Tenth Conference to advance CTBT Entry Into Force held at the United Nations

Tenth Conference to advance CTBT Entry Into Force held at the United Nations

New York, 20 September 2017

The tenth Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) held on 20 September, took place on the margins of the opening of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at which Heads of State and Government convene in New York. The conference also took place less than three weeks after the sixth nuclear test conducted on 3 September 2017 by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

The CTBT contains a special mechanism to promote its entry into force – a conference designed to facilitate this objective which takes place every other year. While its official designation is the Conference on Facilitating Entry into Force of the CTBT, it is more commonly known as the “Article XIV conference” in accordance with the relevant Treaty article.

A CTBT that is in force would be a milestone on the road to a world free of nuclear weapons. It has the potential to prevent a nuclear arms race and an escalation of regional and bilateral tensions. UN Secretary-General António Guterres

Speaking at the conference, co-chairs Foreign Minister of Belgium Didier Reynders and Foreign Minister of Iraq Ibrahim Al-Jafari thanked the outgoing co-coorindators of the process, Japan and Kazakhstan, for their efforts and initiatives to advance the CTBT’s entry into force. Reynders stressed that the status quo is not acceptable. Given the current security context and North Korea’s nuclear tests, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has only gained more importance.

The foreign ministers of Japan and Kazakhstan, Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Foreign Minister Kairat Abdrakhmanov, the co-coordinators of the 2015-2017 Article XIV process, presented their remarks at the opening of the conference before passing the Presidency to the new co-coordinators of the 2017-2019 Article XIV process, Belgium and Iraq. Japan and Kazakhstan submitted a progress report of the co-presidency of the Article XIV process from September 2015 to September 2017 to the conference, in which they reaffirmed “their commitment and readiness to work closely with the incoming co-presidents, as well as with other countries to further advocate the noble cause of a comprehensive and global test ban on a nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion”.

Make no mistake: we need this Treaty.Miroslav Lajcák, President of the UN General Assembly

Ahead of the conference, Didier Reynders, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, Ibrahim Al-Jafari, Foreign Minister of Iraq and Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, co-authored a joint op-ed stressing the need and urgency of prohibiting nuclear testing. In it they stressed that “by addressing the unfinished business of the CTBT, the international community would demonstrate beyond a doubt that effective, multilaterally verifiable nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament measures are indeed possible.” Furthermore, they noted that “as a confidence building measure it could unite countries in unwrapping other difficult security issues, including the crisis on the Korean peninsula”.

“The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation responded immediately and effectively to the nuclear tests conducted by the DPRK in 2016 and 2017: it demonstrated the verification regime's ability to provide independent and reliable data. These data play an important role in deterring non-compliance with the Treaty and developing appropriate responses. This is an important contribution to regional and international stability: it helps strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and is essential for verifiable nuclear disarmament. The CTBTO has provided the world with a truly global, hi-tech monitoring system for nuclear explosions – something that no single country alone would be able to do. Nonetheless, the absence of the CTBT’s entry into force prevents the use of on-site inspections, an important verification tool.”EU High Representative Federica Mogherini

The tenth Article XIV conference was held at United Nations headquarters in New York on 20 September and was attended by a large number of Foreign Ministers from ratifying states, as well as Members of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), including EU High Representative Federica Mogherini, former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane, and CTBTO Executive Secretary Emeritus Wolfgang Hoffmann. Speaking at the opening of the Conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated that “A CTBT that is in force would be a milestone on the road to a world free of nuclear weapons. It has the potential to prevent a nuclear arms race and an escalation of regional and bilateral tensions”. He furthermore added: “I applaud the CTBT Preparatory Commission for raising awareness about the dangers associated with testing and for its partnership with the United Nations.”

While in New York, Zerbo met with a large number of high-level representatives and conducted a Press Briefing at the UNGA on the sixth nuclear test by the DPRK.

Above all, given the present situation, it would diffuse tensions in ‘nuclear hotspots’ such as the Korean Peninsula. The world needs to calmly and resolutely find a means of de-escalating that crisis. A testing moratorium – at the very least – should be part of that solution.CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo