Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | October 22, 2015

Remarks by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry at the U.S. Navy Heritage Center Washington, DC, 21 October 2015

[Below is a selection of excerpts on the CTBT]

Now, the CTBT was last considered by the Senate – and I remember this well and was deeply engaged in that debate – more than 16 years ago under Senate procedures that absolutely prevented a full and fair presentation and discussion. The treaty nevertheless commanded a near majority, even though at that time, it was still in the planning stages, the SSP. So now it’s in place and now it’s working, now we know what it can do, now we’ve progressed and perfected, in essence, our understanding of the virtue of this approach. And thus, we have removed the single greatest blockade to approval of the CTBT – actually, maybe I ought to say the second single biggest because the first is literally the lack of knowledge of a whole bunch of senators who have never, ever negotiated or been involved in a debate about arms control.

And the International Monitoring System was literally just a concept 20 years ago. Today, it’s nearly complete, technically advanced, a global network of sensors that can detect even low-yield nuclear explosions. And the system has already shown what it can do with valuable data on the three nuclear tests that were conducted by North Korea, not to mention the information that we’ve been able to generate on tsunamis, on meteor strikes, on tracking radioactivity from nuclear reactor accidents.

So because of this work, we could enter the CTBT tomorrow with all of the state-of-the-art equipment and techniques that we need to verify whether a nuclear explosion has occurred in violation of the treaty. And these two critical changes in our technology – much better simulation techniques and a much stronger verification regime – provide irrefutable answers to the major questions that people had about the CTBT.

So I am determined that in the months to come, we’re going to reopen and re-energize the conversation about the treaty on Capitol Hill and throughout our nation. Because there should be no doubt that it is in the best interests of our country to join the treaty and to urge others not to wait, but to go ahead and do so themselves as soon as possible.

The factors that led some senators to oppose the treaty in 1999 have changed. And so choices should change as well. As former Secretary of State George Shultz said, “Senators might have been right voting against the CTBT some years ago, but they would be right voting for it now.” And the United States obviously derives huge benefits from a strong global nuclear nonproliferation regime, and I don’t have to convince anybody here that the test ban is a central part of exactly that.

So folks, just to close out here, 19 years ago, President Clinton called the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty the “longest-sought, hardest-fought prize in arms control history.” Today, we actually continue to seek that prize and to fight for it. … I hope that each of us will spread the word that with new technology, America’s best interests on our side, approval of the CTBT is a fight that we can and will win.

Full speech: Department of State


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