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Remarks on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and an Exchange With Reporters in Kansas City

September 10, 1996

The President. Today in New York, the United Nations General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to adopt the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and open it for signature later this month. On behalf of the American people, I will have the honor to sign this historic treaty.

Our signature, along with that of Russia, China, France, the United Kingdom, and the vast majority of nations around the world will create an international barrier against nuclear testing as soon as we sign.

With this treaty we're on the verge of realizing a decades-old dream, that no nuclear weapons will be detonated anywhere on the face of the Earth.

This has been a dream of American leaders going back to Presidents Eisenhower and Kennedy. They long worked for a safer world at home and abroad. By banning all nuclear tests for all time, the treaty will constrain any nation from improving its existing nuclear arsenal and end the development of advanced nuclear weapons and help to stop their spread.

We're taking the next crucial step to lift the dark cloud of nuclear fear that has hung over the world for 50 years now. Over the past 4 years we have permanently extended the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, dramatically cut existing nuclear arsenals under the START treaties, persuaded Ukraine, Belarus, and Kazakstan to give up the nuclear weapons left on their land after the USSR dissolved, frozen North Korea's dangerous nuclear program, and today no Russian missiles are pointed at our cities or our citizens.

For four decades visionary statesmen like Prime Minister Nehru of India worked tirelessly to make the comprehensive test ban a reality. More recently, Britain's John Major, France's Jacques Chirac, Russia's Boris Yeltsin, China's Jiang Zemin—all have made courageous decisions to halt their country's nuclear testing programs. I want to thank them, along with Foreign Minister Downer of Australia and the chairman of the CTBT negotiating committee, Netherlands Ambassador Jaap Ramaker, for all the work they have done.

I'd also like to express my gratitude on behalf of our country to our Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament, Stephen Ledogar, along with the entire United States delegation. They worked very hard for the last 3 years to bring us to this happy day. I'm proud that our American leadership has played an important role in this success.

Now, together, the United States and the nations of the world have taken another giant step toward making our world safer. It is in that spirit that I will urge all nations to sign the agreement.

Thank you.

Q. Mr. President, there were three votes against——

The President. There were: the Indians, and Bhutan voting with India, and Libya. The Indians have some concerns which they have made clear in public, but now that we have voted overwhelmingly to do it, and when we sign it, then we'll have to work out the entry into force provisions. I am convinced we can do it, and I believe we can find a way for the Indians to have their security concerns met.

And so this is a big plus today. We're a lot closer today than we were yesterday toward realizing the dream of a comprehensive nuclear test ban.

Same Sex Marriage

Q. Mr. President—[inaudible]—same sex marriage bill passed today. Are you still going to sign it?

The President. Yes.

Q. Why?

The President. For the reason that I said all along—I said back in '92 that while I believe that gay partners can have certain contractual rights and other considerations, that the term marriage should not be applied in law. And this bill simply says that no State has to recognize any other State's law to that regard. So it's consistent with the position I took back in '92, and therefore I will sign it.

I will say again as I have repeatedly said, this should not be cause for any sort of discrimination or gay bashing, and I regret that the Senate failed by one vote to adopt the antidiscrimination bill with regard to employment discrimination, which I think is a very good bill. And we're so close, and I feel comfortable we'll be able to get it sometime in the near future.

Thank you.


Q. [Inaudible]—Saddam Hussein—[inaudible]——

The President. Well, we don't have any independent confirmation of their allegation about firing the missiles. And again I will say I will take the position that I have taken from the day I took this office: We will evaluate them based on what they do, not what they say.

Thank you.

NOTE: The President spoke at 4:14 p.m. at Kansas City International Airport, prior to his departure from Kansas City. In his remarks, he referred to Prime Minister John Major of the United Kingdom; President Jacques Chirac of France; President Boris Yeltsin of Russia; President Jiang Zemin of China; Foreign Minister Alexander Downer of Australia; and Jaap Ramaker, Netherlands Ambassador to the Conference on Disarmament. A tape was not available for verification of the content of these remarks.

William J. Clinton, Remarks on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty and an Exchange With Reporters in Kansas City Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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