The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) ends nuclear testing worldwide. More than 150 countries have signed the Treaty so far, agreeing to stop all nuclear explosive testing. The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty would constrain nuclear weapons development and also help prevent nuclear technologies from spreading to other countries.

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty strengthens U.S. national security. Keeping America strong requires that we not only support our troops and modernize our weapons, but that we also reduce the threats we face, including the threats of nuclear proliferation and war. The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is a means of doing that.

The United States ended nuclear testing seven years ago; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty forces other countries to end testing, too. In 1992, during the Bush Administration, the United States ended its own nuclear testing. We have developed means of making sure our nuclear weapons work by complex tests and computer simulations, rather than by tests with nuclear reactions, and we spend $4.5 billion a year to ensure that our nuclear weapons remain at the cutting edge of reliability and readiness. This "Stockpile Stewardship" program has been in place for four years with impressive results, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, weapons lab directors and numerous scientists, are confident we can maintain our strong nuclear arsenal with nuclear testing.

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty puts in place a worldwide network for detecting nuclear explosions. This international monitoring system with over 300 stations around the globe - including 31 in Russia, 11 in China, and 17 in the Middle East - improves our ability to monitor suspicious activity and catch cheaters. The United States already has dozens of monitoring stations of its own; the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty allows us to take advantage of other countries' stations and create new ones, too. The Treaty also allows us to inspect suspected nuclear testing sites in other countries. No means of verification can guarantee that we will catch every low level test, but we are confident that, with the tools provided by the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, we can detect any that might threaten our national security interests.

The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty contains six safeguards that preserve our strong nuclear arsenal and protect us against "cheating." Most importantly, it includes a condition that says the President may withdraw from the Treaty if the Administration cannot certify the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons. We do not need to test now - but if we decided later that we needed to resume testing, we could and we would.

If we fail to ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, other countries - including China, Russia, India and Pakistan - might begin testing again. India and Pakistan are drawing closer to signing the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty; if the United States fails to ratify, they are less likely to do so. The Nuclear Test Ban Treaty constrains the Russians and Chinese from further modernizing their nuclear weapons; if the Treaty fails, these constraints are lost. In fact, the Congressional Cox Committee, which investigated potential Chinese espionage, said that the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty makes it more difficult for China to exploit nuclear secrets they may have acquired. Not all potential nuclear states have signed the Treaty yet. But if we fail to ratify, it will guarantee they will not. The world is looking to the United States for leadership.

Generals, scientists, and lab directors all agree that the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is in our national security interest. It reduces the threat of nuclear war without reducing the reliability of America's nuclear force or undermining our technological superiority. Former military commanders - including Colin Powell and John Shalikashvilli - have endorsed the Treaty. Thirty-two American Nobel laureates have written the Senate calling ratification "imperative." And a broad range of religious leaders believe ratifying the Treaty is the right thing to do. Reducing the threat of nuclear war by ending nuclear testing strengthens our security and promotes our values.

The push to end nuclear testing began with President Eisenhower, who called his failure to win it "the greatest disappointment of any administration, of any decade, of any time and of any party." It is time that we fulfill President Eisenhower's vision and ratify the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.


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