Nuclear treaties
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a multilateral agreement that would ban explosive nuclear tests above or below the Earth's surface. President Clinton signed the CTBT in 1996 but our Senate failed to ratify it. The CTBT has achieved near universal adherence but it has not entered into force due to the non-ratification of eight nations. Some of these nations such as India have indicated they would sign the treaty after we do. If enacted, the CTBT would force nuclear-ambitious nations to either risk deploying untested weapons, or incur international condemnation and reprisals by conducting tests in violation of the treaty. CTBT would also hinder nations from confirming the performance of advanced nuclear weapon designs. Opponents say CTBT enforcement would be difficult and that nations could easily cheat. They also claim our nuclear stockpile would not be safe or reliable without testing. Supporters disagree, saying CTBT includes provisions to verify whether a nation has tested a nuclear device. This verification consists of GPS satellite surveillance and 337 worldwide monitoring stations, 260 of which have already been certified. They also say sophisticated computer models can ascertain the performance of newly-designed nukes without actually exploding them. They claim the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty would constrain regional arms races in the years and decades to come. They add that, after more than five decades of talks, it is time to finally ban the testing of nuclear weapons.

The 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty was an agreement between our nation and the former Soviet Union which prohibited the development and deployment of anti-ballistic missile (ABM) systems. When unilaterally withdrawing from this treaty with Russia in 2001, President Bush said “I have concluded the ABM treaty hinders our government's ability to develop ways to protect our people from future terrorist or rogue state missile attacks.” It is likely he was talking about North Korea which has nearly developed the capability to strike our mainland with an ICBM. After more than 10 years, Russia still strongly opposes our intention to develop a missile defense system. ABM Treaty supporters claim an anti-missile system will demolish our policy of détente -assuming it is still relevant. They say the purpose of this treaty was to prevent a country from using an anti-missile system to shield itself after launching a preemptive attack on another nation. ABM critics say deploying such a system could encourage a first strike from a nation without one. Russia and China have threatened a renewed arms race if we proceed with an anti-ballistic missile system.

Pending Legislation: None

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March 26, 2020
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April 1, 2020

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