Friday, August 10, 2007

Not an Island – Palau Ratifies the CTBT

In a small but important step, Palau ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on August 1, bringing the total number of ratifications to 139.

The country already hosts a station that is a part of a global system being built to monitor compliance with the Treaty. So far over 200 stations have been built out of a total of 337 in order to check the oceans, the atmosphere and beneath the Earth for telltale signs of a nuclear explosion.

To date, 177 countries have signed the Treaty. In order for the CTBT to enter into force, however, it must ratified by the 44 countries identified in Annex 2 of the Treaty (countries that participated in the negotiations of the Treaty in 1996 and possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time).

While 41 of these countries have signed the Treaty, only 34 have ratified it, leaving the U.S. as only one of ten countries to stand in the way of its full implementation. The other countries are China, Columbia, North Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, and Pakistan. Not exactly a shining list of countries that the U.S. should aspire to keep company with.

Palau's ratification is important because, as Doug Shaw of PSR notes, “If Palau campaigns to bring small states into the CTBT at the General Assembly, they will be successful. More small states ratifying the Treaty would mean less political cover for those that remain outside, advancing the cause of early entry-into-force. In this way, Palau could make a historically disproportionate contribution to international security.”

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