Banning Nuclear Tests: Ike (Yes), JFK (Yes), Bush II (No)

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Mr. Lambers is the author of Nuclear Weapons (2001).

The recent successful missile defense test was a victory for George W. Bush, who sees such a system as critical to our national security interests. But buried by the debate over missile defense lies a smaller, less dramatic, but more vital national security measure. It is ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).

President Bush's proposed defense system would be designed to shoot down nuclear missiles launched against the United States. It would act as a shield against rogue nations with smaller weapons stockpiles, not against Russia or other nuclear superpowers.

By contrast, the CTBT bans all nuclear test explosions. Rejected in 1999 by the U.S. Senate, this treaty has been signed and ratified by Great Britain, France and Russia. To take effect, 44 nations with a nuclear capacity must join; 31 of those 44 nations have already ratified the treaty, leaving the United States in the missing 13.

The Eisenhower and Kennedy administrations of the 1950s and 1960s each sought a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing. Both President Eisenhower and President Kennedy realized that such a treaty was not, by itself, going to end the threat of nuclear attack or halt nuclear proliferation. However, they understood a test ban's significance toward achieving those ends.

Their negotiations did produce a limited test ban treaty in 1963 with the Soviet Union, banning test explosions in outer space, underwater and in the atmosphere. The Limited Test Ban Treaty came on the heels of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962 and years of frequent nuclear testing. At that time the nuclear arms race was a runaway train.

Today, the possibility of nuclear warfare between the United States and Russia has diminished. Nuclear weapons stockpiles are reduced from the Cold War days. But now with more nations possessing nuclear weapons and others on the brink, how can the United States defend itself in a world full of danger and uncertainty?

One proposed way, which the Bush administration favors, is to build a missile defense system. Such a system is risky if it jeopardizes progress on nuclear arms reductions with Russia. The building of a missile defense system is in violation of the 1972 Anti-Ballistic Missile (ABM) Treaty signed with the Soviet Union, Russia's predecessor state. Russia or other nations are likely to advance weapons development in response to a disregard of the ABM treaty. Cooperation with Russia is critical, for it is a key partner in helping to end global nuclear proliferation.

A better way to defend the United States from nuclear attack would be to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. Failure to ratify the treaty leaves the United States less able to influence other nations to stop testing or developing nuclear weapons.

Conducting nuclear test explosions escalates world tensions and increases proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. One only needs to look to Asia for an example of this. Three nations -- India, Pakistan and China -- possess nuclear weapons. China's test explosions in the 1960s prompted India's development of nuclear weapons. Rivals India and Pakistan each conducted nuclear test explosions in 1998.

The existing stockpile of nuclear weapons can be maintained without test explosions. Billions of dollars annually are invested in this program, called Stockpile Stewardship. A former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General John Shalikashvili, commented on the ability to test nuclear weapons under the comprehensive treaty:"Almost all of the approximately 4000-6000 parts of a nuclear weapon . . . Are outside of the 'physics package,' -- i.e. the subsystem that creates the nuclear explosion. Under the Test Ban Treaty, these parts can still be thoroughly tested."

But one cannot rely entirely upon military might to defend itself whether it be building nuclear weapons or missile defense systems. To quote President Dwight D. Eisenhower,"Let no one think that the expenditure of vast sums for weapons and systems of defense can guarantee absolute safety for the cities and citizens of any nation. The awful arithmetic of the atomic bomb does not permit any such easy solution."

Good faith can go a long way toward achieving national security. That is why the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty is so vital. Is it risk free? No. Could a nation potentially" cheat" and carry out test explosions undetected by the treaty's monitoring system? Perhaps. However, President Kennedy faced risks when signing the Limited Test Ban Treaty. Today, one can look back at that event and say that it was the right thing to do.

It is a serious mistake not to ratify the CTBT. Without it, there can be no hope of ending the terror of nuclear weapons. By ratifying the treaty, the United States can take a step in the right direction toward ending nuclear proliferation and securing peace for future generations.

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M. Lan - 12/31/2004

This may be coincidental but then again it may not be? It is strange!

In Australia we recently had hundreds of whale standings off the Australian Coastline. Now a tsunami in neighbouring countries as a result of an earthquake.Is there any proof there is no such thing as human induced earthquake via the shock caused in nuclear explosions both during war and even underwater testing?
The US Navy regularly uses sonar signals to track submarines, and conducts controlled underwater explosions, writes New Scientist's James Hrynyshyn. US research suggests that underwater explosions and sonar tests used in research and exploration might be causing haemorrhaging and 'the bends' in marine mammals.

2004 - and Prior - Weapons of Mass Destruction - United States (Submarines carrying nuclear weapons) It would be difficult to believe there has been no underwater testing!:
Sea-based ICBMs
The US Navy currently has 15 Ohio-class submarines deployed. Each submarine is equipped with a complement of 24 Trident missiles, eight with Trident I missiles, and ten with Trident II missiles. Approximately 12 U.S. attack submarines are equipped to launch, but do not currently carry, nuclear Tomahawk missiles Sea-launch weapons make up the majority of weapons declared under START II rules.
Royal Navy
In 1995 the U.S. agreed to sell Britain more than 60 Tomahawks to arm Royal Navy (RN) nuclear submarines. The first missiles were acquired in 1998 with the first RN Tomahawk test also occurring that year. It is, as of 2004 in use with the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class nuclear fleet submarines, and it is planned all RN submarines will be Tomahawk capable by 2008 The Tomahawk will also be deployed by the future Astute-class nuclear fleet submarine. In 2004 the UK and USA governments reached an agreement for the UK to buy sixty-four of the new generation of Tomahawk missile, the Block IV or TacTom missile. The SYLVER vertical launch system to be fitted to the Type 45 destroyer is claimed to have the capability to fire the Tomahawk by its manufacturers. Therefore it would appear that Tomahawk is a candidate to be fitted to the T45 if the decision is made to fit her with cruise missiles. However, there is some doubt over the truth of the manufacturer's claims. France, which also uses the SYLVER launcher, is developing a version of the Storm Shadow Scalp cruise missile capable of launch from the SYLVER system, which would give a similar land attack capability.
It was first used by the RN, when HMS Splendid fired Tomahawks during the Kosovo War in 1999 It was later used by the RN in the Afghanistan War in 2001 as-well as Operation Telic , the British contribution to the 2003 Iraq War.
Another U.S. security objective--stopping a nuclear arms race between India and Pakistan--would be well-served by the treaty. Although neither nation has signed it, both have declared moratoria on further tests--in large part because of the international norm against testing embodied by the treaty. But even if India and Pakistan sign the treaty this year, they are unlikely to ratify it if the United States has not done so.
The International Monitoring System was a global network of hundreds of seismometers that was built to check for nuclear blasts under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. This treaty (which has no legal force because a handful of nations, including the United States, won't sign it) was supposed to ban all types of nuclear explosions. Even though the treaty has not been ratified, and so is not legally binding, the global network of seismometers still exists - and Terry Wallace uses it to do forensic seismology.
From a parliamentary hansard dating back to 1997/8:;sq=Earthquake+monitoring&search=Go&doc=1
Bills Digest No. 190 1997-98
Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Bill 1998
In order to detect breaches of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban, the Treaty establishes a system, called the International Monitoring System, of seismological stations. Seismology is the science of detecting and monitoring earthquakes. The International Monitoring System involves giving the scientific research community access to the global seismic data obtained from all the monitoring stations.
The detection system works in part on the fact that when an underground nuclear explosion occurs, it will considerably compress the rock or water immediately surrounding the detonation site(11). The shock waves emanating from the explosion are detectable by seismological equipment. One of the potential problems faced by the scientific community with this sort of monitoring is that it can be difficult to distinguish between small nuclear explosions and other blasts such as large quarry blasts.(12)
In the past, it has been acknowledged that a monitoring system can not, of course, prevent nuclear testing:
Safeguards cannot prevent a violation of obligations - the diversion of fissile material - any more than bank or company audits can prevent a misappropriation of funds. All they can do is expose infringements or arouse suspicions, in effect, sound the alarm.(13)
Nevertheless, the increasing use of computer-modelling to 'test' nuclear weapons and the calls for the transfer of that computer technology might serve to strengthen the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.
Main Provisions
Proposed section 8 makes it an offence to cause a nuclear weapons test or explosion and provides that the penalty is imprisonment for life. Proposed section 9 extends the operation of the offence provisions to include Australian citizens causing nuclear weapons explosions outside Australia. This provision complies with Article III of the Treaty which requires contracting State Parties to 'prohibit natural and legal persons' within its control from undertaking any activity which breaches the terms of the Treaty. The external affairs power (section 51(xxix) of the Constitution) allows the extension of the legislation in this fashion ( Polyukhovich v The Commonwealth of Australia and Another (1991) 172 CLR 501 ).

Article IV of the Treaty establishes an International Monitoring System (to detect nuclear tests), a system of consultation and clarification, a system of on-site inspections and a system of confidence-building measures. The Bill deals with each of these.

Discussions in the UN which make mention to human induced earthquakes:
The author has little information on developments over the forty years following 1935, yet something must have been happening because, as mentioned in Part IX of this series, a Senate sub-committee hearing, chaired by Senator Claiborne Pell, stated that: "We need a treaty now...before the military leaders of the world start directing storms, manipulating climates and inducing earthquakes against their enemies." Senator Pell would not have spoken these words in 1975 about inducing earthquakes unless he had some knowledge that such technology existed.
Also, reported in Part IX of this series, on December 10, 1976, the General Assembly of the United Nations approved the 'Convention of the Prohibition of Military or any Other Hostile Use of Environmental Modification Techniques,' and issued a report. Again, such a report would not have been issued if there were not technology in place capable of environmental modification, including the ability to induce earthquakes.
The June 5, 1977, New York Times described the great earthquake which destroyed Tangshan, China on July 28, 1976, and killed over 650,000 people.
Just before the first tremor at 3:42 am, the sky lit up like daylight. The multi-hued lights, mainly white and red, were seen up to 200 miles away. Leaves on many trees were burned to a crisp and growing vegetables were scorched on one side, as if by a fireball.
Some investigators believe these electrical effects were associated with electromagnetic plasma and ball lightning and the strange array of flashes which result from Tesla-style technology and /or HAARP-like transmissions. Was this brilliant flash of colored light what Tesla was talking about in 1935 when he mentioned "all kinds of unique effects²"? Was this earthquake just a test of the system, conducted on the unsuspecting people of China? It certainly does not appear that it was a natural earthquake.

Connie Parkerr - 12/28/2004

RIGHT! The testing also is destroying the earth's inner core, plate tectonics and CAUSING EARTHQUAKES, landslides, etc.,! Now, continuing that testing is also going to disturb the volcanos and we have got several of them is certain parts of the world!! The ozone layer is a BIG problem and finally, God help us if the polar ice caps start melting!

Connie Parkerr - 12/28/2004

I wholeheartedly agree. Not only that, it also causes Tsunamis as has just been evidenced with the most recent earthquake in Asia. There is no way that the earth just happens or "nature" as they call it is breaking the inner core of the earth. That is due to the nuclear testing by these idiots in positions of power. First, ANY nuclear testing is stupid, this earthquake the other day MOVED the island 100 feet from where it originally was. Second, EVERYBODY already knows what the weapon does as was evidenced in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, i.e., people literally MELTED in the streets. Third, they are destroying the earth (i.e., the most recent earthquake DISTURBED the ROTATION OF THE EARTH'S AXIS. That is pretty serious! - 10/28/2003

If tests are succsessful, they countries who tested them may make more, store upi, and then release them onto the unsuspecting Earth, killing everything in the oceans, including fish and gas, and the country will most likely kill everybody, so there is no one left to save the marine animals.

Midnight - 10/28/2003

See me and Gambler's pilot flying/training for free website at

Mike Klinger - 10/28/2003

Nuclear bombs are hurting our por oceans and land. If nothing is done about this, it will lead to the eventual distruction of humanity because that is what the testing is done for. Don't let this happen to our Earth!

Michelle Klinger - 10/28/2003

screw you!

Brett Johnson - 10/28/2003

Underwater nuclear testing is extremly harmful. It blows up the fish, contamnates them, and also it anniahlates their habitat!

Gambler - 10/28/2003

Testing is bad so don't do it. It destroys the oceans and our enviroment. Protest it.
P.S. Monkey

Micheal Haynie - 7/21/2003


mitchell hoffmann - 4/2/2003

nuclear weapons are destroying the environment whil bush sits back in his chair and we suffer the most.