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Obama or McCain Can Finish Journey to Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

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Fifty years ago, U.S. military leaders were preparing their annual report on the Soviet Union’s ability to inflict damage on the United States with a nuclear attack. The findings of this 1958 Net Evaluation Subcommittee report were ghastly, with "50 million dead" in the United States, most from radioactive fallout.

At that time the Cold War was in full swing and the rapidly developing technology caused great fears as to what might lie ahead. President Dwight Eisenhower sought initiatives to lessen tensions, including negotiations with the Soviets to end nuclear weapons testing.

That effort started the very long road to the 1996 comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty (CTBT) that would end all nuclear test explosions. But, to this day, the United States has not ratified the treaty.

Barack Obama or John McCain will have an opportunity to show U.S. leadership in ratifying the CTBT. The treaty would be a step toward nuclear disarmament. The fewer of these weapons the less chance of nuclear terrorism or accidents. Nuclear weapons states India and Pakistan are more likely to ratify the treaty with the U.S. taking the lead. The CTBT would also reduce the chances of a costly arms race with Russia or China which new nuclear weapons development is sure to encourage.

One area that has long been a concern is the ability to detect all nuclear weapons explosions. This is critical because a nation could try to cheat any treaty and conduct nuclear explosions in secret. The treaty calls for a system of stations across the globe that can detect a nuclear explosion in the atmosphere, underwater or underground.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) kicked off a major study of this detection system with final results expected in 2009, not long after our new president takes office. This testing regime has already undergone some unexpected test runs. In 2006 North Korea announced it had tested a nuclear weapon. According to the CTBTO, "The announced test was well recorded throughout the world by the CTBTO's International Monitoring System (IMS). Over twenty seismic stations of the IMS located throughout the world, including one as far away as South America, detected signals originating from the event."

The scientific analysis of the CTBT monitoring systems is crucial to having confidence that nuclear tests can be detected. However, in the end, what President Eisenhower said about detection systems may hold true. Ike stated ,"There is no system, whether it be defensive or detection or intelligence or planning or anything else, that is 100 percent perfect. What we do have to do is to refine the process to the point where we minimize risks."

Obama has already signaled his intentions to push for ratification of the CTBT should he be elected. McCain has promised to reexamine the CTBT, perhaps realizing that the U.S. may be better off living under such a treaty than without. Either Obama or McCain is going to have the golden opportunity to make history by ratifying this landmark treaty. By doing so, the next president can set the conditions for deep reduction of nuclear arsenals and perhaps, for their complete elimination.

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About William Lambers

William Lambers is the author of several books including Ending World Hunger: School Lunches for Kids Around the World. This book features over 50 interviews with officials from the UN World Food Programme and other charities discussing school feeding programs that fight child hunger. He is also the author of Nuclear Weapons, The Road to Peace: From the Disarming of the Great Lakes to the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Open Skies for Peace, The Spirit of the Marshall Plan: Taking Action Against World Hunger, School Lunches for Kids Around the World, The Roadmap to End Global Hunger, From War to Peace and the Battle of Britain. He is also a writer for the History News Service. His articles have been published by newspapers including the Cincinnati Enquirer, Des Moines Register, the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle, Buffalo News, San Diego Union Tribune, the Providence Journal, Free Lance-Star (VA), the Bakersfield Californian, the Washington Post, Miami Herald (FL), Chicago Sun-Times, the Patriot Ledger (MA), Charleston Sunday Gazette Mail (WV), the Cincinnati Post, Salt Lake Tribune (UT), North Adams Transcript (MA), Wichita Eagle (KS), Monterey Herald (CA), Athens Banner-Herald (GA) and the Duluth News Journal. His articles also appear on History News Network (HNN) and Think Africa Press. Mr. Lambers is a graduate of the College of Mount St. Joseph in Ohio with degrees in Liberal Arts (BA) and Organizational Leadership (MS). He is also a member of the Feeding America Blogger Council.
  • Condor

    Initially the USSR, only agreed in principle to a testing ban with no verification regime or protocols. Hence the Limited nuclear test ban treaty became the meeting ground defined as the current state. Is that correct?

    A bit of history according to wiki:

    “Furthermore, the Soviet Union proposed a testing ban along with a disarmament agreement dealing with both conventional and nuclear weapon systems.

    The Western nuclear powers and the Soviet Union traded positions on this issue over the course of negotiations in the 1950s through offers and counteroffers proposed under the aegis of the U.N. Disarmament Commission.

    It was only later during 1959 and into the early 1960s that the United States, the United Kingdom, and the Soviet Union agreed to detach a general agreement on nuclear disarmament from a ban on nuclear weapons testing.”

    Your blurb suggests the U.S. is at fault for not ratifying a treaty that no one could agree on. Why would anyone do that? Wouldn’t that render it a useless scrape of paper. Further, the USSR wanted everyone to beat their weapons into plow shares WITHOUT VERIFICATION. Given the less that halcyon attitude of the cold war I wouldn’t suppose that it would have been labled a “good idea” — in fact given that leadership on all accounts had just recently completed a global World War and the after effects, I could reasonable ascertain that those mettled leaders during that period would have excepted such a preposterous assumption on the USSR’s part.

    Imagine their train of thought. The USSR wants everyone to disarm without verification… so they can do what?

    That would have been lunacy. And still would be.

  • agha dilbar gardezi

    Subject Peace and Prosperity
    Dear President Barrack Obama
    The Great Leader of the World

    I Agha Dilbar have sent Mr. President 100 registered research Letters (1000 new ideas to develop America and to Change the World for Peace and Prosperity) through Embassy of USA Islamabad till today and also direct sent these registered Letters to Whitehouse Washington DC 20500.These letters have been written on the guidelines of CHANGE WE NEED. And these letters are about the Common Men Problems of respected American Peoples and their Solutions. To end, Economic Recession, Unemployment and to Finish War, all round the World for Peace and Prosperity. In these letters I have sent one thousand new scientific Planning /Suggestions, about every walk of life for Peace through Friendship Progress and Prosperity all over the World.

    Dear Barrack Obama, the Great Leader of the World, my Friend, my Brother, Provide
    an opportunity to Agha Dilbar to pay an Official Visit to America, that we two brothers can sit together and by halting this horrible war(In this war 1-million peoples have died from 9/11 till today, if this war continues, it will become the 111- World War.200-Million people would die, if 111-World War is triggered) can take out 6.5 billion people of the World from abyss of destruction and then put them on the road to Progress and Prosperity.

    Dear President Barrack Obama considers, from 9/11 till today, America has conducted
    many war operations in connection with War on Terror, resulting the circle of war has spread hundred times. Millions innocent persons have died. Many
    more have been rendered homeless. One Lak (10000) war affected youth joined the army of Al-Qaida and Talban by the help of anti American countries have begun gorilla war in a horrible manner. It is the result of wrong war strategy. I Agha Dilbar desire to solve all above mentioned problems in a meeting with President Barrack Obama by adopting new revolutionary planning by brining an end to present gorilla war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In the result the World can enter in a peaceful, advanced and progressive world, May it be so.

    I Agha Dilbar have a new War Strategy to achieve success through Table Talk between Talban, Pakistan and American Govts. 90% of Talban that are fighting against Pak Army belong from Swat and Tribal Areas of NWFP. I can provide America all realistic facts in such manner that their implementation could convert these Talban into Patriotic Citizens of Pakistan. In this War Strategy Pakistan Gov will never send his Heavy Artillery, Tanks, Cannons and Air craft in war. In this way 5-million persons will never Displaced. In the end Talban by their will handover, their Weapons to Pakistan Gov, they will come to Table Talk and Suicide Bombing will come to an end in Pakistan. Through this War Strategy Pakistani and American Govts can save expenses
    on war. Through this planning American and Pakistani Govts can utilize their saving on war budgets for development of Schools, Hospitals, Colonies, Markets, Roads, Bridges, Dams, Canals and Industries of Swat and Tribal Areas of NWFP that are war affected. On account of present war strategy ,Billion Dollars are being waisted yearly.
    This war can cause Fall of America instead of continuation of war,my best suggestion for America must keep his Supper Power on the World and should conquer the World instead of war, but by his No-1 scientific tecnology spending on agricular,trade,education, scientfic development and tourisim,all round the World. making an end to Economic Crsis in America.

    A new Global Package is being offered for your kind honour.America will have to make complete and final announcement that in future all Multinational American Companies to get free land on 20-years lease and will set up under the BOOT agreement (in undeveloped and poor countries) factories,mills fivestar hotels, schools,colleges,universties,hospitals,air companies ,shipping companies,latest railway, bus transport and steell mills.All these companies will be bound to handover without any cost to to underdeloped and poor countries well as their machinery and transport after 20-yaars. A new suggestion in connection with Global Peace is offered that in return of export American Agricultuar and Industrial Products, will give his 50% prophit to the exporting countries and utilize as Aid on the development of agriculture,industry,trade,education and tourisim.This suggestion,macking an end to American Economic Crsis and get full support to enhance his Foreign Public Relations.May it be so.

    To make soccessful American Foreign Policy on Global Leval the following planning
    is put before:

    a) America will have to provide free scholer ships at least to ten top master students (in each country) of medical and science in underdeveloped and poor countries of the world.
    b)Hiighly educated and well trained one hundred cultural groups (each group contains 100 persons)will have to arrange one hundred cultural shows for three months in big cities of underdeveloped and poor countries.
    c) America will have to arrange exhibitions through his Embassies for his latest products, in the underdeveloped and poor countries .All these mentioned above industrial exhibitions will be arranged contiously for two months.In the above mentionsed exhibitions present products will be sold except export order booking. In mentioned above exhibitions,American Cultural Programme show will have to arrange and American Traditional Dishes will be kept for sale. In these exhibitions American Tourisim Stalls will also be set of.

    I Agha Dilbar have sent Ten Million research Peace Letters to International Community from 9/11 incident till today. This letter is my Great Peace Mission plan which is continued. Present Global Economic Crisis is the result of War on Terror. This Crisis if further accelerates could initiate a 111-World War. Please hear my Voice of Truth; I can save the World, for my Great Peace Mission, with the help of President Barrack Obama, Peace and Prosperity.

    Mr. Barracka Obama you are not only the Leader of America, you are Great Leader of the World. In this connection I am waiting for your Email responce, dated 2.10.2009.
    Please Confirm.
    Thank you, God bless you and God bless America.

    Agha Dilbar (founder)
    International Revolution Movement
    [personal contact info deleted]
    This Open Letter has been sent sixty thousand (60000) to International Community for the welfare of Humanity till today. I Agha Dilbar authorize Newspapers, Magazines, Internet, to Publish and Radio, T.V. Channels to broadcast this letter all round the World