The Common Good
November-December 1996

Beyond the Test Ban

by Jim Rice, Aaron McCarroll Gallegos | November-December 1996

Some are calling it "a pivotal moment." Others have labeled it "flawed and dangerous."

Some are calling it "a pivotal moment." Others have labeled it "flawed and dangerous." Only in retrospect will we be able to judge whether the recently enacted Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty proves to be a landmark step toward disarmament-or merely another red herring.

Activists have been working toward this pact since 1963, when a treaty ended testing in the atmosphere and under the ocean. The period since then, however, stands as a cautionary tale, since that treaty's stated aim was "the speediest possible achievement" of "general and complete disarmament" and the end of all nuclear weapons tests. In the three-plus decades since, the world hasn't quite achieved complete disarmament.

As a result, peace activists vowed to carry on. "We're not going out of business," Anne Symens-Bucher, a long-time organizer with the Nevada Desert Experience, told Sojourners. "The arms race isn't over by any means." NDE co-director Julia Occhiogrosso called the treaty a "first step that challenges us to recommit to the dream of global disarmament."

Organizers noted that the nuclear test site north of Las Vegas still employs 3,500 people, and that plans continue for a nuclear-waste dump in nearby Yucca Mountain. Religious peace activists will gather at the site throughout Lent 1997, beginning March 21, under the theme "Will You Stay Awake With Me? Beyond the CTB: A Spiritual and Strategic Challenge." For more information, contact the NDE at (702) 646-4814.

Sandy Maben contributed research to this report.

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