Obama will bypass Congress, seek U.N. resolution on nuclear testing


President Obama (Pool photo by Chris Kleponis/European Pressphoto Agency)


President Obama has decided to seek a new United Nations Security Council resolution that would call for an end to nuclear testing, a move that leading lawmakers are calling an end run around Congress.

Top administration officials, including Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, briefed lawmakers and congressional staffers this week about President Obama’s decision to push for the U.N. action this September, to coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was adopted in September 1996 but was never ratified by the Senate.

National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price told me that the administration still would like to see the Senate ratify the test ban treaty but is “looking at possible action in the UN Security Council that would call on states not to test and support the CTBT’s objectives. We will continue to explore ways to achieve this goal, being careful to protect 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.”

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.

“What it really does is allow countries like Russia and China to be able to bind the United States over our nuclear deterrent capability without the scrutiny of Congress,” Corker said. “Should we ever decide we may wish to test, we could be sued in international courts over violating a United Nations Security Council resolution that Congress played no role in.”

“They devised a plan to keep the United States Senate and Congress in general from weighing in on an important agreement that’s going to limit our ability to ensure our nuclear deterrent is in place,” Corker said.

Full article: Obama will bypass Congress, seek U.N. resolution on nuclear testing (The Washington Post)

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