Statement by Gilbert Sateia, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance, at the CTBT Article XIV Conference, New York, September 27, 2013

Gilbert Sateia, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
New York, NY
September 27, 2013


I am offering a statement today on behalf of Rose Gottemoeller, who many of you know, could not be here today because she could not leave Washington. Distinguished Co-Presidents, High Commissioner, Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thank you for allowing me to speak here today. Today, I stand before you proud of the accomplishments that the Obama Administration has made in strengthening all areas of the nonproliferation regime: arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament. Of course, we have more work to do and engaging the American public on the security benefits of a ban on nuclear explosive testing is part of that work.

2013 is an important year in the history of nuclear testing. It is almost exactly 50 years ago that the Limited Test Ban Treaty entered into force. In the summer of 1963, President Kennedy kicked off one of the quickest arms control negotiations in history. This is particularly amazing given that the Cuban Missile Crisis had happened less than a year before. Perhaps it was those dark days that helped solidify President Kennedy’s view that a complete ban on nuclear testing was in the national security interest of the United States and the world.

“The conclusion of such a treaty,” he said, “so near and yet so far -- would check the spiraling arms race in one of its most dangerous areas. It would place the nuclear powers in a position to deal more effectively with one of the greatest hazards which man faces in 1963 -- the further spread of nuclear arms. It would increase our security -- it would decrease the prospects of war.”

In June of this year, President Obama reaffirmed that “we will work to build support in the United States to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.” The President’s words in Berlin underscore our policy, as stated in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, that “ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty is central to leading other nuclear weapons states toward a world of diminished reliance on nuclear weapons, reduced nuclear competition, and eventual nuclear disarmament.” The United States has observed a moratorium on nuclear explosive testing since 1992. Hence, even before the completed negotiation of the CTBT, the United States was in compliance with what would become the central prohibition of the treaty.

Furthermore, 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 with uncertain effectiveness or face international condemnation, and possible sanctions, for conducting nuclear explosive tests.

A CTBT that has entered into force would further benefit national and international security by facilitating greater international cooperation on other arms control and nonproliferation priorities.

In the 17 years since the Treaty was opened for signature, the Provisional Technical Secretariat, and the States Signatories have made great strides in building out the Treaty’s verification regime. What was, nearly two decades ago, just a concept is now a nearly complete International Monitoring System that has effectively demonstrated its capabilities under real-world conditions, detecting and helping states identify the three nuclear explosive tests conducted by North Korea over the past several years. In addition, following the Fukushima nuclear crisis, we saw how the IMS can be useful for non-verification related purposes, such as tsunami warnings and tracking radioactivity from reactor accidents.

In addition, the On-Site Inspection element has developed into a useful tool that will be capable of conducting robust and effective inspections at entry into force. Next year’s Integrated Field Exercise, to be held in Jordan, is poised to demonstrate that capability and help ensure that an OSI capability is ready to go as soon as the Treaty enters into force.

The United States applauds the efforts of the Provisional Technical Secretariat to plan and prepare for this exercise. We are interested particularly in testing how the integration of the various inspection techniques allowed under the Treaty will help provide States Parties with the most detailed and robust set of technical data and information on which to make a judgment of compliance with the Treaty.

With advancements in verification and the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship Program in mind, we have begun the process of engaging the American public. We know that the Treaty is not at the forefront of people’s minds these days and that it is very technical in nature. We want people to take their time and absorb and understand the rationale behind it. There are no set timeframes to bring the Treaty to a vote, and we are going to be patient, but we also will be persistent in our outreach efforts.

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.

Mr. Chairman, ladies and gentleman, the United States is committed to the CTBT and we want to see it enter into force, but we cannot do it alone. We call on all governments to declare or reaffirm their commitment not to test. The CTBT is in the security interest of every nation, so there is absolutely no reason for any other State to wait on us or any other Annex 2 State.

Before I conclude, I would like to congratulate Chad for becoming the 159th nation to ratify the CTBT in 2013. Also, congratulations to Guinea, Guatemala, Indonesia, and Brunei Darussalam, all of whom have ratified the Treaty since our last conference. Ratifying the CTBT provides a strong example of the positive leadership role all states can play in the global effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons. We call on the remaining Annex 2 States to move forward toward ratification.

This Administration realizes that this will be a difficult task on many levels, but it is nonetheless committed to building support for the CTBT. For our part, we will continue efforts to convince the Senate and the American people of what we know to be true: that the CTBT will benefit the security of the United States and of the world.

Thank you.


PRN: 2013/168