There was a time when one could argue with some level of plausibility that our verification capabilities were not up to the task of detecting low kilo-tonnage nuclear explosions deep underground, and therefore, we should not sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
As Sen. Jake Garn so clearly and succinctly points out in his recent opinion piece ("Modernizing nuclear weapons testing methods is essential," Sept. 25), that uncertain time is 15 years in our rear-view mirror.
Verification technology has progressed to the point where we can measure an explosion equivalent to 100 tons of TNT. This is an order of magnitude less than the 2006 North Korean test. We can verify nuclear tests conducted by any modern state, but the real nuclear threat today is from a terrorist organization acquiring a device. To that point, signing the CTBT will also limit the development and proliferation of nuclear weapons.
As we (and other nuclear powers) have experienced firsthand, testing is critical to the final stage of production. No tests, no bombs. We have ample capability to defend ourselves. It's time to make the world a bit safer and join the other 154 signatory countries that have ratified the CTBT.
Salt Lake City