STATEMENT BEFORE THE SENATE SUBCOMMITTEE ON INTERNATIONAL
SECURITY, PROLIFERATION, AND FEDERAL SERVICES
"THE COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY AND NUCLEAR NON-PROLIFERATION"
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 18, 1998
SPURGEON M. KEENY, JR.
PRESIDENT AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR
THE ARMS CONTROL ASSOCIATION
Mr. Chairman and members of the Committee, I am honored to be here today at your invitation to present my views on the relationship between the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and nuclear non-proliferation. I particularly appreciate this opportunity to discuss with you an issue with which I have been involved throughout my professional career.
As it might be relevant to your questions, let me say a few words about my background relating to this issue. As a junior Air Force officer and subsequent civilian employee, I was in charge of the office that followed the Soviet nuclear weapons program in the Directorate of Intelligence, HQ USAF. I was involved in the analysis of the Soviet test in August 1949 that signaled the first instance of nuclear proliferation. Until the mid-1950's I represented the Air Force on the Joint Atomic Energy Intelligence Committee that prepared the national assessments of the Soviet nuclear threat. In 1958 as Technical Assistant to Dr. James Killian, President's Eisenhower's first Science Advisor, I staffed the advisory committees that led to Eisenhower's decision to pursue a comprehensive test ban and then served as the staff director for the U.S. delegation to the international Conference of Experts that concluded a test ban could be verified. In the fall of 1958, I was a member of the U.S. delegation to the first negotiations for a test ban. I followed these issues during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations as a Senior Staff Member of the NSC and as the technical assistant to the President's Science Advisor. In 1965, I was Staff Director for the special Committee on Nuclear Proliferation, chaired by Roswell Gilpatric, which advised President Johnson on nuclear non-proliferation issues. On the basis of this report, Johnson subsequently directed Secretary of State Dean Rusk to complete the NPT despite opposition from the State Department bureaucracy and several key allied governments. In the mid-70's, I was chairman of the study group that produced the report, "Nuclear Power Issues and Choices," which had a major influence on President Jimmy Carter's nuclear non-proliferation policy. As Deputy Director of the Arms Control and Disarmament Agency under President Carter, I backstopped in Washington the renewed comprehensive test ban negotiations which, despite considerable progress, bogged down after Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. With this background, I am indeed pleased that the CTBT has at last been completed and is now before the Senate for its advice and consent.
Mr. Chairman, I would like to commend you and your committee for holding hearings on
the impact of the CTBT on U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy. This is the reason that
this treaty is of such great importance to U.S. security. In your invitation to me to
appear as a witness, you asked me to focus my remarks on five specific "Reasons for
Ratification" from the White House Working Group on the CTBT. In my remarks I will
explain why I agree with each of these reasons:
1. "The CTBT will constrain the development of more advanced nuclear weapons by the declared nuclear powers."
I believe the CTBT will severely constrain the development of more advanced weapons by the declared nuclear weapon states. In fact, as a practical matter, it will prevent such developments by these states. By such developments, I mean not only radical new concepts, such as nuclear explosion pumped x-ray laser weapons and pure fusion weapons, but also new designs for "classical" two-stage thermonuclear weapons with significantly different parameters. Even the very sophisticated research facilities and advanced supercomputers called for in the U.S. Stockpile Stewardship and Management Program (SSMP) will not permit the development, production and deployment of such advanced new weapons in which responsible officials would have confidence. Pursuit of new designs would appear to be even more problematic in the case of the other nuclear weapon states that will not share the luxury of the elaborate facilities available to the United States in the U.S. stewardship program.
Within the U.S. stewardship program one might make minor modifications in existing weapons designs to take into account changes in materials or manufacturing techniques which could be checked out by supercomputers and non-nuclear testing. However, to maintain a high level of confidence in the U.S. stockpile, such modifications would have to be closely controlled and held to an absolute minimum. And there is no reason to think many such changes would be deemed necessary even over a very extended period of time.
All of this is not to say that the CTBT can prevent scientists in the weapons
laboratories from thinking about new designs which could be of interest in the unlikely
event that the test ban regime collapsed. It is indeed difficult, however, to imagine the
circumstances in which responsible political, military or scientific leaders in any
country would be interested in pursuing unproven designs in the absence of testing when a
wide variety of highly reliable, proven weapons are already available in their arsenals.
2. "The CTBT will strengthen the NPT regime and the U.S. ability to lead the global nonproliferation effort."
I believe the CTBT will substantially strengthen the NPT regime. Failure of the United States to ratify the CTBT promptly will seriously undercut U.S. ability to carry out its critical role in leading the global non-proliferation effort.
The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which constitutes the framework for the non-proliferation regime, is by its very nature discriminatory since it divided the world into nuclear weapon haves and have-nots--the five nuclear weapons states, the United States, Russia, Britain, France and China as opposed to the rest of the world. The treaty was based on the correct assumption that most countries are more concerned with preventing their neighbors and adversaries from acquiring nuclear weapons than with maintaining the option to acquire such weapons themselves or with requiring the existing nuclear weapon states to divest themselves of weapons as a precondition. Nevertheless, serious concern about the treaty's discriminatory nature was, and remains, very real. Article VI was included to obligate the nuclear weapon states "to pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament,..." From its entry into force, some 185 states have joined the NPT--all but five of which, the nuclear weapon states, thereby voluntarily gave up the nuclear weapons option in part based on the arms control assurances provided in Article VI.
When President Eisenhower initiated the first comprehensive test ban negotiations in 1958, he saw it as the best hope to constrain both the nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union (vertical proliferation) and the spread of nuclear weapons beyond the three countries that then possessed them (horizontal proliferation). President Kennedy shared these hopes and resumed the negotiations. Unfortunately, these early negotiations failed to produce agreement.
A decade later the NPT, which was successfully negotiated under President Johnson and ratified by President Nixon, provided a strong barrier to horizontal proliferation. The NPT also banned nuclear testing for all non-nuclear weapon parties to the treaty since they foreswore the development or acquisition of nuclear explosive devices.
In these circumstances, the non-nuclear weapon states that were parties to the treaty looked on the continued nuclear testing by the nuclear powers as a constant reminder of the discriminatory nature of the NPT. They looked on progress in achieving a global comprehensive test ban as the most visible demonstration of the willingness of the nuclear weapon states to end the nuclear arms race. In fact, the global cessation of nuclear testing has become the litmus test of the seriousness of the nuclear weapon states to meet their obligations under Article VI.
When the NPT came up for renewal at its 25th anniversary conference in 1995, there was considerable dissatisfaction with the record of the nuclear weapons states in fulfilling their obligations under Article VI, particularly with regard to the nuclear test ban. The Conference had to decide whether to extend the NPT indefinitely or for only a fixed period. While the majority of participants were willing to extend the treaty indefinitely, a significant minority favored a fixed period in order to maintain pressure on the nuclear weapon states to meet their Article VI obligations. In view of the significance of the decision, the Conference sought approval of indefinite extension by consensus rather than the simple majority required by the treaty. This consensus was achieved by the adoption of a resolution of Principles and Objectives which contained many commendable generalizations but one very specific objective--the completion by the Conference on Disarmament of a universal CTB Treaty no later than the end of 1996.
In a remarkable negotiation, the treaty was completed on schedule, in large part due to
initiatives taken by President Clinton, and the CTBT was opened for signature on September
24, 1996. To date 149 states have signed the treaty, including the five nuclear weapon
states, and nine countries--soon be joined by France and Britain--have ratified the
treaty. However, many key countries, including Russia and China, will not move on
ratification until the U.S. Senate acts.
3. "The CTBT will constrain 'rogue' states' nuclear weapons development and other states' nuclear capabilities."
I believe that the CTBT will constrain, but cannot in itself prevent, so-called "rogue" states and other states from obtaining a first generation nuclear weapons capability. When the CTBT enters into force with essentially worldwide support, including the five nuclear weapon states, an international legal norm against testing will be established. While this could not prevent testing by a "rogue" state, the act of testing would, by violating a universal norm, put that state at odds with the entire international community and make it a prime candidate for sanctions.
Technically such a "rogue" state could develop a first generation nuclear weapon without testing. Such a weapon would probably be similar to the gun-type U-235 weapon that destroyed Hiroshima, which had not been tested, or the plutonium implosion weapon that was successfully tested at the Trinity site prior to use against Nagasaki, or the early U-235 implosion weapons tested by China. Such weapons are known to have been developed (and subsequently destroyed) by South Africa without tests, and presumably by Israel and Pakistan as well. India's program is based on a single test conducted in 1974.
While such a "rogue" state might make marginal improvements without testing
to weaponize these initial devices, it would not be able to go very far in optimizing and
miniaturizing fission weapons and would certainly not be able to develop thermonuclear
weapons without extensive testing or access to detailed plans and direct technical
assistance from a nuclear weapon state that had successfully developed and tested them.
Although the undeclared nuclear weapon states, India, Israel and Pakistan, which
presumably already have first generation weapons, are more experienced in the field, they
would also not be able to develop thermonuclear weapons without testing or external
assistance by a nuclear weapon state. If a state were a member of the NPT, such a program
would of course be a violation of the NPT and would probably be revealed by the new, more
intrusive IAEA inspection program, which can inspect suspicious sites. If not a member of
the NPT, the "rogue" state's weapons development program could be greatly
complicated but not indefinitely blocked by reduced access to external technical support.
4. "The CTBT will improve America's ability to detect and deter nuclear explosive testing."
Under the CTBT, the establishment of the International Monitoring System and mandated procedures for on-site inspections of suspicious events will significantly supplement the already impressive unilateral U.S. capabilities to detect and thereby deter nuclear testing.
The United States already has in place a very effective system of national technical means (NTM) with which it has successfully monitored nuclear testing world-wide since the first Soviet nuclear test in August 1949. I do not think that it is necessary or appropriate for me to elaborate on the various elements of this system with which I am sure you are familiar. I would point out, however, the U.S. system has been able to call upon the considerable capabilities of the several thousand world-wide unclassified seismic stations to supplement its classified system.
The International Monitoring System (IMS) when fully operational will have over 300 seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide monitoring stations. The system is credited with having a world-wide detection capability down to about one kiloton, although I believe in geographic areas of special interest it will be considerably better than that. The IMS has the advantage that it will be an open international operation so that all parties to the treaty have access to the data and will not be solely dependent on U.S. conclusions which are often based on data that the United States is not prepared to share and which some parties may perceive as biased. Moreover, the treaty establishes specific procedures to allow on-site inspections of suspicious events. The prospect of on-site inspections should act as a powerful deterrent since they would have a good chance of identifying even very small tests and, if the country where the event occurred rejected or obstructed the inspection, that action would strongly suggest that the party in question was in fact trying to hide a clandestine test. In making the case for inspection of a suspicious event, the United States can also present information from its powerful classified NTM system that it would not be willing to share with the rest of the world on a routine basis.
The powerful synergistic effect of the U.S. NTM capabilities and the IMS is well illustrated by the earthquake in the vicinity of Novaya Zemlya on August 16 last year. U.S. photo reconnaissance satellites detected unusual activity at the Novaya Zemlya test site in August that in retrospect was probably associated with permitted subcritical experiments of the type the United States was conducting at the same time at the Nevada test site. Thus alerted, the intelligence community was understandably alarmed when a seismic event was reported whose initial location was so poorly defined that it might have occurred at the test site. As more seismic data became available it was apparent within days to both U.S. government and international seismologists that the event actually had occurred 130 kilometers from the test site beneath the floor of the Arctic Ocean. More careful examination revealed that the seismic signal was in fact consistent with an earthquake and indeed a very small characteristic aftershock was subsequently identified to have occurred a few hours after the main event. It was thus concluded that the earthquake was unrelated to the activity at the test site. If the CTBT had been in force and the event had been much closer to the test site, the United States would have been in a position to request an on-site inspection.
I think it is significant to note that even before the IMS became fully operational, elements of the system were able to locate accurately this event, which had a yield equivalent to about 100 tons of TNT, or one-tenth the advertised threshold of the system, as well as an aftershock that had an equivalent yield of about 10 tons of TNT or one-hundredth of the one kiloton threshold.
In judging the "effectiveness" of a detection system, it must be recognized that every system that depends upon technical measurements has a threshold below which signals are lost in the background noise. In the case of the CTBT, one can with high confidence detect tests down to one kiloton high explosive equivalent and probably with less confidence to a considerably lower level. But there will always be a range of yields above zero that cannot be detected.
Despite these technical limitations, the verification system can still be correctly defined as "effective" because tests below the threshold do not constitute a security risk to the United States. Clandestine testing below the threshold by the nuclear weapon states would not permit development of radically new or significantly improved nuclear weapons. In the case of non-nuclear weapon states, tests below the threshold would not contribute to the production of a first generation primitive weapon, which would either be tested at full yield or be produced without testing since little would be gained by testing such weapons at very low yields.
I should add that, in addition to detection by sensors recording the event itself, a
potential clandestine tester would have to take into account the possibility that his
actions would be revealed by human sources or by a failure in communications security.
Such sources of information, although unquantifiable, would have a further deterrent
effect on low yield clandestine testing.
5. "CTBT ratification by the United States and others will constrain non-signatories from conducting nuclear tests."
I believe that prompt ratification of the CTB is critical to U.S. efforts to maintain an effective leadership role in maintaining and strengthening the nuclear non-proliferation regime, which is the principal constraint on testing by non-nuclear weapon states.
It has been suggested that the Senate does not have to hurry in considering the CTBT since India, one of the 44 countries that must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force, has stated emphatically that it will not ever sign the treaty. The urgency in U.S. action derives not only because our leadership role will probably stimulate a wave of ratifications, including Russia and China, but also because it will give the United States a seat at a special Conference that can be called after September 24, 1999 (three years after the treaty was opened for signature) at the request of a majority of the states that have deposited their instruments of ratification to decide what measures can be taken to accelerate the ratification process and facilitate early entry into force of the treaty. If Indian participation does not appear to be forthcoming, the conference can recommend a number of ways to bring the treaty into force provisionally. If the United States fails to ratify the treaty before September 24, 1999, it will only be able to participate in the conference as an observer, without a vote or voice in these efforts to bring into force a treaty in which it has played such a central role over the years.
In the year 2000, there will be a major NPT Review Conference. The main focus of
attention at the Conference will be on the extent the nuclear weapon states have met their
obligations under Article VI and implemented the Principles and Objectives Resolution that
accompanied the indefinite extension of the NPT. If the United States has ratified the
CTBT and the treaty is moving toward entry into force, the United States will be in a very
strong position to press the Conference to support other efforts to strengthen the
non-proliferation regime with respect to potential proliferators. But if the treaty has
been rejected or is still before the U.S. Senate, the United States will be strongly
attacked at the NPT Review Conference as the barrier to an effective non-proliferation
regime and will lose much of the leadership role it has achieved over the years. Some have
even suggested that U.S. failure to act on the CTBT could persuade some non-aligned
countries to withdraw from the NPT, which would seriously undermine efforts to achieve
global support for U.S. nuclear non-proliferation policy.
In summary, I believe the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is an extremely important component of the U.S. strategy to establish a permanent global non-proliferation regime. I urge the Senate to act promptly to give its advice and consent to the treaty in order to reinforce the leadership role of the United States in extending and strengthening the non-proliferation regime. Thank you.
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