Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Enforcement Rests Heavily on Ratification by US, Iran

Treaty Organization's Head Urges Nations to End Stalemate, Ratify Pact

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) has been sitting at a stalemate for 19 years now, with eight more nations needing to ratify the deal to bring it into force. The CTBT organization’s head, Lassina Zerbo, is urging those nations to get back on track and get the deal done.

The CTBT eight include six nuclear weapons powers, including the United States, China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, and Israel, along with two non-nuclear states, Iran and Egypt. All except India, Pakistan, and North Korea have signed the deal, and are just holding off on ratification.

The nations all signed the treaty within a few days of one another back in 1996, but the ratification process in many cases is interdependent, with a lot of nations not wanting to ratify the deal unless other nations do it first. Since 1996 only the three non-signatory nations have violated the CTBT.

Other than Iraq ratifying in 2013 to bring the number down to eight, there really hasn’t been serious progress among any of the nations on ratification since 1996, either, with the matter more or less dropped almost immediately the signing. India, for instance, ruled out ever signing unless the US agreed to get rid of all of its nuclear arms, which the US ruled out doing.

The new nuclear deal between Iran and the P5+1 might provide a good time for Iran to ratify the treaty themselves, though they are likely to withhold that ratification unless the US does it first, and the US Senate almost certainly would not be able to successfully ratify the treaty right now.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is Senior Editor for He has 20 years of experience in foreign policy research and his work has appeared in The American Conservative, Responsible Statecraft, Forbes, Toronto Star, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, Providence Journal, Washington Times, and the Detroit Free Press.