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Diplomacy in Action

CTBT Article XIV Conference


Remarks
Ellen Tauscher
Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security 
New York City
September 23, 2011

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As Delivered

Distinguished Co-Presidents, High Commissioner, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am so pleased to be here representing the United States. When Secretary Clinton came to this conference two years ago, she ended a ten-year absence on the part of our nation. Today, I stand before you proud of the accomplishments that the Obama Administration has made thus far in arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament.

Since entering office, the Administration has achieved entry into force of the New START Treaty, released an updated Nuclear Posture Review, and helped to achieve a consensus Action Plan at the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

The Administration also convened the successful 2010 Nuclear Security Summit, helped secure and relocate vulnerable nuclear materials, led efforts to establish an international nuclear fuel bank, and increased effective multilateral cooperation to prevent illicit nuclear activities.

For the United States, this is just the beginning. One of our highest priorities is the ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty. The Treaty is an essential step toward the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, the vision President Obama articulated in Prague in April 2009.

The CTBT is central to leading nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons and reduced nuclear competition. With a global ban on nuclear explosive tests in place, states interested in pursuing or advancing their nuclear weapons programs would have to either risk deploying weapons uncertain of their effectiveness or face international condemnation, and possible sanctions, for conducting nuclear explosive tests.

A CTBT that has entered into force would benefit national and international security and facilitate greater international cooperation on other arms control and nonproliferation priorities. The United States has observed a moratorium on nuclear explosive testing since 1992 and our policies are already consistent with the central prohibition of the treaty.

It has been 12 years since our Senate failed to give its advice and consent to the ratification of the CTBT. Lack of support stemmed from two concerns: the verifiability of the Treaty and the continuing safety and reliability of America’s nuclear deterrent without nuclear explosive testing.

Today, there have been dramatic developments on both fronts and we have a much stronger case to make in support of ratification.

The Treaty’s verification regime has grown exponentially over the last decade. Today, the International Monitoring System (IMS) is roughly 85 percent complete and when fully completed, there will be IMS facilities in 89 countries spanning the globe. At entry into force, the full body of technical data gathered via the International Monitoring System will be available to all States Parties. In addition, with the recent Fukushima nuclear crisis, we have already seen dramatic proof of the utility of the IMS for non-verification related purposes, such as tsunami warnings and tracking radioactivity from reactor accidents.

We have continued to provide the full costs of operating, maintaining and sustaining 34 certified IMS stations among those assigned by the Treaty to the United States. We announced last month a voluntary in-kind contribution of $8.9 million to support projects that will accelerate development of the CTBT verification regime. This month, we concluded a Memorandum of Understanding with the Provisional Technical Secretariat to contribute up to $25.5 million to underwrite the rebuilding of the hydroacoustic monitoring station on Crozet Island in the southern Indian Ocean.

Together, U.S. extra-budgetary contributions to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization this year total $34.4 million, more than our annual assessed contribution. Given the tough budget climate in Washington and other capitals, those contributions clearly demonstrate our ongoing commitment to the treaty and the vital importance the United States attaches to completing the verification regime.

With regard to our nuclear deterrent, our extensive surveillance methods and computational modeling developed under the Stockpile Stewardship Program over the last 15 years have allowed our nuclear experts to understand how these weapons work and the effects of aging even better than when nuclear explosive testing was conducted. The United States can maintain a safe and effective nuclear deterrent without conducting nuclear explosive tests.

With these advancements in verification and stockpile stewardship in mind, we have begun the process of engaging the Senate. We like to think of our efforts as an “information exchange” and are working to get these facts out to members and staff, many of whom have never dealt with this Treaty. We know that this is a very technical agreement and we want people to absorb and understand the science behind it. There are no set timeframes and we are going to be patient, but we will also have to be persistent.

Of course, we do not expect people to be in receive-only mode, so we are eager to start a discussion. It is only through discussion and debate that we will work through questions and concerns about the Treaty and eventually get it ratified.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentleman, the United States is committed to the CTBT and we intend to see it enter into force, but we cannot do it alone. As we move forward with our process, we call on all governments to declare or reaffirm their commitment not to test. Congratulations to Guinea for becoming the 155th nation to ratify the CTBT just days ago. Also, congratulations to Ghana, Central African Republic, Liberia, Trinidad and Tobago, the Marshall Islands and Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, all of whom have ratified the Treaty since our last conference. Your example adds important momentum to achieving the goal of ending nuclear explosive testing forever. We call on the remaining Annex 2 States to join us in moving forward toward ratification.

We do not expect that the path remaining to entry into force will be traveled quickly or easily. For our part, we will need the support of the Senate and the American people in order to move ahead, but move ahead we will, because we know that the CTBT will benefit the security of the United States and that of the world.

Thank you.



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