Mauritania became the 100th ratifier of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) April 30, almost seven years after the landmark arms control agreement was opened for signature. Kuwait quickly followed as the 101st ratifier May 6.
The CTBT, which opened for signature September 24, 1996, currently has 167 signatories. Of those countries, 44 designated “nuclear-capable states” must ratify it before the treaty can enter into force. Of the 44 specified countries, India, Pakistan, and North Korea still have not signed, and only 31 have ratified the treaty. Nuclear-weapon states China and the United States are among the notable signers that have yet to ratify the agreement.
The new ratifications came amid a busy season for the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), which oversees the development of verification mechanisms to ensure treaty compliance. In late March, Ambassador Wolfgang Hoffmann, head of the CTBTO, visited the Russian nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya. Hoffmann praised Russia’s cooperation with overflights of the site and interviews with scientists. The Novaya Zemlya site, along with the U.S. Nevada test site and China’s Lop Nor test site, continues to perform subcritical nuclear-weapon tests. (See ACT, May 2003.)