Project News

Amendment on CTBTO Funding Undermines Global Test Ban

An amendment to “restrict” all funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization—except for the International Monitoring System—was introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, based on Feb. 7 legislation introduced by Wilson and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Also in the amendment is a declaration by Congress that UN Security Council Resolution 2310 passed Sept. 15, 2016 does not “obligate...nor does it impose an obligation on the United States to refrain from actions that would run counter to the object and purpose” of the CTBT, which could undermine the U.S. obligation—as a signatory to the treaty—not to conduct nuclear test explosions.

This legislation is in spite of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s joint statement with other G7 foreign ministers this April which noted in part that all nations “should maintain all existing voluntary moratoria” on all nuclear test explosions, and “recalls” UN Security Council Resolution 2310 as an important contribution to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 5

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 5: Friday, June 30, 2017

The final day of the 2017 Science and Technology conference began with a discussion of how the CTBT can be advanced through “science diplomacy.” In addition to more traditional confidence building measures such as information sharing and research collaboration between government scientists, panelists proposed the establishment of summer schools and scholarship programs in the nonproliferation field and applauded the increased role of the CTBTO youth group at scientific conferences.

Although the conversation focused on the actions of scientific communities, panelists noted that there needs to be political will and vibrant civil society engagement to fully reap the benefits of science diplomacy. Later, scientists discussed how to use the International Monitoring System and other monitoring technologies to foster global development by affecting realms such as climate change and disaster risk reduction.

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 4

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is a program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 4: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 4 of the conference began to focus on the intersection between science and policy, and the importance of translating complicated science into simplified language for diplomats and policymakers. Jonathan Forman, senior advisor to the scientific advisory board of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (OPCW), took the stage to share advice of how the OPCW tries to convey the science behind the convention to lawmakers, using tools such as using wasabi to metaphorically show the effects of tear gas and how it makes the eyes water, to going back to old-fashioned molecule models to explain stereochemical configurations.

"Disarmament requires scientist-policymaker collaboration," Forman noted. As scientists tend to think in terms of technical insight and analytical thinking, and policymakers tend to think of the broader global communication, it is particularly important that these groups retain good communication between them, he said.

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 3

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 3: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Educational initiatives remained at the forefront of the conference’s third day with the panel discussion “Training Education and Public Advocacy for the CTBT: The Role of Academia in Securing the Treaty’s Entry into Force and Universalization.”

Professors Matthew Yedlin and Allen Sens from the University of British Columbia announced their project to launch a massive online open course on nuclear weapons and arms control, including the CTBT. Bronwyn McCarter, a student enrolled in his course, spoke to how the materials introduced her to the treaty and led to her advocating with the CTBTO Youth Group. The University of British Columbia program is currently seeking collaboration with other institutions and NGO's in the hopes to expand their program to civil society globally.

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 2

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 2: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The CTBTO Science and Technology 2017 kicked off on Tuesday, June 26, 2017 with a High Level Opening panel moderated by Sanam Shantyaei from the France24 news television network, that stressed the critical juncture faced by the disarmament community in the year 2017. With North Korea conducting nuclear tests, diplomats negotiating for a ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations, and the Doomsday Clock sitting at two and a half minutes to midnight, keynote speakers urged that the time for progress on the CTBT is now.

Challenging gender disparities in STEM careers and the nonproliferation field, the High Level Opening of the CTBT featured three female keynote speakers: President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan Princess Sumaya of Jordan, Angolan Minister for Science and Technology, and Pascale Ultré Guérard, from the National Centre for Space Studies in France. Executive Secretary Dr. Zerbo applauded the women of the CTBTO and discussed the importance of more representation within the nonproliferation community.

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 1

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 1: Monday, June 26, 2017

The CTBTO Science and Technology 2017 began with introductory remarks from Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Dr. Lassina Zerbo at the specifically designated morning-long CTBTO Youth Group Orientation Session. The CTBTO Youth Group is a group launched at the 2015 Science and Technology conference which aims to increase the awarenss of, and support for, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), not only in the 8 remaining Annex 2 states whose ratifications are necessary for entry into force, but also in the countries who have ratified to help stave off treaty fatigue as well as encouraging general international support for the treaty. Dr. Zerbo's overarching message for conference participants is that the 2017 conference seeks to enhance the synergy between the fields of science and diplomacy, highlighting how scientific advancements and technological innovations can unite countries in their shared goal of entering the CTBT into force.

This goal of global cooperation is reflected in the diversity of the CTBTO Youth Group: seventy members are present at the conference, representing 54 different countries. CTBTO Policy and Strategy Officer Diana Ballestas de Dietrich challenged Youth Group members to find creative ways to make the technical treaty accessible and relatable for ordinary citizens. “How can we personalize the CTBT in a way that engages people in their daily lives?” she asked.

CTBTO Certifies Final Hydroacoustic Station

By Samantha Pitz

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization released a press release today stating that the CTBTO has successfully certified its eleventh, and final, hydroacoustic station June 19, 2017 on the Crozet Islands (France). The station was installed in December 2016 after many obstacles as part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) network, which monitors 24/7 for nuclear explosions. The relatively low frequency underwater sound produced by a nuclear test can be detected a great distance from their source, requiring only a few hydroacoustic stations around the world. The certification of the Crozet Islands hydroacoustic station brought the IMS network of 337 projected monitoring stations to 90% complete.

DOE's Report Claims "Revolutions" in CTBT-Related Science

By Samantha Pitz

Earlier this week the Los Alamos National Laboratory released a report, “Trends in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research and Development -- A Physics Perspective,” assessing current literature relating to explosion monitoring and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) for the years 1993 to 2016. The LANL report claims that "there have been significant technological and scientific revolutions in the fields of seismology, acoustics, and radionuclide sciences as they relate to nuclear explosion monitoring" and the CTBT, and also highlights how the CTBT was necessary to universalize monitoring to more than just nuclear states like the United States and diversify the monitoring capacity and abilities.