| GEO World|
| Kerry for Senate ratification of nuclear test ban pact|
| Updated at: 0724 PST, Saturday, March 28, 2009|
WASHINGTON: The chairman of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee, John Kerry, said on Friday he had begun laying the groundwork for Senate ratification of a global pact banning nuclear tests.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was rejected by the Senate a decade ago. President Barack Obama said during his campaign that he would seek to get it ratified. But ratification is up to the Senate, where two-thirds approval is required.
"We are very close ... We don't have that many votes to win over to win," Kerry told a conference on U.S. policy toward Russia. "But they are serious folks and we are going to have to persuade them."
Kerry said his committee would hold hearings on the treaty. A vote by the full Senate is unlikely before next year, the Massachusetts Democrat said.
There is widespread international support for the test ban treaty, but it cannot come into effect because some nuclear powers like the United States and China have not ratified it. Proponents say U.S. ratification could help get other countries with nuclear programs, like India, to sign on.
When the Senate rejected it in 1999, opponents said the verification provisions were insufficient to deal with possible cheating. There were also concerns about whether the safety of the U.S. nuclear arsenal could be maintained without testing.
The United States has had a moratorium on nuclear testing since 1992.