Conference on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
Deputy Secretary of State
Distinguished Co-Presidents, your Excellencies, ladies and gentleman, thank you for convening us today.
Five-and-a-half years ago, in Prague, President Obama outlined a vision for achieving a peaceful, secure world without nuclear weapons through practical, responsible steps. In the years since, the United States has been working to limit and reduce the nuclear threat through efforts like the New START Treaty and the Nuclear Security Summit. As we look forward to the next year, the United States will expand its efforts to reintroduce the American public to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
The United States was the first nation to sign the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty after it opened for signature in 1996. When the U.S. Senate considered giving its advice and consent to ratification in 1999, they expressed two concerns. The first was about our ability to maintain an effective nuclear deterrent absent nuclear explosive testing. The second was about our ability to verify compliance with the Treaty.
Over time, we have developed the tools we need to confidently and comprehensively address both of these points.
By pursuing a science-based Stockpile Stewardship Program, the United States is maintaining deterrent capabilities without nuclear explosive testing and without developing new nuclear warheads.
Our ability to monitor and verify compliance with the Treaty is also stronger than it has ever been. The International Monitoring System, the heart of the verification regime, was just a concept two decades ago. 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.
It is important for all states to help complete this system, as well as take steps to mitigate emissions of radioxenon in the atmosphere from medical and industrial isotope production. On this point, I want to be clear: The United States does not seek to limit medical isotope production. Our priority is to safeguard the reliability of the IMS radionuclide network that we have built together over the last twenty years.
Our collective focus should be on voluntary measures that will minimize the release of radioxenon into the atmosphere. We support the efforts of the Provisional Technical Secretariat and the International Atomic Energy Agency to seek solutions to this problem and encourage them to work closely together.
The on-site inspection element of the Treaty’s verification regime has also advanced significantly. A successful Integrated Field Exercise, hosted by Jordan in 2014, demonstrated the growing maturity of our capabilities in this regard. The United States thanks the CTBTO for the impressive demonstration of the formidable technology and the expertise that the international community can bring to bear in the case of a suspected nuclear test.
Given the clear and convincing evidence, we know that an in-force Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is good for the security of the United States and it is good for international security. It is a key step to diminishing the world’s reliance on nuclear weapons and reducing the risk of a nuclear arms race.
The United States is committed to the Treaty, and we are working aggressively to build the case at home for ratification. Other Annex 2 states should also be actively pursuing ratification and sharing their plans for how they are doing so. There is no reason to wait on any other country. Our goal is universality.
We also need to translate statements of support for the Treaty into tangible resources—both financial and technical expertise. That means supporting the work of the Preparatory Commission to complete the Treaty’s verification regime. It means enhancing the effectiveness of the Provisional Technical Secretariat. It means upgrading the International Data Center, which needs to be able to maintain the technological edge. And it means translating the momentum generated by last year’s Integrated Field Exercise into an effective On-Site Inspection capability.
This is not an easy task, but it is a worthy one. The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is not an abstract concept for a theoretical world. It 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.