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CTBT Group of Eminent Persons Meets in Hiroshima, Calls for Fortified Effort to Accelerate Entry Into Force
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Arms Control NOW

Authored by Daryl G. Kimball on September 1, 2015

Although the vast majority of the world’s nations recognize that nuclear explosive testing is no longer acceptable, the failure to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on the part of a few Annex II states will have delayed entry into force for more than 20 years after the opening for signature of the Treaty in 1996. These states are: China, the United States, Israel, Iran, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and the Democratic Peoples Republic of North Korea.

Arms Control Association Daryl Kimball moderates a press conference at Group of Eminent Persons meeting in Hiroshima. Photo Credit: CTBTO.With enormous challenges ahead to secure the necessary signatures and ratifications, progress depends on a more energetic, more creative but pragmatic efforts on the part of “Friends of the CTBT” states and NGOs supportive of the CTBT.

The CTBT Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), formed in late-2013 to support the treaty, met August 24-25 in Hiroshima, Japan to assess the challenges and to explore strategies to help accelerate the treaty’s entry into force.

I was privileged to be invited to provide input to the GEM, which consists of a several former and current senior officials with extensive expertise and experience on nuclear testing, disarmament, and nonproliferation. Together, we visited the Hiroshima Peace Museum to reflect upon the catastrophic human impact of the first atomic bombings and to hear the utterly moving and inspiring testimony of one hibakusha survivor. 

The GEM members discussed the challenges facing the entry into force and evaluated practical options to catalyze action in the years ahead to achieve the potential of the treaty and to preserve the de facto global nuclear test moratorium that is a necessary condition for the treaty regime. 

As the GEM’s Hiroshima Declaration indicates, the current challenges facing the CTBT require more energetic, higher profile, and focused effort. 

In my view, such efforts might focus on several opportunities, including:

  • Using the upcoming Article XIV Conference on September 29 on Facilitating CTBT Entry Into Force as a launching point for a powerful, new international campaign, involving key states such as the new co-chairs of the Article XIV process (Japan and Kazakhstan), to increase the pressure on and to create the conditions for ratification by one of more key states in the near future—most notably China, Israel, Iran, and the United States.
  • Exploring new approaches to reinforce the global taboo against nuclear testing pending CTBT entry into force, including bringing together the first seven states to have openly conducted nuclear weapon test explosions to recommit to their test moratoria, to pledge not to be the first among them to resume testing, to immediately pursue tangible steps toward achieving ratification according to their respective political processes, and to encourage signature and/or ratification by the other hold-out states no later than 2020. 
  • Utilizing the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the CTBT (September 24, 2016) to raise governmental and public awareness about the dangers of nuclear testing and the resumption of nuclear testing and the value of the CTBT as a critical element in a comprehensive global strategy to achieve nuclear disarmament and to prevent proliferation. 

Without renewed action along these lines, the risk of the resumption of nuclear testing in the years ahead will only grow. Now is the time to act with renewed energy.

Daryl G. Kimball