Ambassador Thomas Pickering Urges U.S. Ratification of the CTBT

Ambassador Pickering called for U.S. leadership on the CTBT in a February 20 opinion editorial in The Christian Science Monitor. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and under secretary of state for political affairs called for the White House to "launch a high-level push for ratifying the treaty" and urged the Senate to provide its advice and consent on the test ban treaty. Pickering pointed out that the United States has not conducted a nuclear test in over 20 years and reiterated the fact that Washington has "no technical or military need to do so ever again."

Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. and former Utah Senator Jake Garn made the same point on February 16 in an opinion editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune. They quoted former National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Linton Brooks' comment that, "There's not going to be nuclear testing in the United States. No sane person thinks there is."

Entry into force of the CTBT is vital to U.S. interests. According to a 2013 report by the National Academy of Sciences, the United States no longer needs to test nuclear weapons to maintain the safety and reliability of its nuclear stockpile; however, other nuclear powers like China stand to benefit from a return nuclear testing, which would allow Beijing to make qualitative improvements to its arsenal.

Ratification of the CTBT would strengthen the global norm against nuclear testing and pressure other countries to ratify the treaty. U.S. ratification of the CTBT would catalyze action on the treaty by China, India, and Pakistan. It would also place additional pressure on North Korea to refrain from additional testing and would help restrain Iran from conducting a nuclear test.

During her February 12 remarks at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, Israel, Acting Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller said that ratification and entry into force of the CTBT "remains a top priority for the United States."