Project News

Senator Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Lt. Gen. Klotz Urge U.S. Action on CTBT

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."

Bipartisan Group of Senators Reintroduce Legislation to Expand Aid to Downwinders

Senator Tom Udall of New Mexico and a bipartisan group of senators reintroduced the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RESA) Amendments of 2013 on Friday, April 19. Representative Ray Lujan of New Mexico introduced companion legislation in the House of Representatives the same day.

This legislation would go beyond previous bills by extending compensation to uranium workers who were employed after December 31, 1971. It also makes all claimants eligible for medical benefits and the maximum compensation of $150,000, and funds an epidemiological study of the health effects of uranium workers and their families, as well as residents near uranium production sites. In addition, the RECA Amendments 2013 expands the recognized downwind areas to include Arizona, Colorado, Guam, Idaho, Montana, New Mexico, Nevada, and Utah.

Christine Wing Discusses the Role of Civil Society in Nuclear Disarmament

Christine Wing, a Senior Research Fellow at the Center on International Cooperation at New York University, sat down with the CTBTO to discuss her experience working on nuclear disarmament during the Cold War and how civil society can advance the cause of disarmament today, and particularly how it can help achieve the entry into force of the CTBT.

Wing stressed the importance of the CTBT's entry into force in stemming proliferation. She stated that a legal ban on nuclear testing would not only prevent horizontal proliferation-the development of nuclear weapons by non-nuclear states-but would also prevent vertical proliferation by inhibiting nuclear-weapon states ability to make qualitative improvements in their nuclear arsenals. Additionally, Wing also pointed to the indirect effects of the CTBT, such as the treaty's ability to deemphasize the role that nuclear weapons play in national security policies.

Former Secretary of State Shultz Reiterates Support for CTBT

At a March 8 event sponsored by the Partnership for a Secure America, President Reagan’s Secretary of State George Shultz underscored once again his support for U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Shultz’s remarks came in response to a question following his talk at an event organized on Friday, March 8 by the Partnership for a Secure America on Capitol Hill.

Shultz was asked for his “personal view on whether the U.S. should ratify the test ban treaty as a way to enhance U.S. security?”

Shultz, who served as President Ronald Reagan’s Secretary of State from 1982-1989, said: “Yes I clearly think we should ratify that treaty.”

“This issue has kind of lost its attention and we need to get back on the offense. And here’s the way to get back on the offense,” Shultz continued.

“I would say that in some ways a Senator … Senator Nunn might put it this way … a Senator might have been right to vote against against it when it was first put forward and right to vote for it now,” he said.

“Why? Because things have changed. Its now not just an idea that we can detect tests. There is a network that has built out now and has been demonstrated that we can detect all, even small tests.”

Shultz went on to note that the nuclear weapons stockpile stewardship program has also been very successful and in the past nuclear tests were conducted primarily to develop new types of nuclear weapons and so, he said, we have no need to test today.

“I find it hard to see how we would justify going and producing a new nuclear weapon, we have quite an arsenal right now.”

CTBTO's Monitoring Capabilities Continue to Improve

The CTBTO has seen a marked increase in its ability to locate and analyze nuclear test explosions since North Korea's first nuclear test in 2006. This is largely a result of an increase in the number of completed monitoring stations in the CTBTO's International Monitoring System (IMS), combined with increasingly larger nuclear explosions by North Korea. The IMS uses a combination of seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, and radionuclide stations to detect nuclear test explosions.
 
In October 2006, the IMS was approximately 60% complete, with 99 seismic stations in operation. The organization was able to detect the 4.1 magnitude North Korean test with 22 seismic stations around the world and one radionuclide station located in Yellowknife, Canada. The test explosion was estimated within a location ellipse of 880 square kilometers. 
 
In May 2009, the IMS was over 70% complete, with 130 operational seismic stations. As a result of the increase in the IMS' sensor network, the organization was able to detect the 4.52 magnitude event with 61 seismic stations, although no radioactive noble gases were detected from the North Korean test tunnel. The explosion was estimated to be within a location ellipse of 265 square kilometers.
 
At the time of the February 2013 test, the IMS network was over 85% complete with 160 seismic stations reporting to the IMS. The network was able to detect the 4.9 magnitude nuclear test within a location ellipse of 181 square kilometers and with 94 seismic stations. In addition, two infrasound stations were able to register the event for the first time. Again, no radioactive noble gases were detected.

UN Security Council Passes New Sanctions in Response to N. Korean Nuclear Test

The United Nations Security Council passed a unanimous resolution imposing a new round of sanctions on North Korea following the country's February 12 nuclear test explosion. These sanctions are particularly noteworthy because they were drafted by the United States in concert with China, Pyongyang's closest ally and supporter. This is the fourth set of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea since the country's first nuclear test in 2006.
 
The resolution imposes new financial sanctions, which require states to block financial transactions that could contribute to North Korea's weapons programs and to prevent bulk cash transfers to the country, among other things. In addition, the resolution requires states to inspect cargo on North Korean ships suspected of carrying prohibited items and to deny port access to vessels refusing inspection. The U.S. State Department has a complete list of the sanctions levied in the resolution.
 
Pyongyang responded to the resolution by cancelling the hotline between the North Korean leadership and Seoul, as well as the 1992 denuclearization agreement between the two countries and threatened to nullify the 1953 Armistice Agreement. North Korea has also ramped up its rhetoric by threatening both South Korea and the United States with "a pre-emptive nuclear attack" using ICBMs, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. 

Ambassador Thomas Pickering Urges U.S. Ratification of the CTBT

Ambassador Pickering called for U.S. leadership on the CTBT in a February 20 opinion editorial in The Christian Science Monitor. The former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and under secretary of state for political affairs called for the White House to "launch a high-level push for ratifying the treaty" and urged the Senate to provide its advice and consent on the test ban treaty. Pickering pointed out that the United States has not conducted a nuclear test in over 20 years and reiterated the fact that Washington has "no technical or military need to do so ever again."

Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr. and former Utah Senator Jake Garn made the same point on February 16 in an opinion editorial in The Salt Lake Tribune. They quoted former National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator Linton Brooks' comment that, "There's not going to be nuclear testing in the United States. No sane person thinks there is."

North Korean Nuclear Test and Meteorite over Siberia Demonstrate CTBTO Capabilities

According to a February 26 Global Security Newswire story, the recent North Korean nuclear test "brought fresh attention to the capabilities" of the CTBTO's monitoring system. The CTBTO's International Monitoring System (IMS) was able to detect the North Korean nuclear test within moments and forwarded information from its seismic and infrasound stations to state parties just over an hour after the explosion.

 

The IMS was also able to record the February 15 meteor explosion over the Ural Mountains in Siberia with 17 of its 45 infrasound stations. The IMS currently employs 274 certified stations around the globe, using a combination of seismic, infrasound, hydroacoustic, and radionuclide sensors to record nuclear test explosions.