US Abstains on CTBT at UNGA First Committee

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The United States appeared to walk back its support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) at the 2017 UN General Assembly First Committee, which discusses disarmament issues. The United States abstained on an annual resolution expressing support for the CTBT, which it had voted for last year, although U.S. Ambassador Robert Wood explained to Arms Control Today that it had only done so because it the United States is undertaking a review of international treaties.

It also sponsored a resolution introduced by Japan, which was revised from its 2016 version to weaken its call for the CTBT’s entry into force.

The 2016 resolution had urged for “all states, in particular the eight remaining states listed in annex 2… to take individual initiatives to sign and ratify that Treaty without further delay and without waiting for any other State to do so” and for “all states to redouble their efforts to promote the entry into force of the Treaty through the Article XIV process.”

The 2017 resolution eliminated the call for all annex 2 states (China, the United States, India, Pakistan, North Korea, Israel, Egypt, and Iran) to immediately sign and ratify the treaty, instead urging only North Korea to sign and ratify it first. It merely “acknowledged” the widespread call for the early entry into force of the CTBT.