Department Seal CTBT: Regional Issues and U.S. Interests
Fact Sheet released by the Bureau of Arms Control,
U.S. Department of State, Washington, DC, October 8, 1999

India and Pakistan promise to adhere to the Treaty

  • At the UN General Assembly in September 1998, the Indian and Pakistani Prime Ministers gave assurances they would adhere to the Treaty under certain circumstances.
  • During consultations with India and Pakistan since the May 1998 South Asian nuclear tests, the U.S. has been urging both to sign and ratify.
  • The Indian elections and the conflict in the Kargil region of Kashmir have delayed both countries from carrying out their promises.
  • However, Indian officials, including India's national security advisor, have stated that if the Vajpayee government is returned to office, India will take "concrete steps" on the issue of joining the CTBT.
  • If India joins the treaty, Pakistan would likely follow suit.
  • U.S. ratification -- along with ratification by countries such as China and Russia -- would create strong pressure on India and Pakistan to live up to their commitments.

Indian and Pakistani adherence is in the U.S. interest

  • The continuation of nuclear tests and a nuclear arms race in South Asia would irretrievably harm the nonproliferation regime and regional security -- both of which are very much in the interest of the United States.
  • Adherence by India and Pakistan to the CTBT could be a first major step in preventing a nuclear arms race in South Asia. If the U.S. rejects this treaty, Indian and Pakistani adherence could be all but precluded.

Constraining Chinese modernization

  • Securing Chinese adherence to the CTBT and bringing the Treaty into force as soon as possible will strengthen U.S. security.
  • Whatever information the Chinese may have attained through espionage, an effective means to constrain further Chinese modernization would be for the CTBT, which China has signed but not ratified, to enter into force.
  • China is not likely to rely on weapons incorporating information obtained through espionage without first conducting nuclear explosive tests.
    Harold Agnew, former director, Los Alamos Scientific Laboratory: "If China doesn't resume testing, no harm will possibly have been done other than to our egos…No nation would ever stockpile any device based on another nation's computer codes."

  • With respect to MIRVing, the National Intelligence Estimate concluded that "MIRVing a future mobile missile would be many years off." CTBT would impede any such efforts.

Chinese Test Site Activities

  • The U.S. has continued to monitor nuclear test sites, including China's Lop Nur test site.
  • When it signed the CTBT, China stated that it would continue to evaluate the safety and reliability of its nuclear weapons. We believe that China has initiated such a program at its Lop Nur test site.
  • The prototype International Data Center has not detected any nuclear explosions at Lop Nur.

Constraining Russian Modernization

  • In addition to its non-proliferation benefits, the CTBT adds to existing constraints on Russia's nuclear capabilities.
  • Without conducting nuclear explosions, Russia and other nuclear weapon states will not be able to develop advanced new types of nuclear weapons with confidence.
  • For prudent military planners, this means that reliance on such weapons would be virtually precluded.
  • This constraint on weapons development will reduce the possibility of a renewed U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race.
  • The U.S. carefully monitors activities throughout Russia using national means. CTBT's global system of 321 sensor stations and International Data Center (IDC) will further enhance our ability to detect nuclear testing.
  • The CTBT also provides for the conduct of on-site inspections, as well as confidence building and consultation and clarification measures.

Russian Test Site Activities

  • Russia has acknowledged an ongoing program of weapons-related subcritical experiments at its Novaya Zemlya test site since 1996. Such experiments would be consistent with the CTBT.
  • The prototype IDC has not detected any nuclear explosions, and according to Russian statements the activities are intended to evaluate the safety and security of its existing nuclear stockpile.
  • The significant possibility of detection, combined with the increased political costs associated with violating the Treaty, will help deter attempts at evasion.
  • Our judgement that the CTBT is effectively verifiable reflects the belief that U.S. national security would not be undermined by possible Russian nuclear tests that the U.S. might fail to detect.

Russia and China Agree to "Zero Yield"

  • The boundary between experiments that are not prohibited by the CTBT and explosions that are prohibited was carefully negotiated.
  • There is a clear and agreed boundary between permitted and prohibited activities, and that boundary permits experiments the United States conducts to ensure the safety and reliability of our nuclear weapons are not prohibited.
  • This issue was addressed in detailed technical discussions that included Russia and China.

In the negotiations a shared understanding was achieved, including Russia and China, that all nuclear explosions, however small (including hydronuclear tests), are prohibited, and sub-critical experiments are not prohibited.

Impact of CTBT on Israel and Regional Security

Israel participated actively in the negotiation of the CTBT. Throughout those negotiations, the United States engaged in extensive consultations with Israel. Israel has signed the CTBT, and has said it believes the Treaty is in its national security interests. It has tied ratification to the development of a satisfactory operational manual for on-site inspections.

  • The CTBT will have a positive impact on Israeli national and regional security. It will improve regional monitoring and reduce dramatically the prospects for proliferation in the region.
  • Similarly, the adherence by other key states in the region, such as Egypt and Iran, will reinforce Israel's confidence about their intentions and actions.
  • The CTBT verification system will provide a means to reassure countries about non-nuclear seismic events that, without a CTBT, would lead to suspicion and allegations of improper actions.
  • The CTBT regime will provide a mechanism and means for countries to execute confidence building measures, to consult if questions do arise, and reinforce a climate of cooperation and mutual trust in the region.
  • The Treaty will require its parties to deal with on site inspection processes. Completion of an appropriate on-site inspection operational manual will allay Israel's concerns about inspections. Inspections will reinforce confidence about the benign nature of activities in the region.

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