Nothing to lose: the CTBT and US ratification

20 Aug

In September last year we discussed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and made the ironic connection that despite nuclear weapon testing having largely ceased, key states remain reluctant to sign the treaty. Indonesia has since ratified. That now leaves eight Annex Two states to ratify for the treaty to come into force.

So how about the US?

The US signed the CTBT in 1996 but was rejected by the senate three years later so has never been ratified. Back then, reservations were about US nuclear reliability (the potential need for future testing) and the difficulty of verification (how to ensure that other states abide by the treaty).

Since then, major strides have been made at both domestic and international level so these reservations can now safely be put aside. The National Research Council and the Stockpile Steward Program conclude that new technological capacity has advanced so far that physical testing is now unnecessary. Global monitoring for verification is also sufficient: with over 330 monitoring facilities having been brought together under the CTBTO umbrella. Sixty-one of these detected North Korea’s 1996 underground test.

Now without any excuse the US should go ahead and ratify the long overdue treaty. President Obama had ratification on the agenda early in his administration (during his famous Prague speech) but this was not realized. Many now believe that an Obama second term could see CTBT ratification returned to the agenda. A Romney administration could and should and could also pursue this.

The US would be placed in a better position should the treaty come into force, as global nuclear monitoring has the potential to become very powerful. And just to top things off, the US has not physically tested any nuclear weapon since 1992. There’s nothing to lose.

– Kees Keizer

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One Response to “Nothing to lose: the CTBT and US ratification”

  1. Private Security Company December 2, 2012 at 10:05 am #

    Its nice to finally see a blog like this! I can’t tell you how long i’ve been looking LOL

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