I salute the Arms Control Association … for its keen vision of the goals ahead and for its many efforts to identify and to promote practical measures that are so vitally needed to achieve them. -

– Amb. Nobuyasu Abe
Former UN Undersecretary General for Disarmament Affairs
January 28, 2004
Nuclear Testing

The Nuclear Test Ban: Technical Opportunities for the New Administration

January/February 2017

By Stephen Herzog

It has been two decades since the nuclear Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature at the United Nations. So far, 183 states have signed and 166 have ratified the treaty, which U.S. President Bill Clinton called “the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control.”1 

Despite what since has become a global norm against explosive nuclear testing, the CTBT itself does not enter into force until it is ratified by eight holdout states listed in Annex 2 of the treaty, including the United States.2 Even so, the accord is a well-established pillar of the international security system. The UN Security Council in September marked the treaty’s 20th anniversary by adopting Resolution 2310, which recognizes international support for the accord, reinforces the global norm against nuclear test explosions created by the treaty, underscores the value of the global monitoring system to verify treaty compliance, and calls on all remaining states to sign and ratify to facilitate its “early entry” into force.

The infrasound array on the remote South Atlantic island of Tristan da Cunha, shown in a 2004 photo, is among the 285 certified sites that are part of the International Monitoring System established to verify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. (Photo credit: CTBTO)As the Trump administration sets out policies on the CTBT regime and other nuclear arms control and nonproliferation issues, it should not overlook the opportunity to advance related scientific and technical measures to strengthen nuclear explosion monitoring worldwide.

The capability to detect nuclear tests has changed dramatically since 1999, when the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate voted against CTBT ratification, with opponents citing issues such as verification and a potential need for testing to maintain the reliability of U.S. nuclear weapons. At that time, there were no certified International Monitoring System (IMS) stations. At present, 285 of the planned 337 IMS stations are certified and monitoring the globe to detect and confirm any violations of the treaty.3 A 2012 National Academy of Sciences (NAS) study concluded that sensitive monitoring thresholds of IMS stations and national technical means would make it extremely difficult for even the most sophisticated states to evasively test nuclear weapons.4 The study also found that the U.S. nuclear stockpile stewardship program is maintaining a reliable arsenal under the 1992 U.S. moratorium on nuclear tests. These conditions have led numerous analysts to conclude that the treaty serves U.S. national security interests.5 

Even with persuasive technical capabilities in place and President Barack Obama’s April 2009 commitment to aggressively pursue U.S. ratification, his administration’s efforts were modest. They included outreach to senators, publication of Department of State factsheets, and participation of administration officials in nongovernmental events. Perhaps the lack of stronger action for ratification stemmed from political battles on Capitol Hill, including over the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia and the nuclear agreement with Iran. 

Regardless, the case is clear for the Trump administration to redouble these efforts and pursue CTBT ratification. Yet, the incoming administration should not limit itself to seeking ratification. This article discusses a series of technical initiatives that would improve the already excellent global monitoring capabilities and further align the international community behind ending nuclear tests. Vote counting in the Senate should not cause stagnation or reduced U.S. support for these objectives. In fact, enhanced treaty-monitoring efforts would help further disprove CTBT critics and might stimulate global, bottom-up scientific pressures for ratification and entry into force.

Improving Data Collection

Worldwide detection of nuclear explosions requires expansive real-time monitoring and data processing that are unprecedented in the history of arms control. The NAS study expressed confidence in the capabilities of the IMS and other monitoring networks. The North Korean underground nuclear tests and Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactor crisis demonstrated the global effectiveness of the monitoring systems. Still, more work could be done to increase waveform and radionuclide data collection. Seismic, hydroacoustic, and infrasound waveform data are used to help identify the location of an event and to determine if it is natural or man-made. Radionuclide particulate and noble gas data can provide the “smoking gun” evidence confirming the occurrence of a nuclear explosion.

Steps to complete and expand the IMS will help to build greater international support for the treaty and conclusively confirm that states cannot carry out illicit nuclear tests without being caught. 

Completing the IMS. The IMS is the backbone of the CTBT due to its critical role in collecting information about geophysical events. When complete, the IMS will consist of 50 primary and 120 auxiliary seismic, 11 hydroacoustic, 60 infrasound, and 80 radionuclide monitoring stations, as well as 16 radionuclide laboratories. Of these facilities, 285 are now certified, 17 are installed, 17 are under construction, and 18 are still in the planning process.6 Around the clock, they provide waveform, radionuclide particulate, and noble gas data, ensuring that states are not testing nuclear devices in the earth’s atmosphere, underwater, or underground. 

The stations transmit real-time event data via satellite link to the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna, operated by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Data center analysts make raw data and compiled event bulletins available to authorized users from CTBT states-parties.7

A group of specialists from national data centers in African and Middle Eastern countries takes part in a May 2012 training course in Vienna. The data centers are part of the global monitoring and verification system for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. (Photo credit: CTBTO)Beyond the NAS study and a large body of scientific literature validating monitoring capabilities, the system has been successfully field-tested many times. Numerous IMS stations detected each of North Korea’s five underground nuclear tests. Within hours of North Korea’s most recent test on September 9, 2016, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo announced, “So far 25 of our stations are contributing to the analysis.”8 

The utility of the IMS is not limited to nuclear explosion monitoring. For example, the gathered radionuclide data were essential for analysis of the radiation effects of the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Furthermore, IMS data were instrumental in defining the mock area to be examined by on-site inspectors during the CTBTO’s successful field exercises in Kazakhstan in 2008 and Jordan in 2014.

The text of the accord has produced some unfortunate political difficulties alongside the many achievements of the monitoring network. Annex 1 to the treaty’s protocol specifies the national locations and coordinates for monitoring stations pursuant to the CTBT negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament. Like entry into force, amending the CTBT is a daunting task. At times, logistical and funding hurdles have delayed certification of IMS stations on small islands and in Antarctica. More troubling, however, is the presence of noncertified stations in states that have not yet ratified the treaty, such as China, Egypt, Iran, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia. Although the Chinese stations are moving toward certification and transmitting data to the data center, other stations remain in political limbo.9 

As host to 38 certified IMS facilities on its various territories, the United States can credibly push for completion of the monitoring system. The United States could apply pressure or lend its technical capabilities to its Egyptian, Pakistani, and Saudi allies for installation and certification of these remaining stations. Additionally, Washington has diplomatic leverage when dealing bilaterally and multilaterally with other states slated to host IMS stations, including China, Ethiopia, Iran, and Thailand. If these stations came online, they would provide valuable monitoring data to the international community and trigger deepened engagement between the CTBTO and holdout states in their surrounding regions.

Concluding a Facility Agreement. The United States could also take a leading role in strengthening the IMS by concluding a facility agreement with the CTBTO. These agreements are intended to be signed between the organization and all 89 states that host IMS stations on their territory.10 Facility agreements cover matters such as IMS technical upgrades, station operator training, and the legal aspects of CTBTO access to monitoring sites. 

Only 45 of these 89 states have signed facility agreements, of which 38 such accords have entered into force.11 Active facility agreements account for approximately half of the IMS stations. As the state hosting the greatest number of IMS stations, participation by the United States in the facility agreements regime is integral to the long-term success of the monitoring system. Leadership by the Trump administration would send a strong signal of the vital importance of unhindered and uninterrupted IMS data flow.

Breaking Ground on Cooperating National Facilities. Although adding new stations to the IMS is politically and legally difficult, the United States should promote the treaty’s often-overlooked Cooperating National Facility (CNF) provision. Under the CTBT, states are permitted to build facilities that make available supplementary data from national monitoring stations that are not formally part of the IMS. These facilities would be constructed at the expense of the hosting states-parties and require certification by the CTBTO just like treaty-designated stations.12

Initial discussions on CNF data contributions to the IDC were similar to the protocols regarding IMS auxiliary seismic stations. That is, the stations would be operated by the hosting state with a satellite link allowing data flow to the IDC at the request of the CTBTO. In recent years, however, there has been debate in the CTBTO’s Working Group B on verification over whether the data center would be permitted to incorporate CNF data into its analyses.

CNFs would augment the strong monitoring capabilities of the IMS by offering new waveform and radionuclide data to the international community. Also, there are no limitations on the number of CNFs that states may build. Certified CNFs could help to attenuate the fears of states that are concerned about the activities of their neighbors and would be particularly useful in confidence building on verification for a future Middle Eastern nuclear-weapon-free zone. In 2000 a group of Israeli scientists published a study showing that national seismic network stations in Israel and Jordan could be certified as CNFs to enhance the precision of IMS location capabilities in the Middle East and eastern Mediterranean region.13 Yet to date, no states have established such facilities, although several have expressed interest in developing “Prototype CNFs.” 

The incoming administration should bring U.S. technical assistance to bear in support of U.S. allies and other states that are willing to host CNFs. These de facto IMS stations would expand monitoring coverage, which would be particularly valuable in regions where political difficulties have stymied completion of the IMS. By showcasing the importance of the data for their region, CNFs might also encourage reluctant host states to pursue installation and certification of treaty-mandated IMS stations. A key part of U.S. leadership on the CNF issue will be sustained diplomatic efforts to ensure that data collected by these facilities are distributed to all interested states-parties in compiled IDC data products and bulletins.

Expanding Data Analysis

If improving data collection is one side of the coin for more effective monitoring, expanding data analysis is the other. It is in the interest of U.S. national security to ensure that states around the world are making use of data from the IMS and future CNFs for verifying the absence of nuclear explosive testing. The CTBTO has made great strides toward this end under the leadership of Zerbo, the former head of the IDC. Alongside efforts to pursue treaty ratification, the United States should work with the CTBTO toward attaining universal use of these data among states-parties. 

Increasing National Data Centers. Unlike the International Atomic Energy Agency’s high level of autonomy, the efficacy of the CTBTO, once the ban treaty enters into force, will be entirely dependent on its states-parties. Determining whether a treaty violation has occurred will not be left to international scientists and bureaucrats. Instead, ordering an on-site inspection will be a political decision requiring 30 affirmative votes from among the 51 state members of the CTBTO’s Executive Council. In principle, national votes will be made based on sound national scientific analyses.

For this reason, the establishment of national data centers is indispensable to the success of the CTBT monitoring and verification regime. Such centers are nationally designated institutes whose responsibilities include sending IMS data to the IDC and receiving data and compiled data bulletins from the IDC.14 These national centers employ analysts with expertise in waveform and radionuclide technologies who evaluate data from the IMS and other national networks. Their objective is to determine whether nuclear explosions are occurring in regions of interest. These analyses will inform national responses to geophysical events, as well as votes on on-site inspections and treaty violations in the Executive Council.

The number of these national centers around the globe continues to expand, but these technical centers of expertise are far from universal. Of the 183 state signatories and 166 states that have ratified the treaty, only 129 have established such centers.15 Given the significance of Executive Council votes, it is clearly in the U.S. interest to ensure that political decisions are informed by rigorous scientific and technical analysis. The Trump administration should continue and expand on existing U.S. capacity-building programs while engaging in political outreach aimed at encouraging the development of these national centers.

Broadening the Web Portal User Base. Simply ensuring that states have access to raw IMS data and IDC data bulletins is perhaps even more important than establishing these national centers. Currently, access is available to authorized users affiliated with governments of state signatories. After entry into force, states will need to have ratified the treaty to maintain access for their authorized users. Data access takes place through a platform called the IDC Secure Web Portal. At present, 137 states have users accessing this platform.16 Although this array of states is impressive, they only represent three-quarters of states-parties with eligibility to access the data. To avoid misperceptions about potential nuclear tests, particularly in areas with pronounced regional tensions, the United States should encourage the use of the IDC Secure Web Portal. Washington should also support the development of the relevant technical expertise needed to analyze event data on this platform.

Civil and Scientific Outreach

Societies and civilian economies have long benefited from the peaceful uses of technology associated with global security. The IMS data are no exception. Article IV of the CTBT even notes that states-parties may “benefit from the application of [monitoring] technologies for peaceful purposes.” 

Frank Rose, U.S. assistant secretary of state for arms control, verification and compliance, visits the radionuclide monitoring station on the roof of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization headquarters in Vienna on June 23, 2015. He was accompanied by Barbara Nadalut, a CTBTO radionuclide expert. (Photo credit: CTBTO)Indeed, the civil and scientific uses of associated seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, and radionuclide data are vast. The treaty further states that satellite and electromagnetic pulse monitoring should be discussed as an expansion of the IMS. Accordingly, the United States should cooperate with the CTBTO to widen the promotion of civil and scientific uses of IMS data. This is particularly the case among countries that have not signed or ratified the treaty, pursued certification of their hosted IMS stations, or displayed notable interest in nuclear explosion monitoring.

Interest in Explosion Monitoring. The United States is but one of a few states in the world with CTBT monitoring and verification interests spanning the entire globe. Other states have more regionalized interests and will likely focus on “precision monitoring” directed at “one or a few countries of concern, or on limited areas of those countries.”17 Another group of states, however, are disinterested in nuclear explosion monitoring or believe that verification issues should be left to larger, more capable states. Involvement of these states in CTBT activities is important for dispelling the myth of the accord’s irrelevance and promoting Executive Council votes based on dispassionate scientific analyses.

The CTBTO recognizes that states have unequal levels of interest. Based on this understanding and the multifaceted utility of CTBT data, panels on civil and scientific uses of data have been a part of the organization’s biannual science and technology conferences since 2009. Some examples of alternative uses of data include hydroacoustic tracking of whale migration patterns and seismic hazard mapping of fault zones to protect populations from earthquakes.18 

IMS data have also been instrumental in mitigating the consequences of disasters. This was highlighted by the use of radionuclide data in the wake of the Fukushima Daiichi reactor crisis in 2011 and infrasound monitoring of the eruption of the Eyjafjallajökull volcano in Iceland a year earlier. After the devastating 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, the CTBTO began to cooperate on real-time tsunami warning with the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. Tsunami warning centers in 14 countries have signed agreements with the CTBTO to receive data from relevant IMS stations.19 In 2011, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon recognized such achievements, stating, “Even before entering into force, the CTBT is saving lives.”20

Specialists with the expertise to develop seismic hazard maps or radionuclide atmospheric transport models often have the ability to participate in CTBT monitoring and verification activities. Many national data center experts split their time between nuclear explosion monitoring and civil scientific pursuits. The United States should work alongside the CTBTO to continuously engage these experts. This should entail promoting the civil and scientific uses of IMS data, while encouraging technical experts to apply their skills to the domain of nuclear explosion monitoring. To be effective, such scientific partnerships require a broad understanding of the applications for CTBT-related data that states may find useful. Opening channels for cross-national data sharing and research may facilitate improved communication regarding potential nuclear tests.

U.S. promotion of the civil and scientific applications of IMS data may also increase global political ratification prospects for the CTBT. Such activities could emphasize the numerous benefits of treaty participation for those states that remain outside of the test ban regime. Another potential benefit might be a better understanding of the value of installing and certifying the remaining IMS stations. 

University and Industry Collaborators. National data centers’ analysts and national monitoring experts are not the only people who could make use of the large repository of data associated with the CTBT regime. Many technical experts in academia and private industry have a professional interest in disaster response, geophysical hazard mitigation, nuclear explosion monitoring, and other related scientific endeavors. The CTBTO has recognized the necessity of incorporating these communities into its activities, as indicated by their increasing participation at the science and technology conferences. Due to limited IMS data access, however, universities and the private sector can only play a small role in leveraging CTBT technologies for the benefit of their countries and the international community. With growing interest in IMS data from domestic sectors outside of the U.S. government, Washington is well positioned to advocate for an increasingly open and transparent scientific culture surrounding the CTBT.

The CTBTO has opened its doors outside of official governmental channels through the creation of its Virtual Data Exploitation Center. This platform enables researchers working on scientific projects to request access to IMS data. If the CTBTO approves, researchers are granted access to archival, event-specific data that is not useful for monitoring and may not be published in its raw form.

This platform and other initiatives are an encouraging start to furthering IMS data transparency. Still, the United States should consider supporting greater levels of openness. Perhaps the states-parties would allow the CTBTO to open its data repositories to universities and the private sector after a certain amount of time. With this lag, the data would be of no use in sensitive, real-time nuclear explosion monitoring activities. Yet, these archived waveform and radionuclide data would be useful for such undertakings as earthquake preparedness, meteorological tracer studies, and iceberg mapping. Further, accentuating the scientific benefits would increase pressure on CTBT holdout governments to reconsider the utility of the accord for their population.

Entry Into Force Prospects

This article has highlighted a number of technical initiatives the incoming Trump administration should pursue alongside CTBT ratification. Proponents of the treaty have a persuasive technical and national security case for ratification. Given this and the precedent that U.S. ratification would set for other Annex 2 states, the administration will surely face domestic and international ratification pressures.21 As the new administration considers a ratification debate, it should not forget about the complementarity of science, technology, and politics within the CTBT sphere.

Efforts to increase the flow of CTBT-related data and expand and train the community that analyzes these data would strengthen the administration’s hand against treaty critics. In the 1999 debate over the CTBT, prominent critics such as Senator Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) argued that the treaty was unverifiable. Senator John McCain (R.-Ariz.), who will likely play an outsized role in a ratification debate, noted in 2008 that he was willing to revisit the issue of CTBT verifiability. Times and verification prospects have changed drastically since 1999. The near-completion of the IMS, success of the stockpile stewardship program, and publication of the decisive NAS study on CTBT verification should leave no lingering doubts among even the treaty’s past detractors. The scientific and technical initiatives described above will only further discredit skeptics of the CTBT at home and abroad.

Still, the Trump administration must not restrict its focus to attaining U.S. ratification of the test ban. Seven other Annex 2 states have yet to ratify the treaty: signatories China, Egypt, Iran, and Israel and nonsignatories India, North Korea, and Pakistan. Although those who have signed remain obligated to the accord under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, their ratification is required for entry into force and activation of the treaty’s mechanism for on-site inspections.22

Top-down U.S. political and diplomatic outreach efforts to encourage other states to ratify the CTBT and complete the IMS should continue. Because of the pivotal role of technology in monitoring and verification, the United States should undertake an expanded international program of complementary bottom-up scientific outreach. Increased access to data and analytical training are integral to familiarizing experts with the CTBT and nuclear explosion monitoring, the IMS and its data, the civil and scientific benefits of the treaty, the CTBTO as an institution, and the global norm against nuclear tests. 

When political decision-makers consult scientists about the utility and verifiability of the CTBT or about its Executive Council votes on on-site inspections or treaty violations, it is unmistakably in the U.S. national interest for these experts to be prepared to let the science speak for itself. Scientific outreach was one of the key components underlying effective U.S.-Soviet and U.S.-Russian arms control during the Cold War and beyond. 

Now, the incoming administration has an opportunity to embrace scientific diplomacy, which may be the key to getting the dominoes to fall toward entry into force of the CTBT. This would truly be a remarkable foreign policy achievement by the Trump administration to strengthen global security.


1.   CTBTO, “Status of Signature and Ratification,” 2016, https://www.ctbto.org/the-treaty/status-of-signature-and-ratification/; James Bennett, “Clinton, at UN, Says He’ll Press Senate on Test Ban Pact,” The New York Times, September 23, 1997.

2.   States listed in Annex 2 to the CTBT are the 44 that participated in the negotiation of the treaty and had nuclear power or research reactors at the time. Their ratification is required before the treaty can enter into force. The eight remaining Annex 2 holdouts are China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States. See CTBTO, “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty,” Annex 2.

3.   CTBTO, “International Monitoring System,” 2016, https://www.ctbto.org/map/

4.   Committee on Reviewing and Updating Technical Issues Related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, National Research Council of the National Academies, The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: Technical Issues for the United States (Washington: National Academies Press, 2012). Prior to the publication of this decisive NAS study, the scientific community was largely united behind the verifiability of the CTBT. For a summary of these arguments, see David W. Hafemeister, “The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Effectively Verifiable,” Arms Control Today, October 2008, pp. 6-12.

5.   Charles D. Ferguson and Stephen Herzog, “Kyl Should Reconsider Opposition to Nuclear Test Ban,” The Hill, March 30, 2011; Kaegan McGrath, “Verifiability, Reliability, and National Security: The Case for U.S. Ratification of the CTBT,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 16, No. 3 (2009): 423-428; Deepti Choubey, “The CTBT’s Importance for U.S. National Security,” Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, October 14, 2009, http://carnegieendowment.org/2009/10/14/ctbt-s-importance-for-u.s.-national-security-pub-23999.

6.   CTBTO, “International Monitoring System.”

7.   Prior to the CTBT’s entry into force, states-parties are defined as those states that have signed the treaty. After entry into force, states-parties will be those that have ratified the accord.

8.   CTBTO, “CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo on the Unusual Seismic Event Detected in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea,” September 9, 2016, https://www.ctbto.org/press-centre/press-releases/2016/ctbto-executive-secretary-lassina-zerbo-on-the-unusual-seismic-event-detected-in-the-democratic-peoples-republic-of-korea/

9.   On the status of Chinese IMS stations, see CTBTO, “Chinese Monitoring Stations Now Sending Data,” January 6, 2014, https://www.ctbto.org/press-centre/press-releases/2014/chinese-monitoring-stations-now-sending-data/.

10.   CTBTO, “Facility Agreements: The Cement Between Member States, IMS Stations and the CTBTO,” 2016, https://www.ctbto.org/member-states/facility-agreements/.

11.   Ibid. For a discussion of the difficulties involved in negotiating facility agreements, see Ola Dahlman, Svein Mykkeltveit, and Hein Haak, Nuclear Test Ban: Converting Political Visions to Reality (New York: Springer, 2009), p. 109.

12.   For further information on Cooperating National Facilities, see Dahlman, Mykkeltveit, and Haak, Nuclear Test Ban, p. 137. See also Ola Dahlman et al., Detect and Deter: Can Countries Verify the Nuclear Test Ban? (New York: Springer, 2011), p. 202.

13.   Yair Bartal et al., “Optimal Seismic Networks in Israel in the Context of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty,” Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America, Vol. 90, No. 1 (2000): 151-165.

14.   For an example of the activities of National Data Centers in the context of Malaysia, see Faisal Izwan Abdul Rashid et al., “The CTBT National Data Centre: Roles and Functions,” n.d., http://www.iaea.org/inis/collection/NCLCollectionStore/_Public/45/097/45097352.pdf?r=1

15.   CTBTO, email correspondence with author. 

16.   Ibid.

17.   Dahlman et al., Detect and Deter, p. 2.

18.   Bernard Massinon, “Benefits of Potential Civil and Scientific Applications of CTBT Verification Technologies,” CTBTO Spectrum, No. 4 (2004), pp. 17-18.

19.   CTBTO, email correspondence with author. 

20.   Ban Ki-moon, “Message From the Secretary General of the United Nations,” in “Scientific Advances in CTBT Monitoring and Verification,” CTBTO, June 2013, p. 5, https://www.ctbto.org/fileadmin/user_upload/SandT_2011/CTBTO_ST11_web_complete.pdf

21.   For examples of the effects of this precedent, see Liviu Horovitz and Robert Golan-Vilella, “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: How the Dominoes Might Fall After U.S. Ratification,” Nonproliferation Review, Vol. 17, No. 2 (2010): 235-257.

22.   For a discussion of the obligations of state signatories prior to entry into force, see Masahiko Asada, “CTBT: Legal Questions Arising From Its Non-Entry-Into-Force,” Journal of Conflict and Security Law, Vol. 7, No. 1 (2002): 85-122. 

Stephen Herzog is a Ph.D. student in political science at Yale University. Previously, he directed scientific engagements supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and geophysical hazard mitigation for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. 

The Trump administration should not overlook the opportunity to advance scientific and technical measures to strengthen nuclear explosion detection and analysis.

The CTBT at 20: Ambition on the Road to Success

January/February 2017

By Lassina Zerbo

On December 16, I attended a ribbon-cutting ceremony in Lanzhou, China, to mark the first certification of an International Monitoring System (IMS) station in China’s national network of 11 facilities being established to monitor global compliance with the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This represents a milestone for the treaty and illustrates the real progress that has been achieved in cooperating with China on nuclear test monitoring and verification challenges.

Strengthening the relationship with China has been one of my top priorities. My first official travel after taking office as executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was to China in August 2013. Shortly thereafter, we secured the provision of monitoring data from Chinese IMS stations to the International Data Centre in Vienna. This flow of data helps to ensure that the verification requirements of the CTBT are being met, providing our member states with a high degree of trust and confidence in our ability to monitor the globe for any signs of nuclear explosions. 

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo presents a certification document for radionuclide monitoring station RN21 to Men Lei, director of the Commission of Disease Control of Gansu Province on December 16, 2016. RN21 is the first of 11 International Monitoring System stations hosted by China to be certified. (Photo credit: CTBTO)We also have achieved significant progress in expanding our monitoring capabilities through enhanced engagement and cooperation with several other member states, in particular the Russian Federation, Ecuador, Argentina, and many African countries. This is helping to create a tailwind effect toward the completion and full operation of the IMS. 

There is a general feeling that the nuclear nonproliferation regime faces significant challenges. It might therefore come as a surprise that I see the CTBT as a “good news” story, continuing along the road to success, even if some of the steps forward take longer than others. 

It is worth recalling that the treaty required three years of intense and often contentious negotiations in Geneva in the mid-1990s, not to mention decades of collaborative scientific research and debate on nuclear test ban verification issues before that. Yet, these heady discussions on science and policy eventually culminated in the adoption of the CTBT by the UN General Assembly in September 1996. 

Immediately afterward, a preparatory commission was created to orchestrate the buildup of the most extensive and ambitious multilateral verification regime ever envisaged. The commission is still with us today even if it might be more accurately termed at this stage an “interim organization.” More than 90 percent of the planned global nuclear test monitoring assets are in place, and the detection threshold is far better than the treaty’s negotiators thought feasible. This has been borne out by the CTBT monitoring system’s accurate and timely detection of all five nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, including two in 2016. 

We commemorated the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the CTBT last September. Many high-level events were held last year in recognition of the treaty’s role in solidifying a de facto norm against nuclear testing and contributing to remarkable advancements in nuclear test monitoring science and technology. 

An unprecedented, CTBT-specific UN Security Council resolution, Resolution 2310, was adopted that same month, accompanied by a related statement in which the five permanent members underlined their commitment to the treaty. Strong support for the treaty and its verification regime also came from resolutions and statements of the Group of Seven, NATO, the European Parliament, and the International Organisation of La Francophonie.

We now witness almost universal political support in the international community for the objectives of the CTBT, namely an effectively verifiable, credibly enforceable, legal prohibition on nuclear test explosions. With 183 states-signatories and 166 ratifying states, the treaty is one of the legal instruments with the widest adherence in the international security architecture.

Yet, the road goes on. With the ratification of eight key states pending before the CTBT can enter into force, we still have work to do. Thankfully, we do not have to go down this road alone. The efforts of the Friends of the CTBT and the co-coordinators of the Article XIV process (formally, the Conference on Facilitating Entry Into Force of the CTBT) have played and will continue to play a vital role in this regard.

It is worth recalling what all countries have to gain from the entry into force of the treaty. Testing moratoria are certainly useful in their own right, but only an in-force CTBT will establish a legally binding norm and deliver a robust on-site inspection mechanism. Movement on the treaty would buttress the nuclear nonproliferation regime and would help build the confidence needed to move forward on a number of related issues, regionally and globally. Most importantly, it would bring a permanent end to the destabilizing practice of nuclear testing and constitute a firm barrier to a resumption of the nuclear arms race.

As I look ahead to this year, I do so without the foreboding that afflicts some in the arms control community. Instead, I see a road replete with opportunities for more steps forward. For example, in June the CTBTO will hold its Science and Technology 2017 Conference, the sixth in a series of multidisciplinary conferences designed to keep us at the forefront of scientific and technical innovation. Following the recent treaty ratifications by Myanmar and Swaziland, we expect Thailand to follow suit in the coming months, bringing us one step closer to universalization. These and other positive advances can be expected in 2017. 

Of course, navigating a course to full legal implementation of the treaty will require strength, determination, and most importantly, unapologetic ambition. On my recent visit to China, I was struck by the ancient proverb, “Do not be afraid of a long road to success; only be afraid of a shortage of ambition.” The CTBT may be an ambitious goal, but it is a road well worth taking.

Lassina Zerbo is executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization.

There is now almost universal political support in the international community for the objectives of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

CTBTO’s Zerbo Gets Second Term

December 2016

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). (Photo credit: CTBTO)

The member states of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) reappointed Lassina Zerbo as executive secretary for a second four-year term. The CTBTO, established in 1996, supports the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) verification regime and promotes the treaty’s eventual entry into force. To date, 183 states have signed the CTBT, and 166 have ratified it. Eight remaining Annex 2 states, including the United States, must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force. 

In an address to the EU Nonproliferation and Disarmament Conference on Nov. 4, Zerbo noted the high-level conference in June to mark the CTBT’s 20th anniversary. He applauded UN Security Council Resolution 2310, adopted on Sept. 23, which reaffirmed support for the international moratorium on nuclear weapons testing, calling it an “inspiration.” Zerbo acknowledged several challenges to the treaty, such as continued North Korean nuclear testing, the failure of U.S. and China to ratify, and completing and maintaining the international test monitoring system.

The member states of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) reappointed Lassina Zerbo as executive secretary for a second four-year term.

IAEA Condemns North Korea’s Actions

November 2016

By Kelsey Davenport

Member states of the Inter-national Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) passed several resolutions at the organization’s yearly meeting, including one that condemns North Korea’s nuclear activities, but did not vote on a controversial resolution singling out Israel’s nuclear program. 

The IAEA’s 60th General Conference was held Sept. 26-30 in Vienna. 

Yukiya Amano, director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, addresses delegates September 26 at the 60th IAEA General Conference in Vienna. (Photo credit: Dean Calma/IAEA)The agency’s resolution on North Korea was adopted unanimously Sept. 30. It reaffirmed that North Korea cannot have the status of a nuclear-weapon state under the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and called on Pyongyang to implement comprehensive safeguards and resolve all outstanding issues that have emerged since agency inspectors were last granted access to North Korea’s nuclear facilities in 2009. 

North Korea joined the IAEA in 1974, but withdrew in 1994. The agency has not been able to conduct safeguards activities since then, although inspectors had limited periodic access through 2009.

Laura Holgate, U.S. representative to the IAEA, said in a statement on Sept. 30 that the resolution is “strong, resolute, and unequivocal” and underscores that North Korea could “not harbor any illusions that its illicit pursuit of nuclear weapons will achieve legitimacy in the eyes of the international community.” 

Holgate said that enhanced pressure on North Korea will remain essential to compel Pyongyang to “correct its course.” 

In June, the Arab member states of the IAEA made a request to put Israel’s nuclear capabilities on the agenda, but unlike past years did not introduce a resolution on the subject during the conference. 

Zeev Snir, head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, said in his opening statement at the meeting that Israel welcomed the decision to refrain from putting forward a draft resolution but regretted the Arab Group’s decision to include the topic on the agenda for discussions, saying it leads to “politicized, irrelevant discussions.” 

Holgate said the United States welcomed the decision by the Arab states and that the resolution singling out Israel was “not an appropriate item” for the conference.

In the last decade, the resolution has passed once, in 2009, and was not put forward in 2011 and 2012. It failed to pass in 2010, 2013, and 2014.

The member states did approve a resolution on Sept. 29 on the application of safeguards in the Middle East. The measure was approved 122-0, with six abstentions, including the United States. Explaining the U.S. position, Holgate said that efforts to advance toward the creation of a Middle Eastern zone free of weapons of mass destruction have been pursued at IAEA general conferences “without seeking consensus among states in the region” and that this approach undermines trust. 

The resolution calls on all states in the Middle East to accede to the NPT and accept full-scope IAEA safeguards on their nuclear activities. It also calls on states in the region to take measures toward supporting a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. 

The resolution does not specifically single out Israel, but Israel is the only Middle Eastern country not party to the NPT. Israel is suspected of having a nuclear arsenal of about 80 warheads, with enough material for up to 200 weapons, although it has never officially acknowledged possessing such arms or demonstrated its capability through a declared nuclear test.

The conference also passed resolutions relating to the agency’s budget, nuclear security work, and technical cooperation. It approved three new applications for IAEA membership for Gambia, St. Lucia, and St. Vincent and the Grenadines.

Pyongyang’s defiance tops the issues International Atomic Energy Agency’s annual meeting.

Second Debate Provides Opportunity to Discuss North Korea

Oct. 9 marks both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump’s second presidential debate and the 10th anniversary of North Korea’s first nuclear test. This serendipitous timing should push each candidate to present a clear plan of action to confront North Korea’s rapid nuclear development. To date, Clinton has avoided making policy recommendations about North Korea and Trump has provided a handful of troubling remarks. North Korea’s most recent nuclear test Sept. 9 , its fifth thus far, took place only eight months after its last Jan. 6. The explosive yield from the September test was greater than 10...

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UN Security Council Backs CTBT

October 2016

By Shervin Taheran

The UN Security Council adopted its first resolution specifically supporting the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), with the vote intended to reaffirm the global norm against nuclear testing and to encourage the ratifications necessary to trigger the treaty’s entry into force. 

Resolution 2310, introduced by the United States, was approved 14-0, with Egypt abstaining. A total of 42 countries, including Israel, co-sponsored the resolution, which comes 20 years after the treaty was opened for signature.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and other diplomats vote to adopt the resolution in support of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty during a UN Security Council meeting September 23. (Photo credit: Astrid Riecken/CTBTO)The CTBT has not entered into force because eight key states—China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States, also known as the Annex 2 states—have failed to ratify it. The resolution, adopted Sept. 23, urges those countries to ratify “without further delay” and calls on all states to refrain from conducting nuclear tests, emphasizing that current testing moratoria contribute to “international peace and stability.” 

Further, the resolution calls on states to “provide the support required” for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and encourages states hosting International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities to transmit data to the International Data Centre pending the treaty’s entry into force.

The resolution also took note of a Sept. 15 joint statement by the five permanent Security Council members recognizing that “a nuclear-weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion would defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT.” By endorsing this language, the resolution affirmed the view of these five states that even before the treaty enters into force, all 183 CTBT signatories have an existing obligation not to conduct nuclear test explosions.

Before the vote, Egypt criticized the council for “squandering” an opportunity to emphasize the urgent need to advance nuclear disarmament, while noting that Egypt nevertheless “fully supports the purpose and objectives” of the CTBT.

The radionuclide station on the island of Tristan da Cunha, a remote UK territory in the South Atlantic Ocean, is part of the International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization. (Photo credit: CTBTO)

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry emphasized that although the council resolution “does not impose a legal prohibition on testing…it does reinforce the core purposes and objectives of the CTBT itself: to diminish our reliance on nuclear devices, to reduce competition among nuclear powers, and to promote responsible disarmament.”

After the resolution was adopted, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, speaking outside the council chamber, told reporters that he “can only welcome any initiative that serves to strengthen the norm against nuclear testing.” He noted the timeliness of the resolution, given the commemoration of the treaty’s 20th anniversary of opening for signature and North Korea’s continued nuclear test explosions. 

Zerbo said the resolution is not intended to circumvent the need for ratification by key countries. “The process for ratification remains the ultimate way to get the treaty into force,” he said.

Two New Ratifications

Resolution 2310 was adopted on the heels of the eighth “Friends of the CTBT” ministerial meeting held at UN headquarters Sept. 21. Thirteen foreign ministers and other high-level diplomats such as U.S. Undersecretary of State Rose Gottemoeller, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, and Zerbo spoke at the hour-long gathering. Among the ministers were representatives from Swaziland and Myanmar, nations that officially ratified the CTBT later that afternoon, bringing the number of treaty ratifications to 166. 

A joint ministerial statement released at the meeting condemned North Korea’s ongoing nuclear testing and called for prompt CTBT entry into force. Some diplomats were even more forceful in their statements, such as when Canadian Minister of Foreign Affairs Stéphane Dion individually called out by name the eight states that are left of the 44 states listed in Annex 2 of the treaty whose ratifications are necessary to make the accord legally binding.

Congressional Reaction

Some Republican members of the U.S. Congress raised objections to the Security Council initiative and the proposed statement by the permanent members, before either were adopted or published, asserting that those measures might create a new legal prohibition on testing and bypass Congress’s role in ratifying treaties. 

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) expressed concern at a Sept. 7 hearing that the political statement referenced by the resolution would establish a new legal restriction on signatories by affirming that nuclear tests would defeat the “object and purpose” of the treaty. Such an interpretation would not apply to the United States because the Senate did not provide its advice and consent for ratification when it voted on the treaty in October 1999, he said.

But in a Sept. 7 letter to the committee, Kerry said, “Although the policy of the last administration was not to pursue U.S. ratification of the CTBT, that has not been the current administration’s policy.”

Kerry continued that, “as a matter of international law, treaty signatories are obliged to refrain from acts which would defeat the object and purpose of a treaty, unless they make their intention clear not to become a party to the treaty.” Until another administration makes clear that the United States no longer intends to become a party to the treaty, as a “well-established principal of treaty law,” the United States will continue to have these obligations, he said. 

Nevertheless, on Sept. 8, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and 32 other Republican senators wrote to President Barack Obama threatening to seek to cut off U.S. funding for the CTBTO. Then, on Sept. 20, Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and 12 other senators and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) and one colleague in the House introduced parallel bills threatening to bar U.S. funding for the CTBTO if the resolution “obligates the United States or affirms a purported obligation of the United States to refrain from actions that would run counter to the object and purpose” of the CTBT. The United States provides nearly a quarter of the funding for the CTBTO, including for maintenance and operation of the IMS, which serves to detect and deter nuclear testing, even before the CTBT enters into force.

But after the Security Council resolution was adopted, Corker, Cotton, and Rubio each released a statement acknowledging that the council action does not create a new legal prohibition or what Corker called a “backdoor process” to implement a treaty the Senate has not ratified.

Other members of Congress supported the initiative, including three members of the House Armed Services strategic forces subcommittee, who issued a joint statement Sept. 23 welcoming the passage of the resolution and the joint statement. Reps. John Garamendi (D-Calif.), Rick Larsen (D-Wash.), and Loretta Sanchez (D-Calif.) said the resolution and joint statement reaffirm the U.S. commitment to a voluntary, national nuclear testing moratorium and to “responsible science-based management” of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile.

In a reference to Republican threats to defund the CTBTO, they noted that doing so would “threaten” the world’s ability to monitor nuclear tests in North Korea and would be “counterproductive” to U.S. security interests.

The vote was intended as a prod for the ratifications needed for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty to enter into force. 

UNSC Reinforces Taboo Against Nuclear Testing, Increases Pressure on CTBT Hold-Outs to Ratify



For Immediate Release: September 23, 2016

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, executive director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 107; Tony Fleming, communications director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(United Nations, New York)—Today, the Washington-based Arms Control Association commended action by the UN Security Council to bolster international support for the global norm against nuclear weapons testing and the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which opened for signature 20 years ago this week.

Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking on support for the UNSC resolution reaffirming the global norm against nuclear testing (Photo: UN WebTV)“This first-ever, CTBT-specific Security Council resolution (2310) is a very important reaffirmation of the global taboo against nuclear weapon test explosions and strong call for ratification by the remaining eight Annex 2 hold-out states,” said Daryl G. Kimball, executive director of the Arms Control Association.

“This Security Council resolution also underscores the immense value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization's International Monitoring System, which effectively detects and deters clandestine nuclear testing even before entry into force,” Kimball said.

The test ban resolution also recognizes the important September 15 statement from the permanent five members of the council reaffirming their legal commitment as CTBT signatories not to take any action that would “defeat the object or purpose of the treaty,” which is to halt “any nuclear weapon test explosion and any other nuclear test explosion.”

"With this language, the resolution reaffirm the view of the international community that all 183 CTBT signatories have a legal obligation not to conduct nuclear test explosions. This is not a new obligation, nor is it a substitute for the ratifications necessary for CTBT entry into force, but it is a strong and timely reaffirmation of the global taboo against nuclear testing,” Kimball explained.

The initiative has been under discussion in diplomatic circles for several months and was formally advanced by the Obama administration in coordination with other council members, including the current president of the council, New Zealand.

The last of the United States’ 1,052 nuclear tests was in September 1992. President Bill Clinton was the first to sign the CTBT on September 24, 1996. Over the past two decades, 183 states have signed and 166 have ratified the treaty, and the CTBT has established a strong international norm against nuclear testing.

Only North Korea has conducted nuclear test explosions in this century.

However, the CTBT has not yet entered into force because eight key states—China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan, and the United States, also known as the Annex 2 states—have failed to ratify.

“To finally close the door on nuclear testing and bring the CTBT into force, the United States must provide stronger leadership by reconsidering and ratifying the treaty,” Kimball said.

“Much has changed since the Senate last examined the CTBT in 1999 and rejected the treaty after a brief and highly partisan debate that centered on questions about the then-unproven stockpile stewardship program and the then-unfinished global test ban monitoring system,” noted Kimball, who has campaigned for the CTBT for more than a quarter-century.

“Today the global monitoring system can detect any militarily significant test explosion, and U.S. programs have proven effective in maintaining its nuclear arsenal without nuclear test explosions,” Kimball said. “The United States has no need to resume nuclear explosive testing and we must do everything we can to strongly discourage other states from resuming nuclear testing, which would create new nuclear dangers that threaten international peace and security,” he said.

“Before the Senate takes another vote, however, there should be an intensive educational and outreach effort to ensure that all senators carefully examine the most current information on the CTBT, get answers to their questions, and do not base their views on outdated information and misconceptions about nuclear testing or the test ban treaty,” Kimball cautioned. "But the process of reconsideration should begin—and soon—with the new president and Senate."

“Other hold-out states have good reason to act now on the CTBT,” Kimball added. “India and Pakistan, which are observing unilateral testing moratoria and want to be considered ‘responsible nuclear-armed states,’ would improve their standing and security by signing and ratifying the CTBT," he noted.

"Israel, which has signed and supports the treaty, and Iran, which has signed the CTBT, would both advance their security interests through ratification. Ratification by Iran and Egypt could further the goal of a Middle East nuclear-weapons-free zone," Kimball elaborated. "China has signed but not ratified the CTBT, though by doing so, Beijing’s leaders could put further pressure on North Korea to halt its nuclear testing, and spur Washington to finally reconsider and ratify the treaty,” he argued.

“We cannot afford to wait another 20 years for the CTBT to enter into force. Until it does, it is in every country’s interest to strengthen the taboo against nuclear testing and to fully support the work of the CTBT Organization in Vienna. This new Security Council resolution is an important and timely step in the right direction,” Kimball said.


Statement by Arms Control Association's Executive Director Daryl G. Kimball, on the adoption of a UNSC resolution reaffirming the global nuclear test ban.

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Stimson-ACA Event—20 Years Later: The United States and the Future of the CTBT



20 Years Later: The United States and the Future of the CTBT

Tuesday, September 13, 2016, 9:00 a.m. - 10:30 a.m.
The Stimson Center, Washington, DC

Audio and Slideshow Available

Twenty years ago, the United States took a leading role in negotiations for a verifiable ban on the explosive testing of nuclear weapons. The result was the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which opened for signature September 24, 1996. Although the treaty has widespread domestic and global support, the CTBT has not yet entered into force because the United States and seven other key states have failed to ratify the treaty. This month, the Obama administration, along with other UN Security Council member states, are considering a resolution that reaffirms support for the global norm against nuclear testing and the eventual ratification of the CTBT.

Rose Gottemoeller, Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, U.S. Department of State
Ambassador Adam M. Scheinman, Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation, U.S. Department of State
Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna
Ambassador Kairat Umarov, Ambassador of Kazakhstan to the United States
Michael Krepon, Co-Founder of the Stimson Center
Daryl G. Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association


   FINLAY: Ladies and gentlemen, welcome. My name is Brian Finlay, I'm the president and CEO here at Stimson. And on behalf of our partners and co-conveners for this event, Daryl Kimball and his colleagues at the Arms Control Association, I would very much like to welcome you here to the Stimson Center for what is, as you can see from the panel, going to be an action-packed and international discussion on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

   It's a little bit deja vu all over again when I think my being in this room with many of you previously talking about this very issue. But it's exciting to open The New York Times and The Washington Post and actually see potential progress on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

   But we, as I say, do have a very action-packed agenda. And so without further ado, I would like to welcome my colleague and the co-founder of Stimson, Michael Krepon.


   KREPON: Thanks for coming.

   For the panel today and for me and the Stimson Center's partner, Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty isn't just professional, it's personal. And everybody on this dais has been working on this treaty for 20 years or more. And we are grateful for your commitment to this treaty.

   And that's what this event is about. That's what the U.N. Security Council resolution is about. That's what the P5 statement is about next week.

   We're here to remember the value of the treaty, to recommit to its entry into force, to add propulsion to this very long and difficult process. It's not going to happen tomorrow, but tomorrow will come sooner because of the steps that will be taken in New York next week.

   We are pressed for time. Rose needs to leave us at 9:30. She has an agenda that would buckle the knees of a teenager. So I'm not going to introduce our distinguished panel. You can read their bios.

   We've asked Rose, Ambassador Kitano and Ambassador Umarov to limit their opening remarks to 10 minutes. Then Daryl will handle the Q&A. And after Rose leaves, Adam, whose commitment to this issue is as immense as anybody else, is going to fill in on the Q&A side, after you perhaps direct just a couple of questions at Rose before she leaves.

   So with that, Rose, the floor is yours.

   GOTTEMOELLER: Thank you very much, Michael.

   It's a real pleasure to be back here at the Stimson Center and also to be participating in this important event in partnership also with the Arms Control Association. So thank you for this opportunity.

   I love coming to the Stimson Center. Last time I was here it was for an important event to launch our annual publication, "To Walk the Earth in Safety." Many of you also work on the landmine clearance and unexploded ordnance of war, clearance of those kinds of tragic remnants of wars around the world. And I really always take my hat off to the commitment of the Stimson Center to so many important issues in the realm of not only weapons of mass destruction, but also disposition of conventional armaments as well.

   And I'm delighted to be here with my esteemed counterparts, Ambassador Kitano and Ambassador Umarov. This year has been such an important year for Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. It is the 20th anniversary of the opening of the treaty for signature, and these two countries, Japan and Kazakhstan, have been right at the heart of our commemoration, pushing every day to not only commemorate the event of the opening of the treaty for signature, but to push forward from this moment toward its entry into force.

   So I very much appreciate the work of the two ambassadors, Ambassador Kitano and Ambassador Umarov, but their countries as well. They have been great colleagues throughout this year.

   And indeed, as Michael said, next week will be an important week at the U.N. General Assembly and there will be a lot more action there with, again, Japan and Kazakhstan taking a leading role.

   Ambassador Adam Scheinman is also here. He'll be happy to take a lot of questions from you, or maybe not happy, but he's ready to take a lot of questions from you.


   SCHEINMAN: Happy, ecstatic.

   GOTTEMOELLER: I am going to have to depart right around 9:30, but I'll plan on taking one or two questions before I have to run out the door. So I apologize for that in advance.

   As we come here together to note the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and the establishment of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization, I'd like to begin, as I often do, by making note of the long road to complete a global ban on nuclear explosive testing.

   The CTBT is in fact the longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in the history of arms control. And we are still fighting. We must remember how far we have come. The creation and implementation of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963 is a testament to what we are capable of achieving when we set our sights on a goal. That treaty provided the foundation for a total ban on nuclear explosive testing, and another step along the road, let us not forget is the entry into force in 1990 of the TTBT, the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, as well as the PNET, the ban on peaceful nuclear explosions.

   The United States is very proud of its role in the negotiation of a comprehensive ban on nuclear explosive testing, and we were proud to be the first nation to sign the CTBT after it opened for signature in 1996.

   The United States signed the CTBT because we recognized the potential of this treaty to significantly strengthen nuclear nonproliferation, thereby enhancing the security of our nation and every nation around the world.

   As the president noted in his statement for the CTBTO's June ministerial meeting, after 20 years the full potential of the CTBT remains unfulfilled, but the United States is steadfast in our support for the treaty and for the critical work of the Preparatory Commission.

   Our dedication to the treaty is demonstrated through unmatched monetary and technical support and our clear commitment to ensuring that the verification regime is completed and able to function as intended.

   It is critical that every signatory to the treaty support the work of the Preparatory Commission to complete the treaty's verification regime and help enhance the effectiveness of the provisional technical secretariat.

   We should all work to upgrade the International Data Center, the IDC, and ensure the completion of an effective, on-site inspection capability.

   Despite our clear support for the CTBT, the United States acknowledges that we have not completed our work on the ratification process and that our delay gives cover to other Annex 2 states who have not yet ratified the treaty. That is why we are building support for this treaty here at home, state by state and sometimes person by person, because we know that a global ban on nuclear explosive testing is good for our country.

   We are making it clear to the American public that our scientists and military experts agree that the CTBT is verifiable and we do not need to conduct nuclear explosive testing in order to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear stockpile.

   I won't deny that this work is difficult and that we face domestic political obstacles. That does not change the fact that this treaty is in our national security interests, and so it is incumbent upon us to convince those who doubt this fact. We are certain that we have a good case to make; we will continue to make it.

   In the meantime, it is in the U.S. national security interests to reaffirm the moratoria against nuclear explosive testing and continually increase our ability to monitor and detect nuclear explosive tests. That is why the Obama administration decided to engage with the members of the U.N. Security Council, including the five Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty nuclear weapon states, on potential steps to further reduce nuclear dangers by strengthening the international nuclear explosive detection architecture and supporting existing national moratoria on nuclear explosive tests.

   To be clear, we are not proposing and will not support the adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing legally binding prohibitions on nuclear explosive testing. Further, the resolution we have in mind would in no way be a substitute for entry into force of the CTBT, which would require, among other things, ratification by the United States with the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate. The administration is committed to working with the Senate to build support for ratification.

   In the meantime, it is in the U.S. national security interests to reaffirm the moratoria against explosive nuclear testing.

   In closing, I would like to say that I have always emphasized the clear national security benefits of the CTBT, and over the last few years I've personally seen the effects nuclear explosive testing has had on people and the environment. I was in the Marshall Islands on the 60th anniversary of Castle Bravo. In Alaska, I spoke with residents who said that they are worried that radiation from explosive tests there had found its way into the food chain. I spent time in southern Utah talking to ranchers who had lost their entire flocks to radiation from nuclear testing in Nevada.

   And in New Mexico, I walked the cold, hard ground at Trinity, still littered with black, glass-like particles from the test. I thought how far we have come, but how far we still have to go. In each place, people of different backgrounds support the treaty 100 percent, no matter what their background, no matter what their experience.

   The administration will continue to make the case to students, civic groups, faith-based groups, political leaders across this country. But I will say that there are those among us who already recognize the value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. We need to expand that circle every day.

   Thank you very much for your attention, and I look forward to hearing from my esteemed colleagues. Thank you.

   KREPON: Thanks, Rose.

   Ambassador Kitano.

   KITANO: Thank you very much, Michael.

   And it is a great pleasure and honor for me to be here, together with the distinguished panelists and Undersecretary Rose Gottemoeller and Ambassador Kairat Umarov of Kazakhstan, and Kazakhstan is a country with which Japan is working very, very closely all these years in this area, and Ambassador Scheinman, it is a great pleasure.

   And many of you have a longer engagement with the CTBT. For me, at least, I can date back 20 years. I was one of the team who was involved for the Japanese signing and ratification in 1996 and 1997. So for me, it is an unfinished business.

   And as I am a participant from Vienna and a participant from Japan and I suppose my role here is to provide some of Japan's perspective and also a perspective from Vienna. Vienna is a place where CTBT organization is located. We have daily discussions on all aspects of CTBT.

   So let me start my presentation in touching upon our response to the most recent debate which happened last Friday, DPRK's fifth test. It was around 2:30 midnight or early in the morning the event happened. And immediately, an international warning system of CTBT detected this event.

   And of course, the Preparatory Commission was called to convene and a technical briefing provided. And the countries expressed their perspective on this event. And we have come up with a report and saying that many condemning the announced nuclear test and expressing grave concern over the serious, negative effect about any such test on international peace and security.

   It is needless to say that this test constituted a serious, grave threat to Japan's security. And it also undermines the peace and security of Northeast Asia and also the international community as a whole.

   And also in the context of CTBT, I would say that it is a stark reminder of the necessity of the legal, binding instrument, legally binding commitment for not to conduct nuclear tests.

   Now, having said that, I would like to touch upon the significance of CTBT in today's context. For me, the question which is in front of us is appropriate, is it in our interests to try to strengthen, enhance a set of ideas not to conduct nuclear weapon tests? You know, we can hold an international standard for not to conduct nuclear weapon.

   For me, in view of the most recent event last week, the answer is very much evident and clear. Yes, it is, it is in our interests to do so; we should aim for a set of ideas for not to conduct nuclear testing. And it is very much widely shared.

   And CTBT was established for that purpose. CTBT was very much widely shared, agreed international agreement. And it has a signing states of 183 signing states. And it has been ratified by 164 states. And this number will soon increase to 166, adding such countries as Swaziland and Myanmar.

   And as is well-known, all P5 states and nuclear weapon states under NPT, and together with India and Pakistan, declared and maintain moratoria for not to conduct nuclear tests. And it is quite widely shared ideas.

   Think about the situation if another test, a new test would be conducted anywhere in the world, whether it would be in Northeast Asia, whether it would be in South Asia, whether it would be in Middle East or anywhere else, it should most certainly exacerbate the international security situation very seriously.

   So thinking about that, I suppose it is very much important we should make efforts to enhance this set of ideas, international standards for not making, conducting nuclear test.

   But here, I have to make one very much important caveat. That is to say, what we should aim at is a legally binding commitment not to conduct nuclear testing. This should be effectuated by way of entering into force for CTBT.

   But my point is, while we strive for that, it would be in our interests to strengthen this set of ideas, an international standard not to conduct nuclear testing.

   Now, I would like to touch upon another important aspect of CTBT, and that is to say a ratification mechanism of CTBT. The idea, underlying idea of a CTBT is that we should come up with a verifiable nuclear test ban treaty, as Rose has mentioned. And for that purpose CTBT is treated in ways very much and robust, solid mechanism of verification centered on international monitoring system.

   Now, around the world there are around 300 monitoring stations. And they send data to International Data Center of CTBTO. And they gather information and analyze. It is with this system which detected all five nuclear tests of DPRK, including their most recent. So my point here is it is very much in our interests to strengthen, improve this set.

   And before I make my concluding remarks, let me and touch upon our role as what we call Article 14 co-coordinator. Article 14 is one that was a mechanism of the treaty by which co-coordinator tried to push for the process of entering into force.

   And the general image of CTBT is that the CTBT might be in limbo, nothing and not many things are happening in the ratification for the remaining eight countries, and putting aside all the effort which is conducted in the United States.

   From my standpoint (inaudible). For example, China, China had started sending data from their monitoring stations to the International Data Center of CTBT for certification.

   Thinking about Israel, and Israel's (inaudible) is that the ratification of the CTBT is not a question of why, but it is a question of when. And they could pull out specific issues that have to be addressed.

   Think about Pakistan, for example. Pakistan is one of three countries among the remaining eight and (inaudible) countries who have not signed the treaty. But Pakistan gained the status of observer and status of CTBT, they are part of the discussion of CTBTO in that capacity. And it was quite recent that they made a proposal and was calling to India why not making one step forward for the nuclear test moratorium.

   So things are happening. So in our role, Kazakhstan and Japan, what we are trying to do is trying to gather this momentum and trying to channel that in the right direction.

   And concluding remarks, maybe I would like to mention two things. The role of the U.S. is very much important. Japan, and I personally, appreciated, welcomed all the effort it has made and U.S. is making and U.S. is going to make and, of course, the advancement of CTBT.

   And why I say this, it is not only from disarmament nonproliferation standpoint we are saying, it is based on security considerations we are saying that, too. And as you can see, in my presentation I made reference to DPRK issues, which is national security issues. As you would understand.

   The last one pitch I would like to make is the significance of this year, and this year is the 20th year anniversary of this opening for signature for CTBT. As I said, in Vienna there is a strong sense that it is unfinished business, let us finish what we have started 20 years.

   And what happened this year, two rounds of nuclear tests. This is very much in a way we would like to condemn it, but it is also a wake-up call, and it gives at least us a very important message. So what our role is now, to take that message and try to transfer it, bring it to action.

   Thank you very much for your attention.

   KREPON: Thank you, Mr. Ambassador.

   Ambassador Umarov.

   UMAROV: It's a pleasure to be here at the Stimson Center.

   And thank you, Michael and Daryl, for inviting me to speak today as part of this distinguished panel.

   It's quite symbolic that this event to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the CTBT coincides with the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site in Kazakhstan.

   These two important events are very much linked. By closing one of the world's largest test sites, Kazakhstan's president, Nursultan Nazarbayev, made history as the first to legally ban nuclear tests.

   It wasn't long before other nuclear states or nuclear test sites followed Semipalatinsk, creating a unique condition needed to ensure the ban for nuclear tests becoming a global phenomenon.

   The day the test site was closed, August 29th, 1991, paved the way for adoption of the CTBT. It is very symbolic that August 29th is recognized by the U.N. as the international day against nuclear tests and is commemorated across the world annually.

   Another well-known initiative of Kazakhstan, it is the ATOM Project, which stands for Abolish Testing Our Mission. The project is aimed at creating global awareness and support for a final and irrevocable nuclear test ban. It engages hundreds of thousands of general public across the world by explaining the consequences of nuclear tests. It encourages anyone who opposes the nuclear weapons to sign an online petition urging their governments to abandon nuclear testing permanently and help to ensure the CTBT is achieved.

   At the beginning of this year, my president actually introduced a new and very interesting, I think, initiative, the Manifesto: The World. The 21st Century.

   In this vision and document, my president suggests that the international community should stop being complacent about the nuclear threat and develop a holistic action plan to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons and, ultimately, nuclear wars. It actually declares war on wars.

   Ladies and gentlemen, 20 years ago, U.N. General Assembly resolution adopted the CTBT. Twenty years is a long period of time. But the treaty which was designed to be a key element in the international security system has not yet entered into force.

   We believe that the reason the CTBT hasn't entered into force is a lack of political will in the Annex 2 states. Political will is essential to build a sense for global solidarity for our shared future.

   North Korean nuclear and missile testing of recent weeks and months gives added urgency and shows that the global risks of nuclear testing and proliferation are not eliminated completely. With each and every test, we see that North Korea is trying, is attempting to modernize its nuclear capability, which is a very dangerous thing for the global security.

   Kazakhstan strongly condemns the actions of DPRK leadership. It's not only causing serious damage to the efforts of the international community on nuclear disarmament, but also undermines nuclear balance and security.

   We need CTBT in place to further pressure Pyongyang to abandon its unacceptable practice and renounce nuclear ambitions. We need CTBT to outlaw DPRK's activities in this dangerous sphere.

   The treaty and related efforts have so far proved effective. We are confident that the impact will increase significantly after the CTBT enters into force. Considerable progress has been made in creating and deploying the international monitoring system. This system, even in its uncompleted state, has helped to identify nuclear tests conducted by DPRK, including the most recent ones. All on-the-ground nuclear explosions, however small or clandestine, were successfully registered, including by five Kazakh stations connections to IMS.

   Measures taken by CTBTO on strengthening the verification regime as well as conducting on-site inspections and field experiments should be commended and further supported.

   Probably we should follow the famous Ronald Reagan's principle, "trust, but verify," but in a little bit reverse order. Probably today we have this verification system in place, in function; now we should probably work on building the trust, which really could help change hearts and minds. And we think that CTBT could exactly play that role.

   As co-coordinators of Article 14, Kazakhstan and Japan conduct consistent work to help facilitate the entry into force of the CTBT. We made clear our intentions in the high-level joint statement in October, last October, by President Nazarbayev and Prime Minister Abe, as well as this year in two other statements issued at the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington and the open-ended working group in Geneva.

   We are committed to continue our efforts on the Annex 2 and Annex 1 states to make the CTBT universal.

   As a nation, we are also taking important steps domestically to ensure the treaty's entry into force. This August, Almaty hosted the IX International Conference summit titled Monitoring of Nuclear Tests and Their Consequences, aimed at improving the verification methods further and facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT.

   We also intend to build a radio nuclear control and normal gas station in Kazakhstan. It will help considerably intensify capabilities of the CTBT monitoring system and will be our significant contribution to the nuclear test ban process.

   Later today, together with Senator Markey, we will host an event at the Capitol Visitors Center in commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the closure of the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site, where we will further discuss the human and environmental costs of nuclear weapons as well as importance of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.

   Let me close by stressing the following. The people of Kazakhstan have suffered from the effects of nuclear testing, as well as Japan actually, nuclear testing, and we understand the risks and consequences of nuclear test exposures.

   This makes us principal believers in Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty effectiveness and necessity to bring it into force.

   Pending the entry into the force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, we support the adoption of the U.N. Security Council resolution that would emphasize the importance of maintaining moratoria on nuclear testing and would build support for the completion of the treaty's verification regime.

   As an incoming, non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council, Kazakhstan is looking forward to working with all our partners to achieve progress in this direction.

   Thank you for your attention.

   KREPON: Thank you, Ambassador.


   We might just have one or two minutes for one or two quick questions for Undersecretary Gottemoeller. So let's take those, then we'll go to the rest of the panel. And why don't we start here in the middle? Thank you. Just identify yourself.

   QUESTION: Hi, Rachel Oswald, a reporter with Congressional Quarterly.

   Undersecretary, based on your remarks, it seemed that I was hearing from you that the U.N. Security Council resolution will not invoke Chapter 7 authority and that it sounds like it's unlikely words like "determine" and "decide" will be used in the resolution. Correct me if I'm wrong.

   But will there be any kind of determination that signatories to the treaty should abstain from nuclear testing? And wouldn't the effect of passage of such a resolution be for it to become customary international law?



   First of all, I will just reiterate the points that I made during my remarks, that the U.N. Security Council resolution that we are still working on in New York, and as it is a diplomatic effort, diplomatic negotiation with exchanges back and forth still going on, I'm not going to speculate about final word formulations or anything like that.

   But I can, once again, confirm and underscore for this audience that it will not impose new, legally binding constraints on nuclear testing. That is not the kind of UNSCR that we are after. We are after, and we have been from the outset, a U.N. Security Council resolution that would really give new momentum to entry into force of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty in this, the 20th year since its opening for signature.

   And entry into force at its very heart means that states fulfill their internal procedures for entry into force, whether it is pursuing in our own system the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate.

   And people kind of confuse this oftentimes. It is the Senate that gives advice and consent, but it is the president of the United States who actually completes the ratification process. So that is our own national procedure.

   Whatever the national procedure is, this UNSCR will push forward the momentum toward entry into force and each state, in turn, that is among the Annex 2 states will have to complete its own national procedures for ratification.

   So I do want to underscore that for this audience today.

   KREPON: Undersecretary Gottemoeller, I just want to respect your time. Are we...

   GOTTEMOELLER: One more question is OK, if you have one.

   KREPON: One more question, all right. Julian Borger from The Guardian.

   QUESTION: Julian Borger from The Guardian. So the other side of that question is, if it doesn't add any binding force, what is the point of it, you know, other than the formal words encouraging countries to adhere to it? In what way does it add momentum?

   GOTTEMOELLER: Julian, the U.N. Security Council frequently lends its political weight, its international authority to any number of international goals and international policy campaigns. In this case, I stress the entry into force goal, lending momentum into entry into force, but we actually have three goals for this U.N. Security Council resolution.

   Yes, lend momentum to entry into force is number one. Number two Ambassador Kitano talked about in quite an articulate way, that is strengthening and lending additional moral authority to the moratoria. And the moratoria have had real effect. They are not legally binding, but they have had real effect.

   We have not tested since 1992. We have not conducted a nuclear explosive test. So these moratoria are important to the cessation of nuclear testing worldwide, even though they are not, quote, "legally binding" and this U.N. Security Council resolution will lend new authority and momentum to the moratoria.

   And the third very important reason is to bolster the work of the PrepCom for the comprehensive test ban, the CTBTO and its very important verification system, the international monitoring system, which over time has gained great effectiveness.

   Again, I'm grateful to my colleagues for underscoring the role it played in the DPRK test last Friday. Within a very short time, the CTBTO had, from the IMS, results out to the international community in a very public way.

   And I want to underscore, that is a great, valuable aspect of the IMS, that it does make available to the entire international community serious information about nuclear testing events when they sadly occur, as has been the case with the DPRK tests just this year. It was the IMS that was first off the block with important public information about the nuclear test.

   We have our own national technical means. They are very important to our own national confidence about what is going on in the nuclear testing realm, but a lot of that information is classified, it cannot be made available to the international community. So the IMS is a very valuable tool for the public role it plays in constraining nuclear testing.

   So I must excuse myself. My colleague, Ambassador Scheinman, is really good on all these legal issues.


   So he'll be glad to...

   KREPON: I'll put some more.

   GOTTEMOELLER: He'll be glad to answer some more questions. And I apologize to my colleagues, but I will see you later today on Capitol Hill. So thank you very much.

   KREPON: Thank you very much.

   We'll just take a moment as we transition here.

   KIMBALL: I want to join Michael Krepon and the Stimson Center, on behalf of the Arms Control Association, in appreciating the work of the people on the panel over the years on the Test Ban Treaty.

   I want to recognize the immense value of Kazakhstan's decision to close Semipalatinsk's test site, as Ambassador Umarov said, and Ambassador Kitano's work over the decades has been immense and I want to thank him for coming all the way from Vienna just for this event and some other meetings today, and Ambassador Scheinman also.

   And we have some people in the audience who have a deep familiarity and experience with the Test Ban Treaty, and there are others representing some of the governments and Security Council who are part of this effort also.

   So we have more time for your questions. And so I just wanted to, once again, open up the floor to questions to the entire panel or to a particular panelist.

   I see Mr. David Culp from the Friends Committee on National Legislation, in the middle, and there's a microphone for you.

   QUESTION: Thank you. So a question for the two of you. So as you probably know, 35 Republican senators sent a letter responding to the president saying if the administration goes forward we win, we're going to try to cut off all the money toward the CTBT.

   So, Adam, do you take this threat seriously?

   And, Ambassador, you're in Vienna, what would be the impact of U.S. nonpayment to the CTBTO for next year?

   KIMBALL: And just to clarify, it was written by 33 senators, not 35.

   QUESTION: Thirty-three, sorry.


   KIMBALL: All right. Ambassador Scheinman, you want to start, please?

   SCHEINMAN: Yeah. Well, I can answer that very quickly. I think, David, we certainly take seriously letters from, you know, close to three dozen senators on this question. So our best answer to the group is to answer the questions that they raise, as honestly and as factually as we can.

   We don't believe that the threats that this group of senators believe exists, is really there, and we'll continue to have conversations with the Senate on what this resolution is and what it isn't. And we think we can address the criticisms very effectively.

   So I think that's my answer. I pass to Mr. Kitano.

   KIMBALL: Ambassador Kitano?

   KITANO: Thank you very much for your question. And the United States is a very important contributor to the CTBTO. And it provides a very much important contribution to our extra budgetary resources also. And it is a very much an important basis for various activities in the CTBT. And verification regime is one of them.

   And as has been mentioned by Rose and others, this verification mechanism has been in operation. And CTBT has not come into effect. So legally speaking, it is not a legally binding instrument.

   But at the same time, what is very much noticeable is that CTBT is operational and (inaudible) for its verification mechanism. And it is functioning and it functions well and detected all kinds of nuclear tests of DPRK.

   So I suppose the question I would like to put forward is, will it be in our interests to strengthen that mechanism or not? And U.S. contribution plays a very important role, I would say. Thank you very much.

   SCHEINMAN: Let me just add one comment. You know, the fact of U.S. funding for the international monitoring system has been with us under both Republican and Democratic administrations. And that's been because, we think, that the IMS actually adds to our own verification capability by providing a global system. That's why it has had the support of Republicans historically. And I suspect, you know, that will remain.

   KIMBALL: Yeah. Before we go to other questions, let me just see if I could ask Adam a question to clarify Rose Gottemoeller's earlier answer about the concerns of some of these senators.

   She said that the resolution that the United States is seeking at the Security Council and the P5 statement would not impose any new, legally binding prohibition on nuclear testing. And specifically, as I read a couple of the letters, the concern was about, from Senator Corker, a specific proposal in the P5 statement and the Security Council resolution that might clarify that a nuclear test explosion would violate or defeat the object and purpose of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which, of course, is to ban, prohibit all nuclear test explosions.

   Would it be fair to say that if that were part of the P5 statement or referenced in the Security Council resolution would be a public articulation of an existing obligation as a signatory not to violate the purpose or intent? How is the administration interpreting that particular aspect of this issue?

   SCHEINMAN: Yeah. So we had developed the idea in concert with our P5 partners of issuing a statement that would express a national view that each of us share, which is that a nuclear test would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. And as a signatory obligation we all share under CTBT since we've all signed or ratified the treaty, this would then be sort of a national interpretation of our obligations under international law not to defeat the object or purpose of the treaty.

   The resolution itself would not try to impose that. Our idea is that the resolution would not try to impose that particular interpretation on U.N. member states. It would simply take note of the statement made by the P5 states.

   KIMBALL: OK, thank you for that clarification.

   Do we have other questions from the audience, or have we answered every question that you have about the longest-sought, hardest-fought treaty in arms control history?

   Oh, we have a question here. Mr. Horner, I think I know who you are.


   QUESTION: Hi, Dan Horner from Nuclear Intelligence Weekly.

   Panelists here and elsewhere have talked about the North Korean test in the context of the CTBT and the need for having the CTBT.

   Can you say what you think would have been different about North Korea's behavior if a CTBT had been enforced, given that North Korea has flouted international norms repeatedly? Would that have changed the decision-making and the dynamics? Or what do you think would have been different with a CTBT in force?

   I'll address it initially to Ambassador Kitano, but I'd like to hear all the panelists on that. Thanks.

   KIMBALL: Thank you.


   KITANO: Yes. When CTBT is entered into effect, it means that all the remaining annexed states should ratify that. That means in the DPRK should have ratified that.

   Yes, if that is the case, in that situation, and the DPRK is legally bound by all the provisions of CTBT, including its Article One obligation, very basic obligation not to conduct explosive nuclear testing, so that would be very much in a strong engagement, legal engagement on the part of DPRK. So that is the situation which we would very much aim at.

   And the other thing which I mention is that I would not say that that would happen overnight. I mentioned in my earlier presentation now there is a very much widely shared international standard not to test. It is only one country in this century who conducted nuclear testing, that is DPRK.

   So it would be what we should aim at is try to enhance and strengthen that international standard with a view to not coming up with an alternative. This is also the point which was also mentioned by Mr. Umarov of Kazakhstan. Thank you very much.

   UMAROV: I think that it will create a momentum again to pressurize North Korea to stop testing on the side of other P5 countries and other countries in the world, just to make sure that North Korea is behaving itself outside as an outcast, as an outsider of the international law and boundaries.

   So I think that this will also create some momentum when we have CTBT in force, enforced, and that will help other countries to make good, resolute actions just to condemn DPRK.

   KIMBALL: Ambassador Scheinman?

   SCHEINMAN: Yeah, just I'd add very quickly. I tell you, Dan, you're very optimistic anticipating a CTBT in force because, of course, that means North Korea has signed and ratified the treaty. And obviously, that's the hardest nut to crack among the list of Annex 2 states.

   In the absence of a CTBT in force, our job should be to create the highest-possible barriers to additional North Korean nuclear testing. If we can't do it today with a CTBT in force, then it seems incumbent upon us to find other ways to do it.

   And that's one of the reasons why we've looked at the idea of a U.N. Security Council resolution as increasing the political barriers to nuclear testing by North Korea.

   KIMBALL: All right. Other questions?

   Jolene, why don't we start over here again, and then we'll come over here.

   QUESTION: I have a question for Ambassador Scheinman. Is this resolution the last hurrah for the Prague agenda of this administration that, you know, started so optimistically and has, for many different reasons, fallen short of the aspirations? Or is there more to come, are there more options for the administration under that agenda in its last months?

   SCHEINMAN: Well, I'd say that there are a number of elements of the Prague agenda that are still very much in play, irrespective of our ability to compel states to do exactly what we'd like them to do.

   You know, the offer is still on the table for Russia to join us in pursuing nuclear reductions. Russia doesn't seem to want to take us up on the offer.

   We'd be very happy to be engaged in multilateral negotiations on a fissile material cutoff treaty, but Pakistan has not allowed that negotiation to go forward in the Geneva Conference on Disarmament for reasons I think everyone here knows.

   And we, of course, are pursuing this idea on a CTBT. But, you know, I wouldn't say that the initiative rose from a sort of last-ditch effort to, you know, maybe bookend the Prague agenda. The idea actually originated among some here in this room, that, you know, coming on 20 years since the treaty was open for signature. And, you know, with our interest in guarding against some level of fatigue where political and maybe financial support starts to lag, this was a good time to reaffirm international support for the CTBT and perhaps to reopen the dialogue in the United States on CTBT, even in ways that we didn't necessarily anticipate.

   So I think one of the benefits that I've seen through this process, notwithstanding the, you know, fairly tough criticism we've heard from some quarters in the Senate, is by making the issue more visible, we've brought ourselves into a debate on the merits of CTBT, and it's one we welcome.

   KIMBALL: All right, Edward?

   QUESTION: Yes, Edward Ifft, Georgetown University.

   Let me just go back for a moment to the Republican senators' letter and try to maybe clarify.

   I think the concern that was shown in that letter was that the U.S. was going to go to the Security Council and get a resolution under Chapter 7, which would declare that additional testing would be a threat to international peace and security. That would have led to a binding obligation on all U.N. members, and that could certainly have been viewed as an end run around the Senate's prerogatives regarding advice and consent.

   As Rose explained, the U.S. is not doing that, we're not going to invoke Chapter 7.

   The language on...

   KIMBALL: To your question, please.

   QUESTION: Sorry?

   KIMBALL: Your question is?

   QUESTION: I'm just clarifying.



   QUESTION: See if the panel agrees. The language on object and purpose comes from the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties which says that once you've signed a treaty you may not do anything which would defeat the object and purpose.

   The U.S. position, as I understand it, is that an additional test would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty. You could probably find a lawyer somewhere who would say that an additional test or two would not. See what...

   SCHEINMAN: Yes, if I could just pick up on that because I think -- I thank Ed for his clarification. It's correct, but it missed one element. Under the Vienna Convention, state signatories are obligated not to defeat the object and purpose of the treaty unless they no longer intend to become a party to that treaty.

   This administration clearly has made its support for CTBT very well known, and so we believe it's our interpretation that that obligation under the Vienna Convention exists. We're not creating it through a U.N. Security Council resolution. It's been with us for decades.

   A future administration, should it believe that a nuclear test was required, could make clear to the international community that it no longer intended to become party to the treaty; and therefore, the obligation under the Vienna Convention no longer applies.

   So, you know, it's sort of legal arcana, but the important element here is that the obligations of a signatory apply so long as you intend to become a party to that treaty.

   KIMBALL: Correct. Rachel?

   QUESTION: Well, thank you, Ed and Adam, you kind of answered some of my questions about customary international law under the Vienna Convention, recognizing the U.S. hasn't ratified the Vienna Convention, but still considers it customary international law.

   Is there a timeline for when this resolution will come before the Security Council? And how, recognizing that there are discussions ongoing, how are the talks with the P5 countries going, particularly Russia and China?

   SCHEINMAN: One clarification, the United States does not consider the entire Vienna Convention to represent customary international law, only Article 18 which deals with signatory obligations. And that's been a position of the United States going back, you know, before I got involved in this.

   The resolution is sort of in an advanced state of negotiation. We hope to have it completed and issued before the end of the month.

   The discussions with other P5 states has gone very well. They're all supportive of the concept and the construct that we have proposed, a P5 statement that would run in parallel to a resolution. And we're talking with our other colleagues on the council, including Japan and others, in an effort to tie it up in a bow in the next week-and-a-half or two.

   KIMBALL: Great. Ambassador Kitano, do you have anything else to add.

   KITANO: No, I don't think so.

   KIMBALL: OK. And could I ask you, Ambassador Kitano, we were discussing this earlier, you mentioned the severe concern about North Korea's fifth nuclear test. The Security Council is also looking at that issue at the same time that it is dealing with this U.N. Security Council resolution on the test ban ahead of the anniversary of opening for signature, which is the 24th of September.

   Do you expect that these processes will intermingle or will they be separate? I mean, what can we possibly expect? And I recognize that this is in process and you can't say for sure. But, I mean, what is your hope and expectation as a member of the council?

   KITANO: Thank you very much for your question. Last week on Friday, the Security Council got together and discussed about the DPRK fifth nuclear test. And the chair's statement has been issued, and it clearly states that the Security Council will lead a follow-on discussion because there has been a previous Security Council resolution, which was after the fifth and fourth nuclear test, and a subsequent missile launch was conducted.

   And it is Security Council Resolution 2270, and it really spells out if another test would be conducted, the Security Council will be in a position to examine the follow-up actions. So last week, Friday, the Security Council got together and confirmed this line of action.

   And certainly, Daryl, thank you very much for putting that on the table, there will be this discussion going on.

   And at the same time, and as has been mentioned by Rose and Adam, there has been a discussion about what to do in a CTBT resolution. And (inaudible) something (inaudible) content and how to strengthen CTBT and how to give political support to that. And that is on the one hand.

   The other is on how to give consequences to what DPRK did last Friday. And this is two topics. So what to do with that would be very much a matter of the Security Council.

   But what I would like to share with you is that this is this in two lines of discussions and how to do that would be the role of the Security Council.

   KIMBALL: All right, good.

   Ambassador Graham, and then we'll go back to (inaudible).

   QUESTION: I'd just like to ask...

   KIMBALL: Ambassador Tom Graham, who has had a few things to do with nonproliferation and the test ban treaty.        Go ahead.

   QUESTION: I would just like to ask Ambassador Scheinman a small question. Isn't it the case that part of the argument with the Senate was that the actions of President Bush amounted to the U.S. indicating it did not intend to ratify the CTBT; therefore, the U.S. was no longer bound under Article 31 of the Vienna Convention, and this statement would correct that or make the U.S. government position clear.

   SCHEINMAN: No, the intent here was not to find a mechanism to reverse the policy pronouncement of the prior administration. You know, it is true that the last administration made clear to the Senate when questions came up on these issues that it no longer intended to become a party to the CTBT; and therefore, the obligations not to defeat the object and purpose no longer would apply. That's what the last administration had done.

   In our estimation, that policy was effectively reversed with the Prague speech in 2009 where the president said I will aggressively seek U.S. ratification of the CTBT. Now, it hasn't worked out and that's a different conversation.

   But clearly, this administration has intended to become a party to the CTBT. So that issue was dealt with at the beginning of the administration, and we have not sought to use this resolution to address or even respond to the actions of the previous administration. This has entirely been about, how do we strengthen support for CTBT, how do we reaffirm the moratoria, and how do we acknowledge the good work that has been done in Vienna?

   KIMBALL: All right. And I would just hasten to add my colleague Michael Krepon testified last week at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and also pointed out that the CTBT remains on the executive calendar of the Senate. There has not been a sufficient number of votes to discharge it and to send it back to the White House. So it's still there, it's still technically the business of the Senate. And several senators in 1999 who voted no expected to have another chance to look at the treaty at some point in the future.

   So that's an important point to keep in mind with respect to Senate prerogatives, which I think some senators were not actually aware of last week.

   I think we had another question in the back. Yes, sir?

   QUESTION: Ray Willeman, University of Maryland.

   The IDC in Vienna has made significant changes to take advantage of new science, but the overall architecture of their data processing is based on a system developed at a DARPA-funded facility during the 1990s. And some of the new science doesn't fit very well into that architecture. Radionuclide science and seismology and other areas.

   Do any of you see the possibility of a U.S. or international-led effort to develop a completely new architecture which has the possibility of vastly improving the detection thresholds for nuclear tests?

   KIMBALL: All right. Ambassador Kitano, do you want to address whether that's been something that's been discussed?

   And maybe, Adam, you can also address, in your estimation, how the IMS capabilities have advanced over the years, in addition to Ray's particular question.

   KITANO: Yes. Thank you very much for your question. I have here the text of the CTBT. And it is a thick document. And because I was one of those who was for Japanese ratification, I read and scrutinized all the document, including the annex, and trying to find out an appropriate Japanese translation and to identify a proper understanding and interpretation of all the things.

   And the reason why I mention this is, in the creation of CTBT and what should be done most appropriate mechanism of verification is one of the things which we debated a lot. And that is not the only issue which we debated, but that was a very important part of the discussion.

   And CTBT is one instrument, but a technical means for verification is very much important for that. So what we are looking at is to have this system as a whole to be operational and ratification of in the eight remaining states.

   And what I'm going to share is that the current technical secretariat, headed by my dear friend, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, and he would like to be open to that new science and technology. And one of the works which Lassina is putting a lot of an emphasis is on a science technology forum in order to catch and to be open as much as possible to that, grasp and capture that. So he and the secretary is doing great effort in doing that.

   And it would be nice if we can make use of various techniques, and it would be good.

   But the point which I would like to make is that this treaty is based on what is written here. And the important thing is that we have unfinished business. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: Adam, anything to add?

   SCHEINMAN: No, nothing further.

   KIMBALL: OK. I wanted to ask Ambassador Umarov and Ambassador Kitano a question about your view of the challenges ahead, beyond the U.N. Security Council resolution. Your governments are the co-chairs of the Article 14 process. This is a provision in the treaty that allows for a conference every two years of states' parties to encourage and facilitate progress towards entry into force. And you all are the co-chairs, as I understand, for another 12 months.

   Ambassador Kitano, you mentioned some of the other states on the Annex 2 list, the list of states that must sign and ratify to facilitate entry into force.

   So, Ambassador Umarov and Ambassador Kitano, what, in your view, are the things that particular states might be able to do to move closer to ratification and entry into force, especially among those key Annex 2 states?

   And I would just note, I think a very important trigger for this year's action catalyst has been Foreign Minister Idrissov of Kazakhstan who spoke out a year ago when Kazakhstan took the co-chair of the Article 14 process, and he said that as we look forward in this 20th anniversary year, business as usual will not do. And so this resolution represents a departure from business as usual.

   So tell me what types of steps do you think would be helpful in addition to perhaps action by the United States, of course. What can be done to move us closer to entry into force amongst the other countries?

   So, Ambassador Umarov, maybe if you could offer your thoughts, please.

   UMAROV: I think we have a challenging road ahead. We have to convince other countries, especially those who have not yet ratified, to (inaudible) here and just to support the system.

   I think that if we come to the kind of the very essence, the very essence of why it was not ratified in 1999, was that there was, first, the Senate was kind of doubting that without nuclear tests any organization or any checking of the efficiency of the nuclear weapons could be done, and the second is that there is not any verification system in place.

   I think after these 20 years, we can say that both of the issues are addressed. And now we have to think about the next step. And what is the next step? The next step is really to have a system and have a tool, an international tool which could prevent the Pandora's box to be open, because CTBT, at this point in time, is not ratified, not being in force, still plays an important role that other countries keep the moratoria on nuclear testing.

   If that is not the case, we have a lot of cases today that threshold countries would like to acquire the nuclear weapons, they would like to acquire these sensitive technologies, because there is an illusion, a false illusion that having a nuclear weapon or having a nuclear capability will address the issue of nuclear security of the country.

   So we think it's important today just to continue this work of explaining and telling people that our safety and our security, not in the modernization or enhancing the nuclear capabilities of the countries, but to eliminate the possibility to avoid temptation to use it in the future.

   That's why think that it shouldn't be a business as usual. We should really step up the activities. And with the DPRK's dangerous activities, we can see that this is not finished business. We have to really work on those matters. And our role here is to continue with the same activities, explaining, convincing.

   Of course, we think that if the United States will show a lead in CTBTO ratification process, other countries will follow suit. I think that the U.S. is a great country and that it showed the capability of leading the world. This is one of the cases where the United States could really show its leadership role. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: Thank you.

   Ambassador Kitano, your thoughts?

   KITANO: Yes, thank you very much. It is a great, great question. And we should seriously think about it.

   And let me answer in mentioning three key words. And the first key word I would like to mention is in raising political awareness, and that is very much important and discussed in the Security Council resolution. And it would be very much (inaudible) in doing that.

   And also, in thinking about what will happen from now in the coming weeks, we are approaching to the United Nations in a high-level week. And there will be, this year, there will be another (inaudible) of CTBT friends ministerial meeting, which is organized by a group of other countries, CTBT friends, and Japan is one of them. And that would be another occasion in which countries who very much have a strong interest for pushing forward on CTBT.

   The 40 ministers, they will all get together and try to send out a strong message, so raising political awareness. And this is something which continue to make. And as this is the 20th year anniversary after the opening for signature, we very much would like to make the best use of this anniversary year. And that is the first key word I would like to mention.

   Second key word I would like to mention is "push for the bottom." And we suppose the U.S. plays a crucial, important role. But there are seven other countries and remaining Annex 2 countries, we very much hope and positive steps on the part of the United States.

   But at the same time, we would like to push forward other countries, and as I mentioned, Israel, China, Pakistan and so on, and together with Kazakhstan we have been closely in touch, getting in touch with these countries, trying to identify what is the difficulties, what is the issues on the part of these countries, and think about how best we can address that.

   And we do that not -- and the two of us are not doing that alone, we liaise with technical secretariat and executive secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo, and he is very much bringing about very powerful activities to liaise with that. And there are various countries and various bodies who are working in that.

   So we are thinking that in our role as co-coordinating and ask literally, and we try to gather such momentum, and pushing for the bottom is something which I would like to mention as a second key word.

   Third key word I would like to put forward is DPRK. And there has been and the possibility has advanced that they might make another test in the future, it would be a sixth test. And it is a situation which we are facing. And we have to think about how best we address these DPRK issues.

   We should think about what consequences we can bring about in terms of sanctions for the Security Council. And we can also think about, in each country's security standpoint, and making use of their security asset and what to do with that. And it is also an important thing and we should do it, but as nuclear testing is a serious threat and how to do that. And we should bring this discussion, not only for Northeast Asia, but it is an international question.

   And then we should in thinking about DPRK, we have all the reasons to activate CTBT. And that would be another channel which we can activate the discussion about CTBT.

   And what I would like to do is to make use of this kind of discussions and try to assemble and put together all the effort going toward entry into force. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: Thank you.

   I think we're closing in on our closing time. I just want to see if there was any final question that we need to have asked.

   Mr. Koplow, and then we will close.

   QUESTION: Thank you. In view of the quite robust criticism of the DPRK nuclear test that your countries and the Security Council have made, would you agree one step further that a nuclear weapons test by any country today would constitute a threat to international peace and security? And would it be useful for the Security Council to determine that fact in a resolution, even if, at the moment, the council would not be preparing to make a decision in a legally binding fashion what to do about that? Would the determination be a valuable contribution by itself?

   KIMBALL: Any thoughts?

   SCHEINMAN: Well, that's not part of this exercise, David. And our interest is primarily finding ways to strengthen support for the CTBT and not provoke an even harsher, negative reaction from some domestic elements in this country.

   So that kind of idea has never been part of our calculation as we thought about what to do about CTBT at the 20-year anniversary and how do we, you know, pursue greater engagement that makes CTBT more visible and hopefully opens up a debate that can get us to a point where the U.S. might be able to ratify the treaty.

   I think the idea that you laid out would raise real questions and perhaps legitimate what some have suggested we're pursuing through this Security Council idea, which is, in essence, to walk down a pathway short of CTBT that would make any nuclear test, in effect, legally prohibited.

   Even though I know that's not exactly what you're recommending, the perception will be that we are engaged in some sort of, you know, Trojan horse exercise to get to that point short of a CTBT. And that's not the conversation we think would be beneficial because we'd like to have an open and fair debate on the merits of the CTBT without the disturbance of these other issues.

   KIMBALL: But there may be other views in the world.


   Ambassador Kitano, Ambassador Umarov, is a nuclear test explosion a threat to international peace and security? Your thoughts, quickly.

   KITANO: Yeah, and just quickly, my understanding of the Security Council, is it important in a function of the Security Council for it to constitute a threat to international peace and security. And it is a very important judgment on its part. And my understanding is that they would like it in a detailed situation and what constitutes peace (inaudible) and peace and security of the international situation.

   So my sense is that the Security Council would take it a cautious analysis to it. Thank you.

   KIMBALL: OK. Any thoughts, Ambassador Umarov?

   UMAROV: I think, yes, we don't want to see that happen. So we need to make everything possible that it won't happen. But at the same time, it should be in the interests of each and every country which is a part of it.

   So let's work kind of gradually to achieve our goals, and maybe there will be a time when we can say this in a very determined fashion. But we don't want to jeopardize the whole process. It is important to have the CTBT in place. And we would like to take a very gradual approach.

   The other thing is that we would like, as co-chairs, to create conditions where we can talk more about it and to raise the global awareness. And with our coming U.N. Security Council non-permanent membership, this is one of our tasks, to work more actively to discuss these issues and come to understanding what is in the overall interests, the security interests, to have the world free of nuclear weapons and stop nuclear tests, making it a normal way of life, you know, in the global affairs.

   Today's technology does not need the nuclear testing as an important kind of start to modernize the weapons. But we need to have an assurance that none of the countries will go for this. So we think that it's important. We can bear it in mind, but we can work with all the countries to achieve the primary goal of CTBT to be entering into force without major hiccups and problems.

   KIMBALL: All right. Well, to close I just want to join my colleague Michael in thanking all of you for being here. I want to thank our panelists.

   And I want to just note that we are determined to create the conditions for an adult, serious conversation on the CTBT so that we can realize its true potential.

   So thanks a lot, Michael, for your teamwork and for helping to host this event.

   KREPON: Daryl, it's just been a real pleasure to partner with you and ACA.

   There is a strong phalanx of support for this treaty domestically and internationally. Our stockpile stewardship program, which is the best in the world, is not an end in itself. Driving down detection thresholds, which we are now doing through national technical means and through the international monitoring system based in Vienna, it's not an end in itself.

   We aim to achieve a permanent end to nuclear explosive testing. And we are going to succeed, but it's going to take a heck of a long time still, or too long a time.

   I think the next step after this very, very welcome U.N. Security Council resolution and the accompanying very meaningful P5 statement, for me, the next step is to have careful, deliberative hearings on this treaty, which we have not had for almost two decades, where expertise in constitutional law, in international law, in monitoring technologies, in national security can be given microphones. It's time for this to happen. Perhaps it will happen in the next Congress.

   It is puzzling to me that some would argue that having voted on this treaty once it's a closed issue. And the same people who make that argument have voted over 40 times on national health care, for example. So we're not ready for a vote. It's time to get informed again about this treaty and what's happened since the last time it was voted on.

   So this event is part of the process. This panel is part of the process. We thank you again for your commitment. We're going to thank Rose in absentia.

   Thank you for coming. Have a great day.




Please join the Stimson Center and Arms Control Association for a briefing on the security value of the CTBT and the purpose of President Obama's UN Security Council initiative.

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