Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
The concept of banning nuclear testing originated with arms control advocates in the early 1950’s after over 50 nuclear explosions had been registered between July 1945 and December 1953. Prime Minister Nehru of India initially proposed the elimination of all nuclear test explosions worldwide, but no treaty was launched as a result of public concern in the context of the Cold War. Nuclear tests resumed, but in 1961 Physicians for Social Responsibility documented the presence of strontium-90 (a by-product of nuclear tests) in the teeth of children around the world, confirming that nuclear tests pose serious public health dangers.
In 1963 a Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) was adopted banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater, or in space. The Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) was created in 1968, wherein all signatories were committed to the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament. The PTBT and NPT paved the way for negotiations in the 1970’s that almost led to a CTBT. Although additional proposals in the 1980’s failed, successful talks in the early 1990’s with support from the United Nations General Assembly finally brought about a CTBT.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was opened for signature in New York on September 24th of 1996. The obligations as laid out in this text go far beyond previous treaties on nuclear weapons testing requiring parties to refrain from participating in all types of nuclear tests explosions in all environments. The underlying premise of such requirements is a commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and to the longer term process of nuclear disarmament.
The Value of the CTBT
The CTBT is a major milestone in the effort to prevent nuclear proliferation and promote steps toward abolition of nuclear weapons. In addition to establishing a permanent ban on all nuclear explosions in for any purpose, its “zero-yield” prohibition on nuclear tests helps to constrain development and deployment of new, sophisticated nuclear weapons. The Treaty also establishes a far-reaching verification regime that includes a global network of sophisticated seismic, hydroacoustic, radionuclide monitoring stations, as well as on-site inspection of tests to deter and detect violations.
PSR calls on Participants in the CTBT Entry into Force Conference to:
1.) Recognize that the CTBT is a necessary component of the larger international arms control regime.
2.) Condemn nations known to be conducting nuclear test explosions of any kind.
3.) Take diplomatic steps to encourage holdout states to pursue CTBT ratification.
PSR calls on the US to:
1.) Oppose recent efforts to enhance test site readiness (reduce time-span around testing resumption).
2.) Support funding for the CTBT organization, a vital piece of ensuring the verification regime.
3.) Abandon plans to design advanced, more useable nuclear weapons.
CTBT Fact Sheet - PSR summary of key facts and arguments for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
ACA CTBT Resource - Excellent in-depth resource on the case for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and why we need to ratify it now
Project for the CTBT - A project of the Arms Control Association that provides up to date information on the progress / status of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
Physicians for Social Responsibility is working on a field campaign to educate and inspire American Citizens to take action on nuclear disarmament issues and press for the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. A key component of that campaign will be activist, like yourself, joining our staff in working in your state to educate your local representatives. Sign a petition to call on the White House to make the ratification of the CTBT an urgent priority.