The G-7 nations issued a declaration on nuclear weapons this week. Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States called for a world without nuclear weapons.
To help achieve nuke disarmament the G-7 is urging passage of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). This treaty would end all types of nuclear test explosions. Prior treaties had placed limitations on nuke tests, but not a complete ban. Ending nuke testing is an essential step toward establishing the conditions where disarmament can take place.
The declaration reads, “Early entry into force and universalization of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is in the security interests of every nation. States that have yet to sign or ratify the Treaty should do so without waiting for others.”
There are currently eight nations who have yet to ratify the treaty, and thus preventing it from taking effect. These countries include the United States, China, North Korea, Israel, Iran, Egypt, India and Pakistan.
The U.S. Senate rejected the treaty in a 1999 vote. President Obama supports the CTBT, but has not resubmitted to the Senate. Many believe passage by the Senate is more possible now than before. There is increasing confidence in the science behind the maintenance of nuclear arsenals without test explosions. This was a major concern when the Senate voted against the CTBT.
The G-7 is also urging nations to support the Treaty’s international monitoring system for detecting nuclear explosions. Hundreds of detection stations have been set up around the world. This system is critical for making sure other nations do not cheat the treaty and conduct test explosions in secret. However, the system will not be fully functional until the treaty has taken effect.
The declaration also reads, “We also welcome the establishment of the Group of Eminent Persons and support its activities, which will inject new energy and dynamics into the push for entry into force.”
What is needed to get the CTBT approved is active public support across all nations. Groups with a strong following like Global Zero, the Ploughshares Fund and others may hold the key to gaining that support.
The alternative is frightening. The resumption of nuclear testing would heighten international tensions, end disarmament hopes and increase the already expensive burden of nuclear arsenals. Other nations will be encouraged to build nuclear weapons, should the current powers resume testing.