Clinton Makes Case for CTBT at Conference

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A global nuclear test ban would increase U.S. security because "as long as we are confronted with the prospect of nuclear testing by others, we will face the potential threat of newer, more powerful, and more sophisticated weapons that could cause damage beyond our imagination," Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said Sept. 24 in New York.

Clinton's remarks, which came exactly 13 years after the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature, were delivered on the opening day of the biennial international conference on facilitating the treaty's entry into force. As Clinton noted, her attendance was the first by a U.S. official since 1999. "We are glad to be back," she said.

Annex 2 of the treaty specifies 44 countries that must ratify the treaty to trigger its entry into force. The United States has signed the treaty but not ratified it. Eight other Annex 2 countries - China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, and Pakistan - also have not ratified it.

After the United States signed the CTBT in 1996, the Senate voted against ratification in October 1999. The Bush administration did not pursue ratification.

In her address to the CTBT conference, which was attended by senior representatives from more than 100 governments, Clinton reaffirmed the Obama administration's public commitment to "work with the Senate to ratify the CTBT" and called on other Annex 2 states to ratify the treaty.

Clinton also told the conference that the United States is "prepared to pay our share" of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) budget so that "the global verification regime will be fully operational when the CTBT enters into force." The comment indicated a change in policy from the Bush administration, which delivered on most of the U.S. assessed contributions for the CTBTO's International Monitoring System (IMS), but did not contribute for activities related to preparing for on-site inspections, which will be available after the treaty's entry into force. The shortfall led to a suspension of U.S. voting rights within the CTBTO for several years. (See ACT, June 2009.)

The IMS will include 321 monitoring stations, 80 percent of which already have been installed. Clinton "urgefd] all host countries to ensure that the data from these stations are reported to the [CTBTO's] International Data Center," an apparent reference to China, which is not yet allowing the transmission of data from the IMS stations that have been established inside its borders.

Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi told the conference that "the Chinese government will continue to work with the international community to facilitate the early entry into force" of the CTBT. …