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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Clinton Pleads For Test Ban Approval

UNITED NATIONS -- U.S. President Bill Clinton asked a skeptical Senate to ratify a treaty to ban nuclear test explosions, calling the pact "the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control.''


In an address Monday to the 52nd UN General Assembly, Clinton also called on the other nations whose leaders signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to go forward with ratification.


Clinton signed the test ban treaty a year ago but delayed sending it to the Senate.


White House officials said they expect the treaty to face rough treatment from some Senate Republicans but expressed confidence that it will pass in the end, following the pattern of previous arms control treaties.


The officials said they hope the Senate will begin hearings on the treaty later this fall and vote on it next year, though such a schedule remains in doubt.


Clinton used his United Nations appearance to outline his vision of an increasingly integrated world at the turn of the millennium.


"Behind us we leave a century full of humanity's capacity for the worst and its genius for the best,'' Clinton said "Before us ... we can envision a new era that escapes the 20th century's darkest moments, fulfills its most brilliant possibilities and crosses frontiers yet unimagined.''


The president also, for the first time, proposed a timetable for the creation of a permanent international court to prosecute the most serious violations of humanitarian law. And he pledged to continue working with Congress on a plan to pay much of the United States' huge UN debt.


The test ban pact -- which has been signed by 146 nations but ratified by only four -- may face even greater obstacles internationally than it does in the United States, where foes argue that verification of compliance would be impossible.


The accord does not become binding until it has been ratified by all 44 nations that conduct nuclear research or have nuclear reactors. Three of them -- India, Pakistan and Israel -- have not yet signed. India has voiced the loudest objections to the treaty, saying it discriminates in favor of the large nuclear powers because it does not require nations to dismantle existing arms.


On the thorny issue of U.S. debts to the United Nations, Clinton said that his administration is pressing Congress to approve a bill that would take a big step toward resolving the issue.


Both houses of Congress are working on measures for repaying $819 million -- much of the U.S. dues in arrears -- if the portion of UN budget covered by the United States is reduced from 25 percent to 20 percent by the year 2000. The United States would still owe the world organization about $200 million, according to U.S. calculations, and about $700 million according to UN calculations.