Fifty-Fifth Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Statement by Executive Secretary


On 15 June 2000, a relationship agreement between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO) entered into force.

This statement is significant in that it represents the first address by the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO to the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA). Reports of the Commission’s activities will now be presented to UNGA on a regular basis.

On 10 September 1996, the General Assembly of the United Nations adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty by 158 votes to 3 with 5 abstentions. With the adoption of the CTBT, one of the longest treaty negotiations in the history of arms control and disarmament was brought to a successful end.

A few months ago, on 15 June, the General Assembly adopted the Agreement to regulate the relationship between the United Nations and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. Its Article IV on Reporting provides that "the Commission, within its competence and in accordance with the provisions of the Treaty, shall keep the United Nations informed of its activities, and may submit through the Secretary-General of the United Nations reports on them on a regular or ad hoc basis to the principal organs of the United Nations concerned".

With the adoption of the relationship agreement, the member states of the United Nations accepted the CTBTO PrepCom as a new member of the UN family. Whereas, we remain independent as an international organization, we want to contribute to the goals of the United Nations System, the success of which is based on the complementary inputs by its many members. In doing so we want to become members of the ACC. This however, seems to become part of a broader review of the ACC.

We are looking forward to using the United Nations laissez-passers by officials of the Commission. We have been negotiating a cooperation agreement with the UNDP, which will set out a framework for the UNDP to provide operational support services to the Commission. Our recently established United Nations Liaison Office will take up its work tomorrow and I have asked the Secretary-General to have this office listed in the "Blue Book" under its Chapter VI, "Specialized agencies and related organizations".

I would like to take this opportunity to inform you on the status of the Treaty and on the work of the Organization, which was established by the States Signatories with the task to prepare the entry into force of the Treaty. My report on the work of the CTBTO PrepCom in 1999 has been circulated by the Secretary General as a UN document.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty bans all nuclear test explosions, for military as well as for civilian purposes. Within the nuclear non-proliferation regime of the United Nations it has assumed a pivotal role. Whereas the NPT and its verification regime address the proliferation of weapons grade fissionable material, the CTBT and its global verification system focus on the prevention of explosive testing of nuclear devices. By putting an end to testing, the CTBT impedes the development of ever more sophisticated and qualitatively new nuclear weapons in any realistic way. The CTBT is expected to stop vertical as well as horizontal nuclear proliferation. Thus, the CTBT strengthens and enhances the process of nuclear disarmament.

Successful implementation of the Treaty depends on the effectiveness of its worldwide verification system, so that each State Signatory can be assured that also all other States Signatories will adhere to the Treaty, or, at least, that any violation will be detected.

The International Monitoring System (IMS), a network of 170 seismological, 60 infrasound, 11 hydroacoustic and 80 radionuclide stations – supported by 16 radionuclide laboratories – will be capable of registering vibrations underground, in the sea and in the air as well as detecting traces of radionuclides, released into the atmosphere by a nuclear explosion. The stations will transmit a stream of data generated by these four complementary technologies, in near real time, via a global satellite communications system to the International Data Centre in Vienna, where all the data will be processed. All data, raw or processed, from the monitoring facilities will be made available to the States Signatories for their final analysis. Ambiguous events will be subject to consultation and clarification. As a final verification measure, an on-site inspection (OSI) may be requested.

I would like to share with you what the Provisional Technical Secretariat has been doing to implement the CTBT and establish its global verification regime since we started work at the Vienna International Center on 17 March 1997 with a very small staff of nine.

After 42 months in existence, the PTS has become a fully-fledged international secretariat comprising 248 staff members from 70 countries. We are an International Organization with a very strong technical focus and the majority of our professional staff members are scientists.

Our International Monitoring System Division has been working very hard to lay the groundwork for the network of technical stations. To date, about 60% of the IMS site surveys are completed and ready for installation work and approximately 20% of the stations are installed and sending data to the International Data Center (IDC). We are also paying special attention to the certification of IMS stations. The PTS is building up the International Monitoring System according to a schedule of activities determined by the PrepCom.

Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Secretary to the CTBTO PrepCom, addressing the UNGA 55th SessionBy now, $57.5 million in capital investment have been budgeted for the IMS, including the cost for the site surveys necessary to select the most appropriate location for each station, the purchase of the equipment, installation, and final certification as an accredited IMS facility. This budget is representing about 40 per cent of the total capital investment required to complete the monitoring network.

Since February 2000, the International Data Center (IDC) has been sending IMS data and IDC products on a test basis to States Signatories who have submitted the information required to establish a secure signatory account for the State. Currently more than 40 States are able to access the data and products.

The core of our Global Communications Infrastructure was put in place in 1999 when global satellite coverage was established with the installation of four GCI hubs and a frame-relay infrastructure to link these hubs to the IDC in Vienna. This year, an additional hub was established. GCI satellite terminals (VSATs) have been installed at 37 IMS stations, National Data Centres and development sites.

In the area of On-site Inspections the elaboration of a draft (OSI) Operational Manual is a priority task for the Preparatory Commission and the PTS. Due to the sensitivities involved, the procedures established for the procurement of OSI equipment are rather complicated and often time consuming. However, steady progress has been made and the PTS has procured passive seismic equipment related to the Seismic Aftershock Monitoring System (SAMS) as well as the initial items of handheld low resolution radionuclide survey equipment for testing purposes.

Confidence-building measures, another element of the global verification regime, are of a voluntary nature. The Preparatory Commission agreed to establish a database on chemical explosions, for the purpose of creating the basic technical conditions for the implementation of confidence-building measures after the Treaty enters into force.

Our efforts are very much relying on the support and cooperation of our Member States. Considering payment of assessed contributions one of the most significant indicators for the commitment of Member States, the numbers are very encouraging with a collection rate of close to 92% for the year 2000 and around 96% for 1999. In a few weeks our PrepCom will decide on the budget for 2001. We have proposed a reasonable and realistic budget based on a costing process that is program driven, and which gives due consideration to Budget execution. The two areas in which there is overall growth are the International Monitoring System and Communications. I expect our Member States to accept these necessary increases.

At entry into force of the CTBT, this verification system has to be operational. Entry into force of the Treaty, as laid down in Art XIV, requires ratification by the 44 States specially listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty. Hence, the second important aspect of our work is promoting ratification by our States Signatories as well as the universality of the Treaty.

I am pleased to report that since its opening for signature and ratification on 24 September 1996, the Treaty has been signed by 160 countries. To date, 66 countries have also ratified the Treaty, and this includes 30 of the 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty whose ratification is needed for its entry into force.

Following up on the Article XIV Conference convened by the United Nations Secretary-General last year (Conference on Facilitating the Early Entry into Force of the CTBT, Vienna, 6-8 October 1999), members of the Preparatory Commission as well as the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) continue to make serious effort to sustain the momentum created by the Conference in regard to advancing the universality of the Treaty and promoting its early entry into force. To this end a wide range of outreach activities have been undertaken, in the form of coordinated and separate initiatives.

The commitment of the international community to bring the Treaty into effect was clearly reflected at the 2000 NPT Review Conference when that Conference affirmed support for the CTBT and welcomed the final declaration adopted at the Article XIV Conference. It is particularly significant that, inter alia, the NPT Review Conference agreed on the importance and urgency of signatures and ratifications, without delay and without conditions and in accordance with constitutional processes, to achieve early entry into force of the CTBT, as well as a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions pending its entry into force.

The recent Millennium Summit at the United Nations in New York provided an excellent opportunity for the promotion of the universality of the Treaty and its early entry into force. During the Summit, five States signed the Treaty and two deposited their instruments of ratification.

By all accounts, the story of the CTBT has been one of success: the international community’s support for the Treaty is overwhelming; its organisation has become effective; and even before entry into force, the verification regime has proved itself as a reliable instrument for member states. Early entry into force remains a strong political challenge. We encourage all States to take the necessary steps to ensure that the CTBT enters into force soon, so that all the components of the regime can be brought into effect to make our world a safer and more secure place for generations to come.