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August 27, 2018
Congress Cuts CTBTO Funding

Jacob Parakilas

Congress on Nov. 10 approved a Bush administration request to cut the U.S. contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) by nearly $5 million in fiscal year 2006. The Senate had tried to restore the funding over the summer, but after opposition from the House a final appropriations bill passed with the cuts included.

For fiscal year 2005, the U.S. contribution to the CTBTO was $19 million, which is more than that of any other state and a significant portion of the organization’s $105 million budget. The United States, which signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in September 1996, has continued to support the organization—despite the Senate’s 1999 51-48 vote to reject the treaty and the Bush administration’s stated opposition to it. Much of the U.S. contribution goes toward the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System (IMS), a worldwide network of sensors that, when completed, will be able to detect a nuclear test anywhere in the world. Notably, the United States has not contributed financially to CTBTO on-site inspection preparations since 2001.

In his February budget request for the fiscal year that began in October, President George W. Bush called for a cut in the U.S. contribution to $14.4 million. The CTBTO had estimated that Washington’s appropriate share would be about $22 million. At the time, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice explained that the cuts were a matter of tight budgets, not opposition to the CTBTO’s mission. U.S. contributions have regularly fallen short of CTBTO assessments since the 2001 Bush administration decision not to fund CTBTO’s on-site inspection activities.

In a Nov. 23 written response to questions from Arms Control Today, Tibor Tóth, executive secretary of the CTBTO’s Provisional Technical Secretariat, said the cuts would hamper some operations although he was not specific about the impact.

“Each dollar in our budget corresponds to some program element or to fixed costs like salaries. Shortfalls in contributions therefore have a direct impact on the program we are able to execute,” Tóth wrote.

He added that “We hope that the shortfall we will face next year is only a temporary problem that will be rectified in the following year. That is our understanding of the explanations given on the political level.”