U.S. announces return to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

The United States administration is renewing its support for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and intends to work toward its entry into force. Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Bonnie Jenkins announced this on Thursday, September 23.

“I want to make clear from the outset that the United States supports the CTBT and is committed to working to achieve its entry into force,” Jenkins said in a statement posted on the U.S. State Department website.

Signed 25 years ago, the treaty commits each state party “not to carry out any nuclear weapons test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion in any place under its jurisdiction or control.”

The previous administration of former President Donald Trump, in an updated United States nuclear doctrine, announced its refusal to seek ratification and entry into force of the CTBT and reserved the right to resume nuclear testing if necessary.

So far, 185 countries have signed the document and 170 of them have ratified it. Ratification by the 44 states listed in the special annex is required for its entry into force. Thirty-six of them have ratified, including three countries that have nuclear weapons: Russia, the United Kingdom and France. Of the remaining eight, three have not signed: the DPRK, India and Pakistan. Five other countries have signed but not ratified: the United States, China, Israel, Iran and Egypt.

“We recognize the seriousness of the difficulties that lie along the way, difficulties that include the need for ratification by all the remaining Annex 2 countries, some of whom have not even signed the treaty yet,” Jenkins said.

On February 24, it was revealed that NATO’s large-scale nuclear exercise Able Archer could have provoked a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United States in 1983. According to declassified materials, the unstable situation was caused by a serious misunderstanding provoked by NATO exercises. Their purpose was to test the nuclear capabilities of the alliance forces in European countries as well as beyond their borders, due to which the 16th Air Red Banner Army, located in GDR, put its aircraft on high alert.

On February 2, the head of the Strategic Command of the U.S. Armed Forces, Charles Richard said that the United States must be prepared for a nuclear war with China or Russia. Richard stressed that the Pentagon needed to perceive the threat of nuclear conflict as real, and to develop new concepts of deterrence and, if necessary, nuclear warfare.