APS News

Physics Nobel Laureates Support CTBT

APS spoke out in October in support of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). APS President Jerome Friedman organized a letter signed by 32 physics Nobel Laureates, calling the treaty "central to future efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons." Their sentiments were echoed in the New York Times on October 8 by world leaders Jacques Chirac (France), Tony Blair (England) and Gerhard Schroder (Germany). The APS Council statement on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was issued almost three years ago. Despite such efforts, the U.S. Senate voted against the CTBT (48-51) on Tuesday, October 12. The text of the APS Council statement is below.

"On September 10, 1996, the United Nations overwhelmingly approved the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), a treaty ending all nuclear testing, of any yield, at any location, for all time. The United States, all other declared nuclear weapon states, and a growing majority of the world's nations have now signed that treaty. Although the date at which the CTBT will enter into force is not yet certain, the treaty is of extraordinary importance to the United States and to the future of all humankind.

"The CTBT, the culmination of over 40 years of effort, ends the qualitative arms race among the nuclear states and is central to future efforts to halt the further spread of nuclear weapons. The promise to negotiate and put into force a CTBT was an essential pre-condition to achieving an indefinite extension of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in May 1995. Ratification of the CTBT will mark an important advance in uniting the world in an effort to contain and reduce the nuclear danger.

"Having been the first country to develop nuclear weapons, having been a major participant in the nuclear arms race of the Cold War, and having played a leadership role in the NPT extension and the CTBT negotiations, it is appropriate and imperative that the United States ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty at the earliest possible date. The Council notes that detailed, fully informed technical studies have concluded continued nuclear testing is not required to retain confidence in the safety and reliability of the remaining nuclear weapons in the United States' stockpile, provided science and technology programs necessary for stockpile stewardship are maintained. This conclusion is also supported by both the senior civilian and military officials responsible for US national security.

"The Council of the American Physical Society, representing 40,000 academic, industrial, and laboratory physicists, endorses the CTBT, including its extensive technical and procedural provisions to verify compliance with treaty requirements."

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Editor: Barrett H. Ripin
Associate Editor: Jennifer Ouellette