CTBT Public Policy Course – Challenges of Achieving Entry into Force

Panel Discussion with Breakout Sessions
Remarks by Tom Hushek, Chargé d’Affaires

Vienna, Austria

Good morning. I’d like to provide a few opening remarks and then I’d be happy to hear what questions you have regarding the Treaty’s entry into force. As you are learning, the CTBT requires the ratification of 44 States identified in the Treaty’s Annex 2 in order to enter into force. Of these so-called “Annex 2 States,” eight have not yet ratified the treaty. As one of those eight States, the United States is keenly aware of our role in helping to bring the Treaty into force.

President Obama highlighted the importance of the CTBT to the global nonproliferation regime by calling for the ratification and entry into force of the Treaty during his Prague speech in 2009. He reiterated its importance again in Berlin in 2013. The United States recognizes the strong national security benefits that an in-force CTBT brings to all States. The Treaty is a key element in leading the world toward a diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.

Today the case for ratification is stronger than ever. The ability to monitor and verify compliance with the CTBT is more robust than it’s ever been. The International Monitoring System (IMS), the heart of the verification regime, is nearly complete, and provides States with access to a technically advanced, global network of sensors to detect nuclear explosions.

In addition, the IMS has also proven its ability to contribute critical scientific data to benefit civil society. Since the Indian Ocean earthquake and tsunami in 2004, the IMS has contributed critical seismic data to the Pacific tsunami warning system. Additionally, after the Fukushima nuclear crisis, we saw how the IMS can contribute critical insight in tracking radioactivity from nuclear reactor accidents.

But even with a stronger case to make, we still have work to do to build the political will needed to ratify the CTBT. It has been a long time since the CTBT was on the front pages of U.S. newspapers, and we still need time to make the case for the Treaty.

We are engaging the American public about the merits of the Treaty to build support for eventual ratification. Our goal is to emphasize the benefits of the Treaty in engagements with constituencies across the nation in order to build broad-based public support.

Ultimately, we must convince the members of the U.S. Senate of the many benefits of the CTBT. Under our constitutional process, the President ratifies treaties, but only after the “advice and consent” of the Senate. The Senate, as a part of the legislative branch of government, operates independently from the office of the President. This separation of responsibilities provides a check on the power of either branch and encourages a robust debate on the merits of any proposed legislation, including the ratification of international treaties.

But some 17 years after the CTBT was opened for signature, there are many members and staff in the Senate that have never dealt with the Treaty. The purpose of our educational outreach is to collaboratively work through questions and concerns about the Treaty with the public as well as the members of the Senate. Many of the key issues related to this Treaty are very technical in nature and we want people to understand the rationale behind it.

While we have not set any deadlines for completing the ratification effort, we are moving forward patiently and persistently. It is only through a collaborative discussion with the U.S. Senate and the American public that we will convince others of the important benefits of U.S. ratification of the CTBT.

Of course, the United States is not alone in our ratification effort. There are also seven other Annex 2 States that must ratify the Treaty and, as we have said many times, there is no reason for any State to wait on the United States to move ahead. The CTBT is in the security interests of every nation. Now is the time for those states to show leadership and take action based on the benefits of the Treaty to their own national security interests independent of the actions of any other nation.

As we approach the Senate, we need to be able to make the case that an effective, operational, and sustainable verification system is being developed and that other States are committed to providing their share of adequate financial resources to properly sustain it. Universalization of the Treaty will be an important consideration for the U.S. Senate when it takes up ratification.

The United States has long advocated for a program-driven budget with adequate resources to enable the Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) to fulfill its mandate in a timely manner. We remain concerned that if the PrepCom continues to make additional arbitrary budget cuts without assessing the impacts of these cuts on core functions of this Organization, we may threaten the required build-out of the verification regime, and the sustainment of the International Monitoring System (IMS). Demonstrating the ability of the PTS to operate, maintain and sustain the IMS over an extended period of time also will enhance the prospects for entry into force. For the Treaty to be an effective mechanism for nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, all States must maintain the political will and provide the necessary resources to complete the Treaty’s verification regime and maximize the capabilities of the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS).

Despite the lack of success to date on U.S. ratification, the United States remains a strong supporter of the CTBTO and continues to be the largest single contributor to these efforts. Indeed, despite the tough budget climate in Washington, the United States has voluntarily contributed over $40 million to the CTBTO in the past year to support various projects to accelerate the development of the verification system and to improve its capabilities. We are committed to the development of all elements of the Treaty’s verification regime so that it is fully operational at entry into force. Our deep and active involvement in all activities of the PrepCom clearly demonstrates our ongoing commitment to the Treaty and the vital importance the United States attaches to completing the verification regime.

Thank you for the opportunity to speak to you and I look forward to your questions.