Who could imagine an issue that is supported by 82 percent of the American people being deemed "irrelevant" by Senate leadership and doomed to be locked up in committee? Unthinkable in a country for and by the people, right? But this is exactly what is happening to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which would ban all nuclear tests worldwide.

This treaty was signed by President Clinton in September 1996 and has been held captive by the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee since its transmission for ratification 21 months ago.

On July 20, nine senators (Democratic and Republican) held a press conference in response to the recent release of a nationwide poll that reports that public support for the treaty is higher than ever at 82 percent. These senators are, in the strongest terms possible, calling for the leadership to schedule hearings and votes on the CTBT.

President Clinton also addressed the hijacking of this treaty on July 20, stating: "We have a chance right now to end nuclear testing forever. It would be a tragedy for our security and for our children's future to let this opportunity slip away. This treaty is in dire need of a strong administration campaign. As President Eisenhower said in 1961, `Not achieving a nuclear test ban would have to be classed as the greatest disappointment of any administration of any decade of any time and of any party.' "

JOE VOLK

Executive Secretary

Friends Committee on National Legislation

Washington