The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature on September 24, 1996. The United States signed the treaty on that date. President George H.W. Bush had previously (October 2, 1992) signed into law a unilateral declaration to forego full-scale nuclear weapons testing. Yet the Senate failed to approve ratification of the CTBT in 1999 and has not taken up the question of ratification since. However, the U.S. moratorium on testing continues to remain in effect. To date 180 states have signed the treaty and 148 have ratified it. For the treaty to enter into force 44 specified countries must ratify the treaty. Of the 44 specified countries, India, Pakistan and North Korea still have not signed and only 35 of the 44 have ratified the treaty. U.S. ratification of CTBT would enhance the U.S. ability to persuade other countries to ratify.
WHERE ARE WE NOW?
Several factors make U.S. ratification in the not too far distant future a real possibility:
- A president who supports the treaty,
- Enhanced reliability of verification processes since the treaty was signed,
- An ability for the U.S. to maintain a safe, secure and reliable nuclear deterrent without testing,
- Recognition that ratification of the treaty, while continuing the benefits of the current moratorium, strengthens U.S. security and its negotiating position with other countries on nonproliferation.
Over the next year religious communities will receive information on the danger nuclear weapons continue to pose, and suggestions as to what can be done to lessen that threat. Specifically, people will be asked to contact their senators urging ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban. Religious leaders and others will be asked to meet with their senators, write letters to the editor and op ed pieces asking policymakers to support CTBT ratification. Treaty ratification is one step in a process that hopefully leads to the abolition of nuclear weapons (a goal called for by former cabinet secretaries George Shultz, Henry Kissinger, and William Perry and former Sen. Sam Nunn).