NNSA Sponsors Test Monitoring Symposium

By Shervin Taheran

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz and Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Dr. Lassina Zerbo headlined a Nov. 30 National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) symposium on Capitol Hill, which displayed the increasingly sophisticated array of United States and international nuclear test monitoring equipment and technology. The event also included remarks from a bipartisan collection of congressmen—Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.)—and the Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Thomas Countryman.

Shortly after this event, Moniz published an op-ed in American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)'s Science journal in which he recommends that the next U.S. administration and the Congress should revisit the CTBT and "work together toward enhanced security through ratification and an international push for entry into force."

Moniz emphasized the consistent security landscape in which voluntary nuclear testing moratoria are the norm, with the sole exception of North Korea, and pointed out the innovation in the United States's science-based Stockpile Stewardship program, using new tools such as supercomputers and lab facilities.

"All indications are that the stockpile will remain safe, secure, and reliable indefinitely without testing, even as the weapons age and are reduced in number," he said.  

More information on the Nov. 30 event, which was co-hosted by the CTBTO, the Department of Energy's National Nuclear Security Administration, Department of State, and was supported by the AAAS, is available here

The morning after the Capitol Hill event, the Arms Control Association and The Lugar Center, as a part of the Bipartisan Nuclear Dialogue Project, co-hosted an off-the-record private breakfast discussion with Zerbo and Countryman and Dr. Jay Zucca of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory to discuss the technical advances in nuclear test-monitoring and the role of the national laboratories in the support of the CTBTO's International Monitoring System and International Data Center.