Noting with concern that the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), negotiated under United Nations auspices, had not yet entered into force seven years after its opening for signature, the latest update conference today called on 12 hold-out countries whose ratification is key to its operability to ratify it forthwith.
The cessation of tests and other nuclear explosions, by constraining development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and ending development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons, constitutes an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, the 2003 Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of CTBT said in a declaration at the end of a three day meeting in Vienna.
The conference stressed the particular importance of prompt signature and ratification by those whose ratification was needed for its entry into force, but who had not yet ratified the treaty, the declaration stated.
To date, 168 states have signed the treaty and 104 have ratified it, but it will enter into force only when all 44 States deemed to have nuclear potential ratify it. Of these, 12 have still to do so - China, Colombia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, United States and Viet Nam.
In a message to the conference on the opening day UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan singled out the DPRK by name in his appeal for the 12 hold-out states to ratify the treaty. The DPRK withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) at the beginning of the year and has since been reported to have said it would develop nuclear weapons and might carry out tests.
Noting that international developments had occurred since the 2001 entry into force Conference which made the Treaty’s entry into force as urgent today as when it was negotiated, the Conference reaffirmed that the CTBT had an essential role to play in strengthening global peace and security, the declaration said.
The prevention of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction was one of the most important challenges facing the world, it added.