With the 20th anniversary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty approaching, President Barack Obama is reportedly seeking a United Nations Security Council resolution that would effectively subjugate future U.S. authority over nuclear weapons testing to the U.N.
The Washington Post is reporting top Obama Administration officials, including Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, are now briefing Congress about the president's decision to push for the resolution next month. Several lawmakers are calling the move yet another presidential end-run around Congress.
The CTBT was never ratified by the Senate after it was drafted in September of 1996. National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said the administration would be seeking the Senate's ratification, but would go to the U.N. if that was not possible, pledging to do so in a way that "protects the Senate's constitutional role."
The administration did not consult Congress before making the decision, and leading Republicans, including those who opposed Obama's nuclear deal with Iran, are irate that the White House plans another major national security move without their advice or consent.
"This is a plan to cede the Senate's constitutional role to the U.N. It's dangerous and it's offensive. Not only is this an affront to Congress, it's an affront to the American people," Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told me. "It directly contradicts the processes that are in place to make sure that Congress appropriately weighs in on international agreements."
The Obama administration has tried for years without success to build Senate support for ratifying the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which has been ratified by 164 countries. The Clinton administration signed the treaty, but the Senate refused to ratify it in 1999. There's no chance that the current Republican-led Senate would ratify it before Obama leaves office.
Corker said Congress still hasn't been able to see the proposed resolution, and administration officials did not specify any role for Congress in the U.N. effort. Lawmakers fear that a Security Council resolution could constrain the United States and subject American national security decisions to international oversight and potential legal liability.
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