Press Statement by General John M. Shalikashvili (USA, ret.)
My Findings and Recommendations to the President
on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

Released by the Office of the Special Advisor
to the President and the Secretary of State
for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty
Washington, DC, January 5, 2001

For Immediate Release
January 5, 2001
Contact: Damien LaVera

In March, the President and the Secretary of State appointed me to conduct a low-key, non-partisan review of issues related to the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty. Today, after ten months of consultations with Senators from both sides of the aisle and with experts holding widely disparate views on the Treaty, I submitted my Findings and Recommendations. My report focuses on four principal concerns about the Treaty: its value to the non-proliferation regime; its verifiability; its impact on the U.S. nuclear deterrent; and its indefinite duration.

In my judgment, most of my recommendations would have broad bipartisan support now and should be implemented without awaiting a decision on Test Ban Treaty ratification. My review of the issues, however, has strengthened my conviction that the Treaty is compatible with keeping a safe, reliable U.S. nuclear deterrent and is an important part of global non-proliferation efforts. I urge the next Administration, working with Congress, to revisit the Treaty in light of my recommendations.

Non-Proliferation: An Enduring National Interest

Preventing nuclear proliferation is an enduring American interest pursued by Presidents and Congresses since 1945. The Senate's October 1999 vote against the Test Ban Treaty raised concerns at home and abroad that the United States might be walking away from its traditional leadership of international non-proliferation efforts. I am confident that this was not the intent of the Senate. In my conversations, I have found broad bipartisan support for strengthened U.S. leadership of a comprehensive international campaign against proliferation. I recommend that the next Administration work closely with Congress and U.S. allies to mount a more integrated response to the dangers posed by the spread of nuclear weapons, that it appoint a Deputy National Security Advisor for Non-Proliferation to oversee policy coordination and implementation, and that it revisit the Test Ban Treaty in the context of the direct and indirect contributions it can make to this policy.

Banning nuclear explosions places significant technical constraints on nuclear weapon development, especially of more advanced designs that are higher-yield, more efficient, lighter, and more easily transportable. The Test Ban Treaty is also critical to sustained political support for the non-proliferation regime, particularly because the United States and other nuclear weapon states promised to ban all nuclear tests as part of the bargain that secured the permanent extension of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1995. All of our allies and Russia have ratified the Test Ban Treaty, but by its own terms, the Treaty cannot enter into force without U.S. ratification. Until we take this step, U.S. leadership of international efforts to block nuclear proliferation will be seriously weakened.

Effective Verification

The United States will always need reliable information about any nuclear test activity that could threaten our security. Just as the Test Ban Treaty should be viewed in the larger non-proliferation context, so too should Test Ban Treaty verification. An explosive nuclear test is the culmination of a long process with observable indicators of a would-be proliferator's intentions. Improved non-proliferation intelligence can enhance our ability to track activities leading up to an explosion, enabling monitors to focus greater attention on small signals from specific locations. To further enhance our ability to detect and deter nuclear testing, I recommend increased focus on non-proliferation-related intelligence; improved remote sensing technologies and analytical capabilities; continued work on confidence-building measures and on-site inspection procedures; and additional steps to increase transparency at known nuclear test sites.

The Test Ban Treaty does not add new monitoring requirements. Instead, it adds new sources of information and creates greater political clout for addressing suspected violations. The International Monitoring System being established for the Treaty is already providing valuable data about events that could otherwise be hard to detect. The Treaty will also provide for challenge inspections of suspicious events. The combination of U.S. monitoring capabilities, the full international verification system, and data from thousands of additional multi-use monitoring stations makes evasion much more difficult than some Treaty critics fear. Indeed, the value of the Treaty's verification system extends well past the range where a monitor has high confidence of detecting, identifying, locating, and attributing a violation, and down into the gray area where a potential evader lacks certainty about the likelihood of discovery.

Maintaining a Safe, Reliable Nuclear Stockpile

Stewardship of the nation's nuclear stockpile has changed significantly since the Cold War in ways that decrease the value of nuclear explosive testing. Previous U.S. practice was to develop new nuclear weapons designs, confirm that they worked through various means including explosive testing, and then use newly manufactured weapons to replace weapons of an older design. When the Cold War ended, the United States stopped testing to develop new designs for a very large arsenal and shifted to maintaining a smaller stockpile of well tested, safe, and reliable warhead designs. Today, effective stewardship of the U.S. deterrent does not rely on nuclear explosive testing, but on careful surveillance of stockpiled weapons, deeper scientific understanding of how nuclear weapons work and age, and capabilities to remanufacture warhead components to meet the original specifications.

The U.S. nuclear deterrent is safe, reliable, and effective. Concerns about the future reliability of the stockpile focus far less on the risk of catastrophic failure than on a possible gradual decline in confidence. We can avoid such an erosion in confidence by limiting changes to warheads, remanufacturing aging weapons as needed, improving conditions at the nuclear weapon laboratories and production facilities, setting appropriate budgetary and management priorities, and implementing effective advisory mechanisms. A firm national commitment to stockpile stewardship will help attract and retain outstanding scientists and skilled technicians to keep the U.S nuclear stockpile safe and reliable.

In my judgment, the challenges facing the Stockpile Stewardship Program can continue to be managed and the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear deterrent can be maintained indefinitely without nuclear test explosions, as long as future administrations and congresses provide high standards of accountability and sufficient resources. Since the United States could withdraw from the Treaty and conduct a nuclear test if an unanticipated problem made that essential for national security, we can safely gain the security benefits of Test Ban Treaty ratification while strengthening bipartisan support for stockpile stewardship.

Address the Treaty's Duration

Concerns about turning the eight-year-old U.S. testing moratorium into a legally binding ban of indefinite duration stem from uncertainties about future developments related to nuclear proliferation, verification, or stockpile stewardship. Implementing my recommendations would reduce these uncertainties, but they cannot be completely eliminated. As a condition for ratification, I recommend that the Bush Administration consider a joint review by the Administration and the Senate of the Treaty's impact on U.S. national security ten years after ratification. If there are serious problems that cannot be corrected, the President would move to withdraw from the Treaty.

Continue the Test Moratorium

It is important to continue the U.S. nuclear testing moratorium begun in 1992. Other countries will, however, be more likely to sustain their testing moratoriums if the moratoriums are viewed as interim measures pending the Test Ban Treaty's entry into force. Steady progress toward ratification will strengthen U.S. leadership of global non-proliferation efforts. Our continued involvement in building up the International Monitoring System will help keep other countries' support for developing these verification assets. Bipartisan agreement in the United States on the long-term shape and size of the Stockpile Stewardship Program will be more likely with a clear commitment to Test Ban Treaty.

Net Evaluation

The Test Ban Treaty is important to U.S. security because it plays to our strengths: our superior conventional military forces; our wealth of knowledge from over a thousand nuclear tests, more than half the world's total; our advantage in stockpile stewardship capabilities; and our leadership of like-minded nations seeking to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons. Perhaps more than any other nation, the United States would be negatively affected by an erosion of the international consensus on the importance of nuclear non-proliferation, by the spread of nuclear weapons to additional countries or terrorist groups, or by a perception that nuclear weapons are instruments that could be readily used in regional conflicts. I hope the incoming Administration, working with Congress, will re-evaluate the Test Ban Treaty in light of these considerations.

View the Report on-line at:

Report on the Findings and Recommendations
Concerning the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, Washington, DC, January 4, 2001