CHARLES KRAUTHAMMER; The Weekly Standard, November 1, 1999, SECTION: COVER STORY; Pg. 21 HEADLINE: Arms Control: The End of an Illusion; The Cold War was won at Reykjavik. The Senate's defeat of the test ban treaty is Reykjavik II. // ln-acs-11-11-99

Perhaps because the treaty is such a bad treaty. The longer it is subject to examination, the worse it looks. The CTBT is precisely the kind of arms control agreement that at first blush gets instant support. A universal test ban. What could be wrong with that?

It takes time to explain. First, no treaty should prohibit what it cannot detect. This treaty bans all nuclear explosions, but it cannot detect low-yield explosions. That means that those countries like the United States that have an open society and a free press will adhere to the treaty and test nothing, while those that do not -- North Korea, Iraq, Iran, perhaps even China and Russia -- will be able to conduct vital low yield-tests with impunity. As C. Paul Robinson, director of Sandia National Laboratories, testified before Congress, "If the United States scrupulously restricts itself to zero-yield while other nations may conduct experiments up to the threshold of international detectability, we will be at an intolerable disadvantage."

Moreover, the treaty is not just unverifiable, it is disarming. Literally. Without testing, the reliability and usability of the American nuclear arsenal will inevitably erode. Nuclear weapons are incredibly complex mechanisms made up of many parts, with a radioactive core that is bombarding the rest of the mechanism at all times. They simply cannot be relied upon over time without fixes and without testing.