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"In my home there are few publications that we actually get hard copies of, but [Arms Control Today] is one and it's the only one my husband and I fight over who gets to read it first."

– Suzanne DiMaggio
Senior Fellow, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
April 15, 2019
CTBT & Nuclear Testing

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Hanging in the Balance

Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET)

Description: 

This treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union prohibits peaceful nuclear explosions not covered by the Threshold Test Ban Treaty, and verifies all data exchanges and visits to sites of explosions through national technical means.

Body: 
 

The Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET), designed in preparation for the Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT), governs nuclear explosions that are carried out outside test sites, as established under the Threshold Test Ban Treaty. The United States and the Soviet Union agreed to not carry out explosions exceeding 150 kilotons and group explosions unless the yield of individual explosions in the group could be verified. The Treaty does not ban against peaceful nuclear explosions in the territory of another state, but these explosions have to comply with yield limitations and be in accord with the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. The PNET and TTBT were established under a comprehensive system of regulations with neither state able to withdraw from the treaty until the TTBT finished its duration of five years.

Opened for Signature: 28 May 1976

Entry into force: 11 December 1990

Official Text: http://www.state.gov/t/isn/5182.htm#treaty

Status and Signatories: http://www.state.gov/t/isn/5182.htm#narrative

ACA Backgrounder: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclear-Testing-and-Comprehensive-Test-Ban-Treaty-CTBT-Timeline

Subject Resources:

Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT)

Description: 

This treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union established a nuclear threshold through the prohibition of the testing of new or existing nuclear weapons with a yield exceeding 150 kilotons.

Body: 
 

The Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) between the United States and the Soviet Union establishes a nuclear threshold through the prohibition of nuclear tests that exceed 150 kilotons. The threshold prevents the testing of new or existing nuclear weapons that exceed the fractional-megaton range. The United States and Soviet Union are subject to verification provisions. These are conducted through hydrodynamic yield measurements, seismic monitoring, and on-site inspections.

Opened for Signature: 3 July 1974

Entry into force: 11 December 1990

Official Text: http://www.state.gov/t/isn/5204.htm#treaty

Status and Signatories: http://www.state.gov/t/isn/5204.htm#narrative

ACA Backgrounder: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclear-Testing-and-Comprehensive-Test-Ban-Treaty-CTBT-Timeline

Subject Resources:

Seabed Arms Control Treaty

Description: 

This treaty sought to prevent the introduction of international conflict and nuclear weapons in areas already free of them.

Body: 

The Seabed Arms Control Treaty prevents nuclear weapons and international conflict from spreading to the seabed. Any exploration of the seabed would be for peaceful purposes. The Soviet Union presented a draft that called for complete demilitarization of the seabed beyond 12 miles. The United States drafted a treaty prohibiting the placement of nuclear weapons and weapons of mass destruction on the seabed beyond three miles. The United States said complete demilitarization would not be possible as submarine systems and other technologies were vital to U.S. defense interests. In terms of verification, the United States and Soviet Union again disagreed, but decided on individual states undertaking verification using their own means.

Opened for Signature: 11 February 1971

Entry into force: 18 May 1972

Official Text: http://disarmament.un.org/treaties/t/sea_bed/text

Status and Signatories: http://disarmament.un.org/treaties/t/sea_bed

Subject Resources:

Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT)

Description: 

This prohibits nuclear weapons tests in the atmosphere, in outer space, under water, and in any other environment if the explosions cause radioactive debris to be present outside the territory of a responsible state.

Body: 
 

The Limited Test Ban Treaty (LTBT) bans nuclear tests in the atmosphere, outer space and under water. It does not ban tests underground, but does prohibit explosions in the environment if the explosions create debris outside the territory of the responsible state. The biggest issue of the treaty was verification of compliance and agreeing to establish inspections systems. The Soviet Union proposed an international control system but the United States was suspicious of uncontrolled and clandestine efforts. In 1988, it was proposed that the LTBT be extended to all environments, making it a comprehensive test ban, but the United States stood in strong opposition to any amendment that made the Treaty comprehensive.

 

Opened for Signature: 5 August 1963

Entry into force: 10 October 1963

Official Text: http://www.state.gov/t/isn/4797.htm#treaty

Status and Signatories: http://www.state.gov/t/isn/4797.htm#signatory

ACA Backgrounder: https://www.armscontrol.org/factsheets/Nuclear-Testing-and-Comprehensive-Test-Ban-Treaty-CTBT-Timeline

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