CTBT Back in the Spotlight

The 12 members of the Commission on the Strategic Posture of the United States, who issued their final report to Congress on Wednesday, reached consensus on all of their recommendations, save one: the comprehensive test ban treaty. Speaking at the May 6 rollout of their final report at the US Institute for Peace offices in Washington, D.C., commissioners, including chairman William Perry, a former Defense Secretary, said they champion US ratification of the CTBT as a means of bolstering US leadership globally in nuclear nonproliferation. Conversely, others like vice chair James Schlesinger, ex DOD, DOE, and CIA czar, expressed concern over ratification due to issues they see like the treaty’s weak inspection regime. In particular, they pointed out that nations like China and Russia could get away with “hydronuclear” testing of nuclear materials with yields that can evade detection. But since the Obama Administration has called for the US Senate to reconsider ratification, the commissioners did agree on this: the Administration should undertake a comprehensive net assessment of the benefits, costs, and risks associated with ratification that updates the arguments of about a decade ago when the treaty was brought forth for consideration by the Clinton Administration. (Commission final report)