ACA’s journal, Arms Control Today, remains the best in the market. Well focused. Solidly researched. Prudent.

– Hans Blix,
former IAEA Director-General

Daryl G. Kimball

The Impact of the Iran Nuclear Deal: Fact-Checking the Fact Checkers

Squadrons of fact-checking journalists have been deployed by news organizations over the past several months trying to provide some perspective on claims about key campaign issues, including the 2015 nuclear deal between six world powers and Iran that the Barack Obama administration and former Sec. of State Hillary Clinton have claimed credit for and that the Trump-Pence campaign has criticized. Their effort to clarify the facts about these and other issues is vital to ensuring we have a more informed electorate. But sometimes the fact-checkers themselves – perhaps in their rush to provide...

It’s Time to Cut America’s Nuclear Arsenal

This op-ed originally appeared in The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. As he enters his final months in office, President Obama is still evaluating options to reduce the role and number of nuclear weapons in US strategy. His final decisions are expected before the end of October. In a recent article in the Bulletin , we argued that the president should declare that the United States would not be the first to use nuclear weapons. In addition, he should direct a reduction in the size of the US nuclear arsenal. Not only could America make significant cuts to its nuclear forces without harming...

The Debate Over Banning the Bomb

For seven decades, UN members have pushed and prodded the world’s nuclear-armed states to address the threats posed by nuclear weapons... 

By Daryl G. Kimball

For seven decades, UN members have pushed and prodded the world’s nuclear-armed states to address the threats posed by nuclear weapons. The first resolution of the UN General Assembly First Committee on international security, which was adopted in 1946, established a commission to make proposals for “the elimination from national armaments of atomic weapons and of all other major weapons adaptable to mass destruction.”

This month, for the first time, the UN will consider a resolution to launch formal, multilateral negotiations in 2017 on a “legally-binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.” Sponsored by Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa, it will likely be approved with more than 120 states in support. The proposal may allow for consideration of several options and proposals, including a ban treaty.

The UN General Assembly begins the seventy-first annual general debate on September 20. (Photo Credit: Manuel Elias/UN)The resolution follows three international conferences in 2013 and 2014 to consider the humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons use and an open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament in 2016. 

At its core, the initiative is an expression of frustration with the inability of the nuclear-armed states to follow through on their nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) Article VI disarmament commitments. Non-nuclear-weapon states argue, justifiably, that the grave risks posed by nuclear weapons underscores the need to act with greater urgency. 

In response, major nuclear-weapon states insist that the pursuit of disarmament must be “step by step,” which requires time and the right security conditions. They reject the new initiative to negotiate a ban treaty or framework for the elimination of nuclear weapons as “unrealistic.” Some U.S. officials argue it would be “polarizing and unverifiable” and distract from more effective disarmament initiatives.

The reality is that, since 2010, the pace of progress on disarmament has been underwhelming at best. For nearly two decades, the multilateral Conference on Disarmament has failed to agree to begin talks on the long-sought ban on fissile material production, as well as on other disarmament proposals, due to the blocking strategies of a few states. 

In 2013, President Barack Obama invited the Kremlin to negotiate a further one-third cut in U.S. and Russian strategic arsenals. But President Vladimir Putin has said “Nyet,” and the nuclear-armed states have failed to advance new nuclear disarmament initiatives.

Meanwhile, a new, global technological arms race is underway. Nuclear risks and tensions are growing. The United States, Russia, and the United Kingdom are poised to spend vast sums to improve and maintain their Cold War nuclear delivery systems for decades to come. Russia is believed to be developing new types of nuclear weapons. China, India, and Pakistan are also introducing new nuclear capabilities. 

Clearly, as most non-nuclear-weapon states contend, in order to attain and maintain a world free of nuclear weapons, it will be necessary, at some point, to establish a legally binding norm to prohibit such weapons. A ban treaty or framework agreement on their elimination is fundamentally consistent with the spirit of Obama’s 2009 call for action to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, and it would advance the goals of the NPT. To suggest otherwise defies common sense.

Although the world’s nuclear-armed states will likely boycott the negotiations, the process and the final product could help to further delegitimize nuclear weapons and strengthen the legal and political norm against their use—a worthy goal. 

Negotiations on a ban on nuclear weapons development, possession, and use are not a substitute for necessary, progressive steps on nuclear disarmament. Nuclear disarmament is a joint global enterprise. Nuclear- and non-nuclear-weapon states can and should do more to promote concrete action on disarmament and nonproliferation. These include verifiable cuts in nuclear arsenals, adoption of new policies that reduce the risk of nuclear use, securing a fissile cutoff and control treaty, entry into force of the global ban on nuclear testing, and measures to establish the conditions for new nuclear-weapon-free zones.

How should the United States respond? Rather than foster resentment by actively lobbying states not to vote for the resolution and participate in the negotiation, Obama administration officials and their successors should take the high road. They could simply say that, “at this time, given the global security environment, we cannot join the ban treaty but look forward to observing the negotiations and will continue to work with all states to pursue more effective, verifiable measures to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.”

Washington also can provide stronger leadership to jump-start progress on effective measures to ease nuclear tensions and reduce the role, number, and skyrocketing cost of nuclear weapons. For example, the current or next president could direct the Pentagon to trim the U.S. deployed strategic nuclear arsenal by one-third, which would still meet official U.S. deterrence requirements, regardless of whether Russia reciprocates.

Achieving and maintaining a world without nuclear weapons requires bold and sustained action. The coming ban treaty negotiations are not an all-in-one solution, but do represent an important new contribution.

Posted: September 29, 2016

Stimson-ACA Event—20 Years Later: The United States and the Future of the CTBT



Please join the Stimson Center and Arms Control Association for a briefing on the security value of the CTBT and the purpose of President Obama's UN Security Council initiative.


20 Years Later: The United States and the Future of the CTBT

Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
The Stimson Center, Washington, DC

Twenty years ago, the United States took a leading role in negotiations for a verifiable ban on the explosive testing of nuclear weapons. The result was the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which opened for signature September 24, 1996. Although the treaty has widespread domestic and global support, the CTBT has not yet entered into force because the United States and seven other key states have failed to ratify the treaty. This month, the Obama administration, along with other UN Security Council member states, are considering a resolution that reaffirms support for the global norm against nuclear testing and the eventual ratification of the CTBT.

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State
Ambassador Adam M. Scheinman, Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna
Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States
Michael Krepon, Co-Founder of the Stimson Center
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association


   FINLAY: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. My name is Brian Finlay, I'm the president and CEO here at Stimson. And on behalf of our partners and co-conveners for this event, Daryl Kimball and his colleagues at the Arms Control Association, I would very much like to welcome you here to the Stimson Center for what is, as you can see from the panel, going to be an action-packed and international discussion on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

   It's a little bit deja vu all over again when I think my being in this room with many of you previously talking about this very issue. But it's exciting to open The New York Times and The Washington Post and actually see potential progress on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

   But we, as I say, do have a very action-packed agenda. And so without further ado, I would like to welcome my colleague and the co-founder of Stimson, Michael Krepon.


   KREPON: Thanks for coming.

   For the panel today and for me and the Stimson Center's partner, Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty isn't just professional, it's personal. And everybody on this dais has been working on this treaty for 20 years or more. And we are grateful for your commitment to this treaty.

   And that's what this event is about. That's what the U.N. Security Council resolution is about. That's what the P5 statement is about next week.

   We're here to remember the value of the treaty, to recommit to its entry into force, to add propulsion to this very long and difficult process. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but tomorrow will come sooner because of the steps that will be taken in New York next week.

   We are pressed for time. Rose needs to leave us at 9:30. She has an agenda that would buckle the knees of a teenager. So I'm not going to introduce our distinguished panel. You can read their bios.

   We've asked Rose, Ambassador Kitano and Ambassador Umarov to limit their opening remarks to 10 minutes. Then Daryl will handle the Q&A. And after Rose leaves, Adam, whose commitment to this issue is as immense as anybody else, is going to fill in on the Q&A side, after you perhaps direct just a couple of questions at Rose before she leaves.

   So with that, Rose, the floor is yours.

   GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you very much, Michael.

   It's a real pleasure to be back here at the Stimson Center and also to be participating in this important event in partnership also with the Arms Control Association. So thank you for this opportunity.

   I love coming to the Stimson Center. Last time I was here it was for an important event to launch our annual publication, "To Walk the Earth in Safety." Many of you also work on the landmine clearance and unexploded ordnance of war, clearance of those kinds of tragic remnants of wars around the world. And I really always take my hat off to the commitment of the Stimson Center to so many important issues in the realm of not only weapons of mass destruction, but also disposition of conventional armaments as well.

   And I'm delighted to be here with my esteemed counterparts, Ambassador Kitano and Ambassador Umarov. This year has been such an important year for Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is the 20th anniversary of the opening of the treaty for signature, and these two countries, Japan and Kazakhstan, have been right at the heart of our commemoration, pushing every day to not only commemorate the event of the opening of the treaty for signature, but to push forward from this moment toward its entry into force.

   So I very much appreciate the work of the two ambassadors, Ambassador Kitano and Ambassador Umarov, but their countries as well. They have been great colleagues throughout this year.

   And indeed, as Michael said, next week will be an important week at the U.N. General Assembly and there will be a lot more action there with, again, Japan and Kazakhstan taking a leading role.

   Ambassador Adam Scheinman is also here. He'll be happy to take a lot of questions from you, or maybe not happy, but he's ready to take a lot of questions from you.


   SCHEINMAN: Happy, ecstatic.

   GOTTEMOELLER: I am going to have to depart right around 9:30, but I'll plan on taking one or two questions before I have to run out the door. So I apologize for that in advance.

   As we come here together to note the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the establishment of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, I'd like to begin, as I often do, by making note of the long road to complete a global ban on nuclear explosive testing.

   The CTBT is in fact the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control. And we are still fighting. We must remember how far we have come. The creation and implementation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 is a testament to what we are capable of achieving when we set our sights on a goal. That treaty provided the foundation for a total ban on nuclear explosive testing, and another step along the road, let us not forget is the entry into force in 1990 of the TTBT, the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, as well as the PNET, the ban on peaceful nuclear explosions.

   The United States is very proud of its role in the negotiation of a comprehensive ban on nuclear explosive testing, and we were proud to be the first nation to sign the CTBT after it opened for signature in 1996.

   The United States signed the CTBT because we recognized the potential of this treaty to significantly strengthen nuclear nonproliferation, thereby enhancing the security of our nation and every nation around the world.

   As the president noted in his statement for the CTBTO's June ministerial meeting, after 20 years the full potential of the CTBT remains unfulfilled, but the United States is steadfast in our support for the treaty and for the critical work of the Preparatory Commission.

   Our dedication to the treaty is demonstrated through unmatched monetary and technical support and our clear commitment to ensuring that the verification regime is completed and able to function as intended.

   It is critical that every signatory to the treaty support the work of the Preparatory Commission to complete the treaty's verification regime and help enhance the effectiveness of the provisional technical secretariat.

   We should all work to upgrade the International Data Center, the IDC, and ensure the completion of an effective, on-site inspection capability.

   Despite our clear support for the CTBT, the United States acknowledges that we have not completed our work on the ratification process and that our delay gives cover to other Annex 2 states who have not yet ratified the treaty. That is why we are building support for this treaty here at home, state by state and sometimes person by person, because we know that a global ban on nuclear explosive testing is good for our country.

   We are making it clear to the American public that our scientists and military experts agree that the CTBT is verifiable and we do not need to conduct nuclear explosive testing in order to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear stockpile.

   I won't deny that this work is difficult and that we face domestic political obstacles. That does not change the fact that this treaty is in our national security interests, and so it is incumbent upon us to convince those who doubt this fact. We are certain that we have a good case to make; we will continue to make it.

   In the meantime, it is in the U.S. national security interests to reaffirm the moratoria against nuclear explosive testing and continually increase our ability to monitor and detect nuclear explosive tests. That is why the Obama administration decided to engage with the members of the U.N. Security Council, including the five Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty nuclear weapon states, on potential steps to further reduce nuclear dangers by strengthening the international nuclear explosive detection architecture and supporting existing national moratoria on nuclear explosive tests.

   To be clear, we are not proposing and will not support the adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing legally binding prohibitions on nuclear explosive testing. Further, the resolution we have in mind would in no way be a substitute for entry into force of the CTBT, which would require, among other things, ratification by the United States with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. The administration is committed to working with the Senate to build support for ratification.

   In the meantime, it is in the U.S. national security interests to reaffirm the moratoria against explosive nuclear testing.

   In closing, I would like to say that I have always emphasized the clear national security benefits of the CTBT, and over the last few years I've personally seen the effects nuclear explosive testing has had on people and the environment. I was in the Marshall Islands on the 60th anniversary of Castle Bravo. In Alaska, I spoke with residents who said that they are worried that radiation from explosive tests there had found its way into the food chain. I spent time in southern Utah talking to ranchers who had lost their entire flocks to radiation from nuclear testing in Nevada.

   And in New Mexico, I walked the cold, hard ground at Trinity, still littered with black, glass-like particles from the test. I thought how far we have come, but how far we still have to go. In each place, people of different backgrounds support the treaty 100 percent, no matter what their background, no matter what their experience.

   The administration will continue to make the case to students, civic groups, faith-based groups, political leaders across this country. But I will say that there are those among us who already recognize the value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We need to expand that circle every day.

   Thank you very much for your attention, and I look forward to hearing from my esteemed colleagues. Thank you.

   KREPON: Thanks, Rose.

   Ambassador Kitano.

   KITANO: Thank you very much, Michael.

   And it is a great pleasure and honor for me to be here, together with the distinguished panelists and Undersecretary Rose Gottemoeller and Ambassador Kairat Umarov of Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is a country with which Japan is working very, very closely all these years in this area, and Ambassador Scheinman, it is a great pleasure.

   And many of you have a longer engagement with the CTBT. For me, at least, I can date back 20 years. I was one of the team who was involved for the Japanese signing and ratification in 1996 and 1997. So for me, it is an unfinished business.

   And as I am a participant from Vienna and a participant from Japan and I suppose my role here is to provide some of Japan's perspective and also a perspective from Vienna. Vienna is a place where CTBT organization is located. We have daily discussions on all aspects of CTBT.

   So let me start my presentation in touching upon our response to the most recent debate which happened last Friday, DPRK's fifth test. It was around 2:30 midnight or early in the morning the event happened. And immediately, an international warning system of CTBT detected this event.

   And of course, the Preparatory Commission was called to convene and a technical briefing provided. And the countries expressed their perspective on this event. And we have come up with a report and saying that many condemning the announced nuclear test and expressing grave concern over the serious, negative effect about any such test on international peace and security.

   It is needless to say that this test constituted a serious, grave threat to Japan's security. And it also undermines the peace and security of Northeast Asia and also the international community as a whole.

   And also in the context of CTBT, I would say that it is a stark reminder of the necessity of the legal, binding instrument, legally binding commitment for not to conduct nuclear tests.

   Now, having said that, I would like to touch upon the significance of CTBT in today's context. For me, the question which is in front of us is appropriate, is it in our interests to try to strengthen, enhance a set of ideas not to conduct nuclear weapon tests? You know, we can hold an international standard for not to conduct nuclear weapon.

   For me, in view of the most recent event last week, the answer is very much evident and clear. Yes, it is, it is in our interests to do so; we should aim for a set of ideas for not to conduct nuclear testing. And it is very much widely shared.

   And CTBT was established for that purpose. CTBT was very much widely shared, agreed international agreement. And it has a signing states of 183 signing states. And it has been ratified by 164 states. And this number will soon increase to 166, adding such countries as Swaziland and Myanmar.

   And as is well-known, all P5 states and nuclear weapon states under NPT, and together with India and Pakistan, declared and maintain moratoria for not to conduct nuclear tests. And it is quite widely shared ideas.

   Think about the situation if another test, a new test would be conducted anywhere in the world, whether it would be in Northeast Asia, whether it would be in South Asia, whether it would be in Middle East or anywhere else, it should most certainly exacerbate the international security situation very seriously.

   So thinking about that, I suppose it is very much important we should make efforts to enhance this set of ideas, international standards for not making, conducting nuclear test.

   But here, I have to make one very much important caveat. That is to say, what we should aim at is a legally binding commitment not to conduct nuclear testing. This should be effectuated by way of entering into force for CTBT.

   But my point is, while we strive for that, it would be in our interests to strengthen this set of ideas, an international standard not to conduct nuclear testing.

   Now, I would like to touch upon another important aspect of CTBT, and that is to say a ratification mechanism of CTBT. The idea, underlying idea of a CTBT is that we should come up with a verifiable nuclear test ban treaty, as Rose has mentioned. And for that purpose CTBT is treated in ways very much and robust, solid mechanism of verification centered on international monitoring system.

   Now, around the world there are around 300 monitoring stations. And they send data to International Data Center of CTBTO. And they gather information and analyze. It is with this system which detected all five nuclear tests of DPRK, including their most recent. So my point here is it is very much in our interests to strengthen, improve this set.

   And before I make my concluding remarks, let me and touch upon our role as what we call Article 14 co-coordinator. Article 14 is one that was a mechanism of the treaty by which co-coordinator tried to push for the process of entering into force.

   And the general image of CTBT is that the CTBT might be in limbo, nothing and not many things are happening in the ratification for the remaining eight countries, and putting aside all the effort which is conducted in the United States.

   From my standpoint (inaudible). For example, China, China had started sending data from their monitoring stations to the International Data Center of CTBT for certification.

   Thinking about Israel, and Israel's (inaudible) is that the ratification of the CTBT is not a question of why, but it is a question of when. And they could pull out specific issues that have to be addressed.

   Think about Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is one of three countries among the remaining eight and (inaudible) countries who have not signed the treaty. But Pakistan gained the status of observer and status of CTBT, they are part of the discussion of CTBTO in that capacity. And it was quite recent that they made a proposal and was calling to India why not making one step forward for the nuclear test moratorium.

   So things are happening. So in our role, Kazakhstan and Japan, what we are trying to do is trying to gather this momentum and trying to channel that in the right direction.

   And concluding remarks, maybe I would like to mention two things. The role of the U.S. is very much important. Japan, and I personally, appreciated, welcomed all the effort it has made and U.S. is making and U.S. is going to make and, of course, the advancement of CTBT.

   And why I say this, it is not only from disarmament nonproliferation standpoint we are saying, it is based on security considerations we are saying that, too. And as you can see, in my presentation I made reference to DPRK issues, which is national security issues. As you would understand.

   The last one pitch I would like to make is the significance of this year, and this year is the 20th year anniversary of this opening for signature for CTBT. As I said, in Vienna there is a strong sense that it is unfinished business, let us finish what we have started 20 years.

   And what happened this year, two rounds of nuclear tests. This is very much in a way we would like to condemn it, but it is also a wake-up call, and it gives at least us a very important message. So what our role is now, to take that message and try to transfer it, bring it to action.

   Thank you very much for your attention.

   KREPON: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

   Ambassador Umarov.

   UMAROV: It's a pleasure to be here at the Stimson Center.

   And thank you, Michael and Daryl, for inviting me to speak today as part of this distinguished panel.

   It's quite symbolic that this event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the CTBT coincides with the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site in Kazakhstan.

   These two important events are very much linked. By closing one of the world's largest test sites, Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, made history as the first to legally ban nuclear tests.

   It wasn't long before other nuclear states or nuclear test sites followed Semipalatinsk, creating a unique condition needed to ensure the ban for nuclear tests becoming a global phenomenon.

   The day the test site was closed, August 29th, 1991, paved the way for adoption of the CTBT. It is very symbolic that August 29th is recognized by the U.N. as the international day against nuclear tests and is commemorated across the world annually.

   Another well-known initiative of Kazakhstan, it is the ATOM Project, which stands for Abolish Testing Our Mission. The project is aimed at creating global awareness and support for a final and irrevocable nuclear test ban. It engages hundreds of thousands of general public across the world by explaining the consequences of nuclear tests. It encourages anyone who opposes the nuclear weapons to sign an online petition urging their governments to abandon nuclear testing permanently and help to ensure the CTBT is achieved.

   At the beginning of this year, my president actually introduced a new and very interesting, I think, initiative, the Manifesto: The World. The 21st Century.

   In this vision and document, my president suggests that the international community should stop being complacent about the nuclear threat and develop a holistic action plan to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons and, ultimately, nuclear wars. It actually declares war on wars.

   Ladies and gentlemen, 20 years ago, U.N. General Assembly resolution adopted the CTBT. Twenty years is a long period of time. But the treaty which was designed to be a key element in the international security system has not yet entered into force.

   We believe that the reason the CTBT hasn't entered into force is a lack of political will in the Annex 2 states. Political will is essential to build a sense for global solidarity for our shared future.

   North Korean nuclear and missile testing of recent weeks and months gives added urgency and shows that the global risks of nuclear testing and proliferation are not eliminated completely. With each and every test, we see that North Korea is trying, is attempting to modernize its nuclear capability, which is a very dangerous thing for the global security.

   Kazakhstan strongly condemns the actions of DPRK leadership. It's not only causing serious damage to the efforts of the international community on nuclear disarmament, but also undermines nuclear balance and security.

   We need CTBT in place to further pressure Pyongyang to abandon its unacceptable practice and renounce nuclear ambitions. We need CTBT to outlaw DPRK's activities in this dangerous sphere.

   The treaty and related efforts have so far proved effective. We are confident that the impact will increase significantly after the CTBT enters into force. Considerable progress has been made in creating and deploying the international monitoring system. This system, even in its uncompleted state, has helped to identify nuclear tests conducted by DPRK, including the most recent ones. All on-the-ground nuclear explosions, however small or clandestine, were successfully registered, including by five Kazakh stations connections to IMS.

   Measures taken by CTBTO on strengthening the verification regime as well as conducting on-site inspections and field experiments should be commended and further supported.

   Probably we should follow the famous Ronald Reagan's principle, "trust, but verify," but in a little bit reverse order. Probably today we have this verification system in place, in function; now we should probably work on building the trust, which really could help change hearts and minds. And we think that CTBT could exactly play that role.

   As co-coordinators of Article 14, Kazakhstan and Japan conduct consistent work to help facilitate the entry into force of the CTBT. We made clear our intentions in the high-level joint statement in October, last October, by President Nazarbayev and Prime Minister Abe, as well as this year in two other statements issued at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and the open-ended working group in Geneva.

   We are committed to continue our efforts on the Annex 2 and Annex 1 states to make the CTBT universal.

   As a nation, we are also taking important steps domestically to ensure the treaty's entry into force. This August, Almaty hosted the IX International Conference summit titled Monitoring of Nuclear Tests and Their Consequences, aimed at improving the verification methods further and facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT.

   We also intend to build a radio nuclear control and normal gas station in Kazakhstan. It will help considerably intensify capabilities of the CTBT monitoring system and will be our significant contribution to the nuclear test ban process.

   Later today, together with Senator Markey, we will host an event at the Capitol Visitors Center in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, where we will further discuss the human and environmental costs of nuclear weapons as well as importance of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

   Let me close by stressing the following. The people of Kazakhstan have suffered from the effects of nuclear testing, as well as Japan actually, nuclear testing, and we understand the risks and consequences of nuclear test exposures.

   This makes us principal believers in Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty effectiveness and necessity to bring it into force.

   Pending the entry into the force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, we support the adoption of the U.N. Security Council resolution that would emphasize the importance of maintaining moratoria on nuclear testing and would build support for the completion of the treaty's verification regime.

   As an incoming, non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Kazakhstan is looking forward to working with all our partners to achieve progress in this direction.

   Thank you for your attention.

   KREPON: Thank you, Ambassador.


   We might just have one or two minutes for one or two quick questions for Undersecretary Gottemoeller. So let's take those, then we'll go to the rest of the panel. And why don't we start here in the middle? Thank you. Just identify yourself.

   QUESTION: Hi, Rachel Oswald, a reporter with Congressional Quarterly.

   Undersecretary, based on your remarks, it seemed that I was hearing from you that the U.N. Security Council resolution will not invoke Chapter 7 authority and that it sounds like it's unlikely words like "determine" and "decide" will be used in the resolution. Correct me if I'm wrong.

   But will there be any kind of determination that signatories to the treaty should abstain from nuclear testing? And wouldn't the effect of passage of such a resolution be for it to become customary international law?



   First of all, I will just reiterate the points that I made during my remarks, that the U.N. Security Council resolution that we are still working on in New York, and as it is a diplomatic effort, diplomatic negotiation with exchanges back and forth still going on, I'm not going to speculate about final word formulations or anything like that.

   But I can, once again, confirm and underscore for this audience that it will not impose new, legally binding constraints on nuclear testing. That is not the kind of UNSCR that we are after. We are after, and we have been from the outset, a U.N. Security Council resolution that would really give new momentum to entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in this, the 20th year since its opening for signature.

   And entry into force at its very heart means that states fulfill their internal procedures for entry into force, whether it is pursuing in our own system the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

   And people kind of confuse this oftentimes. It is the Senate that gives advice and consent, but it is the president of the United States who actually completes the ratification process. So that is our own national procedure.

   Whatever the national procedure is, this UNSCR will push forward the momentum toward entry into force and each state, in turn, that is among the Annex 2 states will have to complete its own national procedures for ratification.

   So I do want to underscore that for this audience today.

   KREPON: Undersecretary Gottemoeller, I just want to respect your time. Are we...

   GOTTEMOELLER: One more question is OK, if you have one.

   KREPON: One more question, all right. Julian Borger from The Guardian.

   QUESTION: Julian Borger from The Guardian. So the other side of that question is, if it doesn't add any binding force, what is the point of it, you know, other than the formal words encouraging countries to adhere to it? In what way does it add momentum?

   GOTTEMOELLER: Julian, the U.N. Security Council frequently lends its political weight, its international authority to any number of international goals and international policy campaigns. In this case, I stress the entry into force goal, lending momentum into entry into force, but we actually have three goals for this U.N. Security Council resolution.

   Yes, lend momentum to entry into force is number one. Number two Ambassador Kitano talked about in quite an articulate way, that is strengthening and lending additional moral authority to the moratoria. And the moratoria have had real effect. They are not legally binding, but they have had real effect.

   We have not tested since 1992. We have not conducted a nuclear explosive test. So these moratoria are important to the cessation of nuclear testing worldwide, even though they are not, quote, "legally binding" and this U.N. Security Council resolution will lend new authority and momentum to the moratoria.

   And the third very important reason is to bolster the work of the PrepCom for the comprehensive test ban, the CTBTO and its very important verification system, the international monitoring system, which over time has gained great effectiveness.

   Again, I'm grateful to my colleagues for underscoring the role it played in the DPRK test last Friday. Within a very short time, the CTBTO had, from the IMS, results out to the international community in a very public way.

   And I want to underscore, that is a great, valuable aspect of the IMS, that it does make available to the entire international community serious information about nuclear testing events when they sadly occur, as has been the case with the DPRK tests just this year. It was the IMS that was first off the block with important public information about the nuclear test.

   We have our own national technical means. They are very important to our own national confidence about what is going on in the nuclear testing realm, but a lot of that information is classified, it cannot be made available to the international community. So the IMS is a very valuable tool for the public role it plays in constraining nuclear testing.

   So I must excuse myself. My colleague, Ambassador Scheinman, is really good on all these legal issues.


   So he'll be glad to...

   KREPON: I'll put some more.

   GOTTEMOELLER: He'll be glad to answer some more questions. And I apologize to my colleagues, but I will see you later today on Capitol Hill. So thank you very much.

   KREPON: Thank you very much.

   We'll just take a moment as we transition here.

   KIMBALL: I want to join Michael Krepon and the Stimson Center, on behalf of the Arms Control Association, in appreciating the work of the people on the panel over the years on the Test Ban Treaty.

   I want to recognize the immense value of Kazakhstan's decision to close Semipalatinsk's test site, as Ambassador Umarov said, and Ambassador Kitano's work over the decades has been immense and I want to thank him for coming all the way from Vienna just for this event and some other meetings today, and Ambassador Scheinman also.

   And we have some people in the audience who have a deep familiarity and experience with the Test Ban Treaty, and there are others representing some of the governments and Security Council who are part of this effort also.

   So we have more time for your questions. And so I just wanted to, once again, open up the floor to questions to the entire panel or to a particular panelist.

   I see Mr. David Culp from the Friends Committee on National Legislation, in the middle, and there's a microphone for you.

   QUESTION: Thank you. So a question for the two of you. So as you probably know, 35 Republican senators sent a letter responding to the president saying if the administration goes forward we win, we're going to try to cut off all the money toward the CTBT.

   So, Adam, do you take this threat seriously?

   And, Ambassador, you're in Vienna, what would be the impact of U.S. nonpayment to the CTBTO for next year?

   KIMBALL: And just to clarify, it was written by 33 senators, not 35.

   QUESTION: Thirty-three, sorry.


   KIMBALL: All right. Ambassador Scheinman, you want to start, please?

   SCHEINMAN: Yeah. Well, I can answer that very quickly. I think, David, we certainly take seriously letters from, you know, close to three dozen senators on this question. So our best answer to the group is to answer the questions that they raise, as honestly and as factually as we can.

   We don't believe that the threats that this group of senators believe exists, is really there, and we'll continue to have conversations with the Senate on what this resolution is and what it isn't. And we think we can address the criticisms very effectively.

   So I think that's my answer. I pass to Mr. Kitano.

   KIMBALL: Ambassador Kitano?

   KITANO: Thank you very much for your question. And the United States is a very important contributor to the CTBTO. And it provides a very much important contribution to our extra budgetary resources also. And it is a very much an important basis for various activities in the CTBT. And verification regime is one of them.

   And as has been mentioned by Rose and others, this verification mechanism has been in operation. And CTBT has not come into effect. So legally speaking, it is not a legally binding instrument.

   But at the same time, what is very much noticeable is that CTBT is operational and (inaudible) for its verification mechanism. And it is functioning and it functions well and detected all kinds of nuclear tests of DPRK.

   So I suppose the question I would like to put forward is, will it be in our interests to strengthen that mechanism or not? And U.S. contribution plays a very important role, I would say. Thank you very much.

   SCHEINMAN: Let me just add one comment. You know, the fact of U.S. funding for the international monitoring system has been with us under both Republican and Democratic administrations. And that's been because, we think, that the IMS actually adds to our own verification capability by providing a global system. That's why it has had the support of Republicans historically. And I suspect, you know, that will remain.

   KIMBALL: Yeah. Before we go to other questions, let me just see if I could ask Adam a question to clarify Rose Gottemoeller's earlier answer about the concerns of some of these senators.

   She said that the resolution that the United States is seeking at the Security Council and the P5 statement would not impose any new, legally binding prohibition on nuclear testing. And specifically, as I read a couple of the letters, the concern was about, from Senator Corker, a specific proposal in the P5 statement and the Security Council resolution that might clarify that a nuclear test explosion would violate or defeat the object and purpose of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which, of course, is to ban, prohibit all nuclear test explosions.

   Would it be fair to say that if that were part of the P5 statement or referenced in the Security Council resolution would be a public articulation of an existing obligation as a signatory not to violate the purpose or intent? How is the administration interpreting that particular aspect of this issue?

   SCHEINMAN: Yeah. So we had developed the idea in concert with our P5 partners of issuing a statement that would express a national view that each of us share, which is that a nuclear test would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. And as a signatory obligation we all share under CTBT since we've all signed or ratified the treaty, this would then be sort of a national interpretation of our obligations under international law not to defeat the object or purpose of the treaty.

   The resolution itself would not try to impose that. Our idea is that the resolution would not try to impose that particular interpretation on U.N. member states. It would simply take note of the statement made by the P5 states.

   KIMBALL: OK, thank you for that clarification.

   Do we have other questions from the audience, or have we answered every question that you have about the longest-sought, hardest-fought treaty in arms control history?

   Oh, we have a question here. Mr. Horner, I think I know who you are.


   QUESTION: Hi, Dan Horner from Nuclear Intelligence Weekly.

   Panelists here and elsewhere have talked about the North Korean test in the context of the CTBT and the need for having the CTBT.

   Can you say what you think would have been different about North Korea's behavior if a CTBT had been enforced, given that North Korea has flouted international norms repeatedly? Would that have changed the decision-making and the dynamics? Or what do you think would have been different with a CTBT in force?

   I'll address it initially to Ambassador Kitano, but I'd like to hear all the panelists on that. Thanks.

   KIMBALL: Thank you.


   KITANO: Yes. When CTBT is entered into effect, it means that all the remaining annexed states should ratify that. That means in the DPRK should have ratified that.

   Yes, if that is the case, in that situation, and the DPRK is legally bound by all the provisions of CTBT, including its Article One obligation, very basic obligation not to conduct explosive nuclear testing, so that would be very much in a strong engagement, legal engagement on the part of DPRK. So that is the situation which we would very much aim at.

   And the other thing which I mention is that I would not say that that would happen overnight. I mentioned in my earlier presentation now there is a very much widely shared international standard not to test. It is only one country in this century who conducted nuclear testing, that is DPRK.

   So it would be what we should aim at is try to enhance and strengthen that international standard with a view to not coming up with an alternative. This is also the point which was also mentioned by Mr. Umarov of Kazakhstan. Thank you very much.

   UMAROV: I think that it will create a momentum again to pressurize North Korea to stop testing on the side of other P5 countries and other countries in the world, just to make sure that North Korea is behaving itself outside as an outcast, as an outsider of the international law and boundaries.

   So I think that this will also create some momentum when we have CTBT in force, enforced, and that will help other countries to make good, resolute actions just to condemn DPRK.

   KIMBALL: Ambassador Scheinman?

   SCHEINMAN: Yeah, just I'd add very quickly. I tell you, Dan, you're very optimistic anticipating a CTBT in force because, of course, that means North Korea has signed and ratified the treaty. And obviously, that's the hardest nut to crack among the list of Annex 2 states.

   In the absence of a CTBT in force, our job should be to create the highest-possible barriers to additional North Korean nuclear testing. If we can't do it today with a CTBT in force, then it seems incumbent upon us to find other ways to do it.

   And that's one of the reasons why we've looked at the idea of a U.N. Security Council resolution as increasing the political barriers to nuclear testing by North Korea.

   KIMBALL: All right. Other questions?

   Jolene, why don't we start over here again, and then we'll come over here.

   QUESTION: I have a question for Ambassador Scheinman. Is this resolution the last hurrah for the Prague agenda of this administration that, you know, started so optimistically and has, for many different reasons, fallen short of the aspirations? Or is there more to come, are there more options for the administration under that agenda in its last months?

   SCHEINMAN: Well, I'd say that there are a number of elements of the Prague agenda that are still very much in play, irrespective of our ability to compel states to do exactly what we'd like them to do.

   You know, the offer is still on the table for Russia to join us in pursuing nuclear reductions. Russia doesn't seem to want to take us up on the offer.

   We'd be very happy to be engaged in multilateral negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, but Pakistan has not allowed that negotiation to go forward in the Geneva Conference on Disarmament for reasons I think everyone here knows.

   And we, of course, are pursuing this idea on a CTBT. But, you know, I wouldn't say that the initiative rose from a sort of last-ditch effort to, you know, maybe bookend the Prague agenda. The idea actually originated among some here in this room, that, you know, coming on 20 years since the treaty was open for signature. And, you know, with our interest in guarding against some level of fatigue where political and maybe financial support starts to lag, this was a good time to reaffirm international support for the CTBT and perhaps to reopen the dialogue in the United States on CTBT, even in ways that we didn't necessarily anticipate.

   So I think one of the benefits that I've seen through this process, notwithstanding the, you know, fairly tough criticism we've heard from some quarters in the Senate, is by making the issue more visible, we've brought ourselves into a debate on the merits of CTBT, and it's one we welcome.

   KIMBALL: All right, Edward?

   QUESTION: Yes, Edward Ifft, Georgetown University.

   Let me just go back for a moment to the Republican senators' letter and try to maybe clarify.

   I think the concern that was shown in that letter was that the U.S. was going to go to the Security Council and get a resolution under Chapter 7, which would declare that additional testing would be a threat to international peace and security. That would have led to a binding obligation on all U.N. members, and that could certainly have been viewed as an end run around the Senate's prerogatives regarding advice and consent.

   As Rose explained, the U.S. is not doing that, we're not going to invoke Chapter 7.

   The language on...

   KIMBALL: To your question, please.

   QUESTION: Sorry?

   KIMBALL: Your question is?

   QUESTION: I'm just clarifying.



   QUESTION: See if the panel agrees. The language on object and purpose comes from the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which says that once you've signed a treaty you may not do anything which would defeat the object and purpose.

   The U.S. position, as I understand it, is that an additional test would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. You could probably find a lawyer somewhere who would say that an additional test or two would not. See what...

   SCHEINMAN: Yes, if I could just pick up on that because I think -- I thank Ed for his clarification. It's correct, but it missed one element. Under the Vienna Convention, state signatories are obligated not to defeat the object and purpose of the treaty unless they no longer intend to become a party to that treaty.

   This administration clearly has made its support for CTBT very well known, and so we believe it's our interpretation that that obligation under the Vienna Convention exists. We're not creating it through a U.N. Security Council resolution. It's been with us for decades.

   A future administration, should it believe that a nuclear test was required, could make clear to the international community that it no longer intended to become party to the treaty; and therefore, the obligation under the Vienna Convention no longer applies.

   So, you know, it's sort of legal arcana, but the important element here is that the obligations of a signatory apply so long as you intend to become a party to that treaty.

   KIMBALL: Correct. Rachel?

   QUESTION: Well, thank you, Ed and Adam, you kind of answered some of my questions about customary international law under the Vienna Convention, recognizing the U.S. hasn't ratified the Vienna Convention, but still considers it customary international law.

   Is there a timeline for when this resolution will come before the Security Council? And how, recognizing that there are discussions ongoing, how are the talks with the P5 countries going, particularly Russia and China?

   SCHEINMAN: One clarification, the United States does not consider the entire Vienna Convention to represent customary international law, only Article 18 which deals with signatory obligations. And that's been a position of the United States going back, you know, before I got involved in this.

   The resolution is sort of in an advanced state of negotiation. We hope to have it completed and issued before the end of the month.

   The discussions with other P5 states has gone very well. They're all supportive of the concept and the construct that we have proposed, a P5 statement that would run in parallel to a resolution. And we're talking with our other colleagues on the council, including Japan and others, in an effort to tie it up in a bow in the next week-and-a-half or two.

   KIMBALL: Great. Ambassador Kitano, do you have anything else to add.

   KITANO: No, I don't think so.

   KIMBALL: OK. And could I ask you, Ambassador Kitano, we were discussing this earlier, you mentioned the severe concern about North Korea's fifth nuclear test. The Security Council is also looking at that issue at the same time that it is dealing with this U.N. Security Council resolution on the test ban ahead of the anniversary of opening for signature, which is the 24th of September.

   Do you expect that these processes will intermingle or will they be separate? I mean, what can we possibly expect? And I recognize that this is in process and you can't say for sure. But, I mean, what is your hope and expectation as a member of the council?

   KITANO: Thank you very much for your question. Last week on Friday, the Security Council got together and discussed about the DPRK fifth nuclear test. And the chair's statement has been issued, and it clearly states that the Security Council will lead a follow-on discussion because there has been a previous Security Council resolution, which was after the fifth and fourth nuclear test, and a subsequent missile launch was conducted.

   And it is Security Council Resolution 2270, and it really spells out if another test would be conducted, the Security Council will be in a position to examine the follow-up actions. So last week, Friday, the Security Council got together and confirmed this line of action.

   And certainly, Daryl, thank you very much for putting that on the table, there will be this discussion going on.

   And at the same time, and as has been mentioned by Rose and Adam, there has been a discussion about what to do in a CTBT resolution. And (inaudible) something (inaudible) content and how to strengthen CTBT and how to give political support to that. And that is on the one hand.

   The other is on how to give consequences to what DPRK did last Friday. And this is two topics. So what to do with that would be very much a matter of the Security Council.

   But what I would like to share with you is that this is this in two lines of discussions and how to do that would be the role of the Security Council.

   KIMBALL: All right, good.

   Ambassador Graham, and then we'll go back to (inaudible).

   QUESTION: I'd just like to ask...

   KIMBALL: Ambassador Tom Graham, who has had a few things to do with nonproliferation and the test ban treaty.        Go ahead.

   QUESTION: I would just like to ask Ambassador Scheinman a small question. Isn't it the case that part of the argument with the Senate was that the actions of President Bush amounted to the U.S. indicating it did not intend to ratify the CTBT; therefore, the U.S. was no longer bound under Article 31 of the Vienna Convention, and this statement would correct that or make the U.S. government position clear.

   SCHEINMAN: No, the intent here was not to find a mechanism to reverse the policy pronouncement of the prior administration. You know, it is true that the last administration made clear to the Senate when questions came up on these issues that it no longer intended to become a party to the CTBT; and therefore, the obligations not to defeat the object and purpose no longer would apply. That's what the last administration had done.

   In our estimation, that policy was effectively reversed with the Prague speech in 2009 where the president said I will aggressively seek U.S. ratification of the CTBT. Now, it hasn't worked out and that's a different conversation.

   But clearly, this administration has intended to become a party to the CTBT. So that issue was dealt with at the beginning of the administration, and we have not sought to use this resolution to address or even respond to the actions of the previous administration. This has entirely been about, how do we strengthen support for CTBT, how do we reaffirm the moratoria, and how do we acknowledge the good work that has been done in Vienna?

   KIMBALL: All right. And I would just hasten to add my colleague Michael Krepon testified last week at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also pointed out that the CTBT remains on the executive calendar of the Senate. There has not been a sufficient number of votes to discharge it and to send it back to the White House. So it's still there, it's still technically the business of the Senate. And several senators in 1999 who voted no expected to have another chance to look at the treaty at some point in the future.

   So that's an important point to keep in mind with respect to Senate prerogatives, which I think some senators were not actually aware of last week.

   I think we had another question in the back. Yes, sir?

   QUESTION: Ray Willeman, University of Maryland.

   The IDC in Vienna has made significant changes to take advantage of new science, but the overall architecture of their data processing is based on a system developed at a DARPA-funded facility during the 1990s. And some of the new science doesn't fit very well into that architecture. Radionuclide science and seismology and other areas.

   Do any of you see the possibility of a U.S. or international-led effort to develop a completely new architecture which has the possibility of vastly improving the detection thresholds for nuclear tests?

   KIMBALL: All right. Ambassador Kitano, do you want to address whether that's been something that's been discussed?

   And maybe, Adam, you can also address, in your estimation, how the IMS capabilities have advanced over the years, in addition to Ray's particular question.

   KITANO: Yes. Thank you very much for your question. I have here the text of the CTBT. And it is a thick document. And because I was one of those who was for Japanese ratification, I read and scrutinized all the document, including the annex, and trying to find out an appropriate Japanese translation and to identify a proper understanding and interpretation of all the things.

   And the reason why I mention this is, in the creation of CTBT and what should be done most appropriate mechanism of verification is one of the things which we debated a lot. And that is not the only issue which we debated, but that was a very important part of the discussion.

   And CTBT is one instrument, but a technical means for verification is very much important for that. So what we are looking at is to have this system as a whole to be operational and ratification of in the eight remaining states.

   And what I'm going to share is that the current technical secretariat, headed by my dear friend, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, and he would like to be open to that new science and technology. And one of the works which Lassina is putting a lot of an emphasis is on a science technology forum in order to catch and to be open as much as possible to that, grasp and capture that. So he and the secretary is doing great effort in doing that.

   And it would be nice if we can make use of various techniques, and it would be good.

   But the point which I would like to make is that this treaty is based on what is written here. And the important thing is that we have unfinished business. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: Adam, anything to add?

   SCHEINMAN: No, nothing further.

   KIMBALL: OK. I wanted to ask Ambassador Umarov and Ambassador Kitano a question about your view of the challenges ahead, beyond the U.N. Security Council resolution. Your governments are the co-chairs of the Article 14 process. This is a provision in the treaty that allows for a conference every two years of states' parties to encourage and facilitate progress towards entry into force. And you all are the co-chairs, as I understand, for another 12 months.

   Ambassador Kitano, you mentioned some of the other states on the Annex 2 list, the list of states that must sign and ratify to facilitate entry into force.

   So, Ambassador Umarov and Ambassador Kitano, what, in your view, are the things that particular states might be able to do to move closer to ratification and entry into force, especially among those key Annex 2 states?

   And I would just note, I think a very important trigger for this year's action catalyst has been Foreign Minister Idrissov of Kazakhstan who spoke out a year ago when Kazakhstan took the co-chair of the Article 14 process, and he said that as we look forward in this 20th anniversary year, business as usual will not do. And so this resolution represents a departure from business as usual.

   So tell me what types of steps do you think would be helpful in addition to perhaps action by the United States, of course. What can be done to move us closer to entry into force amongst the other countries?

   So, Ambassador Umarov, maybe if you could offer your thoughts, please.

   UMAROV: I think we have a challenging road ahead. We have to convince other countries, especially those who have not yet ratified, to (inaudible) here and just to support the system.

   I think that if we come to the kind of the very essence, the very essence of why it was not ratified in 1999, was that there was, first, the Senate was kind of doubting that without nuclear tests any organization or any checking of the efficiency of the nuclear weapons could be done, and the second is that there is not any verification system in place.

   I think after these 20 years, we can say that both of the issues are addressed. And now we have to think about the next step. And what is the next step? The next step is really to have a system and have a tool, an international tool which could prevent the Pandora's box to be open, because CTBT, at this point in time, is not ratified, not being in force, still plays an important role that other countries keep the moratoria on nuclear testing.

   If that is not the case, we have a lot of cases today that threshold countries would like to acquire the nuclear weapons, they would like to acquire these sensitive technologies, because there is an illusion, a false illusion that having a nuclear weapon or having a nuclear capability will address the issue of nuclear security of the country.

   So we think it's important today just to continue this work of explaining and telling people that our safety and our security, not in the modernization or enhancing the nuclear capabilities of the countries, but to eliminate the possibility to avoid temptation to use it in the future.

   That's why think that it shouldn't be a business as usual. We should really step up the activities. And with the DPRK's dangerous activities, we can see that this is not finished business. We have to really work on those matters. And our role here is to continue with the same activities, explaining, convincing.

   Of course, we think that if the United States will show a lead in CTBTO ratification process, other countries will follow suit. I think that the U.S. is a great country and that it showed the capability of leading the world. This is one of the cases where the United States could really show its leadership role. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: Thank you.

   Ambassador Kitano, your thoughts?

   KITANO: Yes, thank you very much. It is a great, great question. And we should seriously think about it.

   And let me answer in mentioning three key words. And the first key word I would like to mention is in raising political awareness, and that is very much important and discussed in the Security Council resolution. And it would be very much (inaudible) in doing that.

   And also, in thinking about what will happen from now in the coming weeks, we are approaching to the United Nations in a high-level week. And there will be, this year, there will be another (inaudible) of CTBT friends ministerial meeting, which is organized by a group of other countries, CTBT friends, and Japan is one of them. And that would be another occasion in which countries who very much have a strong interest for pushing forward on CTBT.

   The 40 ministers, they will all get together and try to send out a strong message, so raising political awareness. And this is something which continue to make. And as this is the 20th year anniversary after the opening for signature, we very much would like to make the best use of this anniversary year. And that is the first key word I would like to mention.

   Second key word I would like to mention is "push for the bottom." And we suppose the U.S. plays a crucial, important role. But there are seven other countries and remaining Annex 2 countries, we very much hope and positive steps on the part of the United States.

   But at the same time, we would like to push forward other countries, and as I mentioned, Israel, China, Pakistan and so on, and together with Kazakhstan we have been closely in touch, getting in touch with these countries, trying to identify what is the difficulties, what is the issues on the part of these countries, and think about how best we can address that.

   And we do that not -- and the two of us are not doing that alone, we liaise with technical secretariat and executive secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo, and he is very much bringing about very powerful activities to liaise with that. And there are various countries and various bodies who are working in that.

   So we are thinking that in our role as co-coordinating and ask literally, and we try to gather such momentum, and pushing for the bottom is something which I would like to mention as a second key word.

   Third key word I would like to put forward is DPRK. And there has been and the possibility has advanced that they might make another test in the future, it would be a sixth test. And it is a situation which we are facing. And we have to think about how best we address these DPRK issues.

   We should think about what consequences we can bring about in terms of sanctions for the Security Council. And we can also think about, in each country's security standpoint, and making use of their security asset and what to do with that. And it is also an important thing and we should do it, but as nuclear testing is a serious threat and how to do that. And we should bring this discussion, not only for Northeast Asia, but it is an international question.

   And then we should in thinking about DPRK, we have all the reasons to activate CTBT. And that would be another channel which we can activate the discussion about CTBT.

   And what I would like to do is to make use of this kind of discussions and try to assemble and put together all the effort going toward entry into force. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: Thank you.

   I think we're closing in on our closing time. I just want to see if there was any final question that we need to have asked.

   Mr. Koplow, and then we will close.

   QUESTION: Thank you. In view of the quite robust criticism of the DPRK nuclear test that your countries and the Security Council have made, would you agree one step further that a nuclear weapons test by any country today would constitute a threat to international peace and security? And would it be useful for the Security Council to determine that fact in a resolution, even if, at the moment, the council would not be preparing to make a decision in a legally binding fashion what to do about that? Would the determination be a valuable contribution by itself?

   KIMBALL: Any thoughts?

   SCHEINMAN: Well, that's not part of this exercise, David. And our interest is primarily finding ways to strengthen support for the CTBT and not provoke an even harsher, negative reaction from some domestic elements in this country.

   So that kind of idea has never been part of our calculation as we thought about what to do about CTBT at the 20-year anniversary and how do we, you know, pursue greater engagement that makes CTBT more visible and hopefully opens up a debate that can get us to a point where the U.S. might be able to ratify the treaty.

   I think the idea that you laid out would raise real questions and perhaps legitimate what some have suggested we're pursuing through this Security Council idea, which is, in essence, to walk down a pathway short of CTBT that would make any nuclear test, in effect, legally prohibited.

   Even though I know that's not exactly what you're recommending, the perception will be that we are engaged in some sort of, you know, Trojan horse exercise to get to that point short of a CTBT. And that's not the conversation we think would be beneficial because we'd like to have an open and fair debate on the merits of the CTBT without the disturbance of these other issues.

   KIMBALL: But there may be other views in the world.


   Ambassador Kitano, Ambassador Umarov, is a nuclear test explosion a threat to international peace and security? Your thoughts, quickly.

   KITANO: Yeah, and just quickly, my understanding of the Security Council, is it important in a function of the Security Council for it to constitute a threat to international peace and security. And it is a very important judgment on its part. And my understanding is that they would like it in a detailed situation and what constitutes peace (inaudible) and peace and security of the international situation.

   So my sense is that the Security Council would take it a cautious analysis to it. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: OK. Any thoughts, Ambassador Umarov?

   UMAROV: I think, yes, we don't want to see that happen. So we need to make everything possible that it won't happen. But at the same time, it should be in the interests of each and every country which is a part of it.

   So let's work kind of gradually to achieve our goals, and maybe there will be a time when we can say this in a very determined fashion. But we don't want to jeopardize the whole process. It is important to have the CTBT in place. And we would like to take a very gradual approach.

   The other thing is that we would like, as co-chairs, to create conditions where we can talk more about it and to raise the global awareness. And with our coming U.N. Security Council non-permanent membership, this is one of our tasks, to work more actively to discuss these issues and come to understanding what is in the overall interests, the security interests, to have the world free of nuclear weapons and stop nuclear tests, making it a normal way of life, you know, in the global affairs.

   Today's technology does not need the nuclear testing as an important kind of start to modernize the weapons. But we need to have an assurance that none of the countries will go for this. So we think that it's important. We can bear it in mind, but we can work with all the countries to achieve the primary goal of CTBT to be entering into force without major hiccups and problems.

   KIMBALL: All right. Well, to close I just want to join my colleague Michael in thanking all of you for being here. I want to thank our panelists.

   And I want to just note that we are determined to create the conditions for an adult, serious conversation on the CTBT so that we can realize its true potential.

   So thanks a lot, Michael, for your teamwork and for helping to host this event.

   KREPON: Daryl, it's just been a real pleasure to partner with you and ACA.

   There is a strong phalanx of support for this treaty domestically and internationally. Our stockpile stewardship program, which is the best in the world, is not an end in itself. Driving down detection thresholds, which we are now doing through national technical means and through the international monitoring system based in Vienna, it's not an end in itself.

   We aim to achieve a permanent end to nuclear explosive testing. And we are going to succeed, but it's going to take a heck of a long time still, or too long a time.

   I think the next step after this very, very welcome U.N. Security Council resolution and the accompanying very meaningful P5 statement, for me, the next step is to have careful, deliberative hearings on this treaty, which we have not had for almost two decades, where expertise in constitutional law, in international law, in monitoring technologies, in national security can be given microphones. It's time for this to happen. Perhaps it will happen in the next Congress.

   It is puzzling to me that some would argue that having voted on this treaty once it's a closed issue. And the same people who make that argument have voted over 40 times on national health care, for example. So we're not ready for a vote. It's time to get informed again about this treaty and what's happened since the last time it was voted on.

   So this event is part of the process. This panel is part of the process. We thank you again for your commitment. We're going to thank Rose in absentia.

   Thank you for coming. Have a great day.



Posted: September 13, 2016

UNSC Test Ban Initiative: Reinforcing The Existing Norm Against Nuclear Testing



North Korea’s nuclear weapon test explosion September 9 underscores the need to reaffirm the existing global norm against nuclear testing and early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.


Volume 8, Issue 5, September 9, 2016

Diplomats at the UN Security Council (UNSC) are engaged in consultations on a proposal from the United States for a council resolution designed to reinforce the existing global norm against nuclear weapons testing established by the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The resolution would be complemented by a separate political statement from the council's five permanent members (P5) further asserting their support for the object and purpose of the treaty.

North Korea is the only country to test nuclear weapons in the 21st century. All other nuclear powers have voluntarily enacted testing moratoria. The effort is all the more vital in the wake of North Korea’s fifth nuclear weapon test explosion September 9.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) in Vienna reports that preliminary data from more than two dozen of the seismic stations that are part of their International Monitoring System confirm that the seismic event is in the 5.1 magnitude range, is at very shallow depth, and is in the immediate vicinity of North Korea's Pyunggye-ri test site.

Barring unforeseen diplomatic disputes, the UNSC resolution and the P5 statement will likely be approved later this month at UN headquarters in New York.

The Testing Taboo

As President Bill Clinton said when he became the first world leader to sign the treaty on Sept. 24, 1996: "The signature of the world’s declared nuclear powers … along with the vast majority of its other nations will immediately create an international norm against nuclear testing, even before the treaty enters into force.” 

Since then, 183 states have become CTBT signatories and a robust, international monitoring system has been established that can effectively detect and deter clandestine nuclear testing anywhere in the world. The CTBT has near universal support.

Only North Korea has conducted nuclear test explosions in this century.

However, the door to further nuclear testing by North Korea and possibly other countries remains ajar. There are still eight key states—including the United States—that must still ratify the treaty in order to trigger its formal entry into force.

Until then, it is clearly in the interests of the United States and the international community to strengthen the taboo against nuclear testing and the work of the CTBTO to maintain and operate the global monitoring system and international data center established to verify compliance with the treaty.

What the UNSC Resolution and P5 Statement Would and Would Not Do

According to the State Department, the initiative would not establish new binding legal limitations on nuclear testing. The proposed UNSC resolution and P5 statement are:

  • “… intended to reinforce global support for the CTBT and its verification system” and “stigmatize those that continue to test and to act in ways contrary to the de facto norm of international behavior;” and are
  • “… in no way a substitute for early entry into force of the treaty.”

The proposed P5 statement on the CTBT would reaffirm the support of the five major nuclear powers for the treaty and clarify that “a nuclear test explosion or any other nuclear explosion would violate the object and purpose of the CTBT.

Such a statement would give public expression to an existing obligation by the United States, as a signatory to the CTBT that seeks ratification and entry into force, not to take any action that would defeat the object or purpose of the treaty, which is to halt nuclear explosive tests.

The Misplaced Concerns of Some Senators

Unfortunately, some Republicans in the Senate have mistakenly chosen to interpret this common sense initiative as an effort to circumvent the U.S. Senate’s constitutional role by promoting ratification of the CTBT through the United Nations.

In reality, presidents do not circumvent the U.S. Constitution by seeking support for treaties at the United Nations; they have done this many times in the past without usurping the Senate’s prerogatives for advice and consent. The resolution would, as UN Security Council Resolution 1887 (2009), annual UN General Assembly resolutions, and national statements at the bi-annual Article XIV Conferences on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the CTBT have already done before, exhort states to take the steps necessary to ratify the treaty so the treaty can enter into force.

Nevertheless, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) convened a hearing of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee September 7 to examine the issue.

On September 8, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and 32 other senators threatened U.S. funding for the seismic monitoring stations that detected the North Korean test the next day. (Photo: U.S. Senate)

In a letter to President Obama dated August 12 and in the hearing, Corker expressed concern about the language in the proposed P5 statement “expressing the view that a nuclear test would violate the object and purpose of the CTBT.” He suggested that this “… could trigger a limitation on the ability of future administrations to conduct nuclear test explosions.” 

In a letter to the White House published September 8, a group of 33 Republican senators went much further, threatening that: “If you decide to pursue a Security Council Resolution that accepts the imposition of international obligations the Senate has explicitly rejected, we would make every effort to prevent the authorization or appropriation” of the

These arguments rest on two incorrect assertions:

  1. The George W. Bush administration’s decision not to pursue the Senate’s consent to the CTBT’s ratification has, in effect, constituted a permanent repudiation of the CTBT even though the United States did not formally notify the depository; and
  2. The Bush administration’s position on the CTBT reflected a shared understanding between the legislative and executive branches. Corker erroneously suggested in his August 12 letter that: “The planned U.N. effort would reverse course on that shared understanding between the Senate and Executive Branch.

These assertions are incorrect for several reasons:

  • Sometimes administrations pursue the ratification of treaties negotiated by their predecessors, and sometimes they don’t. For example, the Geneva Protocol banning the use of asphyxiating gases remained on the Senate Calendar for 50 years until the Senate responded to the strong urgings of Presidents Richard Nixon and Gerald Ford to consent to its ratification. The fact that their predecessors did not seek the Senate’s consent did not constitute formal repudiation of the Geneva Protocol, any more than the Bush administration’s lack of interest in the CTBT did.
  • Political statements of intent regarding treaties do not formally release the United States from its Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties Article XVIII obligation “not to take actions that would defeat the object or purpose” of a treaty Washington has signed. When the Bush administration wanted to formally release the United States from the legal obligations established when President Clinton signed the Rome Statute on the International Criminal Court and the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, they did so by formally notifying the depositories. This was not done vis-a-vis the CTBT.
  • Ever since the Oct. 13, 1999, vote on the CTBT in the Senate, the treaty remains before the Senate. The Senate has not voted to discharge the treaty and send it back to the executive branch. The executive branch does not have the right to unilaterally withdraw from the Senate a treaty that is still formally before the Senate. In other words, there has never been any shared understanding that the CTBT would not be reconsidered. As Sen. Pete Domenici (R-N.M.) said Oct. 13, 1999: “Treaties never die, even when defeated and returned to the Executive Calendar of the Senate.”
  • Even if political statements by the executive branch during the Bush years provided a sufficient legal basis for releasing the United States from its obligation as a signatory not to take actions that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty, the Obama administration’s many statements of support for the CTBT and its intention to seek and obtain ratification recommitted the United States to its obligations as a treaty signatory.

There is no technical need or military requirement for the resumption of U.S. nuclear testing. If, however, a U.S. president did seek to resume nuclear explosive testing, he/she would need to formally notify the depository that the supreme national interests of the United States require such an action and that the United States no longer intends to seek ratification of the treaty. This would be the case even were there not a P5 political statement expressing the view of the leaders of the P5 about what action(s) would violate the object and purpose of the CTBT. 

Reality Check

In response to the questions about the administration’s UNSC initiative on the test ban, Secretary of State John Kerry sent a letter September 7 to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He stressed that the initiative on the test ban will not establish any new binding legal limitations on nuclear testing and “will not cite Chapter VII of the UN Charter or impose Chapter VII obligations.”

It will,” Kerry writes, “be a nonbinding resolution that advances our interests by affirming the existing nuclear testing moratoria, while highlighting support for the CTBT and its verification regime.

Kerry underscored that the proposed P5 statement will give public expression to an existing U.S. (and British, Chinese, French, and Russian) commitment not to test. The United States, as a signatory state that seeks to ratify the CTBT, is obligated under customary international law not to take any action that would “defeat the object or purpose of the treaty,” which is to halt “any nuclear weapon test explosion and any other nuclear test explosion.”

Overall, the resolution and the P5 statement would strengthen the barriers against testing in the years ahead, encourage action by CTBT holdout states to sign and ratify, and reinforce support for the treaty’s nearly complete International Monitoring System to detect and deter clandestine testing.

As ranking member of the committee Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) explained in his opening statement at the September 7 hearing:

“We do not need nuclear active testing to have our deterrent stockpile. It’s the countries that are trying to develop a stronger capacity in nuclear weapons that could benefit by active nuclear testing. It’s those countries that we don’t want to test. It is in our national security interest that they don’t test. Therefore, as I look at this, if we are capable of putting more pressure on those countries not to test, it’s in our national security interest.”

Furthermore, North Korea’s nuclear test should underscore why it is irresponsible for some senators to threaten to cut off funding for the CTBTO’s international monitoring system out of misplaced and overwrought concerns that efforts to strengthen global support for the existing norm against nuclear testing would infringe upon their role in the treaty ratification process.

The New Senate Should Take Another Serious Look at the Treaty

Lost in the legal back-and-forth about executive and legislative branch authorities is the fact that the Senate has not taken a serious look at the CTBT for well over a decade.

Much of the skepticism that is expressed by some Republicans is based on outdated information and misconceptions about nuclear testing and the test ban treaty.

Much has changed since the Senate last examined the CTBT in 1999 and rejected the treaty after a brief and highly partisan debate that centered on questions about the then-unproven stockpile stewardship program and then-unfinished global test ban monitoring system.

A decade and a half later, those programs are fully functioning and have been proven effective. Today, the three U.S. nuclear weapons lab directors report that they are in a better position to maintain the arsenal than they were during the era of nuclear weapons test explosions. No ally or foe questions the lethal power of the U.S. arsenal. All U.S. allies want Washington to ratify the CTBT.

As former Secretary of State George Shultz has said, “Republican senators might have been right voting against [the CTBT] some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.”

Bringing the CTBT back to the Senate for another vote requires a lengthy, intensive educational and outreach campaign by the executive branch to present the new information, answer detailed questions, and dispel misconceptions about the treaty. But the process of reconsideration should begin—and soon, with the new president and Senate.

Until such time as the U.S. ratifies and the CTBT enters into force, it is common sense U.S. policy to strengthen the barriers against nuclear testing by others.

—DARYL G. KIMBALL, Executive Director

Country Resources:

Posted: September 9, 2016

Statement on North Korea's Fifth Nuclear Test by Daryl Kimball and Kelsey Davenport

Fifth North Korean nuclear test is alarming and cause for action to freeze its programs and reinforce global testing taboo—Statement by Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball and Director for Nonproliferation Policy Kelsey Davenport, 5am GMT, September 9, 2016.

The UN and the Test Ban

Twenty years ago this month, in a major nonproliferation breakthrough, more than 158 nations came together to adopt a resolution at the United Nations in support of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

By Daryl G. Kimball

Twenty years ago this month, in a major nonproliferation breakthrough, more than 158 nations came together to adopt a resolution at the United Nations in support of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Since then, the treaty has been signed by 183 states and has established a powerful taboo against nuclear test explosions, which for decades were used to perfect new and more deadly warhead designs and fueled the global nuclear arms race. Only one country—North Korea—has conducted nuclear test explosions in this century.

The Icecap tower in this undated photo houses the diagnostic cannister for a planned Los Alamos National Laboratory underground nuclear test scheduled for the spring of 1993; however, all operations ceased with the announcement of the testing moratorium. (Photo credit: National Nuclear Security Administration)As U.S. President Bill Clinton said when he signed the treaty on Sept. 24, 1996, “The signature of the world’s declared nuclear powers…along with the vast majority of its other nations will immediately create an international norm against nuclear testing, even before the treaty enters into force.”

But the door to renewed nuclear testing remains ajar, largely due to the U.S. Senate’s rejection of the treaty in 1999 and failure to reconsider it in the 16 years since. U.S. inaction in turn has given a cynical excuse for delay to the seven other states that also must ratify the treaty to trigger its entry into force.

Unfortunately, even if the next U.S. president and a new U.S. Senate can work together to reconsider and ratify the treaty, its entry into force is some time away.

In the meantime, it is clearly in the self-interest of the United States and all other treaty signatories to strengthen the taboo against testing. That is why President Barack Obama’s new proposal for a UN Security Council resolution and a separate political statement from the council’s five permanent members, who are the major nuclear powers, to reinforce the existing norm against testing is sensible and prudent. 

The initiative would not establish any new binding, legal limitations on nuclear testing. Yet, it would strengthen the barriers against testing in the years ahead, encourage action by CTBT holdout states to sign and ratify, and reinforce support for the treaty’s nearly complete International Monitoring System to detect and deter clandestine testing.

Unfortunately, some Republicans in the Senate, including Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (Tenn.), erroneously claim that the initiative would “cede the Senate’s constitutional role” on advice and consent of the CTBT. 

In fact, the initiative being pursued by the administration would, as other UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have done several times previously, exhort states to take the steps necessary to ratify the treaty so that it can enter into force. The proposed resolution is not a substitute for Senate advice and consent for ratification.

In a letter to the White House, Corker also claims that the administration’s proposal for a political statement that says nuclear testing “would defeat the object and purpose” of the test ban treaty “could trigger a limitation on the ability of a future president to conduct nuclear weapon tests.” Wrong again.

This would not be a new obligation but would give public expression to an existing one. The United States, as a signatory state that seeks to ratify the CTBT, is obligated under customary international law not to take any action that would defeat the object or purpose of the treaty, which is to halt “any nuclear weapon test explosion and any other nuclear test explosion.”

Unless Corker wants to make it easier for other states, including China, Iran, North Korea, and Russia, to conduct nuclear test explosions, he and other senators should support efforts to reinforce the existing but fragile legal norm against testing.

Ultimately, U.S. ratification of the CTBT is essential to shut the door on all nuclear test explosions. In 1999 the Senate rejected the treaty after a brief and highly partisan debate that failed to resolve questions about the then-unproven nuclear Stockpile Stewardship Program and the unfinished global test ban monitoring system. A decade and a half later, those programs are fully functioning and have been proven effective. 

It has been 24 years since the last U.S. nuclear test explosion in the Nevada desert. Today, the three U.S. nuclear weapons lab directors report that they are in a better position to maintain the arsenal than they were during the era of nuclear weapons test explosions. No ally or foe questions the lethal power of the U.S. arsenal. All U.S. allies want Washington to ratify the CTBT. 

Although the United States no longer needs or wants nuclear weapons testing, other states could use nuclear testing to create more sophisticated and deadly arsenals. Our ability to ensure that states like Russia are not conducting clandestine tests will be improved after the CTBT’s entry into force, which will allow short-notice, on-site inspections to investigate suspicious events.

When the United States does eventually ratify the treaty, it will put pressure on other holdout states to follow suit. Until then, it is prudent to reduce the risk that other nations might resume testing and trigger a new and more dangerous cycle of global nuclear arms competition.

Posted: August 30, 2016

Obama’s Nuclear Test Moratorium Is Common Sense

This op-ed originally appeared in The National Interest. Twenty years ago, the United States took a leading role in negotiations to ban the practice of conducting nuclear-weapon test explosions, which enables states to prove new and more deadly nuclear-warhead designs. The result was the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty , which was opened for signature on September 24, 1996. Since then, treaty has been signed by 183 states and has established a powerful taboo against nuclear testing. Only one country—North Korea—has conducted nuclear-weapon test explosions in this century. But the door...

Terry Atlas, Veteran Journalist, Joins Arms Control Association as New Editor-in-Chief



The Arms Control Association today announced the appointment of veteran Washington journalist Terry Atlas as editor of Arms Control Today (ACT), the association’s respected monthly publication.


For Immediate Release: August 8, 2016

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Terry Atlas, editor, Arms Control Today, (202) 463-8270 ext. 108

(Washington, D.C.)—The Arms Control Association today announced the appointment of veteran Washington journalist Terry Atlas as editor of Arms Control Today (ACT), the association’s respected monthly publication.

Atlas, who starts this month, has extensive experience as a reporter and editor covering U.S. foreign policy and national security issues, including arms control negotiations from the Reykjavik summit to the recent Iran nuclear accord.

“I am very pleased that Terry will bring his experience and skills to Arms Control Today, which is widely considered a top publication in its field, and will contribute in other ways as part of the senior staff,” said Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball. “I look forward to seeing ACT continue its role as a vital forum for analysis of weapons-related security issues as it has been since it began in 1974. With the introduction of our new mobile app, the content is now more readily available to anyone interested in arms control topics.”

The Arms Control Association, founded in 1971, is a national nonpartisan membership organization dedicated to prompting public understanding of and support for effective arms control policies. Arms Control Today serves as an authoritative source of news and analysis and as a forum for original ideas in the field of arms control and nonproliferation.

Most recently, Atlas was an editor and senior writer on the national security team at Bloomberg News in Washington, and he traveled with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during the Iran nuclear negotiations. Previously, he was foreign editor at U.S. News and World Report, where he directed and edited the newsweekly’s coverage of the Afghanistan and Iraq wars as well as other international developments. Subsequently as managing editor at U.S. News, he was responsible for news content and was involved with the publication’s print-to-digital transition.

Atlas has reported from more than 100 countries, including from Saudi Arabia during the first Gulf War, and he covered many arms control negotiations as the Chicago Tribune’s chief diplomatic correspondent before joining U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Arlington, Virginia, with his wife, who is a Fairfax Public Schools teacher. He succeeds Daniel Horner, who has edited ACT since 2009, and nonresident senior fellow Jeff Abramson, who has been interim editor.

Atlas's email address is [email protected].


The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

Posted: August 8, 2016

Reinforcing the Taboo on Nuclear Testing is in the United States' National Security Interests



In response to a report in The Washington Post, Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball made the following comments.


For Immediate Release: August 4, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, communications director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110; Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107

(Washington, D.C.)—In response to a column written by Josh Rogin in The Washington Post, Arms Control Association Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball issued the following comments:

President Obama addresses the Security Council on nuclear non-proliferation and resolution 1887 (2009), expressing the Security Council's resolve to create the conditions for a world without nuclear weapons. (Photo credit: UN)We applaud President Obama’s consideration of a politically-binding UN Security Council resolution this fall that would reinforce the global norm against nuclear weapon test explosions and strongly dispute the allegation made by Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that such an effort would "cede the Senate’s constitutional role” on advice and consent of the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
It is our understanding that the initiative being pursued by the administration would, as other UN Security Council and General Assembly resolutions have already done several times before, exhort those states that have not yet ratified the CTBT to do so and call upon all states to refrain from further nuclear testing and to support ongoing efforts to maintain the monitoring system established to detect and deter clandestine nuclear testing.

With President Bill Clinton’s signature of the CTBT in 1996, the United States ended the practice of nuclear testing and today all but one state—North Korea—respects the de facto moratorium on nuclear testing. 
More than two decades after the last U.S. nuclear test in 1992, the United States' nuclear weapons labs are in a better position to maintain the reliability of the U.S. arsenal than during the era of nuclear weapons test explosions.
Clearly, in order for the United States to ratify the CTBT and the treaty to enter into force, the U.S. Senate would have to reconsider the treaty and provide its advice and consent to ratification. 
In the meantime, it is clearly in the interests of the United States to seek ways to reinforce the de facto global nuclear testing moratorium and make it more difficult for states, including Russia, China, India, Pakistan, and Iran, from conducting nuclear test explosions.
We would hope that Sen. Corker and other members of Congress would not attempt to sabotage efforts to increase the political barriers against nuclear testing by other states and to reinforce the existing, but fragile, legal norm against testing that already exists.
As President Bill Clinton said upon his signature of the CTBT in September 1996: “The signature of the world’s declared nuclear powers… along with the vast majority of its other nations will immediately create an international norm against nuclear testing, even before the treaty enters into force.”

The most effective way to verifiably end nuclear testing is to bring the treaty into force. To succeed, U.S. leadership is essential.

Bringing the CTBT back to the Senate for another vote requires a lengthy, intensive educational and outreach campaign to present the new information, answer detailed questions, and dispel old myths and misconceptions.

It was through such a process that the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) was approved in 2010. Unfortunately, in recent years, the Senate has shown it is not prepared for a serious discussion of the CTBT. 

The Obama administration has made it clear in congressional hearings, including on December 1, 2015 and July 14, 2016, that it is not pursuing "a prohibition of nuclear testing through a U.N. Security Council resolution.” 

The initiative that the administration is seeking, while not legally binding, would have tremendous political value in reinforcing the global norm against testing and reduce the risk that other nations might use nuclear testing to improve or develop nuclear weapons capabilities that threaten U.S. and global security.

Finally, any efforts by Congress to withhold the U.S. contribution for the global test monitoring system could undermine long-term U.S. security by eroding our ability to detect and deter clandestine nuclear test explosions by countries such as Russia and Iran.

Posted: August 4, 2016


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