Nuclear weapons research and modernization without testing : the CTBT in danger?

Franceschini, Giorgio ; Schaper, Annette


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Dokumentart: Bericht / Forschungsbericht / Abhandlung
Institut: HSFK-Hessische Stiftung Friedens- und Konfliktforschung
Schriftenreihe: PRIF reports
Bandnummer: 77
Sprache: Englisch
Erstellungsjahr: 2006
Publikationsdatum: 23.01.2008
SWD-Schlagwörter: Kernwaffentest , Verbot , Kernwaffe , Rüstungspolitik , Forschung , Vertrag über das umfassende Verbot von Nuklearversuchen , Kernwaffensperrvertrag
DDC-Sachgruppe: Politik
BK - Basisklassifikation: 89.77 (Rüstungspolitik)
Sondersammelgebiete: 3.6 Politik und Friedensforschung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

Ten years after the conclusion of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) negotiations, the global test moratorium is at a critical point. Key players in the international arena refuse to ratify the treaty, thereby preventing it from coming into force. At the same time, the leading nuclear powers (especially the U.S., France and the UK) are engaging in substantial restructuring processes of their nuclear complexes, which create serious risks for the future of the comprehensive test ban. With the launch of the Science Based Stockpile Stewardship (SBSS) programs, the weapon labs of these countries started an ambitious ‘Big Science’ endeavor, which should make up for the loss of a testing option. These science programs are not uncontested: they are costly, ambivalent and foresee the cooperation between the weapon labs and the academic community in an unprecedented manner. The long-term goal of the SBSS programs is advancements in weapon science, whereas the more immediate purpose is the preservation of safe and reliable nuclear arsenals. For this latter purpose, extensive research is carried out on warhead ageing and its effect on weapon performance. The preliminary results of an U.S. study on ageing effects are quite encouraging: they indicate that most warheads currently stockpiled in the U.S. arsenal can be safely maintained for approximately a century. This fact would suggest that nuclear complexes will concentrate on life-extension programs (LEP) of their weaponry, and replace, remanufacture or refurbish ageing components at critical times in a weapon’s life-cycle. Yet, while pursuing LEP, leading weapon labs have also been considering new warheads: these so called Reliable Replacement Warheads (RRW) are new designs without any test pedigree, but allegedly incorporate improved safety and security features, and – as the name suggests – should be more reliable i.e. will withstand the effects of material ageing and other defects more effectively. At the moment, LEP and RRW programs are pursued in parallel by some nuclear

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