Secretary of State-designate James A. Baker III said Wednesday the United States and the Soviet Union are close to agreement on verification procedures for two long-pending nuclear test ban treaties.
Baker told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee that when all work on the two treaties is completed they will be submitted to the Senate for ratification.Baker, whose confirmation as secretary of state is virtually assured, said he believes verification problems on the 1976 Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty are "completely resolved."
And he said verification procedures are "close to being resolved" on the 1974 nuclear test ban treaty which would establish a limit of 150 kilotons on underground tests.
Testifying on the second day of his confirmation hearings, Baker also agreed to a proposal by Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., D-Del., to discuss in private Biden's ideas on revising and implementing the controversial War Powers Act, which provides a mechanism for Congress to reverse a presidential decision to commit U.S. forces to combat or meet the threat of combat.
But, declaring that "I don't want to pursue this under false colors," Baker said there are many in government "who feel very strongly that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional, including the president-elect."
On another subject, Baker said the Bush administration will maintain a high standard of insisting on human rights protection around the world, whether abuses are committed "by governments of the left or of the right."
In testimony on Tuesday, Baker promised regular consultations with congressional leaders and asked for bipartisan support in return.
"In order to succeed we simply must work together," Baker said Tuesday. "That is the verdict of history and that is the verdict of recent experience."