World leaders reinforce the importance
of CTBT entry into force

“No nation, and no people, should ever again be faced with a burden such as ours. And there is really only one way to assure that – through full global acceptance and ratification of this Treaty.”

With these words, President Jurelang Zedkaia of the Marshall Islands describes the legacy of nuclear weapon testing on his country in Spectrum 14, the latest issue of the biannual publication of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). This theme is also touched on by Kanat Saudabayev, the Foreign Minister of Kazakhstan, whose country closed the Semipalatinsk nuclear test site – the second largest in the world – in August 1991.  Mr. Saudabayev summarizes the 13 years of cooperation between Kazakhstan and the CTBTO and his country’s strong support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), “one of the key instruments in the area of international security” and emphasizes the importance of “its speedy entry into force.”

Spectrum 14
also includes articles by the Foreign Minister of Australia, Stephen Smith, who states that “Australia will continue to promote the critical importance of the CTBT to our neighbours in the Asia Pacific region.” The Foreign Minister of Mexico, Patricia Espinosa Cantellano, reiterates her country’s strong commitment to a CTBT in force, and also calls upon all States to “promote the development and operation of the International Monitoring System.”

The U.S. chief negotiator of the CTBT, Ambassador Stephen Ledogar, expands on a number of key issues from the Treaty’s negotiations, which continue to be relevant for today’s debate. He reminds readers that “the CTBT, as its name suggests, imposes a comprehensive ban on all nuclear explosions, of any size, in any place” and  that all the five  nuclear weapon States, “did commit themselves to the Treaty text.”  With regard to the CTBT verification regime, he explains that, as “the build-up of the Treaty’s International Monitoring System approaches completion, it certainly becomes very hard to evade detection by carrying out a clandestine nuclear test.”

Looking to the future, Ambassador Ledogar concludes that,  with the CTBT now firmly back on the U.S. political agenda, the implications of ratification are greater than ever and “will act as a catalyst for remaining Annex 2 States such as China and Indonesia to ratify as well as providing the United States with greater leverage over countries of concern.” On the verification side, Spectrum 14 covers a number of themes ranging from the use of hydroacoustic data for monitoring large whales, to ways that developing countries benefit from the CTBTO’s capacity building activities, to different machine learning concepts, and the main lessons learned from the Integrated Field Exercise 2008, the largest ever on-site inspection exercise carried out by the CTBTO in Kazakhstan in September 2008.

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