Project News

CTBTO Funding Included in State FY 2018 Budget Request

By Daryl G. Kimball

The Trump administration's State Department budget request for fiscal year 2018 includes full funding for the United States assessed contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which operates the global monitoring system to detect and deter nuclear explosions and verify compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT):

"Contributions to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) ($31.0 million): PrepCom assistance helps to fund the fielding, operation, and maintenance of the state-of-the-art International Monitoring System (IMS), a global network of 321 seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, and radionuclide sensing stations designed and optimized to detect nuclear explosions worldwide. The U.S. receives the data the IMS provides, which is an important supplement to U.S. National Technical Means to monitor for nuclear explosions (a mission carried out by the U.S. Air Force). A reduction in IMS capability could deprive the U.S. of an irreplaceable source of nuclear explosion monitoring data. [emphasis added] This amount includes funding for projects to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the Treaty’s verification regime, and also funds a tax reimbursement agreement that facilitates the hiring of Americans by the PrepCom.” (pg. 338)

Japan's Special $2.43 million USD Contribution to the CTBTO

By Samantha Pitz

Japan announced its largest, voluntary contribution of $2.43 million (USD) to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Feb. 23 to improve the organizaiton's verification capabilities to detect nuclear explosions around the world. CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo praised the act, telling Permanent Representative of Japan, Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, “This generous contribution will further build-up the International Monitoring System’s capacity to improve our radionuclide monitoring technology, which can conclusively establish whether a nuclear test explosion has occurred.”

In a May 2 joint appeal by the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov, and CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Kishida noted that the contribution provided by Japan increases the capabilities of the International Monitoring System (IMS) that was able to detect all five of the North Korean nuclear explosion tests, but in the last two tests, was unable to confirm radionuclide detection, and furthers Japan's desire to universalize the IMS in order to augment detection capabilities all over the world.

Declassified Films Remind Public of Horror of Nuclear Testing

By Samantha Pitz

Greg Spriggs, a weapon physicist at the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and a team made up of film experts, archivists, and software developers have set out to find, preserve, and declassify the 10,000 films made depicting the 210 U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests from between 1945 to 1962. The team has located around 6,500 of the films of which 4,200 have been scanned, 400 to 500 have been reanalyzed and around 750 have been declassified. Because the films have been stored for many years, some of the films are decomposing and need to be digitized as soon as possible.

Congressional Republicans Seek to Cut CTBTO Funds

By Samantha Pitz

Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) and Rep. Joe Wilson (R-S.C.) introduced legislation Feb. 7 to limit all funding for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), except for its International Monitoring System (IMS). Although the legislation partially protects funds towards the IMS, portions of its overall budget that pay for staff time and the International Data Centre, which processes information given by IMS operations, are supported by the CTBTO. Since the United States provided about a quarter of the CTBTO budget of $128 million in 2016, the possibility of underfunding the organization raises serious questions about the future of global nuclear detection capabilities.

For more information read "Republicans Seek to Cut CTBTO Funds" in the March 2017 issue of Arms Control Today.

NNSA Sponsors Test Monitoring Symposium

By Shervin Taheran

U.S. Secretary of Energy Dr. Ernest Moniz and Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization Dr. Lassina Zerbo headlined a Nov. 30 National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) symposium on Capitol Hill, which displayed the increasingly sophisticated array of United States and international nuclear test monitoring equipment and technology. The event also included remarks from a bipartisan collection of congressmen—Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (R-Neb.)—and the Acting Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Thomas Countryman.

Shortly after this event, Moniz published an op-ed in American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)'s Science journal in which he recommends that the next U.S. administration and the Congress should revisit the CTBT and "work together toward enhanced security through ratification and an international push for entry into force."

UN Security Council Resolution 2310 Adopted

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The UN Security Council adopted Resolution 2310, which reaffirmed the international moratorium on nuclear weapon testing, on Sept. 23. The resolution followed a Sept. 15 statement by the permanent five members of the UN Security Council committing not to defeat “the object and purpose” of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) as required under customary international law. It also acknowledged the value of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization’s International Monitoring System.

20 Years Later: United States, Japan, and Kazakhstan Reaffirm Support For The CTBT

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

The Stimson Center and the Arms Control Association hosted a panel discussion about the history and progress of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) 20 years after it was signed on September 24, 1996. To date, 183 states have signed the treaty.

Represented in the panel were senior officials from states that have been strong supporters of the treaty over the past 20 years.

Rose Gottemoeller, the undersecretary for arms control and international security and Adam Scheinman, the special representative of the president of nuclear nonproliferation reiterated the United States’ strong support for the CTBT and its entry into force. Under Secretary Gottemoeller remarked that the United States had been the first nation to sign the CTBT, although it has not yet been ratified by the Senate.

North Korea’s Fifth Nuclear Test

By Alicia Sanders-Zakre

North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 8.

The test was met with international condemnation and calls for increased sanctions on North Korea. Russia issued “the strongest possible condemnation,” and both Japan and the United States condemned the test in “the strongest possible terms” in official statements following the test. The UN Security Council convened on Sept. 9 in an emergency session to discuss the test.