National Security Policy and Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

By Nagan, Winston P.; Slemmens, Erin K. | Houston Journal of International Law, Fall 2009 | Go to article overview

National Security Policy and Ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty


Nagan, Winston P., Slemmens, Erin K., Houston Journal of International Law


  I. INTRODUCTION
 II. PART ONE: WORK TOWARDS A COMPREHENSIVE
     NUCLEAR TEST BAN
III. PART TWO: THE RISE AND FALL OF THE CTBT IN THE U.S.
     SENATE
 IV. PART THREE: POLITICAL FALLOUT OF THE REJECTION
     OF THE CTBT
  V. PART FOUR: INTERNATIONAL TREATIES AS A
     COMPONENT FOR STRONG NATIONAL SECURITY
 VI. CONCLUSION
VII. POSTSCRIPT

While no legal obstacles prevent the U.S. Senate's reconsideration of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), (1) lingering doubts (about the effectiveness of the international treaty) and partisan politics (founded upon outdated ideologies of national sovereignty) may again foreclose the opportunity for the United States to lead a just and thorough regime of international arms control. By closely examining the U.S. Senate's previous rejection (and, by implication, the nation's non-ratification) of the CTBT, we assess the political process that failed to realize the security values now imperative to U.S. national defense. To this appraisal, we join analysis of the contemporary law, policy, and science related to U.S. nuclear arms control policy; and we urge that now is the time for the U.S. Senate to reconsider and give its advice and consent for the ratification of the CTBT.

I. INTRODUCTION

"And so, to all the other peoples and governments who are watching today, ... know that America is a friend of each nation and every man, woman[,] and child who seeks a future of peace and dignity. And we are ready to lead once more." (2)

"With both sides of this divided world in possession of unbelievably destructive weapons, mankind approaches a state where mutual annihilation becomes a possibility. No other fact of today's world equals this in importance...." (3)

If the complete eradication of nuclear weapons seems a remote possibility, it is nonetheless important for wise policy makers to consider such a goal in terms of the rational control and regulation of nuclear arsenals by law. America's national discourse on foreign policy and security makes only fleeting references to managing nuclear dangers through international law. (4) The tactical emphasis on a few rogue states appears to obscure the strategic interest in a broader, more comprehensive, and more effective approach to the problems of nuclear testing and proliferation. (5)

The Bush Administration made clear its position on a universal testing prohibition in 2001, when President Bush announced that he would not submit the treaty to the Senate for advice and consent, declaring the document "fatally flawed." (6) In 2002, a Department of Defense official stated, "We are continuing the current administration policy, as I said, which is we continue to oppose ratification of the CTBT; we continue to adhere to a test moratorium." (7) In 2007, the Administration reaffirmed this stance. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice stated in a letter to a senator that, "the Administration does not support the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and does not intend to seek Senate advice and consent to its ratification. There has been no change in the Administration's policy on this matter." (8)

Excessive confidence in the deployment of limited tactical assets (e.g., national intelligence), supplemented by direct military confrontation, appears to have increased the dangers to U.S. national security interests. (9) Given the asymmetrical nature of threats to U.S. security, the "Shock and Awe" force model (10) has proven to be expensive and ineffectual. (11) The conventional military approach has been unable to constrain alienated groups of violent actors, often driven by confessional fanaticism. (12)

The real danger of asymmetrical threats is the possibility that terrorist groups may acquire and seek to use weapons of mass destruction (WMD), including nuclear arsenals. (13) The gravity of this threat necessitates a broader, more comprehensive approach to national security. …

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