|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Press Conference by Executive Secretary of Preparatory Commission
for Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization
A group of eminent persons would be established this month to accelerate the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a senior official of the instrument’s preparatory commission said at a Headquarters press conference today.
“We are working hard day in and day out” to make the treaty into law, said Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), urging non-signatories to understand that ratification would enhance not only international security, but their own national security as well.
He said the group of eminent persons, comprising former prime ministers and other highly regarded figures from both States parties and non-signatory States, would be launched during the eighth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, to be held in New York on 27 September.
Providing an update on the instrument’s current status, he said 183 countries had signed, of which 159 had already ratified it. [In accordance with its Article XIV, the Treaty will enter into force after all 44 States listed in its Annex 2 have ratified it.] The United States, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel and Pakistan were yet to ratify the instrument, he added.
Regarding the verification mechanism, Mr. Zerbo said the international monitoring system had been in place with facilities up and running worldwide. It used seismic, hydro-acoustic, infrasound and radionuclide technologies to detect nuclear explosions.
Asked how the Preparatory Commission was working with the United States, he said the provisional secretariat had met with that nation’s experts and Government officials, and emphasized that he expected high-level participation in the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force by both States parties and non-signatories.
When asked about the State of Palestine’s eligibility to join the Treaty, he said it could join as an observer.
Regarding plutonium emissions in the United States, he stressed that Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s mandate was to focus on nuclear explosions rather than natural events.
To a correspondent who said “the United States never ratifies any treaty”, Mr. Zerbo expressed optimism. “Hard work will pay off not far into the future.”
Asked which region was lagging on ratification, he replied that it was the Middle East, adding that there had been progress nevertheless.
When asked whether it was easy to hide nuclear tests, he said it was “very difficult”, if not impossible, for nuclear explosions to go undetected under the international monitoring system, which could even “sniff the smoking gun”.
As for evidence of the alleged nuclear tests carried out by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, he said the system had detected three explosions there over the past decade. Asked whether the Preparatory Commission had been talking to that country about joining the Treaty, he said the group of eminent persons soon to be announced would re-energize negotiations with non-signatory States. On the same question regarding Pakistan, he said that if political channels did not work, the Preparatory Commission would seek to engage non-signatory States in scientific studies so they could see the benefits of joining the Treaty.
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