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Time for action on UN-backed treaty banning nuclear tests is now, Ban stresses

Nuclear test carried out on 18 April 1953 at the Nevada test site.
Nuclear test carried out on 18 April 1953 at the Nevada test site.

Time for action on UN-backed treaty banning nuclear tests is now, Ban stresses

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today urged all remaining States to seize the moment and sign and ratify the global treaty banning nuclear tests, with the aim of bringing it into force by 2012.

“We know that a comprehensive ban on nuclear tests is an indispensable stepping stone to a nuclear-weapon-free world,” he told the Seventh Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), held in New York.

Mr. Ban noted that the calls for bringing the treaty into effect are growing, both at the international political level as well as from the many victims and survivors he has met during his travels.

“We gather at a moment for action,” he told the meeting, which is taking place on the margins of the General Assembly’s annual high-level debate.

Out of a total listed number of 195 States, 182 have so far signed the CTBT and 155 have ratified it. For the treaty to enter into force ratification is required from the so-called Annex 2 States. Of these China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States have yet to ratify it.

Mr. Ban welcomed indications by Guatemala, Iraq, Papua New Guinea and Thailand of their intention to ratify the treaty. He also took note of the expressions of intent of some remaining Annex 2 States and said he looked forward to their prompt action.

“My message is clear: Do not wait for others to move first. Take the initiative. Lead. The time for waiting has passed,” he stated. “We must make the most of existing – and potentially short-lived – opportunities.”

In the meantime, the Secretary-General urged all States to honour all existing moratoria on nuclear-weapon-test explosions, and to refrain from acting in a manner that undermines the purpose of the treaty.

“We must face facts. Until we have universal adherence to a legally-binding global norm against nuclear testing, there is no guarantee that nuclear tests will not happen again,” said Mr. Ban.

Today’s conference is taking place on the eve of the 15th anniversary of the treaty, which is currently nine ratifications shy of entering into force.

“The treaty’s entry into force is long overdue,” Sergio Duarte, UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, told reporters, adding that the final declaration adopted by the conference this morning underlines this urgency and the importance that ratifying and signatory States attach to the treaty’s entry into force.

“This conference is taking place at a time when the international community is imbued with momentum to further strengthen efforts against the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to pursuing a world free of nuclear weapons,” he said, delivering a statement on behalf of the Secretary-General. “The CTBT is indispensable to these efforts.”