Bush Requests Funds for CTBT Monitoring

The Bush administration has requested funds in its fiscal year 2003 budget submission to Congress for the development of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s (CTBT) International Monitoring System, which is intended to detect and thereby deter clandestine nuclear testing. However, the administration is modestly reducing its contribution to the Vienna-based preparatory commission for the CTBT Organization, which is working to establish the monitoring network and make other preparations for the treaty’s entry into force.

In keeping with an August decision to end support for activities related to on-site inspections, the 2003 budget request includes $18.2 million to support the monitoring system but does not fund the preparatory commission’s other activities, which are largely inspection related and comprise about 5 percent of the commission’s budget. A State Department official indicated in an interview that, because the commission will not submit its budget for 2003 until the end of 2002, the requested sum is an estimate based on previous allocations as well as the decision not to fund inspection-related activities.

The 2003 figure is a modest reduction from Congress’ fiscal year 2002 allocation of $20 million for the commission. The administration has yet to submit the 2002 funds to the commission or to decide exactly how much of the funding it will actually deliver, according to the official. The amount it sends to the commission will not include funds for inspection-related activities, the official said.

CTBT member states will be able to request on-site inspections of possible clandestine nuclear tests once the treaty enters into force, and the commission has been working to establish procedures for those inspections. The administration’s decision not to fund or participate in on-site inspection-related activities stems from its decision not to seek the treaty’s entry into force. But multiple administration officials have indicated that the United States considers the monitoring system to be a useful asset in monitoring possible nuclear tests and is therefore willing to provide financial support for the network despite Washington’s lack of support for the treaty.