White 6/22 (K.E., writer @ proliferation press, http://proliferationpress.com/2011/06/22/ratifying-the-1996-comprehensive-nuclear-test-ban-treaty-arms-control-association-vs-the-national-review/) JPG
The 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty is back in the news, with some hoping the Obama administration—preferably before possibly losing re-election and thus losing a good arms-control partner—will push the Senate to ratify the treaty. CTBT will be ratified – START proves
Robinson 7/4 (Tony, Intl spokesperson for Organisation World without Wars and Violence, 7/4/11, http://www.indepthnews.net/news/news.php?key1=2011-07-04%2021:00:22&key2=1) JPG
President Barrack Obama made the ratification of the CTBT a campaign promise in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Given that the ratification of the new START treaty – to reduce the number of deployed nuclear warheads – cost him $185 billion dollars as the price tag for the nuclear weapons modernisation programme that was a condition of ratification by a Republican-majority Senate, one can rightly wonder how much it will cost the President to get the CTBT ratified if he tries, as expected, in a second term as President.
In 1963, the United States, the USSR, and the United Kingdom signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty– an international agreement to ban completely the test detonation of nuclear weapons above ground. The treaty has gone on to be signed and ratified by a majority of the world’s countries: as of 2008, 123 nations are signatories, a fact which has effectively ended nuclear-weapons testing above ground. As a critical component of global diplomatic efforts to soften the threat of worldwide nuclear holocaust, the broad provisions made no distinction between the detonation of nuclear weapons and the detonation of nuclear devices with non-military uses. All non-underground detonations are considered clear violations of the treaty, no matter their intended purpose.
So what will it take to resurrect Orion? What are the primary obstacles for getting mankind into space? To begin, the primary concerns and problems facing Orion are diplomatic in nature. The partial test-ban treaty makes any launch using nuclear weapons illegal under international law, and the tremendous diplomatic bias against any nuclear detonations (a bias that is founded mostly in ignorance and fear) means that even were it legal, there would be great pressure against it. Furthermore, the rise of the “green movement” has made nuclear technology in general, and weaponized nuclear technology in particular extremely unpopular, despite the fact that 1) nuclear energy is the only practical means of significantly reducing global carbon emissions and b) there remain rational and safe ways of detonating nuclear weapons for many reasons, military or peaceful.
The plan necessitates testing – forces the US to withdraw from PTBT – spills over to other countries
Amending the partial test-ban treaty is the most logical first step. The treaty must be re-written to except peaceful nuclear detonations from the ban. The failure to make the distinction between weapons testing and peaceful means (ala Operation Plowshare) of using nuclear detonations is both irrational and a hindrance to scientific progress. Orion-like usage of nuclear weapons is not without risk, and countries that wish to develop Orion-like programs must be allowed to test in order to fully understand the risks. (It is worth noting that Freeman Dyson’s original studies on nuclear-pulse propulsion predicted some life-threatening dangers, but that further progress on the program promised to reduce these risks significantly). Computer models and modern methods of researching the effects of nuclear blasts can only go so far– if humankind ever wants to move forward on serious intrasolar exploration, at some point, we will need to detonate at least some nuclear devices in order to launch a nuclear-pulse propelled vehicle. Making this a reality first means amending international law to allow it. If amending the treaty proves to be an nonviable option in readying the world for Orion, the United States and any partner nations in a potential Orion project should withdraw or threaten to withdraw from the test-ban treaty until it is either amended or they are given the world community’s blessing to launch an Orion spacecraft. Though it functions with an extremely useful purpose, in the aftermath of the Cold War, the test-ban treaty has become outmoded, and is causing more problems than it solves. Weaponized nuclear detonations for military purposes have long been banned, and should continue to be so. However, launching a city into orbit is clearly worth the risks imposed by atmospheric detonation, but diplomatically, there should be no need to worry about international backlash or protest for a project so obviously peaceful and beneficial to mankind.
Plan violates the PTBT
Urfer and LaForge 5 (Bonnie – anti-nuclear activist and John – writer @ NukeWatch, Summer 2005, www.nukewatchinfo.org/Quarterly/20052summer/20052page5.pdf) JPG
Some NASA/DOE reports say Prometheus could use conventional rockets for launch with reactor propulsion not kicking in until high altitude is attained. Never mind the 1963 Partial Test-Ban Treaty which commits the U.S. “to prohibit, to prevent, and not to carry out any nuclear weapon test, or any other nuclear explosion ... in ... outer space. ...”