Message of Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

24 September 2016

Twenty years ago today, the world made a promise – a promise never again to subject anyone to the horrors of nuclear weapons and nuclear testing. By opening for signature the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the international community was answering the decades-old call by people from around the globe to put a stop once and for all to the devastation visited on communities and the environment, and to take a concrete step towards a world free of nuclear weapons.

Now, twenty years later, this promise remains unfulfilled, with the Treaty’s entry into force still pending.

Nevertheless, much has been achieved over these past two decades: The CTBT is one of the most adhered-to instruments in disarmament and non-proliferation. The Treaty has 183 States Signatories and 166 ratifying States, thanks to the ratifications of Myanmar and of Swaziland just earlier this week. I thank both countries for their determined efforts, and commend them for their commitment to a nuclear-test-free world.

The Treaty’s verification regime continues to demonstrate its unique and irreplaceable value.

On the other hand, this year also saw two further announced nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – the only country consistently to defy the global norm against nuclear testing this century. If each new nuclear test announced by the DPRK is met with a mere shrug of the shoulders, this sends a dangerous signal. It is my hope – and, I think, our shared aspiration – that the international community will make clear its resolve that the global norm against nuclear testing must be entrenched and followed by all nations.

This year is a milestone for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We have enjoyed twenty years with an almost complete cessation of nuclear testing, supported by a robust, shared, international system for detection and monitoring.

What we do not yet have is a Treaty that is legally in force. Let me be clear – while the CTBT can be described as a Treaty in operation, and every initiative to strengthen the Treaty is welcome, ultimately there is no alternative to entry into force.

Despite the challenges, I do see progress – and many reasons for optimism. Together, let us strengthen our resolve. Let’s not wait another twenty years. It is time to lock in the benefits of this Treaty and secure a nuclear test-free world once and for all. Let’s finish what we started.