France exploded this nuclear weapon at Mururoa Atoll in French Polynesia on July 3, 1970. Atmospheric explosions are now banned by treaty and relatively easy to detect. Most monitoring efforts today focus on detecting explosions underground. Image: Sygma/Corbis
- Seismic monitoring can now detect a nuclear explosion with a yield of a kiloton or more anywhere on Earth. In many places, detection is far more sensitive than that.
- President Barack Obama is likely to ask the U.S. Senate to reconsider its 1999 vote against the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
- Treaty opponents have argued that some signatories would cheat by testing explosive nuclear weapons in secret, putting noncheaters at risk.
- The objection that secret tests could go undetected is no longer seriously credible.
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As president, I will reach out to the Senate to secure the ratification of the CTBT [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty] at the earliest practical date and will then launch a diplomatic effort to bring onboard other states whose ratifications are required for the treaty to enter into force.
—Barack Obama, September 10, 2008