Project News

CTBTO Funding Included in State FY 2018 Budget Request

By Daryl G. Kimball

The Trump administration's State Department budget request for fiscal year 2018 includes full funding for the United States assessed contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which operates the global monitoring system to detect and deter nuclear explosions and verify compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT):

"Contributions to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) ($31.0 million): PrepCom assistance helps to fund the fielding, operation, and maintenance of the state-of-the-art International Monitoring System (IMS), a global network of 321 seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, and radionuclide sensing stations designed and optimized to detect nuclear explosions worldwide. The U.S. receives the data the IMS provides, which is an important supplement to U.S. National Technical Means to monitor for nuclear explosions (a mission carried out by the U.S. Air Force). A reduction in IMS capability could deprive the U.S. of an irreplaceable source of nuclear explosion monitoring data. [emphasis added] This amount includes funding for projects to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the Treaty’s verification regime, and also funds a tax reimbursement agreement that facilitates the hiring of Americans by the PrepCom.” (pg. 338)

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."

UN Security Council Resolution 2310 Adopted

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2310, which reaffirmed the international moratorium on nuclear weapon testing, on Sept. 23. The resolution followed a Sept. 15 statement by the permanent five members of the UN Security Council committing not to defeat “the object and purpose” of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as required under customary international law. It also acknowledged the value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System.

20 Years Later: United States, Japan, and Kazakhstan Reaffirm Support For The CTBT

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The Stimson Center and the Arms Control Association hosted a panel discussion about the history and progress of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) 20 years after it was signed on September 24, 1996. To date, 183 states have signed the treaty.

Represented in the panel were senior officials from states that have been strong supporters of the treaty over the past 20 years.

Rose Gottemoeller, the undersecretary for arms control and international security and Adam Scheinman, the special representative of the president of nuclear nonproliferation reiterated the United States’ strong support for the CTBT and its entry into force. Under Secretary Gottemoeller remarked that the United States had been the first nation to sign the CTBT, although it has not yet been ratified by the Senate.

North Korea’s Fifth Nuclear Test

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 8.

The test was met with international condemnation and calls for increased sanctions on North Korea. Russia issued “the strongest possible condemnation,” and both Japan and the United States condemned the test in “the strongest possible terms” in official statements following the test. The UN Security Council convened on Sept. 9 in an emergency session to discuss the test.

Key Takeaways from the Senate Hearing on the CTBT UNSCR Initiative

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The first Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing dealing with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in over a decade took place on September 7th. Attendance was high, with Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) presiding, ranking Democrat Senator Cardin (D-Md.), and Senators Risch (R-Idaho), Rubio (R-Fla.), Flake (R-Ariz.), Perdue (R-Ga.), Menendez (D-N.J.), Shaheen (D-N.H.), Murphy (D-Conn.), Udall (D-N.M.), and Markey (D-Mass.) in attendance.

The hearing was convened to discuss the Barack Obama administration’s proposed United Nations Security Council Resolution (UNSCR) and P5 statement reaffirming support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its international monitoring system, which is under discussion and is expected to be finalized in mid-September.

The committee heard testimony from Stephen Rademaker, a former State Department official in the George W. Bush administration, and testimony from Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center.

The hearing provided several key takeaways on the UNSCR initiative and Senate views on the CTBT itself.

The Debate Over Obama’s UNSCR Proposal

U.S. President Barack Obama is seeking approval for a UN Security Council resolution to reinforce the norm against nuclear testing, in a move that would coincide with the 20th anniversary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which the United States signed in 1996.

The Washington Post columnist Josh Rogin quoted National Security Council spokesperson Ned Price as saying that while the administration would like to see the Senate ratify the CTBT, they are “looking at possible action in the UN Security Council that would call on states not to test and support the CTBT’s objectives. We will continue to explore ways to achieve this goal, being careful to protect the Senate’s constitutional role.”

Republican Senators Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) were quick to respond to the proposed UN Security Council resolution with statements of opposition, alleging that President Obama was "circumventing" Congress by going to the United Nations.

On Aug. 15, former Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.)—a lead opposition figure against the CTBT—penned an op-ed with Douglas J. Feith of the Hudson Institute against the UN Security Council resolution initiative.

However, administration officials were quick to note that they "fully respect the Senate's role" toward ratification of the treaty, and that the UN Security Council resolution "is in no way a substitute for entry into force of the CTBT."

Looking Ahead in 2016

August 29: International Day Against Nuclear Tests and the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Soviet Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.

September 10: 20th anniversary of the special session of the UN General Assembly that overwhelmingly approved the 1996 CTBT by a margin of 158 to 3, with five abstentions, opening the way for signature and ratification.