CTBT remains the rallying point -
CTBTO Executive Secretary
Tibor Toth tells the United
Nations General Assembly

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT) remains the rallying point for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, The UN General Assembly (GA) has been told by Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Addressing the 65th session of the General Assembly 13 December in New York he said the international community’s belief in “this unique political and scientific arrangement is overwhelming.  What lies behind this political determination is a vision to bring an end to nuclear weapons.” The meeting of the General Assembly adopted without vote a resolution on cooperation between the UN and the CTBTO. Tóth said cooperation between the two bodies reinforces the cooperative security structures that promote international peace and security. And with 182 member states, two more than last year, that have “rallied around the CTBT” membership is almost universal. The Treaty has been ratified by 153 countries and requires the ratification by nine more Annex 2 countries, nuclear technology holders, to enter into force.

Tóth said cooperation between the two bodies reinforces the cooperative security structures that promote international peace and security.

Commitment and very hard work

In his annual report to the General Assembly Tóth said “through commitment and very hard work” the CTBTO is within sight of the fulfillment of its mandate to have in place a verification regime capable of meeting the requirements of the Treaty. In ten years the number of certified International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities had increased from zero to 262. When the system is complete it will consist of 327 seismic, hydro acoustic, infrasound and radionuclide facilities. He said that over 90 per cent of the facilities foreseen by the Treaty to be hosted by the United States have already been built and certified and in Russia the target is 70 per cent complete. “Political will of the international community is evident.  Multilateralism has not withered away,” he said. In a world of increasing complexity multilateral and pluri-lateral action “is perhaps the only way forward.” He said that by ratifying the CTBT countries state unequivocally that the Treaty is fundamental to their own national security interests. “The ratification of the CTBT by Egypt, Iran and Israel, all of which are Annex 2 states can have wide ranging implications for security in a sub-regional and regional context.”

A firm legal barrier against nuclear testing

As well as providing a firm legal barrier against nuclear testing the CTBT also “ensures that the peaceful uses of nuclear energy are indeed peaceful,” said Tóth. A CTBTO in force would also be an incentive for ending the production of fissile material for weapons use pending negotiations and entry into force of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty. “The CTBT is clearly of great significance for the global disarmament and nonproliferation regime. It has a key role to play in today’s security environment. More than two thousand tests were conducted prior to the Treaty’s conclusion in 1996. Every test eroded global security, and widened the gap in political trust. In the last decade, there have only been two nuclear test explosions. The difference is clear. But it is high time for concrete action. The entry into force of the Treaty may be the single defining factor for the nuclear nonproliferation regime in the next 30 years,” Tóth said. Read the full statement by the ES here . Watch segments of the statement by the ES here.

UNGA adopts Resolution on Cooperation between the UN and CTBTO

The GA Plenary in its 13 December session adopted without vote a resolution on cooperation between the UN and the CTBTO. The resolution was adopted along with nine others regarding cooperation between the UN and other regional organizations and treaty bodies. It followed a similar resolution adopted by vote in 2008 with one country, the United States, voting against it. Johan Paschalis of South Africa who introduced the resolution on cooperation between the UN and the CTBTO, co-sponsored by more than 40 countries, stressed that all efforts must be made to bring CTBT into force “without delay and without conditions.”  Moratoria on nuclear testing, though welcome, cannot replace the legally binding commitments set out in the CTBT, he said. Read the UN Press Release here.

UNGA to decide on First Committee’s Draft Resolutions

In the following days the UN General Assembly will also decide on the 64 Draft Resolutions submitted this year to it by its First Committee, the committee that deals with disarmament and related international security questions. Among them is Draft Resolution A/C.1/65/L.48- “Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.” New Zealand submitted the text on 26 October and 80 countries co-sponsored it. The First Committee approved the draft text with 161 votes in favour. One country, the DPRK, voted against, while three, India, Mauritius, the Syrian Arab Republic, abstained,  reflecting the same voting pattern as last year. However, in 2010 no country required a vote on operative paragraph 5, that refer to UN Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874 adopted in response to the two nuclear tests by North Korea. Moreover, the CTBT is referenced in four other resolutions concerned with setting a general framework for the entire process towards nuclear disarmament of which the nuclear test ban and the CTBT in particular continue to be viewed by states as indispensible elements. Another important development is the inclusion of a direct mention of the importance of the CTBT’s early entry into force, in operative paragraph 6 of the Draft Resolution on bilateral reductions of strategic arms introduced this year for the very first time jointly by the Russian Federation and the United States. The continuous support that the CTBT receives from the UN General Assembly, a universal political body in which all countries participate, is essential to the fulfillment of the role and mandate of the CTBTO. “The CTBT is a joint international venture of its stakeholders. It’s an all inclusive multilateral and democratic legally binding framework.” Tóth said, 13 October in his annual address to the First Committee “The good will and momentum generated over the past two years needs to be met with equally good action by the member states; the stakeholders and owners of this process.” Read the full statement by the ES to the First Committee here .