Thursday, August 12, 2010

The Test Ban Challenge:

Nuclear Nonproliferation and the Quest for a Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Posted - August 11, 2010 - Government Officials Since Eisenhower Have Seen Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban as Vital for Curbing Nuclear Proliferation, According to Declassified Documents

Craters from underground nuclear tests at the Nevada Test site. According to the Department of Energy's caption: "Most subsidences leave saucer-shaped craters varying in diameter and depth, depending upon the yield, depth of burial, and geology. This is the north end of Yucca Flat. Most tests have been conducted in this valley." The current U.S. moratorium on underground tests would be confirmed by ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Photo from National Nuclear Security Administration, Nevada Site Office.

Washington, D.C., August 11, 2010 - The next nuclear policy challenge for the Obama administration, right after Senate action on the New START Treaty, will be Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which President Obama sees as a condition for a world free of nuclear weapons. As he declared in his Hradcany Square speech, "After more than five decades of talks, it is time for the testing of nuclear weapons to finally be banned." Most U.S. presidents since Dwight D. Eisenhower have sought, sometimes only rhetorically, a comprehensive test ban of nuclear testing in all environments (underground, atmospheric, underwater, outer space). While emphases and motives have shifted--the fallout danger and limiting Soviet nuclear advances were initially central goals--from the start U.S. government officials saw a ban on nuclear testing as highly relevant to inhibiting nuclear proliferation.

Documents published today for the first time by the National Security Archive illustrate how nonproliferation goals shaped internal U.S. discussions of the CTBT from the 1950s through the late 1970s. Secretary of State Cyrus Vance and Arms Control and Disarmament Agency (ACDA) director Paul Warnke wrote to President Jimmy Carter in July 1978 that a CTBT is "a central element of our efforts to prevent the further proliferation of nuclear weapons" not least because it would strengthen the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and prevent tests by states which were on the "threshold" of a nuclear weapons capability. The documents provide new detail on how nonproliferation objectives informed support within the U.S. government for the test ban: Continued

No comments: