Peace Through Nuclear Strength / Signing Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty still a bad idea (WASHINGTON TIMES COMMENTARY) By Vice Adm. Robert R. Monroe 03/24/12)
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On March 30, a National Academy of Sciences committee will release a
report with implications for the Obama administration’s hopes to gain
Senate ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).
Ratification was roundly defeated by the Senate in 1999, and the
strong arguments that prevented ratification then still apply,
augmented by new ones. No report can change the fact that
ratification of the CTBT is not in the United States’ interests.
First, ratification of the CTBT would not help prevent proliferation.
U.S. testing has never contributed to a single case of proliferation,
nor will it in the future. Belligerent, irresponsible states acquire
nuclear weapons to serve their aggressive ends. This stimulates
neighboring states to acquire nuclear weapons in response. Today,
because of our failure to stop Iran and North Korea, proliferation
threatens to become a cascade. But U.S. testing has nothing to do
with it. Little proliferation occurred during the four decades of
U.S. testing. Much more has occurred during the past 20 years, during
which the U.S. has not tested.
In fact, ratification would stimulate proliferation. Adversaries and
rogue states would see our restraint as weakness and accelerate their
acquisition of nuclear weapons. The many allies who depend on
our “nuclear umbrella” would recognize our weakness and go nuclear
themselves. Other nations, seeing that America’s nuclear guardianship
had lapsed, would proliferate in self-defense. U.S. ratification
brings no benefits to the world.
Nor would ratification be a step toward “a world without nuclear
weapons.” This noble objective is unachievable. Nuclear weapons
technology is known throughout the world, and global growth of
nuclear power makes fissile material available. If large, responsible
states did not have effective nuclear weapons for deterrence, the
world would descend into nuclear horror and chaos - at the mercy of
every aggressor, rogue nation, failed or failing state, fanatic,
proxy, terrorist, criminal, extortionist or disaffected individual.
Second, ratification would seriously undermine our national security.
Nuclear deterrence is the cornerstone that keeps us safe in a highly
dangerous world. However, our existing nuclear weapons - designed for
a totally different threat - are virtually irrelevant in deterring
today’s principal adversaries. More states have nuclear weapons than
ever before, and each of them - except the U.S. - is modernizing,
with Russia and China in the lead. Fourth-generation weapons are
being developed. Rogue states and terrorists urgently seek nuclear
weapons. U.S. nuclear testing is required to develop new-design
weapons to deter these new threats. New weapons (for example, those
with high security, low-yield, earth-penetrating capability; ability
to neutralize biological and chemical agents; and reduced residual
radiation) are needed urgently to regain a credible deterrent - one
that our adversaries know we have the capability and the will to use.
CTBT ratification would deny this.
Our existing nuclear weapons - overage and deteriorating - also will
soon require testing. They must carry us safely through the decades
it will take to produce our new stockpile. At any moment, we may
discover a critical fault disabling many hundreds of weapons. Most
critically, our experienced human resources are virtually gone.
Nuclear testing is essential in training replacement scientists,
designers and engineers.
Ratification also would seriously undermine American science.
Mankind’s advances have, for centuries, been the result of employing
the “scientific method.” Testing is its central element. Many new
technologies and approaches must be tested to see if they can solve
the fresh challenges we face. The CTBT would not allow this.
America’s future security depends upon our nuclear technology being
superior to that of anyone else in the world. Our scientists must not
be denied use of the scientific method.
Third, the treaty itself is fatally defective in critical areas. The
CTBT bans nuclear tests, but it does not define them. Each signatory
is free to create its own definition. Our U.S. definition is “zero-
yield,” denying all testing. Other nations are free to adopt
definitions allowing them to test new nuclear weapons. Ratification
would put the U.S. at an immense disadvantage in a field where we
must be No. 1.
The treaty is unverifiable. Low-yield tests, decoupled tests,
contained tests and tests hidden in seismic activity enable other
nations to gain a huge advantage over us in nuclear technology and
weapons. This cannot be permitted.
Ratification would be a hopeless “feel-good” gesture, carrying a huge
penalty. The CTBT can never enter into force. This requires North
Korea, Iran, Pakistan, India, Israel, Egypt, China and the U.S. to
ratify it. Each of these states has powerful reasons for not
ratifying, and very few would be swayed by U.S. action. Our
ratification, however, would carry an immense penalty for us. If we
ratified the CTBT, we would be bound by international law to observe
its provisions, decade after decade, even though it had not entered
into force. This does not apply today.
In summary, the national security costs of CTBT ratification are
immense, while the nonproliferation benefits are illusory.
Retired Vice Adm. Robert R. Monroe was director of the Defense
Nuclear Agency. (© 2012 The Washington Times, LLC. 03/23/12)
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