24 September 2009

New Momentum for World Free of Nuclear Weapons ‘Must Be Seized’, Says Secretary-General to Test-Ban Treaty Conference

24 September 2009
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

New Momentum for World Free of Nuclear Weapons ‘Must Be Seized’,


Says Secretary-General to Test-Ban Treaty Conference


Following is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s statement to the sixth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in New York, 24 September:

As visitors enter the United Nations this month, they are confronted with a powerful exhibition.  It features a series of poems, images and testimony from Hiroshima, Nagasaki and the heart of Kazakhstan, a place that endured four decades of nuclear testing.

There are drawings by atomic bomb survivors of images they could not erase:  a mother and child dying while running to take refuge, a corpse of a child pointing to the sky.

There are photos of the searing imprint of the testing in Kazakhstan; the scarred earth and poisoned lakes, the lingering fallout for individuals, particularly children suffering from cancer, heart defects, paralysis and mental illness.

These are just some of the real-life experiences that should compel us to act.

Many years ago, President Kennedy called a nuclear test ban “a step towards peace, a step towards reason”.

We must continue that march.

Today there is new momentum for a world free of nuclear weapons.  There is a new drive for peace.

Yet this momentum is rare.  It must be seized.  That is what today is about.

Later today, United States President Obama will chair the first ever Security Council summit meeting on nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament.

There is no better way to begin this historic day than by pledging to end nuclear testing.

After all, the CTBT is a fundamental building block for a world free of nuclear weapons.

By establishing a global norm against testing, the CTBT has made a significant contribution to the world community’s efforts to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to promote nuclear disarmament.

Since the Treaty was signed on this very day 13 years ago, 181 Member States have joined and 150 Member States have ratified it.

The time has come to strengthen that commitment by making it legally binding and universal.

The significance of the Treaty has been reiterated time and again.  Of the 13 practical nuclear disarmament steps agreed at the 2000 NPT [Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons] Review, the urgency of achieving the CTBT’s entry into force headed that list.

This is also a major pillar of my five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

The global community certainly needed no further reminder.  Yet, the nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea last May highlighted the urgency of what brings us here today.

With all of this in mind, I call on all States to sign and ratify this Treaty.  I direct my call in particular to those nine States whose ratifications are required to complete the entry into force requirements.

Pending the entry into force, I call upon States to honour a nuclear-weapon-test moratorium and to refrain from acts contrary to the object and purpose of the Treaty.

Now is the time.  Do not wait for the leadership of others.  Show your own.

I want to pay tribute to the high-level support from so many here in this room.

The participation of the United States, led by Secretary of State [Hillary] Clinton, for the first time, demonstrates the commitment of the United States to work towards its ratification of the Treaty.  I thank President Obama and Secretary Clinton’s commitment to this treaty.

For our part, I pledge the full commitment of the United Nations to continue working in partnership with the international community to build a nuclear-weapon-free world.

Long before I became Secretary-General, these issues were of driving concern to me and to my country.  In 1998, I served as Chair of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission and I followed this closely.  I care about it deeply.  It is my priority.

I know that this is now the sixth such Conference to facilitate entry into force.

Let us work to ensure that this be the last one that is needed.

Let us make history by making the need for this conference history.

Let the next time we gather be the day we celebrate this treaty’s entry into force, and our world’s entry into a safer more secure era for all.

* *** *

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