Senate should ratify a nuclear test ban treaty

The Senate should ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty immediately. The treaty, which bans all test explosions of nuclear weapons, would help to maintain the United States’ technical dominance and serve as a first step toward de-nuclearizing the world.
The CTBT has been in existence for a number of years but does not currently have enough signatories to go into effect. The treaty has a number of requirements that must be met. Perhaps the most stringent is the requirement that all 44 nations with nuclear potential must ratify the treaty. Of the 44, all but India, Pakistan and North Korea have signed, but only 21 have ratified the treaty — the final step that makes the treaty part of the nation’s own laws.
The United States falls among the countries that have signed but not yet ratified the treaty. This is unwise, because U.S. ratification would not only encourage many other nations to begin the ratification process, but would benefit the United States.
U.S. ratification would likely cause a spate of other ratifying states. Because the United States is currently the most powerful nuclear state, many countries are unwilling to commit themselves to a strict treaty. They fear the United States could continue to develop advances in nuclear weaponry. If the Senate ratifies the treaty, though, other governments will be assured that the United States will not gain even more dominance.
However, contrary to much of the political rhetoric that has recently been pouring out, ratification would not harm U.S. nuclear dominance. The United States currently has enough nuclear weapons to destroy the entire world dozens of times over. If our technology never improves, we still will have enough destructive weaponry to remain a threat. But if the treaty takes effect, the United States will actually benefit in two ways. Initially, we would be guaranteed to maintain a certain advantage. No other countries will be able to test their weapons to determine if they are effective, whereas the United States has already had the opportunity. Furthermore, if and when the treaty becomes enforceable, it will not prevent nuclear research. The United States will still be able to develop new and more effective ways of killing people in different countries through the use of nuclear reactions. It simply will have to rely on computer modeling rather than actual tests.
The United States has nothing to fear and everything to gain from ratifying the treaty. Senate ratification will not harm U.S. technological dominance; it will not disarm any of our thousands of nuclear warheads. It will, however, send a profoundly encouraging message to the rest of the world. Ratifying the CTBT would suggest the United States is no longer interested in investing our money and time in a type of weaponry that is ultimately useless. For decades, the world has known that there can be no winner in a nuclear war, only the likely destruction of the entire human race. While ratification would not even begin to disarm the United States, it would be a first step toward a world that refuses to invest in destructive technology and, instead, attempts to create peace.