Weeks after forging President Barack Obama’s Iran deal, Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz are eager to move on to a daunting new challenge: persuading the Senate to reconsider the nuclear test ban treaty that it rejected in 1999.
Reviving the treaty — the first to fail in the Senate since the Treaty of Versailles after World War I — would be a huge step toward preventing the emergence of new nuclear weapons states and controlling nuclear outlaws, the two Cabinet members believe.
But the odds against the international pact may be even greater than what the Iran deal faced. The Republican-controlled Senate has few, if any, arms control advocates left. And it seems far more interested in depriving the president of another key victory than digesting new evidence that the U.S. doesn’t even need to conduct test explosions of its nuclear arsenal — something it hasn’t done since 1992.
Nonetheless, an unscripted moment Wednesday in a hallway at the Naval Heritage Center in the shadow of the Capitol demonstrated how much the nuclear pact is on Kerry’s and Moniz’s minds — and remains a goal of Obama, who made nuclear disarmament a key objective at the start of his presidency.
“Let’s do it,” Kerry told Moniz after they’d both delivered remarks to a gathering of nuclear weapons scientists and arms control gurus about the need for the United States to revisit the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.