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Open Letter to President Clinton

September 8 to 10, 1997
Fudan University, Shanghai, China

This letter was prepared during the 1997 INESAP Conference

Challenges and Opportunities for a Nuclear-Weapon-Free World

September 10, 1997

President William Clinton
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue
Washington, DC USA

Dear President Clinton,

We, the undersigned, write from Fudan University in Shanghai, China, where for the last three days we have taken part in the Third International Conference of International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against Proliferation.

One year ago today, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), prohibiting "any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion." Since then the United States and more than 150 other countries have signed the Treaty, and the U.S. has pledged, in accordance with Article 18 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, to refrain from any action that would defeat its objects and purpose. As stated in the Preamble, the objective of the CTBT is "to contribute effectively to the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in all its aspects [and] to the process of nuclear disarmament..."

During our conference we learned that the United States is preparing to conduct its second "subcritical" nuclear test, code-named Holog, later this month, underground at the Nevada Test Site. According to a public statement by a U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) official, Holog will be "important for understanding performance" of nuclear weapons. Subcritical tests involve chemical explosive and weapons grade plutonium. In our view, they violate the spirit if not the letter of the CTBT. This would especially apply if complete weapons configurations were tested, a possibility DOE has explicitly kept open. Further, subcritical tests signal an unrelenting U.S. commitment to nuclear weapons. We believe that subcritical tests are acts of bad faith, provocative to other States, that jeopardize prospects for its global entry into force.

We are deeply concerned that the subcritical tests and the huge "Stockpile Stewardship" program of which they are part, are making it possible for the U.S. to continue modernizing its nuclear arsenal, even under a CTBT. This is also contrary to the Article VI Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty obligation to eliminate nuclear weapons, an obligation affirmed unanimously by the International Court of Justice in July 1996. U.S. failure to meet its Article VI obligation threatens the long-term viability of the nonproliferation regime.

We call on you as the leader of the world's most advanced military power to reverse the dangerous and destabilizing effects of a renewed nuclear research, development and testing program. We urge you to cancel Holog and any other subcritical tests. We appeal to you to begin negotiations on a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. The world is watching, and waiting.

For a nuclear weapon free world,


    * Reiner Braun, on behalf of International Network of Engineers and Scientists for Global Responsibility (INES)
    * Jacqueline Cabasso, Western States Legal Foundation, USA
    * Merav Datan, USA
    * Surendra Gadekar, India
    * Martin Kalinowski, Germany
    * George Lewis, USA
    * Allison Macfarlane, USA
    * Luis Masperi, Argentine Physical Society, Argentina
    * Vijai Nair, India
    * Abdul Nayyar, Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad, Pakistan
    * Marco Martinez Negrete, Mexico
    * Götz Neuneck, Germany
    * Reuven Pedatzur, Israel
    * Jürgen Scheffran, Germany
    * Alice Slater, USA