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A Push To Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty? ( 67

Lasrick writes: Hugh Gusterson thinks a symposium sponsored by the U.S. Energy Department was the first sign that the Administration is readying a push to finally ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). "Conceding that the earlier drive to ratify the treaty in 1999 ended in a humiliating defeat for the Clinton Administration, [Secretary of State John Kerry] said that "the factors that led some senators to oppose the treaty have changed, so [senators'] choices should change too." The article goes into the technology that has developed over the last 15 years that make testing unnecessary.
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A Push To Ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty?

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  • by sims 2 ( 994794 ) on Friday October 30, 2015 @05:41PM (#50835669)

    Sounds like something apple would say.

  • by khallow ( 566160 ) on Friday October 30, 2015 @05:46PM (#50835699)
    The big problem with this "push", if it's real, is that the Obama administration doesn't have the credibility it needs to back the treaty. Nobody who didn't already want the treaty is going to believe a thing these guys say.
    • by CrimsonAvenger ( 580665 ) on Friday October 30, 2015 @05:54PM (#50835757)
      The fact that he's waited till a year before he leaves office shows he's not terribly serious about it. If he'd been serious, he'd have been working toward it for the last seven years. Or at least the last three years (he hasn't been eligible for reelection that long, so why not?)....
    • Just about what I was going to say. Really it's a matter of if Obama wants it, a majority of Republicans will vote against it.

    • by Tailhook ( 98486 )

      Treaties only we obey. Let it rot another quarter century and if — after that time has passed — China and Iran want to sign+ratify, we'll see. In the meantime, pursuing this non-problem serves as evidence that we've solved all of our actual problems.

      • by matfud ( 464184 )

        China has signed it but like the US has not ratified it. Iran? who cares.
        India and Pakistan have not signed it.

  • by manoweb ( 1993306 ) on Friday October 30, 2015 @05:53PM (#50835745)
    ...would like to attend a test detonation? My ultimate dream would be to witness, at a safe distance and with the proper danger mitigation procedures in place, a nuclear detonation. I mean an atmospheric one, not underground. They have done *thousands* such tests some decades ago, now that we understand these devices better, it should be much safer.
    • by sconeu ( 64226 ) on Friday October 30, 2015 @06:03PM (#50835809) Homepage Journal

      Atmospheric tests were banned by treaty in the '60s. []

      And how do you plan on dealing with fallout?

      • by erice ( 13380 )

        Atmospheric tests were banned by treaty in the '60s. []

        And how do you plan on dealing with fallout?

        Move? Fallout does not rain down immediately. It takes quite some time for particulate matter raised by a nuclear explosion to come back back to ground. All an observer needs to do to avoid fallout is not hang around long after watching the detonation. Also, an aerial detonation produces negligible fallout anyway.

        That does not mean it is safe, though. If you can see the explosion than the primary X-rays and gamma rays can "see" you. I don't think there is any safe way to directly observe a nuclear ex

      • And how do you plan on dealing with fallout?

        Stay upwind

        Testing is necessary. Might be be better to do it space, on the moon, for mining...

    • Could we do tests on the Moon, to "tap" it back into place, so it doesn't wander off? I'd be afraid of it starting to spin though.
    • by sims 2 ( 994794 )

      The test detonation is not really the dangerous part at this point It's the weather. In years past [] (1954 Castle Bravo) the winds have shifted and exposed unexpected areas to fallout.

      I would like to think we can predict the weather better today than we could in the 1950's but If you have ever tried to plan around a weather forecast you know how inaccurate they can be.

      Afaik kim jong un has not agreed to any nuclear testing treaties although so far all the claimed tests have t

    • by nojayuk ( 567177 )

      Hundreds actually, if you're only counting atmospheric tests although some were underwater and a handful in the stratosphere. The US fired off about 220 atmospheric tests, going to underground testing after the Sunbeam series of tests in Nevada in 1962. The Soviets did a lot fewer; the US has carried out more than half of all the nuclear tests by all nations.

    • I thought covering the myth of "Can you really make a home-made nuclear bomb with information from your local library?" was what Mythbusters had planned for their final episode and they were going to set off a real one in Alameda for the high speed cameras as their grand finale....

      • How to make a nuclear weapon is (as far as I know) not particularly hard to figure out. Even in the Manhattan project the major hurdle wasn't the bomb design, it was acquiring the necessary nuclear materials. E.g. they were so confident in the design dropped on Hiroshima they never tested it in advance.

        Now, of course, it's even easier. Apparently in the 50s the US government wanted to see how easy it would be for countries to acquire the bomb, so they had a couple newly minted physics Ph.D.s attempt to d

    • Just watched The Fantastic Mr Feynman and found it interesting that while everyone put on sunglasses for the first test, he did some quick calculations and just got behind normal glass to block the UV. He was the only person to see that first test with the true naked eye. Must have been amazing and horrifying at the same time.
  • Underground testing was never an environmental problem. Ending all testing has always been about ending the nuclear arms race.

    If technology allows the existing arsenal to be tested without detonating anything then it is only a small step further for new designs to be be verified without physical testing. Then we are back on the nuclear treadmill only this time, advancement can be hidden since there are no testing that friends or foes can detect.

    • Well yeah, that's the point. It's political to ensure those in the Middle East, N. Korea, India, Pakistan, and potentially Iran get condemnation buy the more advanced nations. Nations such as the US, Russia, China, and UK are well advanced enough to just continue on with computer simulations. Personally, I think it's all BS. Creating a political artificial barrier to entry never has, and never will work. But, it will be done so that "something was done" to pat themselves on the back for doing something.

      • It has already worked. Not perfectly, and it'll continue to fail in various ways, but the international pressure has prevented a lot of countries from considering it worth the risk.

  • To those commenting above that they wouldn't believe a word the US says, I share your doubts, but with one BIG proviso. Doesn't the CTBT include inspection regimes that treaty partners sign up to so that everyone can be assured that other signees are following the rules? Seems like a great idea to me.

  • Now that we've done every nuclear weapons test we can imagine to get all the data we might need, it's time to ban this horrible practice.

  • Coming on top of Obama's huge "success" with Iran and nuclear weapons we can expect the following good things to come out of this:

    - Iran will be excepted from conditions of the treaty
    - China's compliance will be self-monitored and voluntary
    - Russia's compliance will be mandatory and supervised by the UN, but they'll ignore the damn thing and do as they please while Obama takes all the credit, and the UN won't give a damn unless they can use global warming to shut down capitalism..

"What the scientists have in their briefcases is terrifying." -- Nikita Khrushchev