September 6, 1996

The Honorable John D. Holum, Director
U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency
Remarks at the 18th Annual Seismic Research
Symposium on "Monitoring a Comprehensive Test
Ban Treaty,"

Loews Annapolis Hotel
Annapolis, Hotel

Thank you, Jim. I'm honored to address, in its 18th year, the preeminent seismic meeting of its kind in the world.

This gathering comes at a crucial moment in the struggle to end nuclear testing, now in its fifth decade. For the first time ever, last month in the Geneva Conference on Disarmament, the world's five nuclear weapon states -- joined by two of the three "threshold" states and some fifty other countries -- together reached agreement on the text of a true zero yield CTBT. But the text was blocked. Now the Treaty's fate will be determined by the United Nations General Assembly, which will resume its 50th session next week in New York.

Your symposium also proves a point I've voiced repeatedly -- that science and technology are not the enemies of arms control and nonproliferation, but instead empower it.

Indeed, it is largely science that has made a comprehensive test ban feasible, because we can live with it and still protect our security, and because -- thanks in large part to your work -- it can be enforced.

The CTBT raises four technical questions I'd like to focus on briefly this morning -- and a fifth question that is largely political. First, can we maintain our stockpile without testing? Second, is the test ban a meaningful constraint? Third, can it be verified? Fourth, what role does your work play? And finally what are the test ban's immediate prospects?

As to the first, if the question is, can the United States know every bit as much about nuclear weapons technology without nuclear explosive testing as with testing, the answer is "No."

But the relevant question is a different one: Can the United States have the confidence it needs in the safety and reliability of its nuclear arsenal without explosive testing?

Here the answer is a clear "Yes... if." The most authoritative validation of that premise is the JASON's report of August 1995, under Sid Drell's chairmanship and co-authored by a virtual all-star team of the United States most distinguished nuclear bomb designers and scientists.

Those distinguished experts concluded unanimously that we can today have high confidence in the safety, reliability, and performance margins of the nuclear weapons in the enduring stockpile -- and that we can maintain that confidence "for several decades under a CTBT," (and here's the "if"), so long as the United States provides "continuing and steady support for a focused, multifaceted program" to understand, evaluate, and maintain our enduring stockpile.

Such a program is underway -- first defined by President Clinton in 1993, as part of his decision to pursue a global comprehensive test ban. Despite budget constraints, it is being funded by the Congress. And in August 1995, when he committed the United States to a true zero yield CTBT, the President added new safeguards and an annual requirement to certify the continuing safety and reliability of our nuclear deterrent as a supreme interest of the United States.

For as long as the United States relies on its nuclear deterrent, the safety and reliability of our stockpile will not be compromised.

Nor will the stockpile stewardship program compromise the CTBT -- which goes to my second question: Is the CTBT a meaningful constraint? Surrounding the treaty negotiations has been acute concern about what the nuclear weapon states will and will not be able to do under the CTBT.

The proper dividing line is between maintaining existing weapons and the confident development of new ones. And neither the intent nor the effect of stockpile stewardship will be to develop and deploy new nuclear warhead designs. Simply put, this program will not subvert the CTBT.

We are making sure the world understands that. First, as the JASONs recommended, our management of stockpile stewardship will be restrained and open. The Department of Energy is actively seeking ways to increase the transparency of related activities at the Nevada Test Site, the National Ignition Facility, and elsewhere.

And second, we have stressed the arms control as well as the nonproliferation benefits of the test ban.

Certainly the CTBT will help impede the spread of nuclear weapons. But its great practical impact will also be for arms control -- to end development of advanced new weapons and keep new military applications from emerging. As President Clinton said in this year's State of the Union address, a truly comprehensive test ban treaty can "end the race to create new nuclear weapons."

That constraint is far more than theoretical. Even the open literature points to a broad array of potential new weapons developments that testing could advance in the nuclear weapon states -- including several varieties of directed energy weapons that could enable greater military effects from smaller explosions, and perhaps define new roles for nuclear arms.

Of course, any state's nuclear weapons development program seeks to use nuclear materials more efficiently -- to increase yields, trim weights, reduce volumes, manipulate shapes. This quest for efficiency and flexibility is a basic reason for testing. It is also a most potent catalyst for arms races. To avert it is the test ban's core value.

The United States has conducted well over 1,000 nuclear explosive tests -- hundreds more than any other country. We are up toward the flattened far end of the learning curve; others are on steeper parts of the slope. So it serves both our direct interest and our interest in international stability for everyone's climb up that curve, including our own, to be arrested.

The third question is CTBT verification. Historically, of course, this has been a major stumbling block for the CTBT -- and during the past 2-1/2 years in Geneva, it was the most time-consuming issue to resolve.

As you know, the CTBT text presented in New York will set in place a new global information-gathering and -processing regime. Its International Monitoring System will include four distinct systems of sensors: seismic, radionuclide, hydroacoustic, and infrasound. Their data will be fed to the International Data Center, to be compiled, analyzed, combined with other data, and shared.

The CTBT will provide for a far-flung global network of fifty primary seismic stations -- either highly-capable arrays, or in some cases capable three-component single seismometers -- distributed so that the basic event detection capability will be significantly below a seismic magnitude of four, or roughly one kiloton fully-coupled in hard rock. For many places on the globe, the event detection threshold for the prototype system is routinely about seismic magnitude three -- roughly equivalent to an explosion of some 50-100 tons fully-coupled in hard rock.

To help localize seismic events, the IMS will also provide for a network of 120 auxiliary stations. Many of these are multiple-use stations designed for general geophysics purposes. Together, the primary and auxiliary seismic networks will seek to localize seismic events to 1,000 square kilometers or less -- an area sufficiently small to permit an on-site inspection with some reasonable prospects for success.

In addition, a network of eighty radionuclide sensors will provide further information -- and deterrence -- against atmospheric or underground testing attempts.

Because many natural seismic events occur under the oceans, a hydroacoustic network is also being established to assist in discriminating such events from nuclear explosions. And the network of infrasound (or very low-frequency acoustic) sensors will detect and deter atmospheric explosions, particularly in the remotest regions.

We intend to process all the data collected centrally by the IMS. For identifying an event as a nuclear explosion is a task left to the Treaty parties themselves.

And of course, we are not limited to the IMS. The Treaty text permits States Parties to provide supplementary data to the IDC from national monitoring stations outside the IMS -- which could be used either to raise or answer questions about a specific event. The treaty also supports the international exchange of data for scientific purposes, and promotes cooperation among States parties to strengthen Treaty implementation. And it provides for confidence-building measures, including information-sharing about large chemical explosions.

Most importantly, the Treaty spells out the right of States Parties to make use of national technical means -- provisions the United States made clear were indispensable, despite the opposition of several countries. Thus we will be able to draw on assets not specified in the IMS, including seismic, hydroacoustic, and satellite means of detecting nuclear explosions.

And we intend to integrate our national data along with that collected centrally by the IMS, in our own ongoing monitoring against any potential evader of the CTBT. When we do this, we expect the whole to exceed the sum of its parts. Our aim is a national capability that will meet our own standards for event detection in all environments.

All of this brings us to the bottom line question: as my Agency performs its statutory responsibility to report to the Congress on the verifiability of arms control treaties, what will we say about the CTBT?

We are still working on a final assessment. But we've been engaged for more than two years in a rolling assessment as the text evolved.

I expect a conclusion that this Treaty will meet our baseline standards for detecting and deterring violations.

Obviously we should not count on detecting events all the way down to zero explosive yield by remote sensing alone. But even down to very low yields, a potential evader runs the risk of detection -- and at any yield he runs the risk of being exposed by other means, and being subject to an on-site inspection.

Taken together, the IMS and its International Data Center, the other geophysical sensors spread around the world, the United States own sensor systems, other national means, plus the prospect of prompt on-site inspections, will create a risk of detection that a potential violator will not be able to calculate with any precision. That, and the prospect of global sanctions upon being found out, will create a powerful deterrent against violations.

My fourth question concerns the role of your work. As an arms control official, I am probably not the consumer you typically envision.

But in a larger sense arms control has been the direct beneficiary of a series of remarkable advances in your field in the decades since Gutenberg published his papers on the Trinity and Baker tests in the 1940s, and the Berkner Panel released its report in 1959. From the time of the Limited Test Ban Treaty in 1963, seismology has cemented its primary role.

Since then, supported by the U.S. Government, you and your predecessors have made great progress in event detection, location, and identification -- giving us truly sensitive seismic arrays and forensic seismology techniques of extraordinary utility. And we are gaining access to new realms of information from regional distances and even to data from close-in seismometer networks.

Your strides in pushing the seismic state of the art have already made substantial contributions to arms control and our national security. They provided a significant part of the basis for President Clinton's 1993 decisions to continue the testing moratorium and pursue a test ban treaty. They helped give us the requisite confidence to embrace a true zero-yield treaty last year.

And this year, they enabled us to achieve the agreement of all five declared nuclear powers to a Treaty that provides explicitly for both on-site inspections and the use of national technical means.

Each of these were significant milestones on the road to a test ban. This country could not have passed them but for the superb foundation in forensic seismology that you, your colleagues and our predecessors have built.

You deserve America's gratitude for this -- and more. You deserve the most stable funding and rational supervision of your efforts that our country can provide. Now, as we prepare to sign a CTBT, is no time to dissipate or take for granted the unparalleled expertise we have cultivated in your field.

For your work is not done. In announcing the zero-yield decision of August 1995, the President said: "I recognize that our present monitoring systems will not detect with high confidence very low-yield tests. Therefore, I am committed to pursuing a comprehensive research and development program to improve our treaty monitoring capabilities and operations."

Your efforts are vital to this program. So I am heartened to see how much of this Symposium is addressing practical monitoring needs, such as: work on the crustal geology of regions such as South Asia, the Middle East, the Korean Peninsula, and China; efforts to calibrate specific areas; the development of enhanced algorithms and calculational methods to help us understand data collected at regional distances; valuable empirical work on characterizing mining blasts; investigations of effective discriminants such as the Lg phase; refinements in epicenter determination such as those to be discussed in the "seismic location workshop" scheduled at the end of this Symposium; and a variety of efforts to understand and build forensic synergies between our dedicated national assets and other seismic stations -- and most broadly, between seismic and other detection techniques.

Such work is already enhancing our considerable abilities to monitor nuclear testing worldwide. And I know you will not rest until the President's call for high confidence even at very low yields is answered.

This brings us to our final question: Will we in fact be signing the Treaty soon?

For the United Nations to pick up where the Conference on Disarmament left off is unusual. We would have strongly preferred that the UN act only after receiving a consensus product from the CD. But India blocked that outcome. And we are convinced that the Australian initiative -- offering the CD's draft text directly in the UN General Assembly -- can work very nearly and perhaps equally well.

In recent days we have been working with the Australians and others to make the case that today's exceptional circumstances fully justify an extraordinary process. The 1995 NPT review conference, with no dissent, made the test ban an immediate priority, calling for a Treaty no later than the end of this year. Last fall the 50th United Nations General Assembly unanimously mandated that the CTBT be completed by this month. Over two and one-half years of painstaking work, the Conference on Disarmament produced a draft treaty reflecting every last ounce of consensus that could be drawn from 61 member countries -- and achieved near-unanimity, with only one or two dissenters.

And consider that for the first time in history, all five of the nuclear weapon states, and two of the three threshold states, have agreed not only on the concept of a test ban, but on a specific text.

We've argued that given these exceptional circumstances, we can now celebrate what the Conference on Disarmament has accomplished, and consolidate it, by extensive cosponsorship when the Australian resolution is introduced today, an overwhelming vote next week, and the widest possible participation when the Comprehensive Test Ban is opened for signature later this month.

I believe all these things will happen. For unlike the CD, where a single country, however isolated, can block consensus, a two-thirds majority in the UN General Assembly can adopt the Treaty -- and one-third can block any amendments. And as we saw in Geneva, even countries who are impatient with the pace of disarmament recognize the test ban as an historic step forward that should stand on its own, without linkage to other goals not now attainable. The international community wants to seize this opportunity now, and not wait another forty years.

For these reasons and others, I believe the success formed in Geneva will be cemented next week in New York.


President Dwight Eisenhower, after leaving office, said that the greatest disappointment of his presidency was in not achieving a CTBT.

Since then, most of his successors have pursued the same goal -- with the strong support of the American people.

Since then, the Cold War has ended, the world's desire for an end to testing has reached a crescendo, and all five of the nuclear weapon states have stopped testing.

And also since then, advances in seismology and other fields have given us greater confidence in monitoring a CTBT than ever before.

But as the negotiations come to a close, a new phase of your work is beginning. Within a few months, when the treaty is submitted to the U.S. Senate, forensic seismology will have center stage, for verification is sure to be vigorously debated.

You and your colleagues will have the opportunity and obligation to explain -- in open and closed hearings -- all that you know about our ability to monitor nuclear testing in key parts of the world. And then both before and after entry into force, there will be work on verification and to continue strengthening our ability to monitor compliance down to smaller yields.

The era of nuclear explosive testing is over.

But seismology is sure to remain at the root of the confidence countries need to forswear such testing for all time.

So when the Treaty prevails and its history is written, your contributions will earn a lengthy chapter and an honored place. I thank you for that, and for all your work here this week to help advance a leading priority of President Clinton, and a profoundly important global mission.