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UN conference to urge countries to ratify nuclear test ban treaty

UN conference to urge countries to ratify nuclear test ban treaty

Countries will be urged to ratify a nuclear test ban treaty at a United Nations conference early next week convened to examine ways to promote the accord's entry into force, the UN's top disarmament official said today.

The Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will be held from 11 to 13 November at UN Headquarters in New York. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan - in his capacity as depositary of the Treaty - convened the meeting following a request by a majority of ratifying States.

Speaking to reporters today, the UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, said the first two days would be devoted to a general exchange of views by those countries that have either ratified or signed the Treaty. Seventy-nine countries are so far scheduled to speak, with 59 of them at the ministerial level, including France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom.

Non-signatory States and representatives of non-governmental organizations will speak on the Conference's last day before it concludes with a final declaration.

According to Mr. Dhanapala, the Treaty currently has 161 signatories and 84 ratifications. The CTBT can only enter into force when 44 countries listed in an annex as possessors of nuclear research or nuclear power reactors have signed and ratified it.

Of those 44 countries, 41 have signed the Treaty and 31 have ratified it, Mr. Dhanapala said, adding that three of those States have neither signed nor ratified the accord: India, Pakistan and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. He also noted that of the nuclear-weapon-States, France, Russia, and the United Kingdom have ratified the Treaty, while China and the United States have only signed it.

The Treaty itself bans all nuclear explosions for military or civilian purposes, and after its adoption and opening for signature, the UN established a preparatory commission for the CTBT and its provisional technical Secretariat in order to prepare for the Treaty's entry into force.

A global verification regime was being established to monitor compliance with the Treaty, Mr. Dhanapala said, which consisted of an international monitoring system (IMS) with communications and data management techniques, a consultation and clarification process, an on-site inspection process, and confidence-building measures. The IMS consisted of a network of 321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories, which would monitor the entire world for evidence of nuclear explosions in all environments.