Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty - CTBT

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a treaty banning all nuclear test explosions anywhere in the world. The Treaty was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva in 1994 and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It was opened for signature in 1996. The Treat has been signed by 184 nations. India has not signed the treaty. This article will mention important facts about CTBT for the IAS Exam

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Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)
Opened for signature September 10, 1996 in New York
Entered into force Not Yet In Force (Three of the 44 required states have yet to sign it and five to ratify it)
Conditions for entry into force The treaty will enter into force 180 days after it is ratified by all of the following 44 countries: Algeria, Argentina, Australia, Austria, Bangladesh, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, Chile, People’s Republic of China, Colombia, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Norway, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Romania, Republic of Korea, Russian Federation, Slovakia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Vietnam.
Parties 184

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)—described as the “longest sought and hardest fought for arms control treaty in history”—was opened for signature in September 1996. The CTBT obligates countries that sign and ratify “not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion.”

It provides for an extensive verification regime including an International Monitoring System (IMS) to detect nuclear explosions, a global infrastructure for satellite communications from IMS stations to an International Data Center (IDC) that processes and distributes data to State Parties, and for on-site inspections, which may be requested by any State Party to determine whether suspected cheating has occurred. To implement these verification arrangements, the treaty establishes a Comprehensive Test Ban Organization (CTBTO) located in Vienna. 

Aspirants preparing for the UPSC 2020 exam must prepare the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty well along with the other International Treaty signed for the welfare of mankind and prevention from any nuclear, chemical and biochemical weapons, equipment and technology:

Australia Group Wassenaar Arrangement
Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)

Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty: Objectives

The CTBTO (the organization of the CTBT and the Secretariat of the Conferences) is already making great strides to establish a wide-ranging monitoring and verification system, including an International Monitoring System and International Data Centre, which together with national technical means and ten of thousands of civilian monitoring stations, will detect and deter would-be testers, and therefore, will build confidence between all nations that nuclear testing has stopped.

Given below are the objectives of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty:

  1. The CTBT has been seen as an essential step toward nuclear disarmament for over four decades. 
  2. The Treaty is intended to stop the qualitative nuclear arms race. 
  3. The CTBT aims to prevent further horrendous health and environmental damage caused by nuclear test explosions once and for all.
  4. It curbs the development of new nuclear weapons and the improvement of existing nuclear weapon designs.

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CTBT and India

India’s commitment to a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing dates back to 1954 when Jawaharlal Nehru called for a “standstill agreement” whereby testing of all nuclear weapons was to be immediately suspended, pending an agreement on their complete prohibition. It was again at India’s initiative that the item “Suspension of Nuclear and Thermo-Nuclear Tests” was included in the agenda of the UN in 1959.

During the course of the negotiations in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) Geneva on the CTBT, India put forward a number of proposals consistent with the mandate adopted by the CD in 1994. These proposals were aimed at ensuring that the CTBT would be truly comprehensive and would be part of the step-by-step process of eliminating all nuclear weapons.

However, these proposals were regrettably ignored and instead, Article XIV on Entry. Into Force requiring India to join the treaty before it became operational was adopted in violation of basic treaty law. India was thus forced to declare its opposition to the CTBT as it emerged.

India is not a member of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. India’s is neither a signatory to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) nor to the CTBT because it believes its present format to be discriminatory. A part of the scientific sector in India believes that singing CTBT would obstruct India’s nuclear development. 

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Entry Into Force of the CTBT

The Entry Into Force (EIF) Conference is expected to be an opportunity for:

  1. Announcing ratification and signatures;
  2. Calling on those states that have not yet signed or ratified the CTBT to join the international consensus to end nuclear testing;
  3. Urging states with active nuclear weapon research programmes and test sites to take actions that would reinforce the CTBT and support its goals, such as refraining from activities at test sites that might be construed as CTBT violations, halting research, development and production of nuclear warheads based on modifications of existing designs, that give them new military capabilities;
  4. Examining ways and means of removing obstacles which delay Entry Into Force;
  5. Discussing and agreeing on specific measures to convince the last holdout states to support the test ban;
  6. Support for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation in Vienna that has made significant progress in setting up the International Monitoring System and International Data Center, so that the CTBT’s verification system is ready by the time the treaty enters into force;
  7. Condemning any future testing; and,
  8. Calling upon governments, businesses and people to take decisive action in reaction to any future testing.

Frequently Asked Questions about Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty


When did the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty come into force?

The Treaty was opened for signature in September 1996. On 29 May 2018, the Secretary-General launched “Securing our Common Future: An Agenda for Disarmament.” The Agenda highlights the norm against testing nuclear weapons of a measure that serves both disarmament and non-proliferation objectives.

Which nations have not ratified the CTBT?

Five of the 44 Annex 2 States have signed but not ratified the CTBT; they are China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the United States. The United States and China are the only remaining NPT Nuclear Weapon States that have not ratified the CTBT

The Treaty’s entry into force depends on 44 specific States that must have signed and ratified the Treaty. 

Related Links:

Non – Proliferation Treaty Civil Services Exam UPSC Syllabus
Nuclear Arms Control India’s Nuclear Doctrine Essay UPSC Admit Card


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