18 September 2009
Press Conference

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

Press Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty


In advance of high-level meetings at United Nations Headquarters next week, Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary for the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), noted favourable political momentum, saying he expected at least one more State to ratify the test-ban Treaty before long.


“We are living in a different world,” Mr. Tóth said during a Headquarters press conference this afternoon.  “The climate is much better now.  We have sunnier political weather.”


The Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would start on 24 September, the same day the Security Council would gather at the Heads-of-State level for meetings that would focus on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.


The Conference would bring together representatives of ratifying States, State signatories and States that had not yet signed or ratified the Treaty to examine how to bring in remaining States in order for it to enter into force.


All 44 nuclear-technology-holder States, or so-called Annex 2 States, who had participated in the negotiations of the Treaty, culminating in its opening for signature in 1996, and possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time, needed to ratify the Treaty for the ban to take effect, Mr. Tóth explained.  Nine of those 44 had not ratified it:  China; the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Egypt; India; Indonesia; Iran; Israel; Pakistan; and the United States.  And, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan had yet to sign it.


United States President Barack Obama had pushed for ratification of the Treaty.  In an April speech in Prague, he promised that his Administration would “immediately and aggressively pursue United States ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty”.  The United States would participate in the Conference for the first time since 1999. 


“I am very optimistic.  We see a momentum building,” Mr. Tóth told correspondents.  “The ratification of the United States will play a leadership role, and that leadership role is important.”


At the same time, however, he emphasized that each country must judge whether the Treaty was in its own best interest. “The only country that can convince India on this issue is India.”


Responding to a correspondent’s question about the Pakistani Government’s position that it would sign the ban only after the Indian Government did, Mr. Tóth said that the Treaty formula was such that one country’s ratification did not depend on another’s.


On a question about Israeli ratification, Mr. Tóth said, “It would be an extremely important step, and the right step in my view, if Israel ratified the Treaty.”


He said Indonesia’s Government had indicated that it would ratify the Treaty, and he was “very much encouraged” by the Chinese Foreign Minister Yan Jiechi’s recent statement at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva on China’s commitment to promote its early ratification.


Regarding the Security Council’s role on the test ban, Mr. Tóth said a strong joint statement by Council members and their commitment at the senior level was essential.  “We need action, action, action and leadership, leadership, leadership.” 


During the press conference, the Executive Secretary also highlighted work on a global alarm system to monitor for nuclear explosions.  Since its inception in 2000, more than 75 per cent of 337 planned facilities within the International Monitoring System had become operational worldwide and $1 billion had been invested in it, he said, adding that, although the United States had not yet ratified the Treaty, 39 of 42 planned monitoring facilities had been built in that country during the past decade.


“It is quite symbolic and it is quite concrete at the same time,” he said. “We are moving from a blueprint, from a dream […] to something which is a reality.”


Annika Thunborg, Spokesperson of the Preparatory Commission, said that 149 of the 181 State signatories to the Treaty had ratified it.


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For information media • not an official record