Project News

May 19 Event "The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at 20: Prospects for Ratification and the Enduring Risks of Nuclear Testing"

On Thursday, May 19, 2016 at the House of the Academy in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences will host the conference: "The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at 20: Prospects for Ratification and the Enduring Risks of Nuclear Testing."

The conference will be divided into a "Daytime Program" and an "Evening Program" that will both take place in Cambridge. However, the American Academy of Arts and Science will also be hosting a live-stream of the evening program in Washington, D.C. at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies. 

To register for the conference, either in Cambridge or in Washington, please click on the following links:

North Korea Threatens More Nuclear Tests

As part of its response to tough new sanctions imposed by the UN Security Council following its fourth nuclear test explosion on Jan. 6, the Pyongyang regime has threatened a new round of nuclear tests and claims to have developed a warhead design small enough to load on a ballistic missile.

Many analysts doubt Pyongyang has fully developed such a capability and they underscore the importance of restarting negotiations to try to halt further nuclear and ballistic missile tests, particularly of the KN-08 missile, that could allow it to perfect such a capability. For further analysis, see:

U.S. Government Officials Continue CTBT Tour

Senior U.S. government officials have been touring different states to deliver addresses explaining the national security benefits of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty since October, with Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Rose Gottemoeller and Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation Ambassador Adam Scheinman taking the lead.

Scheinman’s keynote address at the "Deterrence & Assurance Academic Conference and Workshop” at the University of Nebraska-Omaha on March 4 was covered in the Omaha World-Herald.

As part of her speaking tour in New Mexico, Gottemoeller was interviewed on Feb. 4 by the Albuquerque Journal on the CTBT.  In that article, New Mexico Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich went on the record in support of the treaty’s ratification.

Below is a compilation of remarks of key remarks released by the Department of State as the Obama administration works to reintroduce the CTBT:

Japan Presses Egypt on the CTBT

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe welcomed Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah El-Sisi for an official visit to Japan from Feb. 29-March 2. According to a joint statement issued Feb. 29, they discussed a range of bilateral and international issues, including nuclear nonproliferation, disarmament and the CTBT. On these issues, the statement says:

NGOs Urge Reinforcing the Norm Against Nuclear Testing

Noting that CTBT entry into force is, unfortunately, still many years away, a number of U.S.-based NGOs are actively pursuing a campaign aimed at UN Security Council members and other “Friends of the CTBT” states to pursue a non-binding UN Security Council resolution and a parallel UN General Assembly measure to reinforce the norm against testing.

On Feb. 11, the Arms Control Association and the Stimson Center co-hosted an event to explain the rationale for such an initiative. At the event (video and transcript of which is available online) they recommend support for a non-binding resolution that:

Israel's Potential Future Ratification of the CTBT

Israel’s permanent representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Merav Zafary-Odiz said “a regional moratorium [on nuclear testing] could enhance security, and potentially lead to a future ratification of the CTBT. Israel has announced its commitment to a moratorium, it would be useful for others to do the same.”

Zafary-Odiz’s statement came during a Jan. 27 panel at the CTBTO’s Symposium on “Science and Diplomacy for Peace and Security” in Vienna. She also noted that a region-wide test ban would enhance security throughout the Middle East region and could be used as an aspect to establishing a Middle East Weapons-of-Mass-Destruction-Free Zone.

Looking Ahead in 2016

In 2009, the Arms Control Association launched this project to help disseminate information, ideas, and analysis about the “longest-sought, hardest-fought prize” in arms control—the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)—and the steps to bring it into force.

Since then, we’ve seen progress in many areas, including: ratification of the treaty by key states; preparations by key states, including the United States, to bring the treaty to a vote on ratification; and continued progress by the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) to monitor and verify compliance.

North Korea's Fourth Nuclear Test: A Wake Up Call

On Jan. 6, North Korea conducted its fourth underground nuclear weapons test explosion. The government in Pyongyang claims it conducted a successful test that “scientifically verified the power” of a small hydrogen bomb. The statement claims that the test signifies a “higher stage” of development of North Korea’s nuclear force.

Initial readings from seismic stations in the region, however, strongly suggest the yield of the blast was slightly smaller than the February 2013 nuclear test. According to the Vienna-based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the “initial location estimate” of the seismic activity shows that the event took place in the area of North Korea’s nuclear test site, Punggye-ri, which is located in the northeast of the country. The test has been universally condemned as a threat to international peace and security and a violation of the global taboo against nuclear testing.