We'll have a new Senate soon. We don't know exactly who yet, but one mission regardless should be the same: The Senate must finish what Ike and JFK started: ending nuclear weapons testing.
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has yet to be ratified by the U.S. Senate. The treaty would ban all nuclear weapons test explosions. It would finish the road to a test ban that was started way back in the Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations.
Both presidents sought to end nuclear tests during the Cold War. Their efforts led to a limited treaty banning nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater and outer space. Below ground nuclear tests were allowed to continue and that is what we are left with today.
Ending nuclear testing is the road to achieving global nuclear disarmament. It's the road away from expensive nuclear spending and dangerous arms races.
Some estimates have nuclear weapons spending in the U.S. reaching 355 billion over the next decade. Do we want to spend our treasure on these weapons of mass destruction? Or would we rather invest more funds into our schools, feeding the hungry, and medicine. As far as national defense, overspending on nuclear arsenals takes away from conventional military forces.
Imagine if nuclear testing were to resume. Other nations would follow. We could end up reliving some of the Cold War days when Russia and the U.S would carry out nuclear blast after blast. They even did so during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Do we really want to see a rerun of that?
There is a better way: getting a global ban on nuclear testing and start moving the world back on track toward arms reductions. All nations share the dangers of nuclear spending, accidental launch and terrorist theft of nukes. There is common ground for moving forward on reducing these weapons. But first, we need the CTBT.
Eight nations including the U.S., Israel, Egypt, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea have yet to ratify the CTBT. Russia has already ratified.
The Senate voted against the CTBT in 1999, citing concerns over detecting violations and maintenance of the nuclear arsenals without test explosions. The verification concerns have been addressed by a highly developed international monitoring system. The U.S. also has its own methods to detect potential secret nuclear explosions.
The biggest concern would likely be the maintenance of the current nuclear arsenal without test explosions. The U.S. has not done a nuclear test since 1992 and has relied on the Stockpile Stewardship program to check on the arsenal. This program has some of the world's fastest super computers.
Secretary of State John KerryJohn KerryOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — EPA finalizing rule cutting HFCs Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the League of Conservation Voters — Senate Finance chair backs budget action on fossil fuel subsidies Kerry: 'We can't get where we need to go' in climate fight if China isn't joining in MORE says, "I know some members of the United States Senate still have concerns about this treaty. I believe they can be addressed by science, by facts, through computers and the technology we have today coupled with a legitimate stockpile stewardship program.”
When Kennedy achieved the Limited Test Ban in 1963, there was fear and apprehension. Republicans and Democrats each had to step up and get the treaty approved. They did.
That partnership can again achieve passage of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It’s a treaty that advances peace and security for the whole world.
Lambers is the author of Nuclear Weapons and Ending World Hunger.