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Nuclear Weapons and the Foreign Policy of a Post-Bush Administration

Arms Control and the Senate's Reconsideration of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty: A National Security Priority

Working Paper, October 31, 2008

CREDIT: U.S. Army Korea (PD).

Winston P. Nagan
Director, Institute for Human Rights, Peace, and Development
Sam P. Dell Research Scholar
Professor of Law, University of Florida College of Law

Erin Slemmens
Human Rights Fellow
Research Assistant to Professor Nagan
Levin College of Law, University of Florida

This research explores the history, provisions, and policies of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the aftermath of the U.S. Senate's rejection (and therefore, by implication, the non-ratification of the Treaty). In particular, this document clarifies the precise current legal status of the CTBT in U.S. law. The Treaty is not dead. It is technically a "pending" treaty within the jurisdiction of the Senate. Under U.S. law, the Senate is vested with the competence to determine its own agenda. The Treaty is within its jurisdiction and it is therefore within the competence of the Senate to redecide the advice and consent issue. In short, there may be political obstacles for reconsidering the Treaty, but there are no legal obstacles to this.

The threat and/or use of nuclear weapons is one of the most important questions of arms control security policy for a new U.S. administration. The possible emergence of new nuclear threats to American and global peace and security merits reconsideration of the CTBT. In important respects, the Senate's rejection of the CTBT has served to undermine the leading U.S. role in global arms control as well as the control and regulation of the testing and possible proliferation of nuclear arsenals. The Senate's rejection of this important treaty has sent the wrong message about the U.S. role in promoting a more secure approach to managing a nuclear arms race. This has undermined the U.S. role in leading by example diplomatic efforts to secure global cooperation on the relationship of nuclear arsenals and world peace and security. The rejection of the Treaty sent the wrong message globally. The action of the Senate has undermined the nation's national interest. It promotes instability and unpredictability in expectations of global security.

Download: Nuclear Weapons and the Foreign Policy of a Post-Bush Administration (PDF, 504.52 K)

Read More: Democracy, Diplomacy, Energy, Ethics, Peace, Security, Technology, United States, Americas, Global

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