CTBT Member States stand as one
for entry into force of the Treaty
Strong political momentum for the CTBT's entry into force
“This arrangement is around the corner…we are now turning that corner.” These words of Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth reflect the atmosphere of optimism at the meeting of Member States of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) that ended on 18 November 2008.
The Thirty-First Session of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the decision-making organ of the Organization’s 180 Member States, concluded in half of the time foreseen, after only two days. “In spite of the considerable difficulties for the Treaty in the past 10 years,” Tóth added, “countries behind this Treaty have shown an amazing resilience… they are pursuing this goal single-mindedly”.
The CTBT bans any kind of nuclear explosions anywhere on the planet. It can enter into force only after all 44 States listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty have ratified, of which nine have yet to do so: China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.
Tóth expressed his confidence that these nine States will also ratify the CTBT: “This figure once stood at 44. One day it will not stand at all.” At the same time, he called upon CTBT Member States to redouble their efforts to that effect: “Achieving entry into force of this Treaty is a global responsibility. It is an objective we all must pursue.”
Support by U.S. President-elect Obama “extremely crucial”
The Chairman of the Preparatory Commission, Ambassador Hans Lundborg, Permanent Representative of Sweden to the international organizations in Vienna, described the meeting as “a big success… it demonstrated very clearly that we have a big political momentum for the CTBT.” He pointed to the clear support for the Treaty by U.S. President-elect Barack Obama, who has pledged to pursue the CTBT’s ratification by the United States as well as by other Annex 2 States such as India and Pakistan. Lundborg concluded: “This message is extremely crucial to us. Hopefully, within a couple of years, we can have the Treaty enter into force.”
Member States also welcomed the signing of the CTBT by Iraq and Timor-Leste as well as the ratifications by Burundi and Mozambique since the last session of the Preparatory Commission in June 2008, increasing the number of Treaty signatures and ratifications to 180 and 146 respectively.
All five Nuclear Weapon States now transmitting data for the verification regime
Tóth highlighted another positive development for the Organization, the fact than all five Nuclear Weapon States (China, France, Russia, the United Kingdom and the United States) are now regularly transmitting data to the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna. With almost 250 stations, or 75%, of the International Monitoring System (IMS) installed, the Treaty’s verification regime has reached a level of maturity at which clandestine nuclear tests can be confidently detected anywhere on the planet.
Other important milestones for the verification regime were the first full-fledged on-site inspection (OSI) exercise, the Integrated Field Exercise (IFE08) in Kazakhstan in September 2008 and the complete modernization of the Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI), which was completed in August 2008.
Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth reappointed
Tóth was reappointed for a second term as Executive Secretary of the CTBTO from 2009 to 2013 by a unanimous decision of the CTBT’s Member States, who congratulated him for his successful efforts to date and welcomed the renewal of his appointment.
Highlights for 2009
The most important event for promoting the Treaty in 2009 will be the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT (so-called Article XIV Conference) in New York in September.
By then, the International Scientific Studies (ISS) project will have concluded its independent assessment of the readiness of the verification regime, which will be presented at a conference in Vienna in June 2009.
Additional tsunami warning arrangements
On the civil and scientific applications of the IMS data, Tóth pointed out the tsunami warning arrangements recently finalized with countries in the Indian and Pacific Oceans (Japan, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia and the United States), and announced that several others are under preparation.
2009 Budget: below zero real growth
The Commission agreed that the budget of the CTBTO for 2009 will be $113.6m, which is slightly less than zero real growth. Ambassador Lundborg stressed the importance that countries meet their financial obligations on time and in full for the CTBTO to carry out its mandate effectively.