National policy Statement

97.2 The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Adopted by the Council on April 19, 1997

Effective April 19, 1997

Nuclear weapons represent one of the most severe risks to humankind. The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an essential component of efforts to halt the spread of nuclear weapons. As such, the American Physical Society endorses the principles laid out by the CTBT and encourages the United States Government to ratify the Treaty.

Context

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty represents the culmination of over 40 years of effort, effectively ending the qualitative arms race among the nuclear states. Accordingly, the Treaty is of extraordinary importance to the future of humankind and is central to efforts to halt the further spread of nuclear weapons. Moreover, the promise to negotiate and place into force a comprehensive treaty to ban the testing of nuclear weapons was an essential precondition to achieving an indefinite extension to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons—commonly known as the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT)—in May 1995. Ratification of the CTBT will mark an important advance in uniting the world in a collective effort to contain and reduce the dangers of nuclear weapons.

The United States, along with all other declared nuclear-weapon states and the vast majority of the world's nations, have signed the treaty, although some signatory nations, including the United States, must take additional action to ratify the Treaty. Ratification of the CTBT by the United States and others is necessary for the Treaty to enter into force. As such, the date on which the CTBT will enter into force remains uncertain. In preparation for the Treaty’s entry into force, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization has built a comprehensive verification regime to ensure any nuclear explosion will be detected. 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 both 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.

Furthermore, the American Physical Society notes that detailed, fully informed technical studies have concluded that continued nuclear testing is not required for the United States to retain confidence in the safety and reliability of the weapons in its nuclear stockpile for decades, provided that the science and technology programs necessary for stockpile stewardship are maintained.1 This conclusion is also supported by senior civilian and military officials responsible for US national security.

The review process for any statement may be started at any time if deemed necessary by the Panel on Public Affairs, and at least once every five years.

  1. Lifetime Extension Program (LEP) Executive Summary, JASON report, JSR-09-334E September 9, 2009

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