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US leadership needed to prevent nuclear testing by North Korea

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During his first term, Obama repeatedly pledged to work with the Senate to secure US ratification of the test-ban treaty. Now is the right time for the White House to launch a high-level push for ratifying the treaty and for the Senate to join in closing the door on nuclear testing.

US ratification of the test-ban treaty would increase the global leverage necessary to curtail North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and help deter Iran’s leaders from pursuing a nuclear weapon. Completing work on the treaty would also reduce nuclear tensions between India and Pakistan and between India and China, and enhance security and stability throughout Asia.

US leadership on the treaty would also build support to strengthen the beleaguered nuclear nonproliferation system. At the 2010 conference to review the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty, the 189 member states unanimously reaffirmed the vital importance of entry into force of the test-ban treaty “as a core element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.”

Like any treaty-ratification effort, securing Senate approval will be tough, but is within reach. The Senate’s approval of the New START treaty (a nuclear arms reduction agreement between the US and Russia) in December 2010 shows that the White House and the Senate can work together when US national security interests are at stake.

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