Pivotal Treaty to End Nuclear Tests of Any Yield at Any Time Focus of Conference Aimed at Convincing ‘Hold-Outs’ to Ratify, Enable Its Entry into Force

27 September 2013

Pivotal Treaty to End Nuclear Tests of Any Yield at Any Time Focus of Conference Aimed at Convincing ‘Hold-Outs’ to Ratify, Enable Its Entry into Force

27 September 2013
General Assembly
Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York

Conference on Comprehensive

Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

AM & PM Meetings


Pivotal Treaty to End Nuclear Tests of Any Yield at Any Time Focus of Conference


Aimed at Convincing ‘Hold-Outs’ to Ratify, Enable Its Entry into Force


Final Declaration Says No Efforts Will Be Spared,

As Secretary-General Urges ‘Break the Stagnation in Disarmament’


The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was a core element of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and its entry into force would mark a vital step in the faltering march towards a world free from nuclear weapons, senior officials said today as they convened the eighth so-called “Article XIV” Conference to facilitate that instrument’s formal operation, 17 years after it opened for signature.


Nearly 50 ministers and other high-level participants punctuated their day-long debate with the adoption of a final declaration outlining their renewed determination to close another chapter of cold war-deterrence politics.  By the six-page text, they vowed to adopt specific measures to achieve the Treaty’s entry into force and universalization, including through support for bilateral, regional and multilateral outreach initiatives.  They would spare no efforts to encourage the Treaty’s signature and ratification, and urge all States to sustain the momentum generated by today’s Conference.


Ending nuclear-weapon testing was a meaningful step in the realization of the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons globally, and of general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control, ratifying and signatory States declared in their text, affirming the urgency of early entry into force as a crucial, practical step for systematic and progressive efforts towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.


Pending that time, they called on States to refrain from nuclear weapon tests or other nuclear explosions, the use of new nuclear weapon technologies and “any action that would undermine the object and purpose of the implementation of the provisions of the [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty]”.  They also called for maintaining all existing moratoriums on nuclear weapons text explosions.


In that context, they urged the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea not to conduct further nuclear tests, recognizing that its previous tests — most recently on 12 February — highlighted the urgent need for the Treaty to become operational.  It was essential to maintain momentum in building all elements of the verification regime, which would be “unprecedented” in its reach, following the Treaty’s entry into force, and ensure confidence that States were maintaining their commitments.


“A comprehensive ban on nuclear tests is an indispensable step on the road to a nuclear-weapon-free world,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon declared ahead of the adoption.  That was the only fitting response to the hopes of those who had suffered most from the production, testing and use of those weapons.  States must break the stagnation in the disarmament process, ensure the Treaty’s formal operation and enforce a complete ban on testing.


To be sure, significant gains had been made, he said.  Since the seventh Conference in 2011, five new countries had joined cause to achieve a global ban on nuclear testing:  Brunei Darussalam, Chad, Guatemala, Guinea-Bissau, Indonesia and Iraq, all of which he applauded for taking that important step.  The international community must now give top priority to achieving nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.


Recalling that the 1925 Convention for the Supervision of the International Trade in Arms and Ammunition and in Implements of War had never entered into force, he said it had taken 88 years to adopt the Arms Trade Treaty.


“The international community can not afford anything near this long a wait to revive efforts to outlaw nuclear testing if the [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty]  fails to enter into force,” he stressed, urging the remaining States to sign and ratify it without delay.  The eight States whose ratifications were necessary for entry into force, in accordance with the Treaty’s Annex II, bore a special responsibility.  “It is our collective duty to advance the purpose of the Treaty — and not undermine it,” he concluded.


In her remarks, Angela Kane, High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, recalled that the eighth Conference had been convened by the Secretary-General in his role as Depositary of the Treaty, in line with the accord’s Article XIV, which outlined that if the Treaty had not entered into force three years after its opening for signature, the Depositary would convene a Conference of States that had deposited their ratification instruments.  Against that backdrop, she welcomed the contributions of Sweden and Mexico, who, as co-Presidents of the seventh Conference for the last two years, had encouraged global cooperation for the Treaty’s entry into force, helping States adhere to their obligations.


Speaking as co-President of the eighth Conference, Marty M. Natalegawa, Foreign Minister of Indonesia, regretted that a decade after it had been opened for signature, the Treaty had not come into force.  Indonesia had ratified it last year to encourage the remaining necessary countries to follow its lead.  While there was a continuing moratorium on tests, it was a temporary measure that must be made permanent.  The Treaty’s early entry into force was critical to preventing a nuclear holocaust.


János Martonyi, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Hungary, also a co-President, said the countries outside should be convinced that supporting the Treaty would only enhance their own security.  He pledged Hungary’s efforts, together with those of Indonesia, to create multilateral and regional initiatives in that direction.  Without the Treaty, he said, the international community deprived itself of on-site verification, which had been acclaimed by the scientific community.  Citing commitment of the European Union and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to the process, he called for injecting new momentum in the period ahead.


Echoing that call, Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission in Vienna, said the prospects for the Treaty’s entry into force appeared much more positive than in previous years.  In his first address to a Conference since assuming his functions on 13 August, he said it was up to those here today to seize the opportunity to “realize the dream”.  The Treaty boasted near-universal membership, with 183 signatory countries.  Equatorial Guinea and Iraq had deposited their instruments of ratification on the eve of today’s meeting, bringing the total number of ratifications to 161.


That had been an increase of one signature and six ratifications since the seventh meeting in 2011, he said, calling that an outstanding achievement.  Further, amid continued commitment by several Annex II States to ratify the Treaty, his office had received “unequivocal” signals from the remaining non-signatories in virtually all continents of their interest.  He was working with political leaders to secure the eight remaining ratifications.  A Group of Eminent Persons had been created to add new dynamism into the process.


“The best way forward is to make the de-facto norm of banning nuclear tests a legally binding commitment,” he said, adding that nearly 90 per cent of the global monitoring systems were already sending data to Vienna.  “We should be proud of the work accomplished so far,” he said, stressing the need for redoubled efforts, whether Governments, scientists or non-governmental organizations.  “We all have the burden to lead,” he said.


In other business today, the eighth Conference elected by acclamation the Foreign Ministers of Hungary and Indonesia as co-Chairs.


Carl Bildt, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Sweden, and Juan Manuel Gómez Robledo, speaking on behalf of the Secretary for Foreign Affairs of Mexico, also addressed the Conference in their capacities as co-Presidents of the seventh Conference.  Mårten Grunditz ( Sweden) presented the progress report on their behalf.


The Conference adopted the report of the Credentials Committee, introduced by that body’s Chairperson.  The Conference also adopted its report.


Exchange of Views


In the ensuing debate, many Annex II countries that had signed, and ratified, the Treaty underscored the serious threat that nuclear weapons posed to international peace and security, with many citing the 12 February test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea as evidence that the Treaty must enter into force as soon as possible.   Argentina’s Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs said the non-proliferation regime’s credibility was at stake, stressing that the Treaty’s entry into force would rebalance non-proliferation asymmetries on the international stage.  The goal, many recalled, remained the permanent and legally binding commitment to end nuclear testing.


With that in mind, several speakers vigorously pressed remaining Annex II countries to ratify the accord as soon as possible, citing Indonesia’s recent ratification as an example of how to move forward.  Marion Paradas, Permanent Representative of France to the United Nations and international organizations in Vienna, said her country — also listed in the Treaty’s Annex II — had been among the first to have signed the Treaty in 1996 and to have ratified it in 1998.  Its legal commitment had been accompanied by strong actions to support the Treaty’s purposes, including the transparent dismantling in 1998 of its nuclear test centre in the Pacific, the only nuclear Power to have made such a commitment.


Rolf Nikel, Federal Government Commissioner for Arms Control and Disarmament of the Foreign Ministry of Germany, said striving for the full and formal enforcement of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was more than a moral duty and vital to safeguarding the security of humanity.  Noting that more than 2,000 nuclear weapons tests had been carried out worldwide, the Treaty’s entry into force would be a crucial step towards a nuclear-weapon-free world.  Stating that the existing moratorium on testing was important, but not sufficient, he urged the Annex II States to sign and ratify the Treaty.  Highlighting Germany’s role in the process, he said the country housed five monitoring centres and was the third-largest donor to the Treaty’s secretariat.


Adding a unique perspective to the discussion was Fumio Kishida, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, who said the goal of eliminating nuclear weapons was close to his heart, as the Foreign Minister of the only country to have experienced atomic bombings, and as someone born and raised in one of the cities bombed.  It was of utmost importance that the international community take “united and determined” actions to condemn nuclear tests, if or when they occurred.


He also emphasized the importance of advancing construction and certification of International Monitoring System States to complete the verification regime, pointing out that 82 per cent of the stations listed in Annex I of the Treaty’s protocol had been officially certified.  Enhancing political actions was also important, given the increased political momentum for nuclear disarmament.  He praised the establishment of the Group of Eminent Persons, which had held its first meeting in New York.


Several speakers also focused on significance of monitoring and verification, with Australia’s representative saying that the global system’s detection of the 12 February nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea showed its effectiveness.  Tranaiste Eamon Gilmore, Deputy Prime Minister and Foreign Minister of Ireland, describing the verification arm as one of the most ambitious projects to monitor the earth’s seismic and tsunami activities, highlighted the potential benefits from the interpretation and analysis of data.


Others highlighted the urgency of ensuring the Treaty’s early enforcement, saying that the current international moratorium on testing, while effective, was only a temporary measure.  Speaking on behalf of the European Union, Linas Linkevičius, Foreign Minister of Lithuania, urged all States to observe the moratorium and commended the progress in building an effective verification system.  He urged more sustained work to ensure the Treaty’s formal entry into force.


There were calls for stronger efforts to persuade Annex II States that had not signed and/or ratified the Treaty, namely, China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.  Carlos Antonio da Rocha Paranhos, Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs of the Ministry of External Relations of Brazil, recalling that his country had signed the Treaty on the day it was opened for signature and was an early ratifier, said ratification by the United States would be a “game changer”.  He voiced concern that some States were trying to circumvent the existing regime by using non-explosive means to improve their weapons, which undermined the spirit of the Treaty.


Speaking as the representative of the latest country to have ratified was Hoshyar Zebari, Foreign Minister of Iraq, who announced that his Government had submitted its instrument of accession on Thursday.  Describing the Treaty and the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty as interrelated pillars of the system, he said Iraq’s ratification was part of its clear commitment to giving up its nuclear ambitions and its willingness to work with the international community for peace and security.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty would codify legally the political and moral mandate it already enjoyed.


Also speaking this morning were the Foreign Ministers of Burkina Faso, Denmark, Finland, Kazakhstan, Slovakia, Slovenia and Norway, as well as the Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Spain and the Secretary-General for Foreign Affairs of Austria.


Frustration continued to mount this afternoon, with speakers expressing disappointment at the still-uncertain fate of the Treaty.  Titus Corlățean, Foreign Minister of Romania, said the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s nuclear test in February had highlighted the urgency of its entry into force.  The monitoring system already posed a formidable challenge to any State that might try to conduct a clandestine test, he said, adding that the Treaty’s swift entry into force would be a major step towards building a safer and more peaceful world.   Malaysia’s representative noted that nuclear weapons were the only weapons of mass destruction not banned by an international convention.  The Treaty was the “unfinished business in the international nuclear disarmament agenda”.


Several speakers echoed the imperative of adhering to the Treaty’s provisions, pending its formal operation.  Lapo Pistelli, Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs of Italy, said the Conference was an opportunity to raise awareness about the Treaty, which he defined as a major building block of the multilateral disarmament agenda, as well as a strategic priority for Italy and the European Union.  Calling for prompt ratification by Annex II States, he urged maintaining the testing moratoriums and pressed countries not to take any action that might undermine the Treaty.


Of the view that the Treaty’s credibility was based on its strong verification system, the United Kingdom’s representative highlighted his country’s role in strengthening the capabilities of the verification arm.  “We stand ready to help any Annex II nation on ratification,” he added.  Deepak Obhrai, Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs and International Human Rights of Canada, urged relevant States to make the necessary arrangements to build the remaining monitoring stations, especially in regions that had sizeable gaps in coverage.


Other speakers highlighted country-specific considerations that underpinned their support for the Treaty.  Dipu Moni, Foreign Minister of Bangladesh, describing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as “humanity’s first silver lining” on nuclear non-proliferation, highlighted her country’s existence in a neighbourhood where the possibility of nuclear confrontation remained alive.  Similarly, Bhoendradatt Tewarie, Minister for Planning and Sustainability of Trinidad and Tobago, called the Treaty “a beacon to the world”, and said the civilian benefits of the monitoring mechanism established the Treaty as an important vehicle to help developing States, such as his own, to mitigate natural disasters.


Oleksandr Aleksandrovych, Director-General for International Security and Disarmament of Ukraine, said the devastating impact of the nuclear meltdown in Chernobyl had encouraged his country campaign strenuously for the Treaty.


Countries that had signed but not ratified the Treaty joined in the debate to voice support for its early entry into force.  Gil Sateia, Alternate Representative of the United States, highlighting the Obama Administration’s initiatives on arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, pledged to build support in the United States for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its eventual ratification.  Asserting that there was no timetable to bring the Treaty to a vote in the Senate, he said there was no need for any country to wait on the United States or any other Annex II State before ratifying, since the Treaty was in everyone’s interest.


Pan Sen, Director-General for the Arms Control Department of China described the Treaty as an “indispensible component” of the global order, and recalled that his country had been an early signatory.  The Treaty was currently under consideration by his country’s legislature and, enumerating the range of activities China had taken since, said it would never be an obstacle for the Treaty’s entry into force.


David Roet, Deputy Permanent Representative of Israel, said that by becoming an early signatory, his country had provided a clear testament of its long-standing commitment to non-proliferation.  Expressing firm belief that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was an important component of the global non-proliferation regime, he said Israel’s stance on its entry into force would be based on the overall regional situation, completion of the Treaty’s verification regime and sovereign equality status in the Treaty’s policy-making organs.


Alexey Karpov, Deputy Permanent Representative of the Russian Federation, noting that a mere eight States were responsible for holding back a treaty that enjoyed such wide consensus, called for the building up of the “positive mass” of States that had ratified it.  Signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty — a “global best practice” — had become an imperative in international relations.


Some countries stressed the need to ensure that the Treaty’s provisions were not circumvented by continuing to develop devastating weapons, while others called for the total elimination of nuclear weapons.  Enrique Castillo, Foreign Minister of Costa Rica, welcomed the countries newly acceded to the Treaty, while stressing the need to eliminate the possibility of subcritical and non-explosive testing.  Taous Feroukhi, Director-General of the Foreign Ministry of Algeria, stating that the Treaty would not only benefit peace and security but also foster cooperation based on the verification mechanism, stressed the importance of the total abolition of nuclear weapons.


Also speaking this afternoon were the Foreign Ministers of Bulgaria, Belarus, Costa Rica, as well as senior officials of the Republic of Korea, Turkey, Algeria, Philippines, Switzerland, Nigeria, Netherlands, New Zealand, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Guatemala, Liechtenstein, Morocco and Jordan.


Representatives of Libya, Egypt, Angola, Kyrgyzstan, Chile and South Africa also spoke.  Addressing the Conference, as well, was a representative of the Global Security Institute (on behalf of non-governmental organizations).


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