Argument: Test ban would help combat growing nuclear threats

Issue Report: Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty


Samuel Berger, Sam Nunn, and William Perry. “Case for ratifying Nuclear Test Ban Treaty”. Politico. June 2nd, 2009: “Fast forward 10 years, and nuclear proliferation’s perils have only become more apparent. Pakistan, a new nuclear state, is facing an existential threat that could put its arsenal at risk. Terrorist organizations like Al Qaeda are actively seeking weapons of mass destruction and would not hesitate to use them. North Korea and Iran are pursuing dangerous nuclear programs for themselves, underscored by the May 25 North Korean nuclear test. The world is on the precipice of a new and perilous nuclear era. Threat reduction demands urgent action.”

“Kissinger, Shultz, Perry & Nunn call for A World Free of Nuclear Weapons”. The Wall Street Journal. January 4, 2007: “North Korea’s recent nuclear test and Iran’s refusal to stop its program to enrich uranium — potentially to weapons grade — highlight the fact that the world is now on the precipice of a new and dangerous nuclear era. Most alarmingly, the likelihood that non-state terrorists will get their hands on nuclear weaponry is increasing. In today’s war waged on world order by terrorists, nuclear weapons are the ultimate means of mass devastation. And non-state terrorist groups with nuclear weapons are conceptually outside the bounds of a deterrent strategy and present difficult new security challenges.”

Apart from the terrorist threat, unless urgent new actions are taken, the U.S. soon will be compelled to enter a new nuclear era that will be more precarious, psychologically disorienting, and economically even more costly than was Cold War deterrence. It is far from certain that we can successfully replicate the old Soviet-American “mutually assured destruction” with an increasing number of potential nuclear enemies world-wide without dramatically increasing the risk that nuclear weapons will be used. New nuclear states do not have the benefit of years of step-by-step safeguards put in effect during the Cold War to prevent nuclear accidents, misjudgments or unauthorized launches. The United States and the Soviet Union learned from mistakes that were less than fatal. Both countries were diligent to ensure that no nuclear weapon was used during the Cold War by design or by accident. Will new nuclear nations and the world be as fortunate in the next 50 years as we were during the Cold War?

“UN chief urges rapid entry into force of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty”. China Daily. June 16th, 2009: “UNITED NATIONS, June 15 (Xinhua) — UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Monday called for the urgency of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) following the recent nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

“The nuclear test of the DPRK has reminded the international community of the urgency of bringing the treaty into force without further delay,” Ban said in a statement attributed by his spokesperson, adding that he welcomed the June 12 Security Council resolution 1874 which has called upon the DPRK to join the treaty as soon as possible.