Jeffrey LewisCunnningham on hold

Senator John Kyl (R-AZ) is reportedly waging a quiet campaign to press the Bush Administration to withdraw the US signature from the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The Washington Post/’s “In the Loop” and the Los Angeles Times are reporting that Kyl/’s crusade is now keeping the the United States without an Ambassador to the U.N. organizations in Vienna–even though one of those organizations, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), is involved in the important negotiations with Iran over its nuclear activities. Apparently some WMD threats are less urgent than others.

During a farewell party to celebrate his nomination as Ambassador to Vienna, which also includes responsibility for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, career diplomat James Cunningham told well-wishers “I haven/’t been confirmed yet. The nomination is on hold.”

Both the Post and Times suggest Kyl was angered that over the lack of a response to a June 2003 letter to Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Attorney General John D. Ashcroft asking why the US remained a signatory to the CTBT. Kyl and Senator James M. Inhofe (R-OK) subsequently placed a hold on Cunningham/’s nomination to force the White House to formally reject the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. No tests, no ambassador.

This is all on the d.l. — a Senator doesn/’t have to explain or even admit to placing a hold on a nomination. Kyl/’s office “did not respond to more than a dozen phone calls to his offices in Washington, Tucson and Phoenix over a week requesting comment” by the Los Angeles Times. Inhofe/’s office was also silent, although someone, somewhere found time to assure the Washington Post that “if Kyl hadn/’t put a hold on the nomination, someone else would have.” Cunningham was also said to have drawn the ire of the Pentagon, for “not getting the United Nations to tighten sanctions against Iraq so Saddam Hussein couldn/’t buy militarily useful items before the war.”

Ah, Washington. No official explanation of the hold, but unrelated criticisms appear in the Washington Post. Classy.

Did I mention that efforts by Secretary Powell and former US Senator John C. Danforth (R-MO), now Ambassador to the UN, also failed to move Kyl? Very classy.