US senior statesmen and others support the entry into force of the CTBT

US senior statesmen and others support the entry into force of the CTBT

"We must work to bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force - in the United States and in other key states. [This and other measures] will help reverse the spread of nuclear weapons, … reduce the risk of nuclear use, … inspire greater cooperation, and… help build a foundation of cooperation and trust - among the United States, Russia and China, and all nuclear weapons states."

With these words, former US Senator Sam Nunn, addressed the over 100 participants in an international conference on nuclear disarmament in Oslo on 26-27 February 2008.

The conference entitled "Achieving the vision of a world free of nuclear weapons" thrusts the so-called Reykjavik Revisited initiative into an international setting for the first time. "Reykjavik Revisited" refers to the summit between Presidents Ronald Reagan and Michael Gorbachev in 1986. At the summit the two leaders put forward the vision of eliminating nuclear weapons altogether.

Twenty years later, this vision has become a concrete initiative for achieving a world free of nuclear weapons. This initiative is led by former US foreign and defense policy leaders George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn, and has been endorsed by about 40 influential policy makers in the United States. In January 2007, the group published its second article in the Wall Street Journal, in which they, among other measures, supported the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The significance of ending all nuclear testing and bringing the CTBT into force was emphasized in many statements at the conference.

"The path ahead is clear: We must consolidate the ban on nuclear testing, securing the entry into force of the CTBT and maintaining support for the CTBTO," the host of the conference, Norway's Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre said in his welcoming remarks.

"The CTBT - signed more than a decade ago and seen by some as the longest sought, hardest fought arms control agreement - must be brought into force as soon as possible," IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei said in his keynote speech.

"The most urgent step now is to bring the CTBT into force, Hans Blix, chairman of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission, said. "The Treaty is there, it has a strong verification regime, and its entry into force would benefit international and regional security and help strengthening the non-proliferation regime."

The United States and Russia should take the lead and "adopt a process for bringing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into effect, which would strengthen the [Non-Proliferation Treaty] and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities," said Sidney Drell, professor emeritus of theoretical physics at Stanford University and one of the architects of "Reykjavik Revisited".

The CTBTO verification regime has improved significantly in the last ten years, Drell emphasized, adding that "it impressively displayed its sensitivity in rapidly locating, identifying and measuring the yield of last year's test by North Korea. … The CTBTO is putting in place new monitoring stations to detect nuclear tests - an effort the U.S. should urgently support even prior to ratification."

"A review of the past decade's developments shows that …the CTBT is effectively verifiable," Raymond Jeanloz, professor of earth and planetary sciences at University of California at Berkely, wrote in an analysis.

The "CTBT verification regime set up to make sure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected, proved its worth in October 2006 when the DPRK announced that it had conducted a nuclear test", CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth confirmed in a statement. "The explosion was low yield, the international monitoring system only 60% completed, and the noble gas system only 25% completed at that time. Despite all this, the system not only successfully detected and analyzed the explosion, but also showed that its verification capabilities were significantly better than what had been envisaged by the Treaty negotiators in 1996. The CTBT verification regime, together with the Safeguards regime of the IAEA, demonstrates that nuclear activities can be monitored."

To read the full statement please click here (NEED TO UPDATE).

"Although the United States is only one of nine, its ratification is widely seen as the key to breaking the entry-into-force logjam, Robert Einhorn, former assistant secretary for non-proliferation in the US Department of State, said, referring to the nine countries that have yet to ratify the Treaty so that it can enter into force. In addition to the United States, these countries are: China, the DPRK, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, and Pakistan. "The next US president "should take the time needed to build wide support in the Senate and American public."

The entry into force of the CTBT "requires a strong effort by all", Annalisa Giannella, the EU's representative on non-proliferation, said. "The CTBT is not in force. Those who have not ratified play the game of subordinating their ratification to the ratification of others. This is a recipe for paralysis. The CTBT is a very significant step, and a strong symbolic step, on the way to disarmament."

"Non-Nuclear Weapon States must not only maintain the pressure … for the states concerned to sign and ratify the CTBT so as to bring it into force, but those Non-Nuclear Weapon States among the nine - Iran, Egypt and Indonesia - must honour their obligation to ratify the Treaty", Jayantha Dhanapala, former UN under-secretary general for disarmament affairs said. "They must all also participate in the verification network - the International Monitoring System - which successfully detected the DPRK explosion. Thus the recent actions of Malaysia and Colombia to ratify the CTBT must be welcomed."

"To take disarmament seriously requires that we begin taking concrete steps now to sustain our vision and build momentum behind it." Foreign Minister Støre said in his concluding remarks.

"This means [among other things] fulfilling the promise of long-sought agreements like the CTBT […] And to insure the necessary confidence …, we must be willing to undertake binding agreements with credible verification."

To read more about the conference and the statements made there, please go to http://disarmament.nrpa.no/?page_id=6

All images courtesy of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Norway.