Oped: Test ban treaty must follow N. Korean summit

William Lambers
York Dispatch Contributor

To reach the ultimate goal of nuclear disarmament on the Korean peninsula, we must first achieve a ban on nuclear weapons testing. North Korea’s six nuke tests have advanced its weapons program.

 The Trump-Kim summit in Singapore may be the first step toward disarming the North’s nuclear arsenal. But it will take time and confidence building.  

The United States and North Korea can get the post summit effort rolling now by ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear test explosions. A commitment by North Korea to end nuke test explosions would demonstrate its seriousness about peace and disarmament.

 The United States ratifying the CTBT would be a powerful goodwill measure. North Korea and the U.S. are among eight nations holding out from ratifying the CTBT. (India, Pakistan, Israel, Iran, Egypt and China are the others)

 Dr. Lassina Zerbo, the head of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization, along with the foreign ministers of Belgium and Iraq stated "It is of paramount importance that a legally binding and irreversible end to the nuclear testing programme of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea be part of any comprehensive, negotiated agreement to end the nuclear crisis and achieve denuclearization."

More:Trump, Kim claim big summit success, but details are scant

 The trio is also urging the United States and other holdout nations to ratify the pact as well "Therefore we call on all States that have not yet done so — in particular the non-ratifying Annex 2 States – to sign and ratify the CTBT without delay.“

 The CTBT can serve as an opening step toward disarmament agreements needed to denuclearize the peninsula.

 The verification system of the CTBT can detect secret nuclear explosions, so we need this treaty in effect. The system features stations all over the world that can detect nuclear blasts from thousands of miles away.

 China, as North Korea’s ally and neighbor, should likewise ratify the CTBT right away to strengthen the peace movement.

 North Korea's nuclear testing has caused major international tensions over the last decade. We don't want to see any more tests by North Korea or any nation.

 The United States has not tested a nuclear weapon since 1992 and relies on the computer technology of the Stockpile Stewardship program to maintain the arsenal. It’s time the United States Senate to ratify the CTBT and President Trump to give his signature.

 It’s been 60 years since President Dwight Eisenhower first proposed nuclear test ban treaty negotiations with the Soviet Union. Ike’s efforts, followed by President F. John Kennedy, led to a limited test ban treaty banning atmospheric, underwater and outer space nuke explosions.

More:After summit, Trump announces halt to U.S.-S. Korea ‘war games’

Kennedy signed the treaty one year after the Cuban Missile Crisis. The Soviet Union had placed nuclear missiles in Cuba during the fall of 1962 and both sides test exploded nukes while a standoff ensued. The Limited Test Ban Treaty was a dramatic turnaround from that near catastrophe.

But now it’s time for a comprehensive ban ending nuke tests forever. This will help North Korea and the U.S. build the peace we need desperately today. 

The Trump-Kim Summit will ultimately be judged on what it leads to in terms of disarmament and other agreements, including other critical issues such as human rights.

 None of it will happen overnight. But we must get started right away on reducing the nuclear threat which hangs over us all.

 It's time for the United States, North Korea and other holdouts to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. By closing the door on nuclear testing, we can start building a bridge to disarmament.

— William Lambers is the author of Nuclear Weapons the Road to Peace. He has been published by History News Network, NY Times, HuffPost, The Hill and Spectrum, the official magazine of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization.