Most 16 year olds are worried about tests. Most 16 year olds are worried about being accepted by their friends. Most 16 year olds spend long days agonizing about the promise of a drivers license. However, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which turns 16 today, is not like most 16 year olds. The tests that it is worried about involve massive explosions with dire health and environmental consequences. The group of friends it’s trying to get in with are the 39 countries that still need to ratify it. And on the CTBT’s 16th birthday, we see no signs of movement in the United States or abroad.
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty was drafted through the United Nations by numerous countries including the United States. It would ban all future nuclear explosions – in tests and in warfare – and would create an international regulatory regime to monitor the testing of nuclear weapons. Sixteen years ago today, the day the treaty was opened for signatures, 66 countries signed it including the United States and the other four nuclear powers of the day (China, France, the UK and Russia). As of last spring when Indonesia submitted its ratification, a total of 183 states had signed onto the treaty and 157 had ratified it.