CTBTO Funds Rebound in Bush Budget

Daryl G. Kimball

The Bush administration’s fiscal year 2007 budget re quest, unveiled Feb. 6, calls for a $19.8 million U.S. contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). That is short of the $23 million assessment that the Vienna-based organization has ascribed to the United States, but significantly higher than the current-year U.S. contribution.

Last year, the administration succeeded in overcoming Senate opposition and pushing through Congress sharp cuts in funds to the CTBTO. Lawmakers provided only $14.4 million out of $22 million requested by the CTBTO for fiscal year 2006. The administration said the cuts were a matter of tight budgets, not opposition to the CTBTO’s mission. (See ACT, December 2005.)

U.S. contributions have regularly fallen short of CTBTO assessments since the Bush administration decided in 2001 not to fund the CTBTO’s on-site inspection activities. Still, fiscal year 2005 U.S. contributions were $19 million, with most of the funds going toward the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System, a worldwide network of sensors that, when completed, will be able to detect with high confidence a nuclear test anywhere in the world. U.S. contributions amount to nearly a quarter of the CTBTO budget.

The cumulative effect of these cuts is likely to take a toll in the future if not addressed, according to sources in Vienna. These sources say the cuts will not affect the CTBTO’s work this year. But they say that if the United States does not compensate for the reduction and for past arrears in the fiscal year 2007 funding cycle, the cumulative shortfall will have a “direct impact on the ability of the organization to conduct future programs.”