Fifty years ago on Monday, June 10, President John F. Kennedy delivered his eloquent and influential “Strategy of Peace” address on the campus of American University in Washington.
Coming just months after the 1962 Cuban missile crisis drove home the risks of an unbridled nuclear arms race and the dangers of a direct superpower conflict, the speech was intended to send an unambiguous signal to Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev that the United States sought to “avert those confrontations which bring an adversary to a choice of either a humiliating defeat or nuclear war,” as Kennedy phrased it in the speech.
As the essay "JFK's American University Speech Echoes Through Time" in the June issue of Arms Control Today explains, "… the speech offered a revised formula for achieving progress on restricting nuclear weapons testing, a goal that had eluded President Dwight Eisenhower, Kennedy, and Khrushchev for more than six years. Kennedy viewed the nuclear test ban treaty—ideally a comprehensive ban—as an essential first step toward U.S.-Soviet disarmament and a barrier against the spread of nuclear weapons."
India and Japan released a joint statement May 29 on "strengthening the strategic and global partnership" between the two countries. However, the two states differed significantly in their statements regarding the CTBT. Prime Minister Abe of Japan "stressed the importance of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) at an early date."
However, Prime Minister Singh of India simply reiterated New Delhi's "commitment to its unilateral and voluntary moratorium on nuclear explosive testing," a statement which notably fails to mention the CTBT, the only legally-binding international instrument that prohibits nuclear testing.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) announced on April 23 that its International Monitoring System (IMS) detected radioactive isotopes consistent with the February 12 North Korean nuclear test and announced the discovery on April 23, 2013. The radionuclide station in Takasaki, Japan detected xenon-131m and xenon-133, two radioactive isotopes that are associated with nuclear fission.
The gases detected by the Takasaki station, located approximately 620 miles from the North Korean test site, were produced by a nuclear fission event that occurred at least 50 days before detection. The IMS was able to identify the North Korean test site as a possible source for the noble gases.
At an April 11 event hosted by the Arms Control Association, Senator Jeanne Shaheen and Lt. Gen. Frank Klotz (USAF, ret.) urged U.S. ratification of the CTBT. Shaheen noted that ratification of the CTBT will require a great deal of preparation, "But that just means we should start now to chart a path forward for its eventual consideration."
Klotz reiterated his support for the CTBT, saying "the logic for moving forward and ahead on ratification of the CTBT is inescapable." He went on to say that the United States already abides by the requirements of the treaty and is unlikely to resume nuclear testing. Therefore, the United States should gain the full benefits of the CTBT by ratifying the treaty, which would allow it to "rally international pressure against would-be proliferators" and "constrain regional arms races."