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World Condemns U.S. Vote to Reject Test-Ban Treaty

Policy: Governments express dismay and contend that spread of nuclear weapons will be more difficult to stop.


The Senate vote also was certain to further delay Russian action on three arms control measures eagerly sought by the United States: approval of a change to the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty that would permit development of a missile defense shield, ratification of the 1993 START II strategic arms pact, and negotiations on deeper cuts in nuclear arsenals called for in a proposed START III treaty.

The speaker of Russia's lower house of parliament, Gennady N. Seleznyov, accused the U.S. of operating by a double standard: "talking about cutting the number of nuclear warheads and banning nuclear tests and at the same time refusing to ratify the fundamental document."

In Japan, which is the only nation to have experienced a nuclear attack and which now has a constitution banning war, citizens said they hoped the Senate would reconsider. "Rejection could lead the U.S. to develop nuclear weapons further," said Hitoshi Hamasaki, 68, an atomic bomb survivors group leader in Nagasaki.

While the Senate vote dealt a severe blow to the test-ban treaty, it was not immediately clear whether it would sink the pact. The new secretary-general of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, George Robertson of Britain, expressed hope that the Senate will change its mind.

"We've got to persuade the American Congress that this is in the interests not just of international security but also of the United States," Robertson said as he was sworn in Thursday at NATO headquarters in Brussels.

In Washington, meanwhile, the political establishment was attempting to grasp the stunning conclusion that President Clinton may have lost more than a cornerstone of his foreign policy agenda.

The vote "shows President Clinton doesn't have the ability to persuade the Senate on national security issues," said Lee Hamilton, who was one of the most respected foreign policy voices in Congress before his retirement from the House last year.

Clinton made a spirited rhetorical counterattack at a news conference Thursday, describing himself as locked in "a battle with the new isolationists in the Congress" and vowing that the test-ban treaty will eventually pass.

But such rhetoric is unlikely to polish the United States' reputation, now tarnished among allies and enemies alike.

"In a real sense, this vote places the United States in the position of becoming a rogue state," said Joseph Cirincione, who tracks arms control issues at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.


Times staff writers Richard Boudreaux in Rome, Henry Chu in Beijing, John-Thor Dahlburg in Paris, Sonni Efron in Tokyo, Tyler Marshall in Washington, Dean E. Murphy in Johannesburg, Carol J. Williams in Berlin and John J. Goldman at the United Nations and Times researcher Janet Stobart in London contributed to this report.

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