Support for the CTBT in Munich

Support for the CTBT at the Munich Security Conference

Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament were key topics at the Munich Security Conference from 6 to 8 February. Several of the international leaders present made reference to the CTBT. Russian Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov explicitly called upon all States that have not yet ratified the CTBT to do so as soon as possible.

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New Publication: "Nuclear Test Ban - Converting Political Visions to Reality"

Three highly knowledgeable experts on the CTBT from Sweden, Norway and The Netherlands have co-authored a book on the CTBT: “Nuclear Test Ban - Converting Political Visions to Reality”. The Foreign Ministers of the authors' home countries have jointly described the book as "an excellent overview of the evolution of the CTBT and its verification regime." The 250-page book was formally presented to the public at a reception on 26 February at the Swedish Ambassador’s residence in Vienna, Austria.

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CTBTO Adapting to Current Developments

In light of current global developments, the CTBTO is taking a close look at its priorities for the coming years. The more favourable political environment towards the CTBT including within the United States, and the world financial crisis, are some of the main factors that have led to this fresh look. The verification-related aspects of this were discussed by Member States at the meeting of the CTBTO’s Working Group on verification issues (WGB), which concluded on Friday 27 February 2009.

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A Fresh Start for Disarmament Policy

For Germany's Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, there is a clear link between non-proliferation and disarmament: "The further spread of nuclear weapons can only be prevented if the nuclear powers agree to reduce their arsenals." In his op-ed in the German newspaper Süddeutsche, Steinmeier welcomes the new U.S. administration's intention to submit the CTBT to the Senate for ratification as one of the steps necessary for entering into a new era: "an era of overcoming nuclear challenges through cooperation."

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IAEA DG Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei: A Recipe for Survival

IAEA Director-General Dr. Mohamed ElBaradei warns that the nonproliferation regime is currently starting to "come apart at the seams". ElBaradei identifies "an emerging consensus on what could and should be done" to address the threat of nuclear proliferation. He enumerates seven measures to that end, the first one being: "Bring the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force and ban the development of new nuclear weapons."

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Learning Not to Love the Bomb

According to Philip Taubman, consulting professor at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, the threat of nuclear terrorism can best be countered by strenghtening the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, also through ratification of the CTBT. The authors refers to leading scientists having confirmed the CTBT's verifiability as well as the U.S. technical expertise and tools to maintain the effectiveness of its nuclear weapons without underground testing.

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The United States and the CTBT: Renewed Hope or Politics as Usual?

Sean Dunlop and Jean DuPreez from the Monterey Institute of International Studies present an in-depth study of the 1999 Senate debate on the CTBT. The changes that have occurred over the last decade are analyzed, also with regard to the evolution of the CTBT's verfication regime and the U.S. stockpile stewardship program. As for the political support for the CTBT, "a growing number of realists in the defense, policy, and scientific communities recognize that ratification is in the U.S. national interest."

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Science Continues to Have Key Nonproliferation Role, Experts Say

In his article in the Nuclear Threat Initiative's Global Security Newswire, Chris Schneidmiller identifies "an 'abysmal' level of scientific knowledge in Congress and at large in the political sphere of Washington." The author quotes key congressional staff and think tank members explaining why scientific knowledge is especially important with regard to arms control and verification. The CTBT's International Monitoring System, which "clearly identified North Korea's nuclear test in October 2006", is cited as an example.

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Getting to Zero

Michael Krepon of the the Henry L. Stimson Center writes about the changing international perception of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  According to Krepon, identifying practical steps and developing adequate measuring techniques are essential steps in sustaining progress towards better international nuclear security.  Ratification of the CTBT is one of the practical and essential short-term steps.

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Advances in Monitoring Nuclear Weapon Testing

Columbia University Professor Paul G. Richards and Doherty Senior Research Scientist Won-Young Kim illustrate how the current International Monitoring System (IMS) seismic component is able to detect low-yield explosions anywhere on Earth.  According to the authors, any explosion that is under the detectable yield would have no military application.  The IMS seismic system’s ability to differentiate confidently between a nuclear explosion and any other sort of seismic event is also discussed.

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Nuclear Testing Is an Acceptable Risk for Arms Control

In this article, the editors of Scientific American argue why the CTBT is in the security interest of the United States. The authors refer to a 2002 report by the National Academy of Science (NAS), according to which even the worst-case scenario under the CTBT by far preferable to the present situation without a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing and the consequential risk of proliferation.

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Refurbished W76 Warhead Enters U.S. Nuclear Weapon Stockpile

According to a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) press release, the U.S. Navy has recently accepted its first refurbished W-76 nuclear warhead (image: the warheads inside re-entry vehicles) back into its stockpile. The W-76 nuclear warheads are deployed on the U.S. Navy's Trident submarine-based missiles and entered into service in 1976.  The NNSA underlines that this event marks a milestone in maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal without additional explosive nuclear testing or replacement weapon production.

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