For Immediate Release: Dec. 6, 2011
Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director, Arms Control Association, and publisher, Arms Control Today (202-463-8270, ext. 107)
(Washington, D. C.) Today, the Indonesian parliament approved the ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear weapons test explosions and establishes a global system for detecting and deterring clandestine test explosions.
"Fifteen years since negotiations on the Test Ban Treaty were concluded, the long journey to end testing is not over, but with Indonesian ratification we are one step closer," said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the U.S.-based, independent Arms Control Association and coordinator of the Project for the CTBT, which brings together a network of over 50 nongovernmental organizations that support a permanent global ban on nuclear testing.
"We welcome Indonesia's action, which should create new momentum toward the realization of the CTBT," said Kimball.
Global support for the CTBT is widespread, but formal entry into force requires that a specific group of 44 states named in Annex 2 of the treaty have ratified. Eight more Annex 2 states must still ratify the treaty, including the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, Egypt, Iran, and North Korea.
"Ratification by the United States and China is particularly important. Given their existing nuclear test moratoria and 1996 signature of the CTBT, Washington and Beijing already bear most CTBT-related responsibilities, yet their failure to ratify has denied them--and others--the full security benefits of CTBT entry into force."
On Nov. 28 the former head of the U.S. National Security Administration Linton Brooks said: "... as a practical matter, it is almost certain that the United States will not test again. The political bar against testing is extremely high. I have been in and out of government for a long time. And in recent years I never met anybody who advocated that we seek authorization to return to testing."
Under the CTBT, the established nuclear-weapon states would be barred from proof-testing new, more sophisticated nuclear warhead designs. Without the option of nuclear explosive testing, newer testing nations cannot perfect smaller, more easily deliverable warheads. With the CTBT in force, global and national capabilities to detect and deter possible clandestine nuclear testing by other states will be significantly greater and short-notice, on-site inspections can be used to investigate suspicious events.
"While it might be possible to sustain the voluntary moratorium undertaken by the nuclear testing states for some years, the risk of a resumption of testing other nuclear weapons armed states will only grow over time," Kimball said.
"Also, concerns about clandestine nuclear testing might arise that could not be resolved in the absence of inspections provided for under the treaty. Failure to ratify the CTBT would increase uncertainty and weaken U.S. security," he warned.
In his address before the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, U.S. President Barack Obama said "America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons ...." Earlier this year President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China issued a joint statement expressing support for early entry into force of the Treaty.
"We welcome the positive statements from President Barack Obama and President Hu Jintao for CTBT entry into force, but it would be better if they took concrete action toward approval of ratification by their legislatures," said Kimball.
"To indicate the seriousness of his intentions and to sustain the effort, we call on President Obama to promptly name a senior, high-level White House CTBT coordinator," Kimball said.
"Such efforts take time and may not show results in the next several months," he noted. "But to build the support necessary for U.S. ratification, the Obama administration can and must begin to make the case for the Treaty now."
"As the Obama administration provides updated information, senators have a responsibility to take a serious look at the merits of the treaty in light of the new evidence and not rush to judgment on the basis of old or misleading information," Kimball urged.
"Much has changed since the brief Senate debate on the CTBT in late-1999," Kimball noted. "As George Shultz, President Ronald Reagan's Secretary of State, said in April 2009, '[Republicans] might have been right voting against [the CTBT] some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now, based on these new facts.... [There are] new pieces of information that are very important and that should be made available to the Senate.'"
"U.S. and Chinese ratification is essential and would prompt action by the other CTBT hold out states," Kimball said.
The prospect of U.S. ratification of the CTBT has already begun to spur new thinking in India. In an August 30, 2009 interview in The Hindu, India's then-National Security Advisor M. K. Narayanan said: "As of now, we are steadfast in our commitment to the moratorium. At least there is no debate in the internal circles about this." Asked if India would have no problem signing the treaty if the others whose ratification is required for the CTBT to enter into force -- especially the U.S. and China -- did so, Mr. Narayanan responded: "I think we need to now have a full-fledged discussion on the CTBT. We'll cross that hurdle when we come to it."
CTBT ratification by Israel, Egypt and Iran would help reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns in the region. It would also help create the conditions necessary for the realization of a Middle East Zone free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction.
"Iran was at one time an active participant in the CTBT negotiations and on September 24, 1996 it signed the treaty," Kimball noted. "And today, Iranian ratification would help reduce concerns that its nuclear program could be used to develop and deploy deliverable nuclear warheads. Continued failure by Iran to ratify the CTBT raises further questions about the nature of its sensitive nuclear activities, which remain under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency."
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The Arms Control Association (ACA) is an independent nongovernmental organization dedicated to addressing the challenges posed by the world's most dangerous weapons. Arms Control Today is the monthly journal of the Arms Control Association.