The Project for the CTBT supports the work of NGOs and experts to build public and policymaker understanding of the CTBT.

Notable Read: Make North Korea’s Nuclear Test Pause Permanent

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Jon Wolfsthal, Global Zero’s Nuclear Crisis Group director, recommends steps North Korea can take to build on its pledge to shut down its Punggye-ri test site and stop further nuclear weapons tests in a May 7 article for 38 North.

Punggye-ri Test Site Damaged, But Still Useable, Experts Contend

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Two different teams of Chinese geologists reported that North Korea’s sixth nuclear test damaged the mountain over the Punggye-ri test site, which North Korea promised to shut down in May. Neither research team concluded that the mountain damage rendered the site unusable, despite recent media reports to the contrary.

Five Chinese Test Detection Stations Certified

By Shervin Taheran

In just twelve months, China has certified its first five International Monitoring System (IMS) stations, of the twelve it is treaty-bound to certify in order to realize the completion of the global nuclear test detection system managed by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

China, as well as the United States, are two of eight countries left which need to ratify the CTBT for the 1996 treaty to enter into force. Both countries have signed, but not ratified, the treaty.

NPR Rejects CTBT Ratification; NNSA Shortens Testing Readiness Timeline

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre and Daryl Kimball

The Trump administration’s new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) asserts that “the United States does not support the ratification of the CTBT,” even though the United States and 182 other nations have signed the treaty, and even though there is no technical need to resume nuclear testing.*

The review, which generally defines U.S. policy regarding the role of nuclear weapons in security strategy, says “the United States will continue to support the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Preparatory Committee” and “the related International Monitoring System and the International Data Center.”

The NPR calls upon other states not to conduct nuclear testing and states that “[t]he United States will not resume nuclear explosive testing unless necessary to ensure the safety and effectiveness of the U.S. arsenal ….”

Notable Read: “Utilizing Article XIV Conferences to Boost the Two Norms that Matter Most”

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Michael Krepon, co-founder of the Stimson Center, highlights the importance of the norms against nuclear use and testing in a Jan. 4 blog post. While applauding UNSCR 2310 as a step in the right direction, he regrets that it does not prevent “boll weevils with the Trump Administration and on Capitol Hill” from seeking to tear down impediments to resuming nuclear testing. To continue to bolster the nuclear testing taboo, he recommends reinvigorating CTBT Article XIV conferences, which focus on advancing towards the treaty’s entry into force. The full article is available here

Notable Read: "How Young People Are Trying to Stop Nuclear Weapons Testing"

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Sarah Bidgood, senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, and Susan le Jeune d’Allegeerschecque, British High Commissioner to Canada, extol the value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Youth Group in an editorial published Jan. 1 in Teen Vogue. The group, launched in 2016, includes more than 300 students and young professionals from around the globe and seeks to promote the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and its verification regime.

2017 Article XIV Conference

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

At the 10th Article XIV Conference aimed at moving the CTBT towards entry into force, the United States and several other “Annex II” states that need to ratify the treaty for it to enter into force remained silent. China and Egypt were the only Annex II states to speak during the conference. At the 9th conference, the United States had voiced support for the treaty.

The United States is one of eight countries that must ratify the treaty before it can enter into force. The others are China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan. Of the eight, India, North Korea, and Pakistan have not taken the first step of signing the treaty.

Other state representatives and senior officials expressed support for the agreement at the September 20 conference.

North Korea's Sixth Nuclear Test

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test, which some experts assessed to be a test of a hydrogen bomb, on September 3rd. At a magnitude of 6.1, according to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, the test was North Korea’s most powerful to date.

Amendment on CTBTO Funding Undermines Global Test Ban

An amendment to “restrict” all funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization—except for the International Monitoring System—was introduced by Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) in the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, based on Feb. 7 legislation introduced by Wilson and Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.).

Also in the amendment is a declaration by Congress that UN Security Council Resolution 2310 passed Sept. 15, 2016 does not “obligate...nor does it impose an obligation on the United States to refrain from actions that would run counter to the object and purpose” of the CTBT, which could undermine the U.S. obligation—as a signatory to the treaty—not to conduct nuclear test explosions.

This legislation is in spite of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s joint statement with other G7 foreign ministers this April which noted in part that all nations “should maintain all existing voluntary moratoria” on all nuclear test explosions, and “recalls” UN Security Council Resolution 2310 as an important contribution to nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 5

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 5: Friday, June 30, 2017

The final day of the 2017 Science and Technology conference began with a discussion of how the CTBT can be advanced through “science diplomacy.” In addition to more traditional confidence building measures such as information sharing and research collaboration between government scientists, panelists proposed the establishment of summer schools and scholarship programs in the nonproliferation field and applauded the increased role of the CTBTO youth group at scientific conferences.

Although the conversation focused on the actions of scientific communities, panelists noted that there needs to be political will and vibrant civil society engagement to fully reap the benefits of science diplomacy. Later, scientists discussed how to use the International Monitoring System and other monitoring technologies to foster global development by affecting realms such as climate change and disaster risk reduction.

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