H.E. MR. Mikhail Khovostov
MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS OF THE REPUBLIC OF BELARUS
AT THE CONFERENCE ON FACILITATING THE ENTRY INTO FORCE OF THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY (CTBT)
NEW YORK 11 NOVEMBER
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Distinguished Mr. Chairman,
Distinguished participants to the Conference,
Allow me to join congratulations on the occasion of the opening of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT. This is undoubtedly an important event for the entire international community.
Allow me to express our gratitude to the Chairman of the Conference and to the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO for highly professional and efficient preparation of the Conference.
On behalf of the delegation of the Republic of Belarus, let me congratulate you, Mr. Chairman, upon your election to the Chairmanship of the Conference. You can rely upon our support and cooperation.
The tragic events of September 11 shocked the people of Belarus. Our delegation, representing the nation that lost nearly one third of its population in World War II, extends condolences to the relatives of those who perished during the terrorist attacks in the United States.
The September tragedy vividly demonstrated new challenges and threats of the 21st century and a link existing between the problems of international security, disarmament and terrorism. The implementation by states of their obligations in the field of international security, non-proliferation and disarmament, above all, under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, the Treaty on the Limitation of Anti-Ballistic Missile Systems, the Biological Weapons Convention and the Chemical Weapons Convention, is becoming a key factor. It is necessary to ensure strict control over the existing stockpiles of both weapons of mass destruction and their components and conventional weapons.
Since the first day of its independence, the Republic of Belarus has chosen a non-nuclear course having voluntarily rejected possession of nuclear weapons. Belarus has been actively participating in various international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agreements, such as the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the Treaty on the Reduction and Limitation of Strategic Offensive Arms and the Intermediate and Shorter-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty.
The Republic of Belarus is especially sensitive to all nuclear-related problems. This is connected, above all, to the nuclear reactor explosion at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Station, largest man-made disaster on our planet. As a result, Belarus has since been living, for 15 years already, under the conditions of large-scale radioactive contamination. Its consequences will affect the lives of many future generations. At the current session, our delegation, jointly with the delegations of Russia and Ukraine, submitted for the consideration by the General Assembly a draft resolution on international cooperation in studying the mitigation and minimization of the consequences of the Chernobyl disaster. We hope that this draft resolution will find wide support of the UN member-states and will be adopted on the basis of a consensus.
The opening for signature of the CTBT in September 1996 became a landmark in global efforts to fight the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This has become the first Treaty in history completely prohibiting the testing of the most lethal of all types of weapons of mass destruction.
In 1996, Belarus was one of the first states to have signed the CTBT. In 2000, the Belarusian Parliament ratified the Treaty. Also in 2000, the National Authority for the CTBT Implementation was set up in Belarus. These functions were entrusted to the Committee for Monitoring the Safety of Activities in Industry and Atomic Energy under the Ministry of Emergency Situations. The work on the setting up of the National Data Center could have been completed before the end of 2001. All this proves that goal-oriented work has been carried out in Belarus in preparation for an. active participation in the Treaty.
At the same time, we are concerned that the Treaty has not yet entered into force, although five years have passed since its opening for signature. More than two years have already passed since the first Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT. The Conference has facilitated the acceleration of the Treaty ratification process, but these efforts, evidently, have not been sufficient so far.
A number of states, that have not signed or ratified the Treaty, observe a moratorium on carrying out nuclear testing which is undoubtedly a positive factor. Nevertheless, it is necessary to advance from political declarations to the implementation of a legally binding document. Further delay in the Treaty's entering into force not only threatens the progress already achieved but can also facilitate the resumption of nuclear weapons tests.
The significance of the CTBT was emphasized in the Final Document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. The Document calls upon all states, above all, those whose participation in the CTBT is a required prerequisite for its entering into force, to continue efforts to ensure the Treaty's earliest entering into force.
This Conference can and should become a genuine accelerator for the process of the Treaty's entering into force. The Republic of Belarus once again calls upon all the states that have not yet signed or ratified the Treaty to do that at the earliest.
The main purpose of the Treaty, complete cessation of nuclear weapons testing and prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, can be achieved only after the Treaty has entered into force and all states of the world have joined it. As a state party to the Treaty, the Republic of Belarus is ready to make every effort for achieving this noble objective.
I thank you for your attention.