Published in Physics and Society Newsletter, Volume 24, Issue 2, April 1, 1995.
Copyright © 1995 American Physical Society. This article may be downloaded for personal use only. Any other use requires prior permission of the author and the American Physical Society. The definitive version is also available online at http://www.aps.org/units/fps/newsletters/1995/april/aapr95a.html.
With the end of the Cold War, the emphasis on monitoring nuclear weapons tests has shifted from the 1976 Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT), which confined the US and USSR to a limit of 150 kilotons (kt), to the Comprehensive Test Ban (CTB) Treaty, which would ban all nuclear tests by the signatories. 1995 will be a watershed year to control the proliferation of nuclear weapons, as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) must be considered for renewal. The fate of the NPT is dependent on a successful CTB negotiation, because the two treaties are politically linked. This paper will cover one aspect of these broader issues by discussing the monitoring of the TTBT and CTB. It is important to study the past (TTBT) in order to learn for the future (CTB).