Press conference on Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty
Stressing that the threat of the use and proliferation of nuclear weapons technologies and knowledge had not been adequately addressed, representatives of Finland and Japan called for the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) during a press conference at United Nations Headquarters this morning.
The representatives spoke following a the CTBT ministerial meeting at Headquarters in which 27 foreign ministers and 15 high-level government officials issued a joint statement urging all non-signatory States, particularly the 12 whose ratification was mandatory, to immediately sign and ratify the document. Under the terms of the CTBT, all of the 44 States known or believed to have nuclear-bomb-making capabilities must ratify the document for it to take effect.
“We live in a world where we are faced by many different threats to security and one of the most common and scary has been the threat of weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, falling into the hands of terrorists”, said Erkki Tuomioja, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Finland, noting the linkage between the CTBT and nuclear weapons proliferation and stressing that importance of upholding the moratorium on nuclear weapons testing and explosions. “We have had some success since the number of ratifications continues to grow, but we still have a lot of work to do.”
Of the 172 States that had signed the treaty, 116 had ratified it, said Yoriko Kawaguchi, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Japan, adding that Bosnia and Herzegovina had announced during the ministerial meeting that it would ratify the document very soon. She said she hoped that the political momentum generated by today’s CTBT ministerial meeting would contribute to the success of the 2005 review conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT).
In response to reporters’ questions regarding when the United States would ratify the treaty, Ms. Kawaguchi said the United States had signed but not ratified the treaty and, although it was important for the United States to do so, she declined to comment as to when that might happen. She said she had been working to influence India to both sign and ratify the CTBT.
As to whether the CTBT had knowledge of Iran’s nuclear testing and design capabilities, Mr. Tuomioja said the issue had been on the agenda of the European Union’s ministerial meetings for some time, including that morning’s meeting. Ms. Kawaguchi added that the issue had been under discussion in the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and had been addressed in its 18 September resolution, which called on Iran to suspend all uranium-enrichment activities.
As to reports that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea may be building nuclear missiles capable of hitting Japan, Ms. Kawaguchi expressed concern over the matter. She said current information indicated that such a threat was not yet imminent and that the matter was being discussed during talks among Japan, China, Russian Federation, Republic of Korea, the United States and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. During the talks, negotiators were working to make the Korean peninsula non-nuclear and to do so through peaceful means, she said, expressing hope that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea would abide by all the NPT rules.
As to whether the current global nuclear weapons’ monitoring and verification system was capable of detecting a clandestine attack, Mr. Tuomioja said he was very confident in the current technologies’ ability to do so and to correct any shortfalls prior to the CTBT’s entry into force, as work in that regard was progressing.
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