Obama puts nuclear ban in jeopardy - Kyle Beardsley writes for The Post and Courier
Even though the treaty to ban nuclear weapons testing was never fully enacted — more on that later — the anti-testing agenda has been successful. Since 1999, only North Korea has conducted nuclear tests.
Although North Korea’s ongoing behavior has, deservedly, been met with global outrage, ironically it may be recent actions taken by the Obama administration that most jeopardize the chance for a viable testing moratorium.
North Korea is testing, but not in a way that will lead others to test. President Obama, however, is proposing modernizing our nuclear weapons and that could spur new incentives to test, as well as other countries to follow suit.
At the same time, the president is trying to secure his anti-nuclear weapon legacy by pushing for United Nations Security Council action that may have the opposite effect of what is intended. Since the CTBT was proposed 20 years ago, 164 countries have ratified it. The United States is not among them, though, as Republicans in the Senate voted down ratification in 1999, in part because of uncertainties over this complex treaty’s implications for maintaining the U.S. stockpile and verifying compliance by others.
Still, there is reason to celebrate the efforts to ban testing. The U.S. has not tested a nuclear weapon since 1992, even though it had previously conducted more than 1,000 tests following the end of World War II. And, since 1999, neither have any other nuclear states, except North Korea.
If, years from now, the moratorium on testing outside of North Korea holds, Obama should consider thanking Kim Jong-un for helping the world associate nuclear testing with the actions of maniacal extortionists.
However, if nuclear testing eventually re-emerges as a reality of geopolitics, a look back might reveal that Obama’s nuclear legacy was directly contrary to what he had hoped