23 September 2010

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

World Can No Longer Wait for Perfect Global Environment before Taking Advantage

of Existing Opportunities, Says Secretary-General to Test-Ban Treaty Meeting

Following is the text of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s remarks at the Fifth Biennial Ministerial Meeting in Support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, in New York, today, 23 September:

Last month, I visited Hiroshima and Nagasaki to honour the victims of the nuclear firestorm that devastated so many lives 65 years ago.  I used that unique and stirring platform to call on the international community to sustain the current momentum towards achieving a world free of nuclear weapons.  One of the stepping stones on this path is a permanent end to all nuclear test explosions.

On 29 August, the United Nations community commemorated the first annual observance of the International Day against Nuclear Tests.  The date was chosen to mark the nineteenth anniversary of the decision to close the test site at Semipalatinsk, in Kazakhstan, where 456 nuclear tests were conducted during the cold war.

Nuclear testing has left a legacy of devastated and uninhabitable landscapes and lasting health and economic effects on local and downwind populations.  More troubling, nuclear testing has still not been consigned to history.  Two tests have been conducted in the past five years.

Until we have universal adherence to a legally binding global norm against nuclear testing, there is no guarantee that nuclear tests will not recur.  Developing new nuclear weapons and modernizing existing weapons are incompatible with our collective non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

The significance of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and urgency of its entry into force has been reiterated time and again.  Most recently, the 2010 NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty) Review Conference reaffirmed the urgency of bringing the CTBT into force.  We do not need a fresh reminder.  What we need is political will and action.

I have called on numerous occasions for those States whose ratification is required for the Treaty’s entry into force to act first without waiting to others to do so.  We can no longer wait for the perfect international environment before taking advantage of existing — and potentially short-lived — opportunities.

Be courageous.  Take the initiative.  Be the first mover.  I welcome the expressions of intent of some remaining “Annex 2” States, whose signature and ratification are required for the CTBT to enter into force, and I commend Indonesia as it takes its final steps towards ratification.  I further welcome the recent ratifications by the Central African Republic and Trinidad and Tobago, as well as indications by Guatemala, Iraq, Papua New Guinea and Thailand that they intend to ratify.

I have called for the international community to set the goal of bringing the Treaty into force by 2012.  In the meantime, I urge all Governments to maintain existing moratoriums on nuclear-weapon test explosions and to refrain from any action that would defeat the object of either the CTBT or the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

For my part, let me repeat what I suggested in May at the NPT Review Conference.  As depository of the CTBT, I am willing to go to capitals, along with Mr. [Tibor] Toth [Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization, CTBTO), to meet Government officials and parliamentarians and address any concerns about the Treaty’s monitoring and verification capacity.

Long before I became Secretary-General, I served as Chair of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization in 1999.  More than a decade has passed.  This issue — this Treaty — remains my priority.  I care about it deeply. 

Let us work together to rid the world of the nuclear threat.

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For information media • not an official record