Project News

U.S. Questions Russian CTBT Compliance

(First published in the July/August 2019 Arms Control Today)

By Daryl G. Kimball

A top U.S. intelligence official publicly accused Russia in May of not complying with the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), raising concerns that the Trump administration may be considering withdrawing from another multilateral arms control agreement. The allegation is a significant shift from recent U.S. government and intelligence community assessments.

“Russia probably is not adhering to its nuclear testing moratorium in a manner consistent with the ‘zero-yield’ standard” outlined in the CTBT, said Lt. Gen. Robert Ashley, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), in remarks to the Hudson Institute May 29.

Article I of the treaty requires its parties “not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion,” and the issues of low-yield, zero-yield, and subcritical tests were debated at length during the treaty’s negotiation.

Passion and Diversity at the 2019 CTBTO Science and Technology Conference

By Ilya Kursenko

The bi-annual Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Science and Technology Conference (SnT2019) took place June 24-28 at the Hofburg Palace in Vienna. The conference brought together over one thousand participants, representing the most diverse regions of the world, and gathered their ideas and perspectives at the conference grounds.

The first conference day highlighted several pertinent topics, such as: youth as the advocates of progress towards CTBT ratification, gender equality in the science and technology field, and the role of expert communities in arms control agreements. These conference discussions also corresponded to the growing global concerns focused around the future of CTBT in particular and global arms control efforts as a whole.

Recent Ratifications: Zimbabwe and Thailand

By Cole Falkner 

This past week, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has re-emerged in the international spotlight. On Wednesday, February 13, 2019, the Republic of Zimbabwe deposited its instrument of ratification of the CTBT to the United Nations. Zimbabwe’s accession to ratification status of the treaty follows the Kingdom of Thailand’s realization of ratification on September 25, 2018. 

UN General Assembly Statements and Resolution Supporting CTBT

By Cole Falkner 

On November 26, 2018, the Seventy-Third Session of the UN General Assembly met in New York, where the “Cooperation between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization [CTBTO]” resolution was adopted.  

Australia's CTBTO Monitoring System Fully Certified

By Cole Falkner 

As of November 19, 2018, Australia’s International Monitoring System(IMS) stations for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) are “operational and certified”. The operability of Australia’s twenty-one systems marks significant progress toward the CTBTO’s mission to establish 337 stations throughout the world that monitor for nuclear tests. Today, nearly 90% of stations are in service and certified against the CTBTO’s standards.  

Governments and NGOs Mark the International Day Against Nuclear Tests

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

August 29 marks the eighth international day against nuclear tests. Less than ten countries have tested over 2,000 nuclear weapons since the United States exploded the first nuclear weapon in New Mexico on July 16, 1945. The day against nuclear tests was declared by the United Nations General Assembly in December 2009, when it adopted Resolution 64/35. The resolution was introduced by Kazakhstan to commemorate the 1991 closure of the Semipalatinsk testing site. The day is observed each year by events around the world, including symposia, conferences, exhibits, competitions, publications, lectures in academic institutions, and media broadcasts.

Senate Holds Hearing on Bill to Expand RECA

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

On June 27, the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee held a hearing about expanding the compensation benefits granted under the 1990 Radiation Exposure Compensation Act. The Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), together with amendments passed later, created an administrative program to provide compensation for some victims exposed to radiation during U.S. atmospheric nuclear testing and some employees of the U.S. uranium mining industry. Some advocates and lawmakers have criticized the act for excluding some individuals who were impacted by nuclear weapons testing and production.

Head of the CTBTO Discusses DPRK Test Site Dismantlement

By Rowan Humphries

 Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), was the keynote at an American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Arms Control Association cosponsored event on June 14, 2018 to discuss the role of technology in North Korean disarmament. Following his opening remarks, Dr. Zerbo and an accompanying panel of experts engaged in a discussion on how the scientific community and international organizations can work together to advance individual and collective goals, particularly as they relate to verifying the dismantlement of a nuclear test site. 

Dr. Zerbo’s opening remarks emphasized the importance of “getting the ball over the goal line,” when it comes to North Korean disarmament. He highlighted the science-based techniques and technologies the CTBTO has as its disposal to monitor nuclear testing, which could be used to verify North Korea’s voluntary testing moratorium, as declared by Kim Jong Un on April 20, 2018. Dr. Zerbo also pointed out that the technology the CTBTO employs to monitor nuclear testing could serve a side purpose of verifying nuclear test site dismantlement.