WASHINGTON (AP) _ Republican presidential candidate Elizabeth Dole urged Congress on Tuesday to reject President Clinton's pleas for a global ban on nuclear test explosions.

She called the long-stalled Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty ``ill-conceived'' and a threat to national security.

``With Russia in turmoil, with North Korea and other threats, with other rogue nations moving forward, I think the U.S. will need _ for the foreseeable future _ a credible deterrent,'' the former American Red Cross president said in a telephone interview. ``A credible deterrent means you have to have confidence in that deterrent _ and that means testing.''

Dole, who lags well behind Republican front-runner George W. Bush in presidential polls, also released a statement opposing the pact. Clinton wants the treaty approved by a Sept. 23 deadline.

The 1996 treaty has been signed by 152 nations but so far ratified by only 18 of the 44 nations with nuclear capabilities. The nuclear powers must approve the pact for it to take effect.

Russia and China are among the nations that have not ratified it.

Supporters of the treaty say it would lock in U.S. superiority gained in over 1,000 nuclear tests during the Cold War, while failing to ratify the pact could open the door to nuclear tests by other nations.

Opponents argue it could threaten America's ability to deliver an effective nuclear strike, if one is ever needed. The treaty is bottled up in the Republican-led Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

The United States has not conducted a full-fledged nuclear test since 1992. Mrs. Dole said a long period of non-testing could create ``potential defects'' in the U.S. arsenal. ``Why the rush'' to sign a treaty? Mrs. Dole asked.