As prepared

Secretary-General, Distinguished Co-Presidents, Executive Secretary Floyd, Director General Grossi, your Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen, thank you for convening this important meeting today.  As with so many things over this past year and a half, we continue to find creative and flexible means to accomplish the critical work required to advance the cause of nuclear disarmament.

As many of you know, President Biden has long been a supporter of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, from his time in the Senate leading the ratification effort during the Clinton Administration, through his eight years as Vice President in the Obama Administration.  He continues to see it as a key priority that serves the national security interests of the United States. I have my own connection to the CTBT, as I was one of two U.S. lawyers part of the negotiations for the treaty, and also attended the first meetings of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission.  I want to make clear right from the start, the United States supports the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and is committed to work to achieve its entry into force.  We recognize the significant challenges that lie ahead in reaching this goal, challenges that include securing ratifications from all the remaining Annex 2 States, some of whom have not even signed the Treaty.  This is no easy task.  It is important to remember that no one country can make entry into force happen on its own.

Within the United States, we recognize that securing the advice and consent of the U.S. Senate to ratification will require deliberate outreach and education to ensure that the benefits of an in-force CTBT are clearly understood by all.  An in-force CTBT would hinder efforts of States Parties that do not have nuclear weapons expertise and prior testing experience from embarking on a nuclear weapons program.  It would also provide reassurance among States Parties that such programs are not being developed.  An in-force CTBT could discourage states from pursuing even more advanced nuclear weapons that would require testing, thus militating against dangerous arms races.

Our ability to monitor and verify compliance with the Treaty is also stronger than it has ever been.  Twenty-five years ago, the International Monitoring System (or IMS), the heart of the verification regime, existed only on paper.  Today, it is a nearly complete, technically advanced, global network of sensors—including 35 stations in the United States—that can detect even relatively low-yield nuclear explosions in any environment on Earth.

It is more important than ever for all signatory states to help complete this system and provide for its long-term sustainment.  While statements of support are welcome, and necessary, such statements are no substitute for tangible resources—and the requisite financial and technical expertise.  That means signatory states must support the work of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission to complete the Treaty’s verification regime by paying their assessed contributions and participating in the important work of the PrepCom.

The IMS, along with the International Data Centre, and the on-site inspection capability that is under development, comprise a formidable regime for the detection and analysis of nuclear explosions, which will provide States Parties with the tools and information required to make critical verification decisions following entry into force of the Treaty.  This fact has been repeatedly made clear as the IMS successfully detected and reported on the series of six nuclear explosive tests conducted by the DPRK since 2006.

In other words, an in-force CTBT is good for the security of the United States, and it is good for the security of all states.  It is a key step to diminishing the world’s reliance on nuclear weapons and reducing the risk of another nuclear arms race.  Maintaining the status quo, in which states have no treaty obligation to refrain from conducting explosive nuclear tests across all environments, serves nobody’s interests.

Finally Excellencies, I want to reiterate that, in line with the goals of the CTBT, the United States continues to observe its zero-yield nuclear explosive testing moratorium, and calls on all states possessing nuclear weapons to declare or maintain such a moratorium.  Maintaining the international norm against nuclear explosive testing remains in the United States’ interest, and in the interest of all states.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is not an abstract concept for a theoretical world.  It is a firm and certain step towards peace, towards reason, and towards security for our own citizens and all the peoples of the world.

Thank you very much.


U.S. Department of State

The Lessons of 1989: Freedom and Our Future