Conference to rally support
for CTBT's entry into force
28 July 2009
A conference to promote the entry into force of a treaty banning all nuclear explosions on Earth will take place on 24 and 25 September 2009 in New York, United States. For the sixth time, the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) will bring together representatives of ratifying States, States Signatories, and States that have not yet signed or ratified the Treaty. They will examine how hold-out States can be brought in to sign and ratify the Treaty for it to come into effect.
Focus on Annex 2 States
Particular attention is being paid to so-called Annex 2 States whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. These States participated in the negotiations of the Treaty in 1996 and possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time. 35 out of the 44 Annex 2 States have ratified the Treaty, including three of the nuclear weapon States: France, Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. The nine remaining States are: China, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. The DPRK, India and Pakistan still have to sign the Treaty.
Overall, the Treaty is close to universality with a total of 181 signatures and 148 ratifications.
Obama to pursue U.S. ratification of CTBT
This year’s conference takes place at a time of increasing international political momentum in support for the CTBT and its entry into force. Particularly positive signs come from the United States. In his speech on 5 April 2009 in Prague, Czech Republic, U.S. President Barrack Obama made a strong and encouraging statement saying that his “administration will immediately and aggressively pursue U.S. ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.” Obama’s pronouncement was illustrated shortly afterwards by the designation of U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden as Obama’s representative to lead efforts towards U.S. ratification of the CTBT. High-level representation is expected for the first U.S. participation in the conference since 1999.
CTBTO detects second North Korean nuclear test
Only four months prior to the conference, the CTBT verification regime that is being established by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was put to the test by the second announcement of a nuclear explosion by the DPRK on 25 May 2009. Significant improvements over the last few years enabled the CTBTO to detect the event promptly and reliably.
Scientists assess detection ability
The International Scientific Studies (ISS) Conference in June 2009 in Vienna, Austria, was another important milestone for the CTBTO. The conference was the culmination of a year-long series of independent assessments and studies of the CTBT’s verification regime’s ability to detect nuclear explosions anywhere on the planet. Around 500 scientists from roughly 80 countries came together and shared their ideas and findings.
“Article XIV Conference”
The conference is often referred to as the “Article XIV Conference” quoting the entry into force article in the CTBT. It states that a conference to promote the Treaty may be held after three years if the Treaty has not yet entered into force at the time. The first conference was held in 1999 in Vienna, Austria. Subsequent conferences were held in 2001, 2003, 2005 and 2007 alternately in New York and Vienna. As with previous conferences, invitations will also be extended to specialized agencies, inter-governmental and non-governmental organizations to attend the conference as observers.
Please visit the CTBTO 2009 AFC website for regular information updates on this year’s conference.