1996: CTBT: A long-sought success

The "end game"

The Depositary of the CTBT, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali formally opened the Treaty for signature on 24 September 1996.

The rules of procedure in the Conference on Disarmament (CD) require that the Conference shall conduct its work and adopt its decisions by consensus. Therefore, any objection by a Member State could prevent the Treaty from leaving the Ad Hoc Nuclear Test Ban (NTB) Committee, as well as blocking the Treaty's inclusion in the CD report to the United Nations General Assembly. By mid August 1996, India had made it clear that, because of its previously stated objections to the draft Treaty, the NTB Committee would be unable to include the text of the Treaty in its report to the CD for consideration and adoption. However, Ambassador Ramaker did include in the report several assurances and clarifications on the more contentious issues that arose during the negotiations.

In an attempt to assuage India fears that the Treaty would impinge on national sovereignty, Ambassador Ramaker made it clear that measures to hasten the ratification process would not include UN Security Council sanctions. Ambassador Ramaker also addressed concerns held by some States (i.e., India, Pakistan and China) that national technical means of verification would be abused for intelligence gathering by clarifying the limitations of the on-site inspection procedures.

The General Assembly voted 158 in favor of the Treaty on 10 September 1996, with three countries against five abstentions.
The Treaty was negotiated in the Conference on Disarmament located in the Palais des Nations, Geneva.

The report also included summaries of 18 position statements concerning the final draft of the CTBT. Australia submitted a mostly favourable statement on behalf of 39 States, including China, France, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Russian Federation, Israel, many European States and four of the Group of 21 States.

Algeria, Brazil, Cuba, Egypt, Mexico, Pakistan and other Group of 21 States expressed their concerns, but were not opposed to the Treaty. Nonetheless, Iran and India did express their opposition, which rendered the CD unable to transmit the report, even without the text of the Treaty, to the United Nation's General Assembly.

The "end game" cont.

Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation, Yevgeny Primakov, signing the CTBT on 24 September 1996.
S President Bill Clinton's signature on the CTBT on 24 September 1996.

This marked the first time in history that the CD failed to adopt a Treaty text that it had been mandated to negotiate. Delegations who supported the Treaty and were unwilling to watch countless hours of intense negotiations amount to nothing sought means with which to save the Treaty from indefinite delay.

On 22 August 1996, Belgium submitted the final CTBT Text to the CD as a national paper. Therefore, the Treaty became an official CD document. This allowed the CD to forward the Treaty to the United Nations General Assembly.

Australia, along with 127 co-sponsors, introduced a resolution containing the Treaty text to the General Assembly on 9 September. The General Assembly voted 158 in favour of the Treaty on 10 September 1996, with three countries against (Bhutan, India and the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya) and five abstentions (Cuba, Mauritius, the Syrian Arab Republic, Lebanon and the United Republic of Tanzania).

The CTBT was opened for signature on 24 September 1996 and signed that same day by 71 States, including all five Nuclear Weapon States, China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Depositary of the Treaty, United Nations Secretary-General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, formally opened the Treaty for signature on 24 September 1996. Following the United States, the other four nuclear weapon states, China, France, the United Kingdom and the Russian Federation all signed the Treaty that day in New York. By the end of the day, another 66 States had signed the Treaty and taken the first steps towards making the commitment never to conduct nuclear tests of any kind anywhere on Earth.

Thus, in September 1996, the CTBT began its long journey towards becoming a globe spanning, legally binding Treaty.

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