SSA, AGU Reaffirm Position Statement on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty

29 June 2017–Scientific research in Earth and space sciences advances our understanding of our world and contributes to strong global economies, security, and public health and safety. The American Geophysical Union (AGU) and Seismological Society of America (SSA) today announced a revision of their position statement, “The Capability to Monitor the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) Should be Expanded, Completed, and Sustained.”

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is an international agreement to ban all nuclear explosions, and is intended to impede the development of nuclear weapons as part of the international nonproliferation regime. The treaty is not yet in effect because it has not been ratified by all the requisite countries-including the United States.

Courtesy CTBTO

The AGU-SSA statement was updated to reflect changes over the past five years, including that 183 nations are now signatories and the continued development of the International Monitoring System (IMS) is now more than 85% complete and currently detecting and locating seismic events of at least a magnitude 4 anywhere in the world.

The IMS and International Data Centre of the CTBT Organization Preparatory Commission are playing an important role in providing nations with data and expertise to monitor the world for nuclear explosions,” said William R. Walter, Ph.D., chair of the CTBT Review Task Force for AGU and SSA. “Data from IMS not only contribute to critical national security efforts but also to public safety by enhancing our global scientific understanding of the Earth and informing natural hazard mitigation efforts.

“Maintaining a high-quality global network of seismometers is vital for detecting and characterizing both open and clandestine nuclear explosions, as well as earthquakes and other natural hazards,” said SSA President-elect Peter Shearer, a professor of geophysics at U.C. San Diego.

The seven-person panel that reviewed and revised the position statement included:

  • William R. Walter, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (chair)
  • Stephen Myers, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory
  • Paul Richards, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, Columbia University
  • Brian Stump, Southern Methodist University
  • Raymond Jeanloz, University of California, Berkeley
  • Keith Koper, University of Utah
  • Thorne Lay, University of California, Santa Cruz

AGU and SSA maintain position statements to provide scientific expertise on significant policy issues related to the understanding and application of their members’ scientific disciplines.

The revised position statement was adopted by AGU’s Board and Council on June 29, 2017, and by SSA’s Board on April 17, 2017. The Seismological Society of America and the American Geophysical Union originally issued the joint position statement on the seismic verification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1999. The statement was reviewed and reaffirmed by both organizations in 2003, 2007, 2012 and was endorsed by the Geological Society of America in 2009.

Learn more about SSA position statements.

Learn more about AGU position statements.