain, and France. Unfortunately, in October 1999 the US Senate failed to ratify the CTBT, the first security-related treaty in eighty years that the Senate has not ratified. So the struggle continues, but on this issue there has been solid achievement. The nuclear arms control movement, even though diminished since the early 1980s, has worked diligently on the testing issue and is largely responsible for the favorable developments since 1992. Let's give ourselves some credit for this.

John W. Grula

Pasadena, CA

Jul 6 2007 - 3:05pm