, 2000

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JUNE 30, 1999  12:00 Noon
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Sharon Pickett, 301-365-9307, or Robert Tiller, 202-898-0150, ext. 220
Environmental Organizations Urge Ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
WASHINGTON - June 30 - Twelve prominent environmental organizations have added their voices to the chorus of support for ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The CTBT would ban all nuclear weapons test explosions worldwide, implement a sophisticated monitoring system, and reduce the threats of nuclear proliferation, nuclear waste and nuclear war.

A coalition letter urging swift ratification will be delivered to the Senate on June 30. Signatories include Defenders of Wildlife, Environmental Defense Fund, Environmental Working Group, Friends of the Earth, Global Green USA, National Environmental Trust, Natural Resources Defense Council, Physicians for Social Responsibility, Population Action International, Sierra Club, 20/20 Vision, Union of Concerned Scientists and Zero Population Growth. Please see text below. Interviews available upon request.

Dear Senator,

We urge the Senate to give its consent to the ratification of the nuclear test ban treaty this year. The timing is critical so that the United States can participate in this fall's special international conference of Treaty ratifiers.

We support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) because it is a valuable instrument in stemming the proliferation of nuclear weapons and reducing the environmental and security threats posed by nuclear arms races. Under the CTBT, non-nuclear weapons states will be barred from carrying out the nuclear explosions needed to develop compact, high-yield nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles and confidently certify nuclear explosive performance. The Treaty is therefore vital to preventing the spread of nuclear missile capability to additional states. In addition, the Treaty will limit the ability of the existing nuclear weapons states to build new and destabilizing types of nuclear weapons.

Since 1945, seven nations have conducted over 2,050 nuclear test explosions -- an average of one test every 10 days. Atmospheric tests spread dangerous levels of radioactive fallout downwind and into the global atmosphere. Underground nuclear blasts spread highly radioactive material into the earth and each one creates a permanent nuclear waste site. This contamination presents long-term hazards to nearby water sources and surrounding communities. Also, many underground tests have vented radioactive gases into the atmosphere, including some of those conducted by the United States. Of course, the ultimate threat to the environment posed by nuclear testing is the continuing and possibly increasing risk of nuclear war posed by proliferating nuclear arsenals. In addition to protecting the environment, the CTBT will enhance U.S. security with its extensive monitoring system and short-notice, on-site inspections. These will improve our ability to discourage all states from engaging in the testing of nuclear weapons.

Ending nuclear testing has been a goal of government, scientists and ordinary citizens from all walks of life for over forty years. the CTBT has already been ratified by many other nations, including France, the United Kingdom and Japan. The vast majority of Americans support approval of the CTBT. The effort in this country to stop nuclear testing that began with public outrage about nuclear fallout and has been pursued by American Presidents since Dwight Eisenhower can now be achieved. With the U.S. leadership on the CTBT, entry into force is within reach. It is vital that the U.S. set the example on this important environmental and security issue; with your leadership and support, the CTBT can finally be realized.


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