Oscar-winning actor and producer Michael Douglas is well known for his commitment to nuclear disarmament. Now he has teamed up with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization on a series of austere but powerful TV spots aimed at raising support for the Treaty.
“The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is a guiding light on the road to a nuclear weapons free world. Once in force it will help prevent the kind of nuclear arms race we experienced in the past and will make it much more difficult to continue to build up nuclear arsenals,” says Douglas.
Douglas says his engagement with nuclear disarmament issues stems from a childhood set against the backdrop of the Cold War arms race. “I grew up in the United States at a time when nuclear weapons testing was commonplace. We used to have air raid drills at school and my father had a bomb shelter built in his yard in California. As a child, it was difficult to grasp the meaning of what was happening. It had a nightmare, monster-like quality which always haunted me,” he says. “Later, as I began to understand the ramifications of nuclear weapons testing, my commitment to nuclear disarmament grew.”
In the five decades following World War II, more than 2,000 nuclear bombs were tested at over 60 locations around the world. Radioactive fallout from these explosions impacted humans, animals and the environment. Many test sites will remain uninhabitable for thousands of years to come.
Born of the optimism following the end of the Cold War, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty opened for signature in 1996 amid acclaim and hopes for a speedy cessation to the nuclear testing madness. Today it enjoys widespread support from more than 180 countries around the world, but it cannot enter into force until nine outstanding nuclear-technology holder countries ratify. They are China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States of America. Indonesia’s commitment to complete the ratification process this year brings new hope and moves us closer to entry into force. But as the world waits for the others to follow, the threat of resumed nuclear testing and a new arms race hangs over us all.
“The world has waited long enough for the Treaty to become global law,” says Douglas. “So today, as an actor and a United Nations Messenger of Peace, I’m using my voice and my name to raise awareness and support for this crucial Treaty. I’m calling on the nine countries that still need to ratify the Treaty to do so without further delay, so that we can bring it into force and remove the threat of these terrible weapons once and for all.”
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty outlaws all nuclear explosions anywhere, anytime, by anyone. It stands for a safer and more secure world because it prohibits the development of new nuclear weapons as well as the upgrading of existing nuclear arsenals.
In the past, concerns about the verifiability of the Treaty were sometimes given as reasons for not ratifying but today, with the CTBT’s billion-dollar, state-of-the-art verification regime almost completely in place, that is no longer an issue. “The CTBT is clearly verifiable,” says Douglas. “No nuclear test will go unnoticed with the International Monitoring System firmly in place.”
The International Monitoring System (IMS) is the backbone of the verification regime. Its facilities worldwide scour the planet for signs of a nuclear explosion – underground, underwater and in the atmosphere. It uses four monitoring technologies: seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide. The network is nearing completion with 285 of the planned 337 facilities already operational.
Earlier this year, the crisis in Japan underlined the growing importance of the system’s civil applications – monitoring earthquakes, speeding up tsunami warning alerts and tracking radioactive dispersal from nuclear accidents.
Watch Michael’s video here.