Point: The effort to end nuclear explosive testing has spanned five decades with efforts culminating in the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which was opened for signature in 1996.
The first nuclear explosive test was conducted by the United States on July 16, 1945. The Soviet Union followed with its first nuclear test on August 29, 1949. By the mid-1950s, the United States and the Soviet Union were both conducting high-yield thermonuclear weapon tests in the atmosphere. The radioactive fallout from those tests drew criticism from around the globe. The international community’s concern about the effects on health and the environment continued to grow. In 1954, Indian Prime ...view middle of the document...
In 1976, scientists from different countries formed the Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) and began conducting joint research into monitoring technologies and data analysis methods for the verification of a comprehensive test ban.
Almost two decades later, the Cold War ended, bringing with it increased possibilities for progress on disarmament and self-imposed testing moratoriums from the United States and the former Soviet Union. Capitalizing on this momentum, the United Nations’ disarmament body, the Conference on Disarmament (CD) in Geneva, began formal negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1994. Capitalizing on the GSE’s research, the CD was able to reach consensus on the verification regime. Other parts of the negotiations proved more difficult, but members of the CD were able to find common ground and move forward. Australia submitted the Treaty to the U.N. General Assembly, where it was adopted on September 10, 1996 and opened for signature on September 24, 1996.
Since then, 182 nations have signed the Treaty, and 156 have ratified it. Of the 44 nations whose ratifications are specifically required by the Treaty for it to enter into force, 41 have signed and 36 have ratified.
The treaty calling for a global ban on nuclear tests was rejected by the United States Senate ten years ago. Over 180 countries have signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), but nine countries still need to ratify the treaty in order for it to come into force. Deepti Choubey describes the treaty’s importance and how it impacts U.S. national security.
“If the United States is to credibly reclaim its leadership position in preventing the further spread and use of nuclear weapons, taking steps like ratifying the CTBT will start to create the conditions by which other non–nuclear-weapons states, particularly more skeptical members of the non-aligned movement, would be willing to consider additional nonproliferation obligations,” explains Choubey.
Ratifying the CTBT will provide greater leverage over states of concern and enhance international peace and security. “That is in the interest of the United States. And in that way disarmament is not altruism—disarmament by the United States is very key for our own security interests.”
Choubey addresses the following questions:
* What is the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?
* How will the CTBT impact the United States?
* Will the United States ratify the treaty?
* What are the prospects for the treaty entering into force?
* How does the treaty relate to President Obama’s goal of a world free of nuclear weapons?
* Does the CTBT influence U.S. national security?
What is the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is a global ban on all nuclear test explosions. There are 44 countries that are required to sign and ratify the treaty before it enters into force. Out of those 44, all of them have ratified...