160+ States Meet Sept. 23 on CTBT Entry Into Force

Fifteen years after the CTBT was opened for signature, more than 160 senior government representatives gathered and 53 spoke at UN Headquarters to highlight the value of the Treaty and call upon the remaining 9 CTBT "hold out" states to sign and/or ratify to facilitate formal entry into force. The gathering is the seventh such Article XIV Conference on Facilitating Entry Into Force, which has been held every other year since 1999.

The final conference declaration “urge[s] all remaining States … to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay” and endorses bilateral, regional, and multilateral initiatives to achieve the treaty’s “earliest entry into force.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon probably summed up the spirit and substance of the meeting best. He noted the growing calls—at the international political level and from the many victims and survivors of nuclear testing—for bringing the treaty into force.

“My message is clear: Do not wait for others move first. Take the initiative. Lead. The time for waiting has passed,” he stated.

“We must make the most of existing—and potentially short-lived—opportunities,” Ban said.

Ban made a bid for an appearance on The Tonight Show, joking that he is uniquely qualified to make the case for the treaty.
“My name is spelled Ban,” he said. “Therefore my name has a very clear, firm determination - nuclear test ban. I will ban this nuclear test.”

Representatives of several of 9 states on the Annex 2 list of states that must ratify before formal Treaty entry into force attended and spoke. Some, notably India, Iran, Pakistan, and North Korea, did not.

China once again said it would continue to promote ratification of the CTBT by national legislature but provided no timeframe.

Egypt used its time to complain about the lack of progress toward a WMD free zone in the Middle East but failed to indicate when it will consider ratification of the CTBT, which would help advance the cause of such a zone.

Israel's Deputy Foreign Minister reiterated his government's "unequivocal support for the CTBT" and called for completion of the international monitoring network, preparations for on-site inspections, and said Israel's ratification would depend on the actions of other states in the region.

Undersecretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Ellen Tauscher reiterated the United States' support for the CTBT. She said "we intend to see it enter into force, but we cannot do it alone. As we move forward with out process, we call on all governments to declare or reaffirm their commitment not to test." Her full statement is online here.

Today, the State Department also released a new Fact Sheet on the "National Security Benefits of the CTBT."

The conference ended with a powerful statement by Togzhan Kassenova from the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on behalf of 36 non-governmental organizations from around the world. “Actions speak louder than words,” Kassenova said. She particularly addressed the United States  and China as well as other Annex 2 States.

“While U.S. action on the Treaty is essential, other Annex 2 States must provide leadership rather than simply remain on the sidelines on the CTBT."

The NGO statement noted that "... Iranian ratification would help reduce concerns that its nuclear program could be used to develop and deploy deliverable nuclear warheads. Continued failure by Iran to ratify the CTBT raises further questions about the nature of its sensitive nuclear activities, which remain under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency."

"We strongly urge the states involved in the Non-Aligned Movement to play leadership role in pressing Iran, the incoming chair of the NAM, to ratify the CTBT," the NGO statement said.

For more information on the conference including the final document, national statements, and more, click here.