The challenges to ratifying the CTBT – can the no-test norm be maintained indefinitely?
Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)
Tuesday 10 September 2013
In the world today, the silence of nuclear tests relies on moratoria. These are unilateral, voluntary declarations that can be revoked at will. And Cold War history is littered with broken moratoria, most notably in the run-up to the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, when the two superpowers fell into a veritable testing frenzy. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the only guarantee of a legally binding non-testing regime.
During negotiations for the 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), a complete ban of nuclear tests was sought but did not materialize. As the PTBT turns 50 this year, we have to ask ourselves how much longer it will take to finish the job and upgrade to a comprehensive ban. And what will it take to convince the eight CTBT hold-outs – China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States – to formally embrace the Treaty?
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