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After Indian Nuke Tests, Support for the Test Ban Treaty Remains Strong
New National Poll Shows 73% of Americans Support Senate Approval

(May 21, 1998, WASHINGTON, DC) Less than a week after India's shocking nuclear test blasts, an overwhelming majority of Americans support Senate ratification of a treaty banning nuclear tests, according to a new nationwide poll. When asked "Do you think the U.S. Senate should approve a Treaty with 140 other countries that would prohibit underground nuclear weapons explosions worldwide," 73% of respondents say the treaty should be "approved," while only 16% "disapprove," and 11% "don't know."

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The treaty, known as the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), was submitted to the Senate last year, but the Senate has so far failed to act on the treaty. Just this week, President Clinton reiterated his call for Senate approval of the CTBT "this year." Sixty-seven votes are needed for ratification. Also, Senators Arlen Specter (R-PA), Joseph Biden (D-DE), and others introduced a resolution calling for prompt hearings and vote on the treaty "as expeditiously as possible."

The results are based on the findings of an opinion survey of 1000 adults conducted by The Mellman Group for the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers between May 15-17, 1998. The survey's margin of error is plus or minus 3.1 percentage points.

Support Is Higher Among Those Who Have Heard About India's Nuclear Tests

Almost two-thirds of Americans (63%) claim they have heard about recent nuclear weapons test explosions by India (30% heard a great deal, 33% heard some), while only a third (37%) say they have not heard much or heard nothing at all. India conducted five nuclear weapons tests on May 11 and 13.

Those who have heard of recent events in India support Senate approval of the test ban treaty in larger numbers than those who are unfamiliar with those events. Among those who have heard about the test, 78% approve of the treaty and 15% disapprove (+63% net support). Support for the test ban treaty among those who have not heard about the Indian tests is still overwhelmingly strong (65% approve, 19% disapprove).

Support for the treaty cuts across every demographic group. Men are slightly more supportive of a ban (76% approve, 16% disapprove) than women (71% approve, 16% disapprove).

There is little difference in the level of support for the test ban across the nation. But, those in the West (76% approve, 12% disapprove), North Central region (76% approve, 14% disapprove), and North East (76% approve, 15% disapprove) are even more supportive than those in the South (68% approve, 20% disapprove).

After Indian Tests, Public Support for the Test Ban Is As Strong As Ever

The Indian tests have renewed debate about how to stop proliferation in regional hot-spots such as India and Pakistan and whether the test ban treaty is part of the solution. The May 1998 survey shows that public support for Senate approval of the test ban treaty remains as strong as it was last fall when the same survey was conducted. A September 1997 survey showed that 70% of respondents supported approval of the test ban treaty, only 13% disapproved and 17% didn't know. The results of the new survey are also consistent with 10 other polls on the test ban conducted since 1957, when President Eisenhower first sought a test ban. While the poll questions have varied somewhat over the years, support has ranged only from 61%-85%.

"Americans overwhelmingly support ratification of the test ban treaty -- a vital element in efforts to protect our nation and the world from the spread of nuclear weapons and nuclear arms competition in places like India and Pakistan," says Daryl Kimball, Director of the Coalition to Reduce Nuclear Dangers. "The Indian nuclear tests make the value of the test ban treaty even clearer and the public wants the test ban now, more than ever."