20 September 2006
Press Conference

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

PRESS CONFERENCE ON MEETING OF FRIENDS OF COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY


The ministerial meeting of the Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had served as a “wake-up call” for those States that had yet to sign and ratify the instrument, a legal commitment that would provide the essential pillar of non-proliferation, Bernard Bot, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, said this morning.


At a Headquarters press conference on the meeting, Mr. Bot and his Australian counterpart, Alexander Downer, urged the remaining States to sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  They were accompanied by Shintaro Ito, Japan’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs.


“We have come a long way”, Mr. Bot noted, as he called for all States to do their utmost to “make our common goal of entry into force a reality”.  Seventy-six States had already signed, and an additional 135 had ratified the treaty.  The Treaty’s verification system, now in development, would provide scientific and civil benefits, notably tsunami-warning systems.


Mr. Downer said the Government of Australia was honoured to co-chair this morning’s ministerial meeting, as the country had brought the Treaty to the General Assembly in 1996.  A strong supporter of the Treaty ever since, Australia was glad to see that the number of signatures and ratifications had increased, with Viet Nam having signed in the last year.


The voluntary moratorium on nuclear testing was “insufficient”, and the risk of nuclear-weapons testing, particularly by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was ever-present, he added.  “In an era where we remain very concerned about nuclear proliferation, and in particular proliferation to terrorists, the CTBT remains a very important component of the non-proliferation regime.”


Mr. Ito emphasized his country’s first-hand experience of the incomparable human suffering caused by a nuclear attack, saying Japan had exerted great efforts to realize a world free of nuclear weapons.  Though the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty had a considerable deterrent effect, the situation was still unsatisfactory.


Responding to a question about Iran’s nuclear intentions and whether the international response had been delayed, Mr. Bot said the European Union had decided to continue with a “twin-track approach”, involving dialogue as well as the possibility of sanctions.  Mr. Downer, however, said it was impossible to allow indefinite defiance of the Security Council.  Iran, which had yet to meet any of its obligations to date, would have to face sanctions if no resolution was reached.


Asked about the nuclear deal between the United States and India, Mr. Bot noted that the United States Congress had not yet approved it, but, if passed, it should be in harmony with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.  Mr. Downer added that the Australian Government was prepared to support the deal, but welcomed the possibility of the United States and India agreeing to sign the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.  So far, however, there had been no indication that either country wished to do that.


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For information media • not an official record