CTBT Needs to be in Force to Free the World of Nuclear Weapons

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Nuclear Abolition News

By CTBTO

On the eve of the 15th anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) opening for signature, world leaders affirmed their commitment to the Treaty. They recognized that the CTBT had established an international norm against nuclear testing which needed to become international law. [Read also Urgent calls by international leaders to bring test ban treaty in force]

Foreign ministers and high-level representatives from ratifying States participated in the conference. There were also a number of representatives of States Signatories including China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and the United States  as well as Pakistan as a non-signatory State.

States considered the CTBT an important element of the international security architecture and a crucial instrument for moving towards a world free of nuclear weapons.  It was stressed that the entry into force of the CTBT was long overdue.  States were united in their calls to those that had not done so to sign and ratify the Treaty. Urgent appeals were made particularly to nuclear technology holder States – the so-called Annex 2 States – whose signature and ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force to sign and ratify it.

U.S. Treaty ratification to encourage others

As one of those States, the United States was considered to have an important leadership role to play in bringing the Treaty in force.  As stressed by Eamon Gilmore, Foreign Minister of Ireland, “ratification by the United States would encourage ratifications by others.” The other States whose ratification is needed to make the CTBT an international legal norm against nuclear testing are China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan.

Ellen Tauscher, U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security, declared that “the US is committed to the CTBT and we intend to see it enter into force...But we cannot do it alone,” she said and called on the remaining Annex 2 States to “join us in moving towards ratification.”

Indonesia working on early ratification of CTBT

Marty Natalegawa, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, reiterated his country’s ongoing strong commitment to the Treaty. Natalegawa  announced  Indonesia’s impending ratification of the CTBT in April 2010. He said that Indonesia’s government and parliament were working together for early ratification of the Treaty. “It is our expectation that the process of ratification in Indonesia will encourage other countries, particularly those in Annex 2, to also start their own ratification processes,” Natalegawa said.

Ratification by nuclear weapons States essential

According to Alistair Burt, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State of the United Kingdom, ratification by all “recognized nuclear weapon States (under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)” would be an essential step towards entry into force of the CTBT. Burt said that prospects for ratification by the United States were encouraging and urged China to follow suit.

High time for action

Welcoming the repeatedly reiterated intentions of the United States and Indonesia to move towards ratification, Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Russia, said that “it is high time to translate words into actions.” He extended his call to all other States whose ratification of the Treaty is essential for its entry into force.

Moratoria on testing must be maintained

Pending the entry into force of the CTBT, “moratoria on nuclear weapon test explosions and any other nuclear explosions must be maintained,” said Jacek Najder, Under-Secretary of State of Poland, speaking on behalf of the European Union. At the same time, States stressed that nuclear test moratoria were not sufficient and could not serve as an alternative to a legally binding test ban treaty.

Additional ratifiers sent message to hold-out States

States acknowledged that – with 182 signatures and 155 ratifications – the CTBT enjoys universal support. Congratulations were extended to Ghana and Guinea for having recently ratified the Treaty.  “Every additional ratifier sends a message to those yet to ratify – this global movement is growing and you should join it,” said Kevin Rudd, Foreign Minister of Australia.

Mobilize all stakeholders

Despite the impressive progress towards Treaty universality, States agreed to redouble efforts to achieve the outstanding signatures and ratifications for the CTBT’s entry into force. Kairat Umarov, Deputy Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, proposed that States “mobilize all other stakeholders, such as media, civil society and ‘public diplomacy’ to convince governments of States that have not yet joined or ratified the Treaty, to do so in the near future.”

Significant investments in build-up of CTBT verification regime

States unanimously commended the progress in establishing the CTBT verification regime that is designed to monitor the entire globe to ensure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected.  More than 85% of all monitoring facilities are already operational. The significant investments made in its build-up are seen by States as “a manifestation of their strong political support and commitment to the Treaty,” stated Libran Cabactulan, Permanent Representative of the Philippines and President of the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference.

CTBT monitoring data for disaster prevention and emergency response

Many speakers welcomed the CTBTO’s contribution following the triple disaster in Japan in March 2011. They affirmed that it showed the value of monitoring data for civil and scientific purposes, and in particular for disaster prevention and mitigation. The CTBTO provided monitoring data to the Japanese Tsunami Warning Centre and shared information on the dispersion of radioactivity in the atmosphere with Member States and international organizations.  

Reflecting on the usefulness of CTBTO data, Uri Rosenthal, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, said: “We should explore the scope for expanding civilian use of the monitoring system in other areas of early warning and emergency response.”

NGOs urge Annex 2 States’ leaders to act on CTBT

The conference ended with a powerful statement by Togzhan Kassenova from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on behalf of 36 non-governmental organizations from around the world. “Actions speak louder than words,” Kassenova said and called upon every State at the conference to act. She particularly addressed the United States  and China as well as other Annex 2 States. “While U.S. action on the Treaty is essential, other Annex 2 States must provide leadership rather than simply remain on the sidelines on the CTBT. In particular, it is time for China’s leaders to finally act on the CTBT.” [September 23, 2011]

Picture: Opening of the Exhibition entitled "Putting an End to Nuclear Explosions" by Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) on May 4, 2010 | From left to right: Michael Douglas, Marty Natalegawa, Ban Ki-moon, Taib Fassi Fihri and Sergio de Queiroz Duarte. | Credit: Wikimedia Commons

Original release: http://www.ctbto.org/press-centre/press-releases/2011/ctbt-needs-to-be-in-force-to-free-the-world-of-nuclear-weapons/

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