Ban Ki-moon Asks Governments to "Be Courageous" and Ratify CTBT

At the fifth biennial ministerial meeting in support of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon delivered a passionate statement in support of the CTBT.

Nuclear testing has left a legacy of devastated and uninhabitable landscapes and lasting health and economic effects on local and downwind populations.

More troubling, nuclear testing has still not been consigned to history. Two tests have been conducted in the past five years.

Until we have universal adherence to a legally-binding global norm against nuclear testing, there is no guarantee that nuclear tests will not recur.

Developing new nuclear weapons and modernizing existing weapons are incompatible with our collective non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

He called on those states that have not yet ratified the CTBT, especially those "Annex 2" countries who must ratify the treaty in order for it to enter into force, to ratify the treaty quickly.

I have called on numerous occasions for those States whose ratification is required for the Treaty's entry into force to act first without waiting to others to do so.

We can no longer wait for the perfect international environment before taking advantage of existing – and potentially short-lived – opportunities.

Be courageous. Take the initiative. Be the first mover.

The Arms Control Association and the Project for the CTBT fully support the Secretary General's remarks, and encourage the Obama administration to pursue CTBT ratification as soon as possible. As Daryl Kimball wrote in a recent Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Proliferation Analysis:

Nuclear testing is a dangerous and unnecessary vestige of the past. U.S. inaction on the CTBT is self-defeating and counterproductive. The United States has neither the intention nor need to renew testing, yet its failure to ratify the CTBT undermines both U.S. leadership credibility and the United States’ ability to improve the detection and deterrence of testing by others.

Following the approval of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), President Obama should undertake the major high-level campaign that will be needed to push the CTBT through the Senate in 2011. And it is the Senate’s responsibility to the nation to reconsider the CTBT on the basis of an honest and up-to-date analysis of the facts and issues at stake.