The Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) was established on 26 September 2013 on the margins of the UN General Assembly to promote the objectives of the CTBT and to help secure its entry into force. Its 18 members include current and current and former foreign ministers, prime ministers, defense ministers and senior diplomatic leaders from all over the world.
Members of the GEM met in Stockholm for discussions with Swedish Foreign Minister and independent experts from the Arms Control Association, SIPRI, and the Arab Institute for Security Studies on steps to advance prospects for signature and ratification in the remaining Annex 2 states.
Ohayo Gozaimasu. Thank you so much for inviting me to speak here, Professor Nishitani. I am glad to see so many young people today and I am very honored to be here in Hiroshima.
It was 31 years ago – a decade before most of you were born – that U.S. President Ronald Reagan traveled to Tokyo. Speaking before the Diet, he pronounced clearly and with conviction that “there can be only one policy for preserving our precious civilization in this modern age. A nuclear war can never be won and must never be fought.” Japan is a global leader on nonproliferation, so this sentiment must certainly resonate with the people here.
President Reagan's belief became the basis for pursuing serious nuclear arms reductions. President Obama took up this mantle and laid out his own long-term vision for the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, coupled with practical steps for achieving this vision. He outlined this vision five years ago in Prague. If you have not read that speech, I recommend that you do. In it, the President laid out a challenging and comprehensive agenda. Today I would like to speak with you about a particular piece of that agenda, which has been in the making for over fifty years: the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will “not rule out a new form of nuclear test to bolster up its nuclear deterrence,” the DPRK’s foreign ministry announced on March 30. Further information about this “new form” of test was not revealed, but the U.S. and its allies have long suspected the DPRK was trying to develop a nuclear warhead small and sophisticated enough to mount on the intercontinental ballistic missile it was also developing.
The DPRK has completed preparations for a nuclear test, South Korea’s defense minister said on April 1. North Korea previously conducted nuclear weapons test explosions in October 2006, May 2009, and February 2013; each of which were within three months of conducting missile tests. Their testing of two Rodong midrange ballistic missiles on March 26 could suggests the possibility of a fourth nuclear test explosion in the near future.
In an analysis published on 38 North, Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, suggested that the DPRK may be configuring its Punggye-ri site for multiple nuclear tests. Lewis notes, “North Korea may soon have access to regular amounts of fissile material if it doesn’t already,” and asks, “what if North Korea conducts a nuclear test, or even two, on an annual basis?”
The DPRK has yet to sign the CTBT and is one of eight states that need to ratify the treaty before it enters into force. At the U.N. General Assembly on December 3, 2012 the DPRK was the only nation to vote against a resolution supporting the CTBT. By contrast, 184 nations supported the resolution and three were absent (India, Mauritius, and Syria).
In remarks outlining the Obama administration's arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament priorities earlier this year, newly-confirmed Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller announced that the administration will "be working to expand our public outreach on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty."
Speaking at a conference in Northern Virginia, Feb. 14, Gottemoeller added, "I want to be clear, we have no desire to rush up to the Hill for a vote. It’s been 15 years since this the CTBT was on the front pages of newspapers and whether we are talking to a Senator or a staffer, a schoolteacher or a student– we know that it is our job to make the case for this Treaty. Together, we can work through questions and concerns about the Treaty and explosive nuclear testing. In particular, the dangerous health effects of nuclear testing is a specific topic that can and should be addressed both here at home and abroad."
"Once we’ve brought the Treaty back to people’s attention, we can move on to discussion and debate – just like we did with the New START Treaty. We will not be setting timeframes for moving forward. We are going to be patient, but we will also be persistent. Above all, the CTBT is good for American national security and that is why we will continue educating the country on the treaty’s merits," Gottemoeller said.
Two weeks later, in remarks delivered at a March 1 ceremony marking the 60th anniversary of the enormous Castle Bravo test in 1954, Gottemoeller said: "The United States will be patient in our pursuit of ratification, but we will also be persistent. It has been a long time since the CTBT was on the front pages of newspapers, so we will need time to make the case for this Treaty. Together, we can work through questions and concerns about the Treaty and explosive nuclear testing."