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Arms Control Association Launches Project for the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty with New, In-Depth Report and Web Site

For Immediate Release: February 16, 2010

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, (202-463-8270 x107); Tom Z. Collina, Research Director (202-463-8270 x104).

(Washington, D.C.) Today, the nonpartisan research and policy advocacy organization Arms Control Association (ACA) released a new report detailing the case for U.S. ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and announced a new web site featuring information and resources on nuclear testing and the CTBT.

The report, "Now More Than Ever: The Case for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," is available online from www.ProjectfortheCTBT.org.

"Our new report underscores the fact that there is no technical or military reason to resume U.S. nuclear weapons testing and advances in test ban monitoring make the treaty effectively verifiable," said Daryl G. Kimball, ACA's executive director and Project for the CTBT coordinator.

"At the same time, it is in U.S. national security interests to prevent others from conducting nuclear tests, which could allow them to prove new and advanced nuclear warhead designs.  It is past time for the administration to work with the Senate to reconsider and approve the Test Ban Treaty," Kimball said.

The United States ended new-design warhead production and halted nuclear testing in 1992. In September 1996, the United States was the first nation to sign the CTBT, which "prohibits any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion," and establishes a global monitoring network and the option of short-notice, on-site inspections to detect and deter cheating.

"Even though the United States has already assumed most CTBT-related responsibilities, it cannot reap the full security benefits of the CTBT until the Senate approves the Treaty by a two-thirds majority," Kimball said.

The CTBT now has 182 signatories but has not entered into force because the United States and eight other states, including China, Egypt, India, Iran, and Israel, have failed to ratify. The Senate briefly considered and rejected CTBT ratification in 1999.

In recent years, a growing number of bipartisan leaders and security experts-including former Secretaries of State George Shultz and Henry Kissinger, former Defense Secretaries Bill Perry and Harold Brown, former National Security Advisor Brent Scowcroft, and former NNSA Administrator Linton Brooks, and others-agree that by ratifying the CTBT, the U.S. stands to gain an important constraint on the ability of other states to build new and more deadly nuclear weapons that could pose a threat to American security.

In April 2009, President Barack Obama declared he would "immediately" and "aggressively" seek Senate reconsideration and approval of the CTBT. Convincing two-thirds of the Senate that the treaty enhances U.S. security, is effectively verifiable, and would not compromise future efforts to maintain a shrinking nuclear arsenal will be a challenge but is within the President's reach.

On Thursday, Vice President Joe Biden will deliver a speech on the Administration's approach to managing the U.S. nuclear arsenal and nuclear weapons complex and the President's nonproliferation and nuclear security agenda, including the CTBT.

"As our report documents, a major effort to refurbish warheads and modernize the weapons complex has been underway for some time. Even without the additional funding that the Obama administration has proposed for the stockpile stewardship program, confidence in the ability to maintain U.S. warheads in the absence of nuclear test explosions has been increasing," said Tom Z. Collina, ACA's Research Director and lead author of the "Now More Than Ever" report.

The report also documents the significant advances in national and international test monitoring.

"Today, no would-be violator of the CTBT could confidently conduct an undetected nuclear explosion large enough to threaten U.S. security. However, unless the United States ratifies the treaty it cannot take advantage of the international system's full benefits, such as on-site inspections," Collina said.

"Along with our Project for the CTBT partner organizations, we encourage President Obama to provide the leadership needed to advance the CTBT and we urge the Senate to take another look at the technical advances in stockpile stewardship and nuclear test monitoring and verification that make the CTBT overwhelmingly in the U.S. national security interest," said Kimball.

The Project for the CTBT aims to support and coordinate the work of more than 50 NGOs and policy, scientific and security experts in order to provide the public and policy-makers with sound information and analysis about the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

Click here to download the full report.

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