Annual Meeting 2010

US Should Ratify Nuke Test Ban Treaty, ABA House Says

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The United States should ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, the ABA’s policy-making House of Delegates said Tuesday.

The measure passed on an voice vote; no House members spoke in opposition to Resolution 107A (PDF).

Six months ago, the 561-member House rejected a similar measure after questions were raised about whether taking a position on the treaty is germane to the ABA’s mission.

The treaty is designed to create a binding global agreement to prohibit all nuclear explosions. Although 182 countries have signed the CTBT, the treaty will not enter into force until is has been ratified by 44 specified states that took part in the treaty negotiations and have the capacity to develop nuclear power. Although 41 of the indispensable states have signed the treaty, including the United States in 1996, without ratification, the measure is toothless.

The Obama administration has said it intends to pursue ratification of the CTBT by Congress. In his April 5, 2009 Prague speech, President Obama said: “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act.”

Critics of the CTBT have questioned the difficulties of verifying compliance and the necessity to test current U.S. stockpiles for reliability purposes.

The ABA House of Delegates approved a recommendation in 1994 to urge the U.S. government to control the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, including the pursuit of a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing, through its support of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.

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