SPEAKERS AT TEST BAN TREATY CONFERENCE RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL THREATS OF NUCLEAR TERRORISM, RESUMED WEAPONS TESTING

4 September 2003
DC/2887

SPEAKERS AT TEST BAN TREATY CONFERENCE RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL THREATS OF NUCLEAR TERRORISM, RESUMED WEAPONS TESTING

04/09/2003
Press Release
DC/2887


SPEAKERS AT TEST BAN TREATY CONFERENCE RAISE CONCERNS ABOUT POTENTIAL

THREATS OF NUCLEAR TERRORISM, RESUMED WEAPONS TESTING


(Reissued as received.)


VIENNA, 4 September (CTBTO) -- The twin threats of resumed nuclear weapon testing and nuclear terrorism were among the key concerns raised this morning as delegates to the 2003 Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) continued their general debate.


Sri Lanka’s representative emphasized that the testing of nuclear weapons by India and Pakistan in 1998 coupled with the continuing conflict in Kashmir threatened the security and stability of the entire South Asian region.  It was likely that nuclear testing could be undertaken not only by States but also by non-State terrorist groups, plunging the existing international order into chaos, he added.


Echoing that concern, Myanmar’s representative noted the growing threats of terrorism and further proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Underscoring the crucial importance of the CTBT, he raised the nightmarish scenario of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction.  Bulgaria’s representative said the CTBT could prevent the development of new nuclear weapons as well as the improvement of existing ones.  Any new nuclear testing would open a Pandora’s box, fuelling a new arms race and eventually increasing the risk of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands, he warned.


Canada’s representative said it was increasingly unthinkable that the world could ever return to the era of nuclear testing.  The conduct of a nuclear test explosion today, more than six years after the flouting of the international norm by India and Pakistan, would represent a defiance of the global will and an affront to principles enshrined in the CTBT, she added.


El Salvador’s representative stressed that non-nuclear-weapon States were not immune to the effects of weapons of mass destruction, adding that nuclear testing would have damaging environmental effects.


Kazakhstan’s representative said it was well known that nuclear testing had taken place in his country at Semipalatinsk and that the people of Kazakhstan had experienced at first hand the monstrous consequences.  Similarly, the representative of Belarus said his country was particularly sensitive to all nuclear problems, primarily owing to the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which had produced the most devastating man-made catastrophe on the planet.


Also speaking this morning were representatives of the Holy See, Saint Kitts and Nevis, China, Uzbekistan, Namibia, the Netherlands, Argentina, Jordan, Colombia, New Zealand, Mongolia, Lithuania, Serbia and Montenegro, and Kuwait.


The concluding session of the Conference is expected begin at 10 a.m. tomorrow, 5 September.


Statements


PIETRO PAROLIN (Holy See) said the Holy See, by ratifying the Treaty on

18 July 2001, intended to advance the promotion of a culture of peace based upon the primacy of law and of respect for human life.  Today, more than ever, close international cooperation and a multilateral approach were essential in order to face the threat posed by weapons of mass destruction to peace and international security.  Global security would be guaranteed through global cooperation within the framework of an authentically multilateral system.  However, in order to be effective, multilateralism required the responsible, honest and coherent cooperation of all the members of the international community.


The Holy See had noted that today an uncertainty was emerging about the commitment to many of the international instruments which for years were considered the pillars of global arms control.  It would be a serious mistake to begin to take the current system apart or to allow it to disintegrate.  The present state of the non-proliferation regime and of nuclear disarmament indicated that many still believed in the use of force and relied on nuclear weapons.  That meant, unfortunately, that the force and primacy of law, as well as trust in others and the will to enter into dialogue, had not yet become priorities.  He welcomed the moratoria on testing, but such unilateral measures could not take the place of ratification of the Treaty, he said.


TIMOTHY HARRIS, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Education of Saint Kitts and Nevis, said contemporary existence was under threat and peace was fragile.  The increasing restlessness among Member States of the United Nations, the escalation of terrorism, acts of hate and intolerance all spoke to the primacy of security issues in the global community.  His country welcomed multilateral approaches to achieving nuclear disarmament and prevention of nuclear proliferation.  It was in everybody’s interest that there would be a cessation of all nuclear weapon test explosions.  His country therefore pledged to take all requisite action to ensure ratification of the Treaty as soon as possible and its early entry into force.


He said small island States within the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) saw value and worth in the CTBT Organization’s work in a range of civil and scientific applications.  The verification technologies could assist vulnerable States of CARICOM in disaster management and response, research into marine life, tracking of the position and intensity of distant storms, and detection of volcanic explosions, among other things.  The data, experience and expertise gathered over the years with respect to hydroacoustic, infrasound and seismological monitoring must be put to the beneficial use of civil society.


RAKHAT M. ALIEV (Kazakhstan) said that issues of arms control, non-proliferation and the abandonment of nuclear tests were all a part of the policy of his country, which had renounced its past.  It was well known that nuclear testing had taken place at Semipalatinsk and that Kazakhstan had experienced at first hand the monstrous consequences.  The establishment of nuclear-weapon-free zones throughout the world would greatly strengthen the non-proliferation regime, he said, adding that nuclear arms were no longer the most effective way to ensure international peace and security. 


Kazakhstan was in favour of the speedy entry into force of the CTBT and of updating existing agreements in the field of disarmament and non-proliferation, he said.  The existing moratoria by the five acknowledged nuclear weapon States represented only a political commitment, which should now be given legal force.  Any further delay in the Treaty’s entry into force would undermine existing agreements against weapons of mass destruction, while its rapid entry into force would be a tangible sign of commitment to the CTBT.  In today’s world, no single country could wield hegemony, regardless of the number of its allies, without taking into account the interests of other countries, he emphasized.


AILEEN CARROLL, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Canada, said it was increasingly unthinkable that the world could ever return to the era of nuclear testing.  The conduct of a nuclear test explosion today, more than six years after the flouting of the international norm by India and Pakistan, would represent a defiance of the global will and an affront to principles enshrined in the CTBT, she added.


In the desire to enhance peace and stability in a new international security environment, the search for new tools and means to use them collectively could not be a substitute for the reinforcement of existing mechanisms to build peace, she said.  The CTBT was a vital pillar of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) and its effective implementation reinforced the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  The Treaty’s principles applied today to every State, whether ratifier, signatory or non-signatory, and any violation of the prohibition against nuclear test explosions would be met with worldwide opprobrium.


The environmental benefits of the comprehensive test-ban could not be understated, she emphasized.  Canada was proud to be contributing to the International Monitoring System network with seismic, radionuclide, hydroacoustic and infrasound stations.  The CTBT’s primary purpose, however, was to contribute to international peace and security.  All States in all regions would benefit from the increased security provided by the Treaty’s entry into force.  By constraining both the development of nuclear weapons and their qualitative improvement, the Treaty would combat both horizontal and vertical proliferation.


ZHANG YAN (China) said international non-proliferation was in an increasingly grave situation.  It was thus urgent and practical to expand the international consensus on banning nuclear test explosions and picking up the pace of the ratification process.  The international community should intensify its effort to create a sound and enabling international security environment.  A new security concept centring on mutual trust, mutual benefit, equality and cooperation should help countries give up their nuclear option.  The international community should also firmly uphold the purposes and principles of the CTBT.  His country would oppose any country conducting any nuclear test explosions or engaging in any nuclear proliferation activities whatsoever, under whatever pretexts.


He said his Government had set up a National Preparatory Authority for the Implementation of the CTBT and would host 12 of the International Monitoring System facilities.  In 1996, China had declared a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions and would continue to honour that solemn commitment.  In 1999, his Government presented the Treaty to the National People’s Congress, and the Government would do its utmost to have the ratification procedure completed at an early date.


U MYA THAN (Myanmar) said the current Conference took place against the background of growing threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction as well as that of further proliferation of nuclear weapons.  Of grave concern to all today was the much-dreaded possibility of the combination of those two evils, namely a nightmarish scenario of terrorists using weapons of mass destruction.  Those developments had further underscored the crucial importance of the CTBT.


He said the first of the 13 steps on nuclear disarmament laid down by the 2000 NPT Review Conference was early entry into force of the CTBT.  The CTBT had already established itself as a powerful international standard against nuclear tests in all environments.  It was incumbent on all to redouble efforts to achieve an early entry into force of the Treaty.  He did not underestimate the daunting difficulties to be overcome, but hoped that the supporters of the CTBT would remain steadfast in their efforts to secure early entry into force of the Treaty.


IVO PETROV (Bulgaria), associating himself with the statement made yesterday on behalf of the European Union, said the CTBT had an essential role to play in strengthening global peace and security.  It prevented the development of new nuclear weapons as well as the improvement of existing ones.  Any new nuclear testing would open a Pandora’s box, fuelling a new arms race and eventually increasing the risk of nuclear weapons falling into the wrong hands, he warned.


He said that in addition to the primary function of the global verification system, it could also be of great help to developing countries.  Another significant element of support for the CTBT was the involvement of civil society in raising awareness of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues.  Bulgaria supported the Conference’s draft Final Declaration as well as measures to support the Treaty’s speedy entry into force.


ALISHER KAYUMOV (Uzbekistan) said his country was among the first 10 States to ratify the Treaty, which demonstrated its genuine will to make a positive contribution to global stability.  A nuclear test ban was a prerequisite for strengthening nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.


He said that in the last few years the international community had seen new challenges and threats which were linked to technical progress and access to communication technology.  Terrorist groups were beginning to acquire weapons of mass destruction.  Therefore, his country was in favour of the earliest possible entry into force of the Convention on Terrorism.  Together with neighbouring States, his country had created a nuclear-free zone.  He called on those countries whose ratification was vital to entry into force to ensure that such an event would take place. 


JOSEPH IITA, Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Mines and Energy of Namibia, associating himself with yesterday’s statement on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement, said his country had demonstrated its commitment to the CTBT by signing it on 24 September 1996, the day it was opened for signature in New York.  Namibians owed it to themselves and to the world to have a world free of nuclear weapons and it was the responsibility of all States to ensure global security for the fostering of international cooperation in the area of disarmament and non-proliferation.


However, he said, despite overwhelming support for the CTBT, expressed by the 168 signatures and 104 ratifications so far, it was disappointing that the Treaty had not entered into force seven years after its opening for signature.  It was unfortunate that the Treaty’s potential for international peace and security would remain unfulfilled for as long as a small number of States delayed or did not see the need to pursue its entry into force.  A concerted effort and the commitment of all States were needed to achieve a world free of nuclear arms and weapons of mass destruction.  Namibia urged those States whose ratification was necessary for the Treaty’s entry into force to sign and ratify it without further delay.


ALYAKSANDER N. SYCHOV, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belarus, said his country was particularly sensitive to all nuclear problems, primarily owing to the 1986 explosion at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which had produced the most devastating man-made catastrophe on the planet.  As a result of that catastrophe, a considerable part of the country’s territory had been severely contaminated.  Belarus was devoted to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation and had voluntarily refused to have nuclear weapons on its territory.


He said Belarus was a party to the NPT, the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms (START) and the Treaty on the Elimination of Intermediate-Range and Shorter-Range Missiles (INF).  Three years ago it had become a member of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and had been one of the first countries to sign the CTBT in 1996.  A number of countries had neither signed nor ratified the CTBT but, nevertheless, upheld the nuclear test moratorium.  While that was a positive factor, any further postponement of the Treaty’s entry into force would not only undermine the progress achieved, but also lead to the resumption of nuclear testing.  Belarus supported the Conference’s draft Final Declaration, which represented a good basis for further activities aimed at the Treaty’s entry into force.


FRANK MAJOOR (Netherlands) said the NPT and the CTBT were two sides of the same coin.  They complemented and reinforced each other.  When the NPT was extended indefinitely in 1995, it was also agreed, with the full endorsement of the five declared nuclear weapon States, that a comprehensive test-ban treaty would follow the next year.  That commitment had been fulfilled.  Now, that commitment must be carried to its logical conclusion of entry into force within the foreseeable future.


He said the CTBT helped in a practical way to prevent the further spread of nuclear weapons.  It imposed a limitation on the nuclear capabilities that others could achieve and eliminated the inducement to States to react to testing by others with testing and/or deployments of their own.  A ban on explosive nuclear testing would create an effective obstacle to would-be proliferators who wished to go beyond the capability to manufacture a crude nuclear device.  The Netherlands chaired the negotiation of 1996 and therefore felt committed to its future.


HECTOR RAUL PELAEZ (Argentina) said the adoption of the CTBT in 1996 had been a significant landmark that had strengthened the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime.  He hoped the Conference would provide an opportunity to reaffirm the importance of the Treaty.  Other fora, such as the United Nations General Assembly, the NPT Review Conference and the Organization of American States, had underlined the importance of entry into force of the Treaty.


He said Argentina had supported the Treaty since its inception.  It had ratified the Treaty in 1998.  Eight monitoring stations were to be set up in his country.  The CTBT was an ideal means to consolidate efforts to end nuclear testing and had positive effects on international security.  Civil society could play a role in promoting the entry into force of the Treaty.  Until the CTBT entered into force he urged all States with nuclear capabilities to observe the moratorium on nuclear test explosions.


MUHYIEDDEEN TOUQ (Jordan), associating himself with the Non-Aligned Movement, noted that the Conference was being held to reiterate the importance of the CTBTO as well as the Treaty itself, which must have a universal character that supported the NPT.  The three conditions for the CTBT were universality, disarmament and peaceful cooperation, he added.  All eyes were on the Conference as it went about trying to rid the world of the spectre of nuclear weapons, he said.  Jordan had been one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Treaty and had participated in all meetings, seminars and other activities relating to disarmament and non-proliferation issues.


Convinced of the CTBTO’s importance for international peace and security, Jordan asked all countries that had not yet signed and ratified the Treaty to do so without further delay.  Similarly, those that had signed but not ratified the Treaty should ratify it and those whose ratification was required for the Treaty’s entry into force should do so without further delay.  Jordan hoped to see all countries in the Middle East join the CTBT in order for the region to realize its long-held dream of becoming a nuclear-weapon-free zone.  Jordan welcomed all ratifications that had occurred since the 2001 Conference, particularly that of Algeria, and encouraged other countries, especially the nuclear weapon States, to emulate that example.


CIRO AREVALO (Colombia) said the circumstances facing the international community in terms of international security and threats of weapons of mass destruction, as well as emerging inter- and intra-State conflicts, required consolidation of international tools for disarmament.  A fundamental aspect of Colombia’s foreign policy was its commitment to nuclear disarmament, as exemplified by its participation in the NPT.  Thirty-six years ago, his region had established the first nuclear-weapon-free zone in the world.  Colombia had also been involved in setting up the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL).


He said Colombia had signed the Treaty in 1996.  During the second Conference in 2001, Colombia had noted that its obligations to the Treaty could only come about after ratification because of national legal restrictions.  It could therefore not financially contribute to the establishment of the Preparatory Commission.  The resolution of the Conference of States Signatories had created a situation sui generis that obliged States to finance an organization with the sole purpose of having a treaty enter into force.  Colombia had therefore officially requested the Preparatory Commission to relieve it of its debt as the fact that contributions had not been paid was beyond the country’s control.  The obligation was not created by a treaty but by a resolution.  Therefore, Colombia, because of Constitutional restrictions, could not contribute. However, his country had always acted in the spirit of the Treaty.


BARBARA BRIDGE (New Zealand) said a fully operational CTBT would be the first line of defence against the resumption of nuclear testing and, as such, a fundamental contribution towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  That was underscored by the fact that entry into force of the CTBT had been identified as the first of 13 practical steps adopted at the 2000 NPT Review Conference.  The link was direct and clear.  The two treaties mutually supported the same object.  All States parties to the NPT had agreed to those steps.  While there were positive trends in universality of the Treaty, ratification by Annex 2 countries remained discouraging.


She said India and Pakistan remained a serious concern.  Ways must be found to engage with those countries that were actively pursuing nuclear weapons programmes.  She urged India and Pakistan to abandon their nuclear ambitions and to accede to the NPT and CTBT without delay and without condition.  She was also concerned at the potential implications of the announced decision by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea to withdraw from the NPT and its declared intention to restart the Yongbyon nuclear reactor without International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards.  In that regard, she supported dialogue towards an early, peaceful resolution of the situation.  Supporting the build-up of the verification regime, which had demonstrated additional benefits in terms of scientific and technical applications, was one of the core objectives of the Provisional Technical Secretariat.  Member States must make available to the Secretariat sufficient resources to allow it to do its job.


DAYANTHA LAKSIRI MENDIS (Sri Lanka) said his country was only a signatory to the CTBT at the moment but was seriously evaluating its position with regard to ratification.  In that respect, Sri Lanka noted the support of like-minded countries for the Treaty at the 2003 summit meeting of the Non-Aligned Movement held in Kuala Lumpur.


Emphasizing the likelihood that nuclear testing may be undertaken not only by States, but also by non-State terrorist groups who had no respect for human life, he said that the existing international order could be plunged into chaos by nuclear testing or terrorist nuclear attacks.  It was in the interest of all States to prevent such a calamity by ratifying the CTBT.


Pointing out his country’s geographical location in South Asia, he recalled that India and Pakistan, situated north of Sri Lanka, had tested nuclear weapons in 1998.  The conflict in Kashmir continued unabated, threatening the security and stability of the whole region.  There was therefore a need for the Provisional Technical Secretariat and friendly countries to initiate an effective strategy for the promotion of ratification by those two important Annex 2 countries.


SAMDAN ERDENE (Mongolia) said today’s security concerns, especially those connected to the threat of horizontal proliferation of nuclear weapons and the dangers posed by their possible acquisition by non-State actors, required resolute steps towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.  However, seven years after its adoption, the CTBT still had not entered into force.  Mongolia, one of the first countries to sign and ratify the Treaty, regarded the CTBT as a major instrument in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation which, once in force, would help in reducing and eventually eliminating all nuclear weapons.


He appealed to all States that had not done so to sign and/or ratify the CTBT at the earliest possible date, especially those States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty.  The credibility of the CTBT and other international instruments prohibiting weapons of mass destruction depended to a great extent upon the effectiveness of their verification regime.  The CTBT was unprecedented in that regard, he said, and he noted that his country hosted three stations of the International Monitoring System.


ŠARŪNAS ADOMAVIČIUS (Lithuania), associating himself with the European Union, welcomed the recent ratification of the CTBT by Algeria as well as the ratifications by Côte d’Ivoire, Albania, Mauritania, Kuwait, Oman and Cyprus.  Lithuania had ratified the Treaty in 2000 and undertaken all necessary measures at the national level, he said.  It had also implemented the Additional Protocol to the agreement with the IAEA on the application of safeguards and looked forward to joining international export control regimes.  In addition, Lithuania had signed the Joint Ministerial Statement in support of the CTBT.


He noted that the Preparatory Commission continued to maintain a steady build-up of the global verification regime in order to make it fully and effectively operational by the time the CTBT entered into force.  Lithuania stood ready to participate further in all the Commission’s activities aimed at promoting universal adherence to the Treaty and its entry into force, he added.  Lithuania also pledged full support for the Conference’s draft Final Declaration, which reaffirmed a determination to enhance international peace and security throughout the world and stressed the importance of the universal and effectively verifiable CTBT as a significant instrument of disarmament and non-proliferation.


BRANISLAV MILINKOVIĆ (Serbia and Montenegro) said the existence of a great quantity of nuclear weapons was a challenge to global security.  Therefore, the forces oriented towards international peace and security must respond to those challenges.  The CTBT was one of the key prerequisites of nuclear disarmament.


He said his country had signed the CTBT in 2001.  The Council of Ministers of his country would soon forward the draft law on ratification of the CTBT to Parliament for adoption.  The ratification procedure had been slowed down slightly because of restructuring of the country’s constitutional arrangement.


NABEELA AL-MULLA (Kuwait), expressing her delegation’s condolences over the terrorist attack on the United Nations headquarters in Baghdad, said that she hoped the event would not deter the Organization from continuing its activities in Iraq.  Kuwait was convinced that the aims entrenched in the CTBT fulfilled the necessary standards that would allow States to have faith in the Treaty.  The country had therefore ratified the CTBT on 6 May this year.  Kuwait welcomed Algeria’s ratification of the Treaty and hoped that would encourage other countries to do the same.


Reiterating the importance of a complete ban on nuclear testing, she said that her country attached as much importance to the CTBT as to the NPT and stressed the need for it to be universal in character.  Kuwait was concerned over the announcement by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea that it intended to perform nuclear tests and hoped it would not carry out that intention.  She asked all States to demonstrate the importance they attached to all tenets of the CTBT in the interest of a nuclear-weapon-free world.


MARIO CASTRO GRANDE (El Salvador) said his country, a non-nuclear State with peaceful intentions, was permanently committed to the cause of disarmament and non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It was, however, not immune to the effects of weapons of mass destruction. Collective and more effective measures of a universal nature must be taken to guarantee peace, security and sustainable development of all nations.


He said the damaging effects of nuclear tests could be added to the crises the world was facing in the environmental area. Moreover, components of nuclear weapons could become available to terrorists. It was essential that the multilateral architecture for peace and international security was strengthened and that entry into force of the CTBT was ensured as soon as possible. While there had been progress in ratification, it had not been sufficient. It was regrettable that, seven years after adoption, the Treaty had not entered into force. He therefore appealed to all countries, especially the Annex 2 countries, that had not done so to sign and/or ratify the Treaty.


For further information, contact:  Daniela Rozgonova, Chief, Public Information; tel.:  +43 1 26030-6200, fax:  +43 1 26030-5823 e-mail:  info@ctbto.org www.ctbto.org


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For information media. Not an official record.