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Angry Dan's Column

Idiot Senate votes down nuclear test ban

by Daniel Strohl

Before I dive into how moronic the Senate was in voting against the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, let's have a little history on the subject.

August, 1945: Two nuclear bombs are dropped on Japan, killing 105,000 and injuring 94,000. Not a good thing. However, since then no nuclear devices have been used during wartime. A good thing.

1950s: nuclear hysteria. The Cold War starts, hanging the threat of nuclear devastation over our collective heads for over 30 years. Wide-scale testing of nuclear devices has already begun in the United States and Soviet Union. Arguably necessary at the time for scientific exploration (to find out they're bad news), but still not a good thing.

Over the next decade or so, several other nations begin testing and thus enter the nuclear powers club. Britain begins in 1952, France in 1960 and China in 1964. Not good things.

1963: The United States signs the Limited Test Ban Treaty, banning explosions in the atmosphere, space and underwater. A good thing.

1974: India explodes its first nuclear device. Not a good thing.

1974 and 1976: The United States signs two treaties, the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty, which ban underground nuclear explosions for any purposes of over 150 kilotons. A good thing, but keep in mind the United States does not ratify the two treaties until 1990, indicating how the country, as a whole, prefers to hem and haw over this topic instead of make any clear decisions.

1990: The moratoriums begin. First the Soviet Union (Russia has not exploded any nuclear devices),then Britain a year later. France ends testing in 1992, but breaks their moratorium from June 1995 until January 1996. The United States ends critical mass testing in 1993, but has since tested subcritical mass devices, much to the ire of India and other countries. And in July, 1996, China begins their moratorium. Overall, a good thing.

24 Sept, 1996: The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty opens for signing. President Clinton signs it, along with Britain, China, France, Russia and several other countries. A good thing. However, India does not sign and to this day has not signed despite being the first country to suggest a comprehensive test ban. India refuses to sign because they call for unilateral disarmament of nuclear devices along with a ban on all testing. Not really a good thing that they didn't sign.

May 1998: India and Pakistan carry out nuclear tests, India's first since 1974. Definitely not a good thing.

13 Oct, 1999: The Senate rejects ratification of the CTBT. Voting goes mostly along party lines, with Republicans voting against and Democrats for. Again, not a good thing.

The Senate, in all their humility, must have forgotten that all the world's eyes were on them last week. Yeah, it's real easy to forget how this country has become the leading world power in the past several years and thus a large influence on the world's culture, economy and most importantly, policy-making.

Think of the United States as a big brother, sometimes benevolent, sometimes a bully. You are a nation developing nuclear capabilities, like India or Pakistan, maybe even Iraq. Your big brother likes to go to the shooting range or go hunting, so you naturally assume it's alright to have and play with guns yourself, because one of the people you look up to for precedents and as a role model does so. Yet you lack the experience and maturity of your older brother and perhaps make a mistake or perhaps accidentally shoot that kid next door.

Sure, that's a quaint little story, but what happens when your little brother blows up the world?

That might sound a little alarmist, but it's a bigger possibility now that the United States has done little to uphold first the idea of banning all testing and second the idea of total disarmament.

Last summer, when India and Pakistan were having fun blowing things up, Paul Warnke said in a New York Times article, "To back off our own commitment to global adherence to the [test ban] treaty would only give aid and comfort to nuclear adventurism in South Asia."

That statement could even be expanded, because even though India and Pakistan haven't even signed the CTBT, many other nations that signed the treaty, Russia and China included, haven't ratified it yet. In fact, only 26 of the 44 nations needed to ratify it have done so.

How exactly are they going to ratify the CTBT if the United States doesn't?

Just think of Russia and China as your younger brother now.

Has Dan made you angry?

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