Distinguished Ministers, Excellencies and Delegates, Ladies and gentlemen,
It is my pleasure to greet the participants in this conference.
At the outset I would like to congratulate Dr Robert Floyd as he embarks on his new endeavour as the Executive-Secretary of the CTBT Preparatory Commission at this very challenging time. The difficulties we already face in nuclear disarmament have been compounded by COVID-19. Its impact is felt vividly at this moment, as you meet virtually for the first time in this Conference’s history.
A prohibition on nuclear testing is an essential element of a nuclear weapon-free world. A quarter of a century after its negotiation, the CTBT has created an almost universally adopted norm against the testing of nuclear weapons.
As the Treaty celebrates its twenty-fifth anniversary, we should recall that it has become one of the most widely supported international instruments, with 185 signatories and 170 ratifying States. I warmly welcome the new States that have joined since the last Conference: Comoros and Cuba. Your ratifications help strengthen the Treaty’s universality. This, in turn, helps strengthen the Treaty’s impact.
The Preparatory Commission is to be applauded for its tireless work in establishing a proven, robust and global verification system – one that is able to conduct real-time monitoring of nuclear test activities anywhere on Earth.
Given its necessity and readiness, it is both disappointing and frustrating that the Treaty has not yet entered into force. We all know the reason for this – the eight remaining Annex II States whose ratifications are required for the Treaty’s entry-into-force.
As a result, a critical element of our collective security cannot be fully operationalized. I repeat my call to these States to sign and ratify the CTBT as soon as possible. I also call on all other States that have not yet signed or ratified the treaty to do so without delay.
It is my earnest hope that in the not-too-distant future we will no longer need to convene this Conference. We have remained in this state of limbo for too long. No norm or moratorium can replace a legally binding prohibition. States must take this occasion to redouble their efforts. To think creatively. And to act in the interest of the entire world’s security.
I assure you that the United Nations stands ready to assist in whatever way we can to bring this treaty into force without any further delay. I wish you a very successful conference.