Senate votes to curb nuclear tests

WASHINGTON (AP) - Taking direct aim at President Bush's policy on nuclear weapons testing, the Senate voted yesterday to curb the underground explosions and to end them entirely four years from now. In other action on the US defence budget, opponents of the B-2 stealth bomber fell short in their effort to cut the programme further as the Senate ratified plans to build 20 of the radar-evading aircraft.

The Senate voted 55-40 for a testing ban pushed by Senators Mark Hatfield, a Republican, James Exon, a Democrat, and the Majority Leader, George Mitchell, that has drawn strong protests from the White House. Administration officials said in August that Mr Bush would veto any bill containing the restrictions.

The plan would place a nine-month moratorium on nuclear weapons tests beginning next month, put strict limits on subsequent tests, then impose a total ban beginning 1 October 1996. The ban would be waived if Russia resumes testing after that date.