U.S. Says It Will Be "Patient, But Persistent" on CTBT

In remarks outlining the Obama administration's arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament priorities earlier this year, newly-confirmed Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller announced that the administration will "be working to expand our public outreach on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty."

Speaking at a conference in Northern Virginia, Feb. 14, Gottemoeller added, "I want to be clear, we have no desire to rush up to the Hill for a vote. It’s been 15 years since this the CTBT was on the front pages of newspapers and whether we are talking to a Senator or a staffer, a schoolteacher or a student– we know that it is our job to make the case for this Treaty. Together, we can work through questions and concerns about the Treaty and explosive nuclear testing. In particular, the dangerous health effects of nuclear testing is a specific topic that can and should be addressed both here at home and abroad."

"Once we’ve brought the Treaty back to people’s attention, we can move on to discussion and debate – just like we did with the New START Treaty. We will not be setting timeframes for moving forward. We are going to be patient, but we will also be persistent. Above all, the CTBT is good for American national security and that is why we will continue educating the country on the treaty’s merits," Gottemoeller said.

Two weeks later, in remarks delivered at a March 1 ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the enormous Castle Bravo test in 1954, Gottemoeller said: "The United States will be patient in our pursuit of ratification, but we will also be persistent. It has been a long time since the CTBT was on the front pages of newspapers, so we will need time to make the case for this Treaty. Together, we can work through questions and concerns about the Treaty and explosive nuclear testing."

Five years ago in a speech in Prague, President Barack Obama said: "To achieve a global ban on nuclear testing, my administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned."

Since then, the administration initiated several studies to update the analysis of the technical issues surrounding the CTBT (most notably by the National Academy of Sciences), but it has put more energy into other nuclear risk reduction initiatives, including the negotiation and ratification of the New START Treaty.

The most detailed explanation of the case for the CTBT by an Obama administration official was delivered in 2011 by then-Undersecretary of State Ellen O. Tauscher.