Major nuclear test-ban treaty up for U.N. vote tomorrow A first all major powers will vote in favor


UNITED NATIONS -- Using a maneuver never tried before to win adoption of a major international arms control treaty, Australia and more than 115 other countries will go to the General Assembly tomorrow to seek approval of a pact banning all nuclear explosions worldwide.

If the test-ban treaty is approved by the General Assembly -- where the pact's supporters now have a comfortable two-thirds majority among the 160 or so countries expected to vote -- it will be ready for a formal signing when President Clinton comes to speak to the General Assembly, possibly on Sept. 24.

While major nuclear powers have imposed moratoriums on testing, this would mark the first time that they have all agreed to outlaw nuclear explosions.

Among the three undeclared nuclear powers -- India, Israel and Pakistan -- India will now stand alone in opposition to a test ban. Israel, which has long been secretive about its nuclear program and was unwilling to sign an earlier treaty limiting the spread of weapons, is among the sponsors of the Australian resolution. Pakistan also will sign the new treaty, said Richard Butler, Australia's delegate to the United Nations.

In Washington, John Holum, director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency, said: "What this treaty does in practical terms is cut off any new avenues of nuclear weapons development. The opportunity to plumb nuclear technology further to come up with new destructive techniques, many of which have been on the drawing board, is ruled out."

The pact -- the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty -- cannot take effect until all 44 countries with nuclear arms or power stations have signed and ratified it.

But arms control experts say that once a country signs the treaty, international law dictates that that country abide by its provisions even if the treaty is not universally in force.

Although the Clinton administration favors the treaty, some Pentagon officials and American scientists remain opposed.

Pub Date: 9/08/96

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