CTBTO Funding Remains in U.S. Budget

Despite Senate rejection of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in October, U.S. funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's (CTBTO) network of monitoring stations remained untouched in the Foreign Operations FY2000 Appropriations bill. Under the auspices of the CTBTO's Provisional Technical Secretariat, the International Monitoring System (IMS) and International Data Centre (IDC) are responsible for establishing the 321 monitoring sites that will track nuclear explosions and share the data on a global telecommunications network.

According to an October 29 New York Times article, a handful of senior aides to Republican senators, in an attempt to ensure the CTBT did not come up for vote in a new Congress, tried to gut funding for the monitoring system in the foreign operations bill. However, the budget passed the Senate on November 19 with no change to the $15 million appropriated for the CTBTO.

A State Department source said that there was never any real threat to the money in the budget and that the issue was "overblown" by the Times article. There is a possibility that some aides or senators will try to push the issue again in next year's budget, he said, but the funding remains intact for now.

The United States is the largest contributor to the monitoring system, accounting for about 25 percent of the CTBTO's total operating budget of $75 million, with Japan, France, the United Kingdom and Germany also contributing significant amounts. In addition to the $15 million included in the foreign operations bill, the Pentagon budgets an average of $5 million per year for the IMS.

The verification regime, which was formed in 1995 during treaty negotiations, will be completed around 2001, according to the CTBTO. One hundred of the 321 monitoring stations already operational and transmitting data through the global network. Ninety countries will host stations upon completion, including China, Argentina, Russia and Italy.