Friday, August 12, 2016

Evolving the CTBT - Making allowances for periodic testing

I am trying to come up with ways in which nations can be induced to take up the obligations under the CTBT.

As things stand the CTBT is very restrictive. If you sign that - you have to go through an astronomical level of paperwork to test a device. Several nations refuse to sign it and thus their compliance with other non-proliferation obligations slackens.

One possible way to do this is to make an allowance for states to conduct periodic tests for stockpile stewardship purposes.  I guess this amounts to a CTBT-"lite" version for nations who have concerns about the CTBT as it currently stands.

All weapons age in ways that are not possible to anticipate. At the very least full-scale device tests should be permitted to allow the basic issues in the physics package to be explored. Such testing is necessary for the maintaining the safety of current arsenals.

Most nations feel the pinch of maintaining large stockpiles of fissile materials for weapons purposes. A larger weapons grade fissile material stockpile is also a greater risk of mishandling and pilferage.  A special provision for testing new devices which reduce (in a verifiable fashion) a reduction in the number of fully assembled packages or reduce the need for large stockpiles of weapons grade fissile materials would also be desirable.

Any nation seeking to use these provisions must declare its arsenal and relevant details (how much fissile material is used, how many years the packages have been around, total number of packages etc...) and submit to a verification process. Once the verification process has been negotiated, and the arsenal declared - the nation can proceed to test under the CTBT - "lite" provisions without penalty.

I realize I am proposing something that some people will consider sacrilegious.

I fully understand that people are quite fed up with nuclear weapons and hoping that the resource pressures associated with maintaining large arsenals will eventually induce mankind to do away with them.

These people may be right - but what if they are wrong?

What if the only thing that happens due to rising resource pressures is an unintentional nuclear weapons release?

* NB 1-  I am not saying that CTBT signatories be allowed to test a new weapons system or even a warhead but rather to ONLY test either novel designs for nuclear explosives or test a weaponizable configuration (i.e. physics package + all relevant detonation electronics packages).

* NB 2 - I am not suggesting that this revision to the CTBT be a permanent affair either but that the testing clauses inserted be revised periodically as per the needs of international security.


At 8:01 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

as long as India is OK with Pakistan testing and no radiation escapes into the atmosphere then blast away as far as I am concerned. however certain people are vehemently opposed to it. India will prolly have to accept reduced trade opportunities as a result.

At 8:04 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

also reduced energy cooperation as well as space exploration. the elite globalists will be your biggest problem.

At 9:12 AM, Blogger maverick said...

I never said anything about diluting the PTBT obligations. I don't see any reason to do that.

Underground testing is a reasonable way to explore new explosive designs with a minimal environmental cost.

There is no blasting away here.

Pakistan (or India or anyone else) will have to submit to a verification process that explores the exact claims they make on current stockpile sizes. This will be a process led by globally respected scientists with the appropriate credentials and expertise.

The verification process will also score each nation's stockpile based on complexity of core design, reliability of detonation electronics, number of safety points etc...

If people are complaining about indirect surveillance, and the occasional visit by IAEA inspectors - this will be way more intrusive than just that.

I am proposing this is an acceptable price to pay for global stability against the breakdown of nuclear deterrence.

At 11:03 AM, Blogger Ralphy said...

that is what is what I am saying: certain people will never agree to it. ever. you can paint it purple and call it Cynthia but it wont make it any difference.

just like NASA trying to launch a nuke mini reactor to power its deep space explorations. it. can't. do. it. all the good intentions in the world doesn't make a whit a difference to some people.

At 11:49 AM, Blogger maverick said...

RTGs are already in space, if you are talking about Prometheus - the project is underway, nothing is being abandoned.

What I am suggesting is going to run into opposition and a lot of paperwork will have to rewritten, but it is easier than implementing a ban on Muslims entering the US or building a wall and making Mexico pay for it, etc.. etc... etc...

If we can entertain suggestions like that even half seriously - why not talk about something a little easier to actually get done?

Or does all nationally security debate have to be about completely non-achievable stuff?

At 6:06 AM, Blogger Nanana said...

The PM is making some alarming references. Playing to the gallery on hopes. Don't see him being a Reganite

At 10:26 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Speech looks pretty normal except for the last two paras. I am not sure what Kwatraji was going for there - the paragraphs look a little disconnected.

I know where Praveen is coming from, and again it is quite justified but I don't see any cause for alarm in this speech.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger maverick said...

Yes - no secret I like Secy. Javed Ashraf better.

At 6:03 AM, Blogger maverick said...

unrelated but interesting if someone would actually publish the data.


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