The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
March 4, 2002 12:07 AM   Subscribe

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty was in the news 3 and a half years ago when the Senate failed to ratify a treaty we created. Although there have been no formal talks of ratification since, with all that has been happening these days, one can't help but wonder if now is the time to act. Bush mentioned earlier of reducing our nuclear arsenal, but wouldn't ratification be our best solution to control major threats, such as North Korea, Iraq, and Iran?
posted by BlueTrain (6 comments total)
Yes. I am absolutely certain that if we sign a piece of paper, all major threats in the world will magically cease to exist.

Keep in mind that treaties, whether they are between two parties or many, are simply a formalization of a relationship that exists, and only have meaning as an expression of that relationship. Multilateralism for its own sake is a bankrupt strategy. Treaties that cannot be trusted in and of themselves must be backed up by force or the threat of force, or in better times subtler forms of influence such as trade relations.

Perhaps the word you intended to use was shame? Yes, by our greater high-mindedness we may be able to put a kind of diplomatic embarassment on the governments listed, but control is entirely too forceful a word for that.
posted by dhartung at 12:24 AM on March 4, 2002

Well, I certainly did not intend for the "Axis" to simply give up after formal ratification, but back in '99, this was a major embarassment for the US. Now, more than ever, dirty nuclear weapons threaten our society. Based on this, shouldn't we first formalize agreements with our allies, and then follow through with those who mean us harm?

Our biggest nuclear threat is still Russia, and newspapers are reporting that the Russian arsenal is not FULLY accounted for, although the government says otherwise. My logic is that if we create agreements on paper, such as the ABM treaty, which has now been laid to rest, our enemies would be held more accountable for their actions by the entire world, instead of just the US.
posted by BlueTrain at 12:32 AM on March 4, 2002

I am interested to know how, as you put it "our enemies?? would be held more accountable for their actions by the entire world" if they had signed a certain agreement.

Do you assume that that any nuclear action by any nation, whatever that may be, testing, deploying etc would draw less accountability if said country had not signed said agreement.
posted by bittennails at 6:03 AM on March 4, 2002

Wasn't there an SNL skit awhile back about a cop and a crook and the cop runs into the room gun drawn screaming, "throw down!" and the entire skit was the cop screaming at the crook telling him to throw down and they just had their guns drawn on each other trying to psyche each other out?

Yeah.. I think there was. Like most SNL skits nowadays, it didn't really have an ending. Nuclear warheads are just really really big guns. This won't have a decent ending either, and if we're lucky, we'll never hear the punchline.
posted by ZachsMind at 6:56 AM on March 4, 2002

Nuclear weapons are far too traceable - if any country wanted to attack the US (except possibly China), something more subtle and untraceable is required these days to prevent swift retaliatory vapourisation. For example, someone taking some BSE infected meat over from Britain to the US, breeding some BSE cows, and infecting the vast US herds would really cause some problems - especially if the US government followed Britains kill 'n' burn tactics..

Anyway, the biggest problem isn't testing, but pissed off terrorists buying a strategic nuke from some bored/skint Russian guards - Russian tabs on their arsenal isn't very high at the moment - rocket launchers can be bought for $50 apparently (sure, theres a difference between a rocket launcher and a nuke, but where theres a will, theres a way..).
posted by Mossy at 7:01 AM on March 4, 2002

Sorry, I disagree. While there is some argument that treaties like this can help prevent escalation. The treaties between the US, Great Britain and Japan in the '20s probably prevented a confrontation between the US and GB. I see a general trend towards reducing the nuclear stockpile already progressing - and that IS formalized.

Mind you, the afore-mentioned treaties (limiting size and number of battleships, the "big weapon" of that day) only worked until Japan and Germany decided it was in their best interest to ignore it. [1]

Work toward stabilization, but don't give up anything you don't have to. The Senate - for once - made the right decision in '99.

You aren't going to get rogues like North Korea to agree to this anyway, IMHO.


[1] Surprisingly, Japan had actually suggested scrapping all battleships - something the US and GB laughed at.
posted by hadashi at 8:35 AM on March 4, 2002

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