UN Secretary-General: Proud of 15 Years of Successful Fight Against Nuclear Testing, Urge Entry Into Force of the CTBT

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“As a diplomat, I devoted a great deal of energy to disarmament and non-proliferation, including through the [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty] CTBT. As Secretary-General, I am even more committed to this cause – and to realizing our vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. Ending nuclear testing is essential to eradicating nuclear arms. That is why I am pushing hard for the CTBT to enter into force,” said United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in his address (video).

Referring to the eight countries that have yet to ratify the CTBT for it to become global law - China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Israel, Iran, Pakistan and the United States - Ban Ki-moon said: “There is no good reason to avoid signing or ratifying this Treaty. Any country opposed to signing or ratifying it is simply failing to meet its responsibilities as a member of the international community. It is irresponsible to see this Treaty still waiting to come into effect 15 years after it was opened for signature. I stand ready to visit those capitals suspicious about the reliability of the Treaty’s monitoring and inspection systems.”

The UN Secretary-General, the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, Austrian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Wolfgang Waldner, Mexican Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho and CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth, addressed the festivities marking the 15th anniversary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) at the Vienna International Centre in Vienna, Austria. The event was musically framed by a large choir from the American International School of Vienna and attended by the diplomatic community, NGOs, international media and staff of other Vienna-based organizations – over 500 participants in total. The event also marked the opening of the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs’ Vienna-base.

The UN Secretary-General also paid tribute to the victims of the over 2000 nuclear tests conducted worldwide: “Nuclear tests poison the environment – and they also poison the political climate. They breed mistrust, isolation and fear. So today I issue a challenge to all leaders of all countries that have not endorsed the CTBT: Visit the site of a nuclear test. Speak to the population exposed to the fallout. Then take action to prevent this from ever happening again.”

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt - click image for video

According to Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt (speech text / video), co-chair of the so-called Article XIV-process to advance the CTBT’s entry into force, the Treaty “has succeeded in creating a strong norm against nuclear testing, and a major barrier for nuclear weapons development. All 182 States Signatories have refrained from nuclear explosive testing. The international community has been firm and unanimous in its response to the three countries [India, Pakistan and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] that have remained outside and tested.”

Mexican Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho - click image for video

Mexican Ambassador Juan José Gómez Camacho, delivering a statement (video) by Mexican Foreign Minister Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, the other co-chair of the Article-XIV process, said: “Even if the CTBT has yet to enter into force, it is paramount that we all understand that its regime already constitutes a legal corpus to be observed by the international community.”

Austrian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Wolfgang Waldner - click image for video

Representing the host country, Austrian State Secretary for Foreign Affairs Wolfgang Waldner said (video) “We are proud that this important organization is headquartered in Vienna and that we can celebrate the Secretariat’s 15th anniversary. Austria will continue to work tirelessly with our partners to convince the remaining states whose ratification is required until the CTBT is finally brought into legal effect.”

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth - click image for video

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth echoed (video) this sentiment: “At age 15, we are proud of our achievements. The family of CTBT Member States has grown to 182, 157 of which have ratified. The network has grown, station by station. 285 facilities, more than 80% of the International Monitoring System, are up and running. An around the globe and around the clock system. A system of 1 billion dollars and 10,000 scientist years of investments."

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Background

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, in outer space, underwater and underground. 182 countries have signed the Treaty, of which 157 have also ratified it. An unprecedented global verification regime with over 300 sensors monitors the globe around the clock for nuclear explosions to detect any violations of the Treaty.

Pooling

Recordings from the press conference are available - click to see video.

Loosely-cut broadcast quality video and audio material of the event for download, as well as photos, speeches and transcripts of the press conference are provided in the CTBTO Newsroom.

Heads of Vienna based United Nations Organizations met 16 March 2012 at the CTBTO’s headquarters. The gathering was part of events to mark the CTBTO’s 15 year anniversary. Left to right: UNCITRAL Director, Renaud Sorieul; UNIS Director, Janos Tisovszky; Executive Director UNODC, Yuri Fedotov; CTBTO IDC Director, Lassina Zerbo; CTBTO Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth; OSCE Secretary General, Lamberto Zannier; UNOOSA Director, Mazlan Othman; UNODA Vienna Chief, Franz Kolar; Former CTBTO Executive Secretary, Wolfgang Hoffmann; CTBTO IMS Director Vorian Mayssael; and CTBTO OSI Director Oleg Rozhkov.