The CTBT is back on the U.S. political agenda

Barack Obama supports ratification of the CTBT.

President-elect Obama supports the CTBT

"As president, I will reach out to the Senate to secure the ratification of the CTBT [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty] at the earliest practical date and will then launch a diplomatic effort to bring onboard other states whose ratifications are required for the treaty to enter into force." In a survey on the presidential candidate's positions on arms control and non-proliferation issues conducted by the Arms Control Association in September, Barack Obama reiterated his clear support for entry into force of the CTBT.

Read the full survey here

New bipartisan report recommends CTBT ratification

The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), the American Physical Society (APS), and the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) established a working group, bringing together former nuclear weapons lab directors, scientists, military leaders, and public officials, "chosen to represent a diversity of views across the political spectrum." Their report, titled "Nuclear Weapons in 21st Century U.S. National Security," recommends that the U.S. "re-establish its global leadership in nuclear nonproliferation, arms control, and disarmament matters" through "a centrist package of nuclear initiatives," which includes ratifying the CTBT.

Read the full report here


Support for the CTBT from Shultz, Perry, Kissinger and Nunn

U.S. senior statesmen George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn support U.S. ratification of the CTBT. In a joint op-ed published in The Wall Street Journal on 15 January 2008, the four statesmen renewed their call for a nuclear-weapon-free world by supporting, among other measures, the adoption of a process for bringing the CTBT into effect “…which would strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities.”

Read the full article here

Gates: U.S. "probably should" ratify CTBT

In a policy address on nuclear weapons and deterrence delivered at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D.C., Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that the U.S. "probably should" ratify the CTBT "if there are adequate verification measures".

Read the full transcript here

Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts)

Kerry to chair Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Supports CTBT Ratification

The Boston Globe reports that Senator John Kerry (D-Massachusetts) will be named chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the body responsible for investigating the CTBT and sending it to the senate floor for a vote on ratification.

In a September 2008 hearing, Kerry said: "The new president should urge the Senate to ratify a treaty banning nuclear weapons testing...there needs to be a massive, new commitment to the counterproliferation and testing ban efforts...the nuclear issue has to be much more front and center in the next administration."

Kerry has also written an op-ed in the Financial Times, in which he outlines steps towards a world free of nuclear weapons, which include ratification of the CTBT.

Read the op-ed here

Interim Congressional Report: Stockpile Stewardship Program "a remarkable success"

On December 15, 2008, the Congressional Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States submitted an interim report to members of Congress. The report describes the Stockpile Stewardship Program (SSP), aimed at ensuring the reliability of the stockpile in the absence of nuclear testing, as "a remarkable success". According to the report, the maintenance "a robust SSP would be prerequisite for ratification of the Treaty [CTBT] ...Also fundamental to the continuing effectiveness of the stockpile is the long-term stability of plutonium, which was unknown at the time of the signing of the CTBT."

Read the full report here


The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Effectively Verifiable

David Hafemeister, science affiliate at Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation, reviews recent political developments regarding the CTBT in the United States and provides an overview of the progress in the CTBT's verification regime since the U.S. Senate voted on the treaty in 1999.

Read the full analysis here

An atmospheric transport scenario for a joint WMO-CTBTO exercise in 2007.

Major step forward in detecting nuclear explosions

The ability to detect the location of possible nuclear explosions was significantly enhanced following the provisional entry into operation of a joint response system of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on 1 September 2008.

Read the press release here

A ground penetrating radar is prepared during the on-site inspection exercise.

On-Site Inspection Exercise IFE08 concludes successfully

The first ever integrated on-site inspection exercise, the Integrated Field Exercise 2008 (IFE08), was conducted in September. 200 participants and 50 tonnes of equipment were involved in what was the largest and most comprehensive on-site inspection exercise the CTBTO has so far conducted. It took place in one of the most remote places in the world, the former Soviet nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk in Kazakhstan.

Read more here


China committed to early ratification of the CTBT

At the latest session of the United Nations General Assembly's First Committee, China reiterated its support for the CTBT: "China actively promotes the early entry into force of the CTBT. China commits itself to the early ratification of the CTBT. China also actively takes part in the preparatory work for the CTBTO. Before the entry into force of the CTBT, China will honor its commitment of moratorium on nuclear test."

Read the full statement here

Experts such as Hans Blix and David Hafemeister expect China and others to ratify once the U.S. has done so. The other seven States that still have to ratify the CTBT before it can enter into force are: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and Pakistan.

Diplomatic Sources: If U.S. Ratifies CTBT, Israel Will Follow Suit

Mark Hibbs of Nucleonics Week reports that if the U.S. Senate ratifies the CTBT, Israel will follow suit in an effort to get the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) to lift its trade embargo against Israel. According to diplomatic sources, senior officials have urged Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to ratify the CTBT to help make the case that Israel's nonproliferation credentials are stronger than India's. The latter has received an NSG exemption thanks to strong U.S. backing, but has yet to sign and ratify the CTBT.

Nucleonics Week, Volume 49 / Number 48 / November 27, 2008, p. 7 (subscription only)

Former Secretary of Defense Willam Perry.

The 2008 Ministerial Meeting: A Message of Hope and Peace

United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, former U.S. Defense Secretary William Perry and U.N. Messenger of Peace and actor Michael Douglas were keynote speakers at a meeting of around 40 foreign ministers to promote the early entry into force of the CTBT. Many speakers highlighted the crucial role of the United States in the process of entry into force of the CTBT. As Maxime Verhagen, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, stated "Ratification by such a key Annex 2 State would be an important turning point".

Read more here

CTBT: Now More than Ever

In the latest issue of Arms Control Today, Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl Kimball proposes concrete steps for the incoming administration to promote ratification of the CTBT: "Obama should reiterate his commitment to CTBT ratification and appoint a senior official, backed with interagency support and resources, to coordinate the effort." Kimball also urges the administration to
"avoid the temptation to pursue unnecessary compromise measures" such as the reliable replacement warhead.


Read the full article here

Brookings President: How the U.S. can fix its damaged reputation abroad

Strobe Talbott, president of the Brookings Institution and former U.S. Deputy Secretary of State, comments on the challenges facing the new U.S. President. According to the author, these will include restoring U.S. credibility in the field of nuclear disarmament and arms control by working towards ratification of the CTBT.

Read the full article here