14/09/2002

Press Briefing

 

PRESS CONFERENCE BY FOREIGN MINISTERS OF AUSTRALIA, NETHERLANDS AND JAPAN

At a Headquarters press conference following the Ministerial Meeting of States Parties to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), held at United Nations Headquarters, New York, on 14 September, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Australia, Alexander Downer, expressed deep concern that arms control and disarmament initiatives had been making little progress in Geneva.

Responding to a question on ratification of the CTBT, Mr. Downer said, “We were hoping that not only would we get to ratification and entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, but that negotiations on the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva could begin on a fissile material cut-off treaty. And it is a matter of real disappointment that these important arms control and disarmament initiatives just aren’t getting going at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva.” The Conference on Disarmament in Geneva concluded its 2002 session on

12 September.

Jaap de Hoop Scheffer, Foreign Minister of the Netherlands, explained that what the ministerial meeting had sought to do was to remove all obstacles to the ratification of the Treaty. He regarded it as one of the biggest obstacles to progress on disarmament.

Earlier, Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, urged all States parties to the Treaty that had attended the ministerial meeting to promote its entry into force. The Treaty represented a pillar of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, she said.

In his opening remarks, Mr. de Hoop Scheffer urged more countries to sign and ratify the Treaty, saying that the ministerial meeting had helped to focus attention on the CTBT, which was the most effective barrier against the spread of nuclear weapons and crucial to the work being done to eliminate nuclear weapons. A moratorium on testing was not enough, he said, adding that success also depended on a credible verification regime.

The three Ministers agreed that States whose ratification would make the CTBT fully effective bore a special responsibility in this regard. There were

165 signatories to the Treaty, with 93 having ratified. However, only 31 out of 44 nuclear States had ratified the CTBT. The Treaty would put moral and political pressure on any country that was contemplating nuclear testing, Mr. Downer said.

Responding to a question on the implications of the debate over Iraq’s nuclear status, he said it should encourage rather than discourage support for the Treaty. The more countries that support the various multilateral disarmament initiatives, the better.

Mr. de Hoop Scheffer said it was important to convince the United States that the Treaty was in their interest.

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