Join the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty’s International Monitoring System

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November 7, 2017
Sylvia Mishra, Sarah Bidgood

The following is an excerpt from Stimson’s Off Ramps.

China, India, and Pakistan are expanding and modernizing their nuclear arsenals.[i] Historical tensions, unresolved border disputes, and high levels of mistrust are among the factors behind their strategic modernization programs. The current, brittle security environment in Southern Asia makes it difficult for these countries to engage in bilateral nuclear confidence building measures (CBMs). In this context, cooperation with a multilateral organization focused on nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament could be a useful precursor to more substantive steps to build strategic trust.

The verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature on September 24, 1996 with the objective of halting all nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosion. Twenty-one years after its adoption by the United Nations General Assembly, the CTBT has yet to enter into force. Eight states—the United States, China, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and North Korea—commonly referred to as Annex 2 countries must join the Treaty before it can take effect.[ii] Although China signed the CTBT in 1996, it never ratified it. Beijing has instead adopted a position that it will do so only once the United States ratifies the CTBT.[iii] India and Pakistan conducted nuclear tests in May 1998 and, to this day, have not signed or ratified the CTBT. Instead, they have upheld unilateral moratoria on nuclear testing and have adhered to the basic stipulations and spirit of the Treaty.[iv] There is no evident incentive for either country to proceed with ratification. It appears that India’s signature of the CTBT is contingent on ratification by the United States and China.[v] Pakistan, meanwhile, has linked its signature and ratification of the Treaty to India’s ratification.[vi] This approach of holding the signature and ratification of the CTBT hostage to that of other Annex 2 countries has made the Treaty’s entry into force extremely challenging.

Read the full article at Stimson’s Off Ramps.

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