Executive Secretary Tibor Toth: Hoping for a domino effect

Executive Secretary Tibor Toth: Hoping for a domino effect

(DER STANDARD)

unofficial translation from German (PDF)

Tibor Tóth, head of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), in an interview with STANDARD: With Obama’s election as president, ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty moves closer.

With Barack Obama’s election as U.S. president, Tibor Tóth believes that ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is moving closer. Julia Raabe spoke with the head of the CTBTO in Vienna.


STANDARD:
What is the significance of Barack Obama’s election for the future of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)?

Tóth: Of course it’s very important that Obama supports the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. During his electoral campaign we heard that he intends to promote the CTBT’s ratification process. Of course it’s a matter for the Senate. At the same time, Obama announced his intention to work together with the governments of India and Pakistan to ensure that the Treaty can enter into force. Nine ratifications are still outstanding.

Just because the USA is moving does not mean that other countries should wait. To give an example: we have received very positive signs from Indonesia. China should not necessarily wait, nor should others. But it’s a catalyst. It’s very important.

STANDARD: Could you be more concrete, which ‘positive signs’?

Tóth: There were two meetings with high-ranking officials in Indonesia last year. The common message was that they are working on the matter. I am therefore very optimistic. I am hoping for a domino effect – that with the ratification by USA, the other dominos will start falling.

STANDARD: When do you expect the USA to ratify?
 
Tóth: I think it could take place in 2010.

STANDARD: How could Barack Obama induce the unofficial nuclear powers, India and Pakistan, to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty?

Tóth: The only country that can convince India is India. The only country that can convince Pakistan is Pakistan. They have to understand why the Treaty is important for them from their own national security perspectives. Think of the recent terrorist attacks that took place both on Indian as well as Pakistani territory.

It’s a reminder that nuclear weapons constitute a danger. The increase in fissile material, the growing number of institutions handling it and of people involved create additional challenges when it comes to terrorism.

STANDARD: Iran has not yet ratified either.

Tóth: Through the CTBT, Iran could easily show that it is not willing to keep the military option open. There is an easy way: ratify the Treaty. This would be the easiest way for all countries that have yet to ratify to show that they will stay on the right side.

STANDARD: When could the Treaty enter into force?

Tóth: The Treaty is within reach. We need political leadership. This leadership is forthcoming from the United States and is underpinned by ideas of how to advance the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. This has resulted in definite momentum.

What I can say is that it will not be a matter of months. Arms control and disarmament continue to be matters that require more than just a few months.