Clinton to extend ban on nuclear testing: British lobbying fails to persuade President to abandon moratorium

FENDING off intense private lobbying by Britain, and to a lesser extent France, President Clinton is poised to announce that the US is abandoning plans for an early resumption of nuclear testing, a step which disarmament advocates believe could open the way for a general ban on testing, and greatly improve the prospects for curbing the spread of nuclear weapons.

Mr Clinton told reporters yesterday that he would make a formal announcement 'in the next few days' - either just before the 7 July G-7 Tokyo summit or during it. 'I've made a decision and we're working out some of the details,' he said. But given Congressional resistance to a resumption, and the administration's commitment to halting nuclear proliferation, there is scant doubt about his choice.

Three options have been on his desk: a go-ahead for a limited series of nine explosions at the Nevada test site between now and 1996, three of which would be by Britain; an unconditional 12-month extension of the current moratorium which technically expires today; or an extension with a clause permitting the US to restart testing if another nuclear power did so first.

The President, officials said yesterday, has all but chosen the third variant. In essence, this marks a second climb down. At first, at the urging of the Pentagon and Energy Department, which runs the three US nuclear laboratories, he indicated he would stick with previous plans for 15 tests by 1996. That was later scaled down to nine.

Now, following public demands by 36 Senators and 100 Congressmen for an extension of the moratorium, he is about to bow once more with the formula of 'no-first-test'.

This would enable the facilities to be kept ticking over, at least until October 1996, the target date for a permanent test ban agreement by the world's five declared nuclear powers. A year before that comes a more important date: the review conference for the 1970 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

The Western powers, anxious to prevent the spread of atomic weapons, are seeking an indefinite extension of the treaty. But supporters of arms control say that if the US resumes testing, not only would Britain, France and probably Russia and China follow suit, but the moral basis for efforts to prevent proliferation to countries like Iran, Iraq, Pakistan and North Korea would be fatally undermined.

No-one will be more disappointed than Britain, which is reliant on the Nevada facility and which has been wanting to test a new warhead version under design at the Aldermaston laboratory for use, defence sources say, both in the Trident submarine and for a new tactical 'gravity bomb' which could be employed in a variety of roles. But, sensing the way the wind is blowing, British officials have been downplaying the importance of resumption.

One leading US anti-testing lobbyist said: 'It puts a permanent nuclear testing ban clearly within reach.' Britain's behaviour is being less generously interpreted. Dan Plesch, of the Anglo-US arms control group Basic, said: 'It bodes ill for the entire British approach to non- proliferation if you're going to be dragged kicking and screaming to stop testing, and then pretend that you supported this all along.'

Life and Style
tech
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
News
John Barrowman kisses his male “bride” at a mock Gretna Green during the Commonwealth Games opening ceremony
peopleBarrowman's opening ceremony message to Commonwealth countries where he would be sent to prison for being gay
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Arts and Entertainment
The Tour de France peloton rides over a bridge on the Grinton Moor, Yorkshire, earlier this month
film
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
News
Very tasty: Vladimir Putin dining alone, perhaps sensibly
news
Life and Style
Listen here: Apple EarPods offer an alternative
techAre custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?
Arts and Entertainment
Top guns: Cole advised the makers of Second World War film Fury, starring Brad Pitt
filmLt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a uniform
News
Snoop Dogg pictured at The Hollywood Reporter Nominees' Night in February, 2013
people... says Snoop Dogg
News
The University of California study monitored the reaction of 36 dogs
sciencePets' range of emotions revealed
Arts and Entertainment
A scene from Shakespeare in Love at the Noel Coward Theatre
theatreReview: Shakespeare in Love has moments of sheer stage poetry mixed with effervescent fun
News
Joining forces: young British men feature in an Isis video in which they urge Islamists in the West to join them in Iraq and Syria
newsWill the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?
Arts and Entertainment
The nomination of 'The Wake' by Paul Kingsnorth has caused a stir
books
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

IT Transition Manager - Stirling - Banking - £400

£400 - £420 per day: Orgtel: IT Transition Manager - Banking - Scotland - £400...

General Cover Teacher

£100 - £105 per day: Randstad Education Cardiff: Secondary Teachers of all sub...

Associate Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: SThree are a global FTSE 250 busines...

English Teacher

£110 - £130 per day + Pay between ?110 - ?130 Day: Randstad Education Cardiff:...

Day In a Page

Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism
How Terry Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

How Newton tragedy made iron men seek help to tackle their psychological demons

Over a hundred rugby league players have contacted clinic to deal with mental challenges of game