President-elect Barack Obama's November victory represents a clear mandate for change on a number of national security issues. One of the most decisive ways in which Obama can restore U.S. nonproliferation leadership and spur action toward a nuclear-weapons-free world is to win Senate support for ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) within the next two years.
By banning the "bang," the CTBT limits the ability of established nuclear-weapon states to field new and more sophisticated warheads and makes it far more difficult for newer members of the club to perfect smaller, more easily deliverable warheads. The CTBT is one of the key disarmament commitments made by the nuclear-weapon states at the 1995 and 2000 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) review conferences. (Continue)
It was a clear and sunny day when the earth shook in Arcania. Several seismic stations that are part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) that is monitoring compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) picked up the event a short time later and transmitted the data in near real time to Vienna. There, the International Data Center of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) determined that the seismic event on Aug. 22 had a magnitude of 4.05 and placed it in the middle of the so-called Barrier Zone, where Arcania had conducted several nuclear test explosions in the 1970s and 1980s. Arcania claimed to have closed its nuclear test site in 1989 and stated that an earthquake triggered the seismic network. But Arcania’s neighboring state and regional competitor, Fiducia, remained apprehensive, not least because it had obtained its own information about suspicious activities prior to Aug. 22 in the Barrier Zone. Because both states are CTBT members, Fiducia requested an on-site inspection (OSI) to clarify what happened in Arcania on Aug. 22. That request was granted, and a team of international inspectors from 22 different countries began assembling immediately in Vienna. (Continue)
In October 1999, the U.S. Senate declined to consent to ratification of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). Although the floor debate itself was so short as to be perfunctory, verification concerns played a role in the Senate’s action. At the time, some senators contended that the treaty’s verification provisions were inadequate to deal with potential cheating, despite assertions to the contrary by the White House. Since then, the Bush administration has refused to reconsider the CTBT, despite widespread, almost unanimous international support for the pact. (Continue)
An article by Daryl G. Kimball for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's Spectrum magazine published in the September 2008 edition.