Project News

Multinational Workshop in Israel Evaluates IFE14 Results

Following the CTBTO's Nov. 3 to Dec. 9, 2014 Integrated Field Exercise (IFE14) in Jordan's Dead Sea region, experts from around the world and across the Middle East gathered in Ramat-Gan, Israel from April 12-16 for the first of two workshops to evaluate the results.

Around 100 experts specializing in nuclear physics, geophysics, seismology, communication, health, safety, and verification-related areas from 30 countries participated.

Japan and Kazakhstan to Co-Chair Next Article XIV Conference

Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Kazakhstan Foreign Minister Erland Idrissov will lead the next Article XIV Conference to take place September 29, 2015 in New York. Japan and Kazakhstan were unanimously nominated at a meeting of member states to lead the international efforts to implement the CTBT for a period of two years, beginning with the September Article XIV Conference.

Article XIV of the CTBT stipulates that if the CTBT has not entered into force three years after the date of the anniversary of its opening for signature (1996), member states may request to hold a conference every two years to discuss what measures can be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process to facilitate the entry into force of the CTBT. This year's conference will be the ninth Article XIV conference to be held since the first one in 1999.

Japan and Kazakhstan take over the Article XIV Presidency from Hungary and Indonesia, whose foreign ministers chaired the Article XIV Conference in 2013.

Angola Ratifies the CTBT

On March 20, Angola ratified the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), bringing the total number of states who have ratified the treaty to 164.

Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Lassina Zerbo remarked of the ratification, “I congratulate Angola on its ratification of the CTBT. It is a powerful message of peace to Africa and to the world. This development is an unequivocal reminder of Angola’s commitment towards creating an Africa free of nuclear weapons, as an essential component of a nuclear-weapons-free world.”

The United States and seven more states listed in Annex II of the treaty must ratify the before the treaty can fully enter into force: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan.

U.S. officials have repeatedly asserted, most recently at the March 23 and 24 Carnegie Nuclear Policy Conference, that the remaining countries who have yet ratified should not wait for the United States to do so before they submit their own instruments of ratification. The last Annex II state to ratify the CTBT was Indonesia, on Feb. 6, 2012.

Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons Conference in Vienna

The third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons was held in Vienna on Dec. 8 -9, 2014. The first conference was held in Oslo, Norway, and the second was held in Nayarit, Mexico. Notably, the Vienna conference was the first conference attended by the United States. The U.S. statement, given by Special Representative of the President for Nuclear Nonproliferation Adam Scheinman, can be found here.

The conferences aim to discourage the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons by discussing the dangers they pose to civilians and the general public in terms of contamination of the environment, radiation poisoning, and various other hazards. Representatives of both governments and nonprofits made statements and presentations that discussed the effects and history of nuclear testing, the potential effects and risks of nuclear war, international law regarding nuclear weapons use and testing, and the insecurity of inadvertent nuclear use.

The opening session of the conference consisted of several important speeches, one of which was by Setsuko Thurlow, a Hiroshima peace ambassador and survivor of the August 6, 1945 atomic bomb explosion. Her prepared remarks are below.

Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14) in Jordan

The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) carried out their second integrated field exercise (IFE14) in Jordan’s Dead Sea region from Nov. 3 to Dec. 9, 2014. The field exercise was designed to replicate a scenario in which a country (in this case, the fictional “Maridia”) has been accused of conducting a nuclear test and now the CTBTO must find evidence to either repudiate or validate this claim and find the specific nuclear test explosion site. Once the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) enters into force, any state party will have the right to request that a specific area be inspected if it is believed to have been the site of a nuclear explosion. 

In the case of Maridia, the on-site inspection teams combed through 1,000 square kilometers of area next to the Dead Sea and used 150 tons of equipment. The CTBT provides the CTBTO inspection teams 17 methods for detecting whether a nuclear test explosion has taken place. During this field exercise, the inspections team used 15 of the 17 methods, including some that had never been used before. This is the largest exercise to date, dwarfing the previous integrated field exercise, which took place in Kazakhstan in 2008.

CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) Meets April 10-11

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.

Further information about the GEM can be found here. An official summary of their meeting is available online (PDF) and below.

Gottemoeller on "The History and Future of the CTBT" from Hiroshima

Remarks by Rose Gottemoeller, U.S. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and Intl. Security, Hiroshima University, Hiroshima, Japan, April 12, 2014

As delivered

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).

North Korea Threatens "New Form" of Nuclear Test

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).