1993-95: Prelude and formal negotiations

1993-95: Prelude and formal negotiations

Post Cold-War Progress toward International Agreements on Arms Control

In 1992, following the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the cessation of Cold War hostilities, the Conference on Disarmament successfully negotiated the Convention on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (CWC). This achievement helped foster a sense of optimism in the international community that real progress towards nuclear disarmament was possible.

With several testing moratoriums in place, there also appeared a genuine moment of opportunity with which test ban supporters could finally push for a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was seen as necessary first step towards dismantling the strategic nuclear weapon defense machinery of the Cold War. With the non-aligned countries at the forefront, NNWS began to pressure NWS to take steps towards fulfilling their disarmament obligations outlined in the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

There appeared a genuine moment of opportunity with which
Non Nuclear Weapon States (NNWS) could finally push for
a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was
a necessary first step towards dismantling the strategic
nuclear weapon defense machinery of the Cold War.

The Group of Scientific Experts (GSE)

Throughout the Cold War, there had been many attempts at concluding a comprehensive test ban treaty. Nevertheless, during these years not only the hardened realities of realpolitik in geo-strategic policymaking, but also scientific and technical disagreements over verification methods, precluded the successful conclusion of a CTBT.

For this reason, the Swedish Defense Research Institute (SDRI) put forth the idea of creating a Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) to study the technical aspects of monitoring for nuclear explosions in the early 1970s. In an unprecedented move, the Conference on Disarmament made the decision to grant the GSE with a long-term mandate to study the issue.

The Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) cont.

In an interview with the CTBTO, Dr. Ola Dahlman, who chaired the GSE from 1982-1996 and would later chair the CTBTO Preparatory Commission’s Working Group on verification issues from 1996-2006, specified three examples of how the GSE had contributed to the success of the CTBT.

First, because political progress had been slow during the Cold War, the GSE was able to design and test technical features of the seismic monitoring system. Second, 30 to 40 countries met regularly in Geneva to conduct hands-on work, which built confidence in the system and reinforced the global nature of the verification regime.

Third, the GSE’s work was “one big training exercise.” Through global training courses, GSE members built on their knowledge of the four technologies (i.e., seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide), and educated each other on how to incorporate them into a global nuclear explosion detection system.

The work of the Group of Scientific Experts was »one big
training exercise« where they could build on their
knowledge of the four verification technologies and
educate each other on incorporating them into a
global nuclear explosion detection system. Dr Ola Dahlmann, GSE Chair 1982 - 1996

1993: The Ad Hoc Committee on a Nuclear Test Ban

At the 659th plenary meeting of the Conference on Disarmament on 10 August 1993, Member States adopted the decision to commence negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The mandate to negotiate a CTBT was given to the Ad Hoc Committee on a Nuclear Test Ban, with consultations on the structure of the negotiations to be held between 3 September 1993 and 17 January 1994.

When the CD finally decided to start the negotiations, there was already a foundation to build upon. The GSE had rigorously studied many of the technical aspects of the Treaty in the years preceding the negotiations.

Politically speaking, the NPT and the PTBT served as legal precedents with which delegates could refer to while negotiating a CTBT. Both treaties made specific mention of achieving the cessation of nuclear testing through continued negotiations between Member States.

1994: Commencement of CTBT negotiations

On 3 February 1994, negotiations on a CTBT began under the chairmanship of Miguel Marin-Bosch, a career diplomat in the Mexican Foreign Service who had followed arms control issues in New York and Geneva as well as played an important role in the 1991 Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) Amendment Conference.
Ambassador Marin-Bosch began the negotiations by announcing his intention to create working groups and expert groups that would operate in an informal atmosphere with high transparency.

Following the example set in the CWC negotiations, CTBT delegates would propose language for insertion into the Treaty text. As the delegates would certainly not agree on all proposed language, contested articles were placed in square brackets for later resolution. Emblematic of the clear divergence of opinion on substantive issues surrounding the Treaty, at one point during the negotiations an estimated 1,200 words and phrases in the rolling text remained in brackets.

Emblematic of the clear divergence of opinion on
substantive issues surrounding the Treaty, at one point
during the negotiations an estimated 1,200 words and
phrases in the rolling text remained in brackets.

1994: Creation of working groups

Two Working Groups were established on 16 February 1994. Working Group 1 was to address issues of verification, while Working Group 2 would consider legal and institutional aspects of the Treaty. Some of the issues discussed by Working Group 1 included the technologies and characteristics of the verification regime, what measures were necessary to implement the CTBT and the nature of the future international organization tasked with the administration of the CTBT. Working Group 2 dealt with the scope of the Treaty, national implementation measures, dispute resolution, entry into force, signature and ratification, as well as many other concerns.

1995: NPT Review and Extension Conference

Article X of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) stipulates that twenty-five years after the Treaty enters into force, States Parties shall hold a conference and decide whether the Treaty shall continue in force indefinitely, or shall be extended for an additional fixed period or periods.

In the build up to the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, the political environment surrounding CTBT negotiations intensified. Those who wished to see Nuclear Weapon States (NWS) make more progress towards fulfilling their obligations in the preamble as well as under Article VI of the NPT challenged states seeking to secure an indefinite extension of the NPT.

The preamble of the NPT affirms that States Parties are “to seek to achieve the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time and to continue negotiations to this end.” Article VI of the NPT obligates States Parties “to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament…”

The preamble of the NPT calls upon States Parties
“to seek to achieve the discontinuance of all test
explosions of nuclear weapons for all time …”Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (1968)

Having made these commitments 25 years ago and still waiting to see substantial progress toward these aims by NWS, NNWS were reluctant to extend the Treaty without securing additional means with which to hold NWS accountable to their disarmament obligations.

The 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference adopted an agreement that provided for the indefinite extension of the NPT. This agreement was in essence a package deal. In order for the NWS to achieve an indefinite extension, they had to make a number of concessions to the NNWS, led by the non-aligned movement.

The decisions and resolution adopted by the Conference were as follows:

  • Strengthening of the review process of the Treaty.
  • Principles and objectives on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.
  • Extension of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
  • A resolution on the Middle East.

The decision on principles and objectives on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament was comprised, inter alia, of the immediate commencement and early conclusion of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT), the completion by the Conference on Disarmament of a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) no later than 1996 and the development of nuclear-weapon-free zones.

 

Next chapter:
1994-96: Debating the basic issues