Advancing a Comprehensive Ban on Nuclear Weapons Testing

A GSI Activities Report

The Global Security Institute (GSI) remains committed to achieving a permanent prohibition against nuclear weapons testing.

A New Proposal

We are engaged in expert consultations based on a new proposal by Ambassador Thomas Graham Jr., Chairman of GSI’s Bipartisan Security Group, for the Security Council to pass a resolution condemning any future nuclear test as a threat to international peace and security.   

First suggested in his remarks to a GSI luncheon event organized with the World Presidents Organization/Young Presidents Organization and the American Bar Association’s International Law Section on October 28, Ambassador Graham again reiterated the proposal in his remarks to the American Physical Society Forum on Physics and Society November 2, and is now the subject of GSI explorations of the best way to advance progress on a permanent, universal ban on nuclear weapon tests.   

We view this goal as a modest step that fulfills commitments made pursuant to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and a common sense policy that helps both nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Brainstorming with the CTBTO


James Silkenat, Lassina Zerbo, Jonathan Granoff  

(L-R): James Silkenat (American Bar Association President), Lassina Zerbo (CTBTO Executive Secretary), and Jonathan Granoff (Global Security Institute President)


At the behest of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)—the awe-inspiring Vienna-based agency that has established a global verification system capable of detecting even the smallest nuclear weapon explosion[1]—GSI organized a meeting of a dozen leading civil society experts on the CTBT, based in Washington and New York, to meet and strategize with the new CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo on September 6.  The candid brainstorming session was informative and productive, focusing on ways to promote the work of the CTBTO globally. Participants in this meeting included: James Silkenat (American Bar Association), Ray Acheson (Reaching Critical Will), John Burroughs (Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy), Joseph Cirincione (Ploughshares Fund), Charles Ferguson (Federation of American Scientists), Deborah C. Gordon (Preventive Defense Project, Stanford University), Jonathan Granoff (Global Security Institute), Robert Grey, Jr., (Bipartisan Security Group), John Isaacs (Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation), Daryl Kimball (Arms Control Association), Jenifer Mackby (Center for Strategic and International Studies), and Ambassador Steven Pifer (Brookings Institution).


Strategizing with Governments

Also on September 6, GSI, with the sponsorship of the Permanent Mission of Austria, GSI organized an additional strategy session with ambassadors and other government experts joining the civil society leaders for a working lunch. Six governments from a wide geographical and political range participated in the meeting, the latest such strategizing session that GSI and the Permanent Mission of Austria organized on the topic of the CTBT. (See, for instance, the report of our event in April 2009 and the CTBTO’s report of the event in September 2008 that featured UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, UN Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas, and former US Secretary of Defense William Perry.)

CTBT Entry-Into-Force Conference

On September 27, more than 100 senior government officials gathered at the United Nations for a conference seeking the entry-into-force of the CTBT, which requires the ratification of eight remaining states: China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, and the United States. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon delivered the opening address; as the closing speaker, GSI President Jonathan Granoff had the privilege of delivering a statement to the conference on behalf of all civil society. The full range of statements is worth noting. 


The civil society statement highlighted the disarmament and non-proliferation benefits of an operational CTBT and warned that “the promise and benefits of the CTBT remain unfulfilled because the eight key states have failed to sign and/or ratify the treaty.” Until these “outlier states” ratify, he warned, “the door to the renewal of nuclear testing will remain ajar.” 


Coordination of the statement amongst numerous civil society organizations and experts was expertly facilitated by Ms. Ray Acheson, Director of the Reaching Critical Will project of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Many thanks are also due to Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association, for his excellent leadership in drafting the statement.  

Read the full statement here

[1] A 2002 National Academy of Sciences panel determined that the International Monitoring System of the CTBTO can detect a nuclear explosion of even 0.1 kilotons “if conducted anywhere in Europe, Asia, North Africa and North America.” By comparison, the relatively small nuclear tests conducted by North Korea in 2006 was a 0.6 kiloton blast. Source:

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