Nuclear Treaty Rejection Draws Mixed Reaction In House

By Jim Burns | July 7, 2008 | 8:24 PM EDT

( - Wednesday's Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) drew mixed reaction in the House. Reaction was the strongest from House Democrats after the Senate handed President Clinton, according to one congressman, the most glaring setback for the United States since the Treaty of Versailles was defeated in 1920.

Representative Jim McDermott (D-WA) said the treaty's defeat was "a sad day for this country." He also called the treaty defeat a very important event, "The United States Senate said we don't care who tests or how much testing there's done in the world. It's a sad day in my view when the United States steps back from leadership in the world, the last time we voted down a treaty was the Treaty of Versailles. We didn't join the League of Nations and what happened? We had the Second World War."

Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) said the Senate deserves thanks for "their correct and courageous vote to defeat the comprehensive test ban treaty. The President and the liberals did their very best to convince the American people to rely on an unverifiable treaty for security. The Chinese communists have stolen the technology they need to skirt this test ban. If they have the technology, there's no doubt that the rogue nuclear powers such as North Korea and Iraq will have it as well."

A better solution, according to Stearns, "lies in a strong national defense. We recently had successful tests of both strategic and theater systems. We need to move forward with enhanced testing and deployment. It's time to move beyond unverifiable treaties as the answer to our defense needs."

However, not all Democrats agreed with McDermott. Rep. James Traficant (D-OH) had a different perspective. He pointed to how China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea all possess nuclear weapons. Traficant said it has gotten so bad that reports indicate that "McDonald's is developing the McNuke."

Traficant questioned what good is a nuclear test ban if "every crackpot in the world keeps building nuclear weapons." Traficant called on Congress to be careful on nuclear weapons issues because "America will abide by any nuclear test ban. But those crackpots around the world will not. You can build them, but don't shoot them, save that for the tooth fairy."

Rep. Cynthia McKinney (D-GA), a member of the House International Relations committee called the Senate's rejection of the treaty, "reckless." McKinney also said the rejection, " denies US leadership in the fight against nuclear proliferation. We have no moral or legal ground to stand on should any rogue state like North Korea or Afghanistan decide to go nuclear."

Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, NATO's new secretary-general expressed unhappiness with the Senate's treaty rejection. Lord Robertson told BBC radio in London Thursday he was "worried" about the rejection, saying it had a lot to do with politics and hoped "Americans would reconsider."

Robertson also told BBC, "we've got to persuade the American Congress that this is in the interest, not just of international security, but also of the United States, and I hope that we can that and this is not a permanent position."