Women's International League for Peace and Freedom (WILPF)

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

DC Days (April 28)

The truly big news of the day was the abrupt switch of Senator Arlen Specter (PA-formerly Republican) to the Democratic Party. This leaves the Democrats one member shy of a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate, opening up the opportunity to push harder for legislation in areas (such as healthcare, etc) that were sorely neglected under the Bush administration and the Republican-dominated congresses of the Clinton years.

Today I had the chance to meet with an aide in Representative DeFazio's office (D-OR), who was very knowledgeable about nuclear issues, and supportive of almost all ANA's asks. Later, another activist from ANA and I spoke with a researcher at the Congressional Research Service, with whom we were able to have a lively dialogue about what tradeoffs would be permissible in order to gain the votes needed to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This is an issue that raises serious concerns about the effectiveness and implementation of international treaties. Since the United States has already signed and ratified the NPT, we have committed to engage in good faith in negotiations toward total nuclear disarmament. Most will agree we have not as of yet done that. However, the statements of President Obama strongly supporting this aim give us an opportunity that has been closed off for the last eight years to push forward toward ratification of the CTBT, which would serve as a very good deterrent to other countries which may wish to pursue nuclear weapons, and stop us from "improving" our arsenal in the United States. The problem as I see it lies in the partisan bargaining that is how things are done here in DC. Some have said that in order to secure the 67 votes necessary to ratify the CTBT, a package deal must be offered that may include provisions inconsistent with the spirit of the CTBT, or our already-existing commitments under the NPT. This concerns me deeply, because the United States needs to lead the way - in good faith - toward disarmament. As President Obama has said, "as a nuclear power - as the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon - the United States has a moral responsibility to act." This action should be unambiguous, and therefore must not be packaged with any other action that may lead to further development of nuclear technology.


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