Project News

United States Observes National Downwinders Day, January 27

In 2011, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to designate January 27 as a "national day of remembrance for Americans who, during the Cold War, worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites and were adversely affected by the radiation exposure generated by the above ground nuclear weapons testing."

UN Secretary-General Urges U.S. Action on CTBT

In a major speech on Jan. 18, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke on a range of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation issues at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. He touched on the international community's achievements on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, outlined the the challenges that lay ahead, and called for renewed action on key priorities including the CTBT:

France Agrees to Declassify Radiation Data on Pacific Nuclear Tests

The Advisory Committee of the Confidentiality of National Defense has approved the declassification of 58 documents related to radiation levels in French Polynesia during and after French nuclear test explosions. 

France conducted 4 atmospheric and 13 underground nuclear tests in Algeria and 46 atmospheric and 147 underground nuclear tests at the Mururoa and Fangataufa Atolls in the Pacific.

North Korea Vows "Physical" Response to UNSC Resolution

Today, the North Korean government released a statement through the Korean Central News Agency condemning the most recent UN Security Council resolution (S/RES/2087) directed at Pyongyang. The UNSC resolution expands the list of sanctioned entities in response to the most recent North Korean satellite launch, which occurred on Dec. 12, 2012.

Although the resolution did not authorize a new round of sanctions, it demanded that Pyongyang refrain from conducting subsequent launches "using ballistic missile technology." It also instructed the country to comply with previous council resolutions directing it to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Madeleine Albright and Igor Ivanov, "A New Agenda for U.S.-Russia Cooperation," in the New York Times, Dec. 30, 2012

In an opinion editorial on U.S.-Russian relations, which touches on further bilateral nuclear reductions, cooperation on missile defense, the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and increased trade between the two countries, former Secretary of State Albright calls for the United States Senate to ratify the CTBT. She and Ivanov write:

"Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the first nuclear arms control agreement. It would be an appropriate year for the U.S. Senate to consent to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which has been languishing for 13 years. The United States could then join Russia among the countries that have ratified, thus bringing the treaty closer to entry into force."

Is North Korea Preparing for Another Nuclear Test?

The Associated Press reported on Dec. 27, 2012 that satellite photos indicate North Korea has repaired flood damage at its nuclear test facility and is now capable of conducting a nuclear test explosion at the site. According to 38 North, a program of the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, North Korea is capable of conducting a nuclear test at the site "in as little as two weeks" from the point a decision to proceed is made.

North Korea conducted a satellite launch on Dec. 12, 2012, which many believe was meant to gather data to construct an intercontinental ballistic missile. The United States has called for additional international sanctions against the state and the UN Security Council is currently negotiating its response to the launch, which was a violation of past UN Security Council resolutions.

Moving Forward on the CTBT After the U.S. Election

Following the November 2012 election, the prospects for achieving U.S. ratification of the CTBT in 2013-2014 have improved. Moving forward and gaining the necessary 67 Senate votes in support of ratification of the CTBT remains difficult, but is within reach.

Since the beginning of his first term, President Barack Obama and other senior administration officials have consistently expressed support for the pursuit of U.S. reconsideration and ratification of the treaty. In March 2012, Obama said that: "... my administration will continue to pursue ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty." The 2012 Democratic Party platform also pledged to "work to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty."

In 2013, Democrats will have a 55-seat working majority, which means that the president and his allies would need to persuade at least a dozen pragmatic Republicans to secure two-thirds Senate support-an attainable goal.

South Korea Signs Tsunami Warning Agreement with CTBTO

The CTBTO signed an agreement with South Korea on October 31 to share tsunami early warning data with the country, making it the ninth CTBTO member state to do so. The International Data Centre (IDC) of the CTBTO, with assistance from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), provides early warning data on tsunamis using a combination of seismic and hydroacoustic monitoring stations to detect "any strong, shallow earthquake under the seafloor" which could trigger a tsunami, according to UNESCO. The IDC currently utilizes data from 40 different monitoring stations in the Pacific to detect earthquakes beneath the ocean floor.