Issue 17: September 2011

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In the latest issue of Spectrum, the former leader of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, calls for a total ban on nuclear testing. In his article entitled The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT): Helping to create a truly global community, Gorbachev states that we should not be content with the current virtual moratorium on nuclear testing “because commitments that are not legally binding can easily be violated.”  He urges the nine ‘rejectionist’ countries that must still ratify the CTBT to do so in order for the Treaty to enter into force.

The Prime Minister of Trinidad and Tobago, Kamla Persad-Bissessar, states that “the CTBT stands as a beacon, lighting the path towards a peaceful world, free from nuclear explosions, whether for military or for peaceful purposes. For this reason, Trinidad and Tobago signed the CTBT on 8 October 2009 and ratified it on 26 May 2010.” She also describes how CTBT monitoring data can be used for disaster mitigation, especially by providing faster tsunami warnings, and outlines efforts to establish a tsunami warning system in the Caribbean. And recognizing the vital links between women and disarmament, the article stresses Trinidad and Tobago’s belief that “all discussions on disarmament, conflict resolution and peace-building must include women to ensure an expansion of their role.”

The Dutch Foreign Minister Uri Rosenthal mentions some of the reasons that make a ban on nuclear testing more necessary than ever, such as concerns about the North Korean nuclear programme and the lack of clarity about the full extent of the Iranian nuclear programme, as well as “the danger of nuclear arms falling into the hands of non-State actors like international terrorist groups.”  Rosenthal concludes that “now is the time” for the CTBT to enter into force.    

With the Conference on Facilitating the Entry onto Force of the CTBT taking place at the UN Headquarters in New York on 23 September, the Co-Presidents of the conference, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Carl Bildt, and the Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, describe the significance of a CTBT in force. They also explain how they will promote this objective. Bildt states that “CTBT ratification should not be seen as a ‘zero sum game.’ The more States that ratify, the more all countries gain in terms of common security.” Espinosa Cantellano urges the international community to “undertake a greater commitment to convince Annex 2 States that have not signed or ratified the Treaty to do so as soon as possible.”

Twenty-five years after the Reykjavik Summit when U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet General Secretary Gorbachev almost reached an agreement on abolishing nuclear weapons, Pulitzer Prize-winning author Richard Rhodes provides a fascinating account of efforts by senior American statesmen to renew and advance the Reykjavik vision. Rhodes also refers to two op-eds in The Wall Street Journal by former U.S. Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Secretary of Defense William Perry and former Senator Sam Nunn calling for the entry into force of the CTBT, which would “strengthen the Nuclear- Non-Proliferation Treaty and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities.”

In an article entitled “Why wait? non-proliferation and disarmament expert Christine Wing maintains that if any of the non-ratifying nuclear-armed States were to adopt the CTBT before the United States, the international political context for entry into force would change instantly.  Wing explains that this is partly because the view that everything depends on the United States would need re-thinking. “But also, a decision made independently of U.S. action would affirm that the CTBT is valuable in its own right and that its implementation is trustworthy, regardless of any one State’s failure to ratify.”

Nuclear physicist and arms control expert, Patricia Lewis, talks to the Head of Public Information at the CTBTO, Annika Thunborg, about women’s involvement in disarmament and non-proliferation, progress made in establishing the CTBT verification regime, and the need for universal adherence to the CTBT. Lewis also reiterates the importance of raising awareness about the civil and scientific uses of monitoring data, concluding that: “This potential that the CTBTO can provide in terms of disaster mitigation for earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic eruptions for ordinary people is fundamental for people living in all corners of the world.”

On the verification side, Spectrum 17 features an article by Michael Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). Jarraud outlines the fruitful collaboration between WMO and CTBTO, describing how the two organizations have worked particularly closely since a joint response system entered into provisional operation in 2008 which “successfully underwent a major test in March 2011 in the context of the dramatic events in Japan.” Jarraud stresses that in the aftermath of nuclear facility accidents “it is critically important to track radioactive material dispersion effectively.”

Two radionuclide experts, Wolfgang Weiss and Gerhard Wotawa, offer their own evaluations of the important role played by the CTBTO in monitoring the worldwide dispersal of radiation from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident. Describing the ‘stress test’ that the International Monitoring System’s radionuclide network underwent after the accident, Weiss explains that the network performed extremely well and that “The CTBTO contributed to the better understanding of the situation outside Japan by predicting the global dispersion of radioactive material based on its Atmospheric Transport Modelling tool.”

Referring to the “usefulness, reliability and relevance of CTBTO radionuclide data,” Wotawa urges that the data are accessible in the future during accident scenarios: “Without the data, many conclusions at the beginning would not have been possible.”

Editorial 2 [PDF]
Treaty signatures and ratifications (as of 7 September 2011) 3 [PDF]
Article XIV Conference (AFC) 2011 - Promoting Entry into Force
Interviews with AFC Co-Presidents Carl Bildt, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Sweden and Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, Secretary of Foreign Affairs of Mexico
4 [PDF]
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Helping to create a truly global community
by Mikhail Gorbachev, former leader of the Soviet Union
7 [PDF]
Trinidad and Tobago's long standing support for an international non-proliferation regime
by Kamla Persad-Bissessar, Prime Minister of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago
9 [PDF]
Getting to grips with the nuclear paradox
by Uri Rosenthal, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands
11 [PDF]
Reflections on gender, the CTBTO and the nuclear "Danse Macabre"
Interview with Patricia Lewis, Deputy Director of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies
13 [PDF]
Why wait?
by Christine Wing, Center on International Cooperation, New York University
16 [PDF]
A tribute to Americans who campaigned for an end to nuclear testing 18 [PDF]
Revisiting Reykjavik Revisited: The 25th anniversary of a remarkable meeting
by Richard Rhodes, Pulitzer Prize Winner
20 [PDF]
Status of certified IMS facilities (as of 3 September 2011) 23 [PDF]
A successful partnership in Atmospheric Transport Modelling
by Michel Jarraud, Secretary-General of the World Meteorological Organization
24 [PDF]
The global dimensions of atmospheric radioactivity detection: Experience and conclusions after the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident
by Wolfgang Weiss, Federal Office for Radiation Protection, Germany
27 [PDF]
The Fukushima disaster, the importance of CTBTO data and the need for an open data and information policy
by Gerhard Wotawa, Central Institute for Meteorology and Geodynamics (ZAMG), Austria
30 [PDF]