In Vienna, Secretary-General Says Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Milestone; ‘Irresponsible’ That Still Not in Effect 15 Years after Opened for Signature

17 February 2012
SG/SM/14115-DC/3323

In Vienna, Secretary-General Says Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Milestone; ‘Irresponsible’ That Still Not in Effect 15 Years after Opened for Signature

17 February 2012
Secretary-General
SG/SM/14115 DC/3323
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

In Vienna, Secretary-General Says Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Milestone;

‘Irresponsible’ That Still Not in Effect 15 Years after Opened for Signature

Following are the remarks of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on the fifteenth anniversary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), delivered in Vienna, 17 February:

It is a great pleasure to meet you this morning.

This anniversary is an important event for the world.

And it also carries great personal meaning for me.

Visiting this Preparatory Commission, which I used to chair in 1999, is like a homecoming.

And thank you very much for this warm welcome and kind words.

I look around this room and see very familiar faces.  Many of us have been working together on these issues for many years, at least for 15 years.

We are honoured by the presence of our very distinguished colleague, Executive Secretary Tibor Toth.

As a diplomat, I tried to move the international community to act against nuclear testing.

As Ambassador Tibor Toth introduced, when I took over as chairman of CTBTO I said:  “My name is pronounced ‘Bahn’”.  But many people called me, “Ban”.  I said, that is fine, I will ban nuclear tests.  So since then, my nickname has become “Nuclear-Test-Ban”.

My name and my commitment have continued all my lifetime.  In fact, I also served as Vice-Chairman of JNCC, a Joint Nuclear Control Commission between South and North Korea.  So I have been negotiating with North Korea on nuclear issues.  As Secretary-General, I am committed to the goal of a world free of nuclear tests and nuclear weapons.

During the last five years I have visited Semipalatinsk, Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Nobody can visit such places and return home the same person.

Nuclear tests poison the environment — and they also poison the political climate.  They breed mistrust, isolation and fear.

So, today I issue a challenge to all leaders of all countries that have not yet endorsed the CTBT:  Visit the site of a nuclear test.

Speak to the population exposed to the fallout.

Then take action to prevent this from ever happening again.

Today, on this fifteenth anniversary, we remember the victims.

At the same time, we remember the hope in which the CTBT was conceived.

The hope for a future where international peace and security do not depend on the mad doctrine of mutually assured destruction or hang on the thin thread of good luck.

Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are not utopian ideals.

They are critical to global peace and security.

We have a legal and moral obligation to rid our world of nuclear tests and nuclear weapons.

When we put an end to nuclear tests, we get closer to eliminating all nuclear weapons.

A world free of nuclear weapons will be safer and more prosperous.

Governments now spend vast sums of money to build and test arsenals of death.

The world is over-armed and development is underfunded.  It is time to reverse that equation.

The CTBT was a milestone.  It is an essential building block in strengthening the rule of law in nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

That is why it is distressing that this Treaty has yet to enter into force.

When I chaired this Preparatory Commission, I never imagined I would one day return as Secretary-General.  But I certainly believed that this Treaty would have entered into force by now.

We will continue pressing to reach this goal.

In the meantime, we are using the Preparatory Commission’s scientific expertise to protect people from the effects of natural disasters.

Last year when the earthquake in Japan damaged the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear facility, the Treaty’s International Monitoring System immediately kicked into gear.  It helped the Japanese Government issue warnings.  And it provided all countries with critical information on the spread of radiation.

This is just one example of the added value of the CTBTO.  This is why I invited the CTBTO to the High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Security and Safety I convened last September.

Of course, the Treaty’s real value lies in its moral and legal authority in outlawing nuclear tests once and for all.

A woman exposed to the fallout of atomic testing once said that, as she watched the nuclear bombs fall, she never thought they would wipe out her immune system.

This woman made a heartfelt plea to Governments.  She said — I quote:  “While remembering the victims of past nuclear weapons tests, we must also protect the health and safety of future generations — by ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.”

I am here today to amplify her call, so that it reaches people in power.

I urge all Governments that have not yet signed or ratified this Treaty to immediately do so.  I especially call for action by the countries whose ratification is essential for the Treaty to enter into force.

Indonesia is one — and I commend Jakarta for depositing its instrument of ratification earlier this month.

I met Minister Marty Natalegawa in my office and received this instrument of ratification.  And it was the first time during my last five years as Secretary-General that this instrument of ratification was deposited to me personally.  What is more important is that Indonesia was one of the nine countries whose ratification is essential to get this Treaty into force.  Now we have only eight countries and I am ready to meet all these leaders and if necessary travel with Ambassador Tibor Toth to those eight countries who are still reluctant or may have doubts about the ratification of this Treaty.  So that is my commitment.

There is no good reason to avoid signing or ratifying this Treaty.  Any country opposed to signing or ratifying is simply failing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the international community.

It is irresponsible to see this Treaty still waiting to come into effect 15 years after it was opened for signature.

I urge all States to honour existing moratoria on nuclear weapons tests — and to avoid any action that would undermine the Treaty.

We have opportunities coming up:  the Nuclear Security Summit next month in Seoul, the Preparatory Committee for the NPT Review Conference, and a conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction.

My Special Envoy is working very hard to convene this conference, as was mandated by the NPT Review Conference of 2010.

We have another celebration taking place today.

It is not a fifteenth anniversary — it is a first birthday.

It is my great pleasure to officially open the new Vienna Office of the United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs.

The establishment of this Office is a response to the growing need for cooperation in all areas of disarmament, non-proliferation and arms control.  It will especially improve collaboration among the Vienna-based organizations and specialized agencies.  The Office will also bring in regional intergovernmental organizations like the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

I have high hopes for this Office.  I thank Member States for the voluntary contributions that have helped bring it into being.  The Government of Austria has been especially generous, another sign of its commitment to the United Nations.

The work you do here in these offices is part of a global movement to rid the world of its most deadly threat.

Now:  let us press even harder toward realizing our vision of a nuclear-weapon-free world.

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For information media • not an official record
For information media. Not an official record.