Page 1: 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.