THE HON. DR. JOE BORG
MINISTER OF FOREIGN AFFAIRS
CONFERENCE ON FACILITATING
THE ENTRY INTO
FORCE OF THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY
11 NOVEMBER 2001
On behalf of the Government of Malta, I would like to extend my warmest congratulations to you on your election as President of thé Second Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. You can be assured of my delegation's full support in the execution of your important duties.
As Malta has fully associated itself with thé statement just delivered by the Foreign Minister of Belgium on behalf of the European Union, I shall restrict myself to a few points that are of importance to Malta.
It is with pleasure that I am addressing a CTBT Article XIV Conference for the first time. Malta signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty the day it was opened for signature on 24 September 1996. Responding to the personal appeal made by the Secretary General Mr. Kofi Annan, the Maltese Parliament also ratified the treaty earlier this year. The instrument of ratification was deposited on the 23rd of July 2001.
The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has been seen as an essential step toward nuclear disarmament for over four decades. It bans all nuclear tests, anytime and anywhere. It also offers the opportunity to demand on-site inspections, the means to mobilize the world against potential violators and a set of new confidence-building measures that serve to improve transparency.
We feel that these are very significant benefits to be had over and above the more obvious international peace and security dividend. The ratification of the CTBT is therefore in complete consonance with Malta's support for international efforts aimed at disarmament and the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
Five years have passed since the Treaty was opened for signature. This Second Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, called at the request of a majority of ratifying States, provides a good opportunity for Member States to examine the progress made towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and to discuss measures to accelerate the ratification process. It also constitutes an important political opportunity for us to make an analysis of the progress that has been achieved so far.
In this regard, Malta is encouraged to note that the number of signatory states has increased to the promising number of 161, while the number of ratifications bas gone up to 84. The number of state signatories, and consequent ratifications, has contributed to maintaining the strength and momentum of this important Treaty.
It is our hope that the remaining thirteen countries whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to come into force will join the eighty-four countries who have already done so. In so doing, a significant collective step will have been taken towards reducing the risk of nuclear disaster.
Under Article XVIII of the Vienna Convention on Treaties, signatory states are bound not to take actions that violate the "purpose or intent" of the Treaty to which they are signatories, which in effect, in the case of the CTBT, means they cannot conduct a nuclear test explosion. However, the longer it takes to fully implement the CTBT, the greater the chances are that some nation might conduct a nuclear test and set off a dangerous political and military chain reaction which might spiral out of control.
The words of caution, expressed by Deputy Secretary General Louise Frechette, that delaying the Treaty's entry into force "increases the risk that nuclear testing could resume" and that "we remain at a dangerous crossroads between progressive disarmament and a revival of the arms race" are therefore still extremely valid. A renewal of our efforts here today is more important than ever.
Great leaps in the field of disarmament have never been achieved ovemight. This subject malter lends itself more readily to careful and measured consideration rather than hurried responses. Rome was not built in a day. Nevertheless Rome was eventually built. With Five years having elapsed since the conclusion of the Treaty, my government hopes that the same can soon be said of the CTBT. It is with this in mind that my government calls once again upon those thirteen states whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to enter into force to move to ratification as soon as possible.
Even as we strive to bring the Treaty into force we have not been idle. Since the first Article XIV Conference was held in Vienna in 1999, work on the International Monitoring System has progressed. The Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission now has the capability to provide initial data and services to member states and is equipped with a growing verification infrastructure. The Treaty is firmly established as a powerful international norm against further nuclear testing.
While welcoming the efforts of the Independent Commission on the Verifiability of the CTBT we note with interest the conclusions of its report. In particular, we welcome the view that when the CTBT verification regime is fully in place it will be capable of meeting the international community's expectation that relevant events will be detected, located and identified with high probability.
Notwithstanding the fact that this Conference, which was originally scheduled for September, was postponed by two months, it is still being held under the shadow of the tragic events of the 11 September. The civilised world has been through two months of tragedy - tragedy that has affected us all in one way or another.
However this has also been a time during which international cooperation has taken on a new dimension and has given rise to renewed impetus for the conclusion of international treaties that will make the world a safer and more secure place.
Health and environmental fears associated with nuclear weapons testing provided the momentum that lead us to the signing of the CTBT. These fears remain very real today, however they are now further compounded by the threat of terror, a reality we have only too recently witnessed, both here in New York and across the globe.
It is my government's hope that the new sense of urgency and purpose that has characterised the work of the international community in the last weeks will fuel us with the necessary resolve to bring us closer to the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.