Austrian parliamentary delegation expresses interest in advancing the CTBT issue

Former Minister of Health Maria Rauch-Kallat (far left), Speaker of the Austrian Parliament Barbara Prammer and CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth (far right)

On 27 March, Barbara Prammer, Speaker of the Austrian Parliament, visited the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). She headed a delegation of Austrian parliamentarians that included Andreas Schieder, chair of the Foreign Relations Committee, and Maria Rauch-Kallat, former Minister of Health.

The visit took place in preparation for the Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) - the largest international network of parliamentarians - that will take place in Cape Town, South Africa, in April. The parliamentary delegation visiting the CTBTO will participate in this IPU Assembly.

The IPU has discussed the CTBT and test-ban related issues in the past and has expressed an interest in continuing to do so. The CTBTO has observer status at the IPU. At the forthcoming Assembly in South Africa, CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth will make a presentation on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its unique verification regime that is being built to detect any nuclear explosion conducted on Earth.

Prammer and her fellow parliamentarians visited the CTBTO in order to acquire broader knowledge about the CTBT and its verification regime. They expressed interest in seeing what they could do to advance the CTBT issue in view of the upcoming IPU Assembly, and the role that parliamentarians from all over the world could play in promoting the Treaty, its entry into force, and the continuous build-up of its verification regime.

On the margins of the Assembly in South Africa, Prammer will take part in a special meeting of Female Parliamentary Speakers.. Several of her counterparts in this meeting represent countries that have yet to sign or ratify the CTBT.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tóth emphasized the crucial role of a legally binding ban on nuclear testing at a time when the world is witnessing a resurgence of interest in nuclear energy, and increased production of fissile materials. In such a world, the decision between nuclear energy for peaceful, or for weapons, purposes will become more a political and legal one rather than an issue of technology and know-how. Thus, it is of utmost significance to put in place the last and clearly visible legal barrier between permitted and prohibited nuclear activities, namely the CTBT.

Tóth underlined the constructive and progressive role that Austria plays on multilateral nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues, in particular the CTBT. He was looking forward to continuing his discussion with the Austrian parliamentary delegation on the margins of the IPU Assembly in Cape Town, South Africa, in April.