Interview with Ambassador Toshiro OZAWA, Permanent Representative of Japan to the International Organizations in Vienna

Ambassador Ozawa is the Chairman of the Preparatory Commission, CTBTO’s main policy-making body in 2014.

What are your aspirations for your term as the Chairman of the CTBTO PrepCom?
I would like to enhance more dialogue, both formal and informal, between the States Signatories and the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) of the CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization) and thus, to raise more awareness about the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Seventeen years after the opening for signature and ratification, we need to be vigilant against skepticism and indifference about the entry-into-force of the Treaty. We must do better in showing to the world that the CTBTO is doing an excellent job of steadily building up the International Monitoring System. The Integrated Field Exercise in Jordan in November this year will be a milestone for the organization’s capability to conduct on-site inspections under realistic and challenging conditions.

Ambassador Ozawa is the Chairman of the Preparatory Commission, CTBTO’s main policy-making body in 2014.

What do you think are the most important issues facing the CTBTO at present? There are two. The first is to continue building up the verification regime, at a time when many States Signatories are implementing austerity budgets. The second is to make progress towards the entry-into-force of the Treaty and its universalization. The fact that the CTBT is an important cornerstone of the international disarmament and non-proliferation regime needs to be appreciated by all the citizens of the world.

Can you tell us your view on the present and future importance of the CTBTO`s verification data and its civil and scientific applications? The nuclear test conducted by North Korea on February 12th 2013 proved the effectiveness of the verification regime. After Executive Secretary Dr. Zerbo’s visit to China in August last year, China decided to transmit data real time from its monitoring stations to the International Data Centre in Vienna. This is a most welcome development, and I think there are opportunities for similar developments in the Middle East. The possibilities for civil and scientific applications of CTBTO data are attracting more interest worldwide. This can also be an incentive for countries to sign and ratify the Treaty, and in this regard, more work is necessary to provide training for scientists in the developing countries.

How can the entry into force of the CTBT be achieved in your opinion? Eight of the 44 Annex 2 States have yet to ratify the Treaty, and they are China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States (U.S.). There seems to be an “after you syndrome” amongst these countries. Recently, the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has said that the case for CTBT ratification is stronger than ever. We remember that the U.S. was the first to sign the Treaty, so the U.S. leadership would be highly appreciated. I am hoping that a breakthrough in the negotiations with Iran on its nuclear capabilities may lead to a decision by Iran to ratify the CTBT. We should not rule out initiatives coming from other parts of the world either, and should discourage the thinking of “after you”. The most difficult Annex 2 country at the moment would be North Korea.

Could you please expand on Japan`s efforts to support the CTBTO and to promote the universalization of the CTBT? For obvious reasons, Japan is a strong supporter of disarmament and non-proliferation. In addition to being the second largest contributor to the CTBTO budget, Japan has been making a number of voluntary contributions to enhance the verification regime, such as the contribution to upgrade the ATM (atmospheric transport modelling) system. Recently, Japan made another voluntary contribution of 455,000 USD to further improve the verification regime and also to support the GEM (Group of Eminent Persons). Japan takes up every suitable opportunity in its bilateral contacts with states that have not signed or ratified the Treaty to encourage their signing and ratification. Japan conducts bilateral consultations on disarmament and non-proliferation with many countries. Recently, when Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida visited Iran, the CTBT was an important item on his agenda. This year, Japan will again co-host the Friends of CTBT Meeting of Foreign Ministers in New York at the time of the General Assembly.