2000 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons

Statement by Executive Secretary on 25 April 2000


Mr. Chairman,

The fact alone that you afford the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization the opportunity to address this Conference sheds rays of success on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and its Review Process. While many positive factors can be attributed to the final success of the lengthy and often arduous CTBT negotiations, references in the NPT as well as mandates clearly expressed by Conferences of its States parties can be considered pivotal for the successful conclusion of the CTBT.

The 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the Parties to the Non-Proliferation Treaty gave the necessary strong impetus to the negotiations on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Decision 2 of the Conference on the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament listed as the first measure towards the implementation of article VI of the Non-Proliferation Treaty "the completion by the Conference on Disarmament of the negotiations on a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty no later than 1996."

With the endorsement of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty by the General Assembly of the United Nations, in September 1996, the deadline set forth by the 1995 Review and Extension Conference was met. The successful end of one of the longest treaty negotiations in the history of arms control and disarmament was widely acclaimed and The New Yorker even commented at that time that "The signing [of the CTBT] has a fair claim to be the most momentous event ever to have taken place under the U.N.’s roof".

After some 2000 nuclear test explosions conducted since the beginning of the nuclear age, the CTBT inspired strong hopes that the deadly spiral of developing ever more efficient and deadly nuclear devices had been brought to an end, once and forever.

Article I of the CTBT on Basic Obligations is unequivocal in its scope and foresees no compromises. It reads as follows:

"Each State Party undertakes not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion, and to prohibit and prevent any such nuclear explosion at any place under its jurisdiction or control.

Each State Party undertakes, furthermore, to refrain from causing, encouraging, or in any way participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion."

By putting an end to testing, in any realistic way, the functioning of nuclear weapons, the CTBT impedes the development of ever more sophisticated and qualitatively new nuclear weapons. Thus the CTBT is expected to stop vertical and impede horizontal nuclear proliferation. In addition, the CTBT gives an impetus to further implementation of the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, which were adopted at the NPT Review and Extension Conference in 1995.

While complementing the NPT, the CTBT is widely considered to go beyond the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: the scope of the CTBT is not limited to the aspect of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, but it contains, at the same time, specific arms control elements. While contributing essentially to the prevention of the proliferation of nuclear weapons, it might also strengthen and enhance the process of nuclear disarmament.

Background paper NPT/CONF.2000/2, prepared by the United Nations Secretariat for this Review Conference, offers comprehensive information on the CTBT and its global verification system. It also refers to the Preparatory Commission, established on 19 November 1996 for the purpose of carrying out the necessary preparations for the effective implementation of the CTBTO and preparing for the first session of the Conference of States Parties to the Treaty. This background paper was coordinated with our Provisional Technical Secretariat, we were happy to contribute to its preparation and we agree with its content. I will therefore not repeat all the information contained therein.

Instead, I would like to look at the question what would make the CTBT a successful treaty and how far the Preparatory Commission has come in achieving its goals.

Regarding the successful implementation of the CTBT, there are two aspects, which I would consider to be of primary importance:

  1. That the CTBT becomes a global Treaty, i.e. that as many countries as possible sign and ratify the CTBT;
  2. That complete implementation of the Treaty is guaranteed by a worldwide verification system; i.e. that each State Signatory can be assured that the CTBT will be adhered to, or, at least, that any violation will be detected.

Regarding membership of the Treaty, I can inform you that, with presently 155 States Signatories, it is approaching the status of a universal Treaty. According to Article XIV of the CTBT, ratification by 44 States Signatories, listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty, is required for its entry into force. Twenty-eight of these 44 States Signatories have ratified the Treaty so far, including two nuclear-weapon States, France and the United Kingdom. They are among the total of 55 States that have ratified. Two other States Signatories, who are among the 44, have completed the parliamentary stage for ratification: Chile and the Russian Federation. The speed of the overall ratification process has been comparable to that of other Treaties, like that of the Chemical Weapons Convention. But the CTBT’s entry-into-force clause is very specific and much remains to be achieved to secure success.

Membership and ratification was also in the focus of the first Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT, held last October in Vienna. Its purpose was to consider and decide by consensus what measures consistent with international law could be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process in order to facilitate the early entry into force of the Treaty. The importance of the CTBT was reaffirmed and one of the observations put forward was that unilateral self-imposed moratoria on testing could not replace a legally binding commitment through an international instrument such as the CTBT.

The key for the viability of the Treaty is its global verification system. It comprises an International Monitoring System; consultation and clarification; on-site inspections; and confidence-building measures – to ensure the reliable detection and identification of any ambiguous event, and to provide a credible deterrent to clandestine nuclear testing. The CTBT is thus not only the expression of an intention of each State party not to carry out any nuclear explosion. It is, at the same time, also a commitment by each State Signatory to ensure the Treaty’s viability by establishing a regime to monitor adherence and to detect violations.

The Treaty provides that the global verification regime shall be capable of meeting its verification requirements at entry into force. Therefore one of the main tasks of the Preparatory Commission is to build up the worldwide network of stations that comprise the International Monitoring System (IMS). This cost-effective network of 170 seismological, 60 infrasound, 11 hydroacoustic and 80 radionuclide stations – supported by 16 radionuclide laboratories – will be capable of registering vibrations underground, in the sea and in the air as well as detecting traces of radionuclides released into the atmosphere by a nuclear explosion. The stations will transmit a steady stream of data generated by these four complementary technologies, in near real time, via a global satellite communications system to the International Data Centre, at the seat of the Preparatory Commission in Vienna, where all the data will be processed. All data, raw or processed, from the monitoring facilities will be made available to the States Signatories. There are provisions on consultation and clarification for dealing with ambiguous events. As a final verification measure, an on-site inspection may be requested.

We are building up the International Monitoring System according to a schedule determined by our annual programme and budget. From the start of our operations in 1997 up to and including the 2000 budget year, the amount of money budgeted for capital investment in establishing or upgrading monitoring stations is US$ 92.1 million. This sum represents about 43 per cent of the total capital investment required to complete the entire monitoring network.

In parallel, we have also readied the International Data Centre, the nerve centre of the verification regime, for the first analysis of data, transmitted from the IMS stations via the Global Communications Infrastructure. With the installation of the second of four releases of application software, in 1999, the IDC is capable of distributing IMS data and IDC bulletins and additional information to States Signatories seven days a week, assisting them in verifying Treaty compliance.

The work of the PTS has been guided by decisions of the Preparatory Commissions, upon preparation by the two Working Groups. Without burdening you with excessive details, I would like to offer you a brief overview on where we are standing after three years of work:

  • Ten facility agreements or arrangements have been signed, out of which five have entered into force. In addition, 57 States have completed interim exchanges of letters.
  • 204 IMS site surveys have been completed, where required. Site surveys for 53 additional stations are either under way or pending contract.
  • 77 site surveys for the Global Communications Infrastructure have been completed. In many cases, these site surveys and subsequent civil work were performed by or in cooperation with IMS staff.
  • 88 IMS stations have been installed or substantially meet specifications. The installation of 65 additional stations is either under way or pending contract.
  • Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI) Very Small Aperture Terminals (VSATs) have been installed at 26 of the IMS, National Data Centres and developmental sites, with 41 more under way.
  • Global satellite coverage was established with the commissioning of four GCI hubs and the frame relay infrastructure to link these hubs to the IDC in Vienna.
  • GCI links to four independent sub networks were commissioned, and a VSAT link to the independent sub networks is now undergoing acceptance testing.
  • 25 IMS stations are sending data through the GCI and into the IDC on a test basis, with many more stations planned in 2000.
  • The IDC established the capacity to receive and test data over the GCI.
  • Preparatory work was initiated this year to provide, for the first time, test IMS data and IDC products to States Signatories.

The Commission is also preparing the groundwork for on-site inspections, provided for by the Treaty. The OSI Operational Manual is being developed as a priority task and the PTS has been supporting the Group of Friends of the OSI Programme Coordinator. Initial specifications for equipment related to the four IMS technologies have been adopted and a passive seismic system for aftershock detection will be received shortly for testing and training, plans for which are being developed. Upon the invitation of the Kazakhstan Government, a field experiment simulating aspects of an on-site inspection was conducted in Kazakhstan in October 1999, on the basis of a 100-tonne chemical explosion for calibration purposes.

Our Legal and External Relations Division has been providing the necessary assistance, complementing the efforts of the technical divisions. The Administrative Division has provided support for the policy-making organs as well as the necessary infrastructure for the work of the Commission. While the work carried out by the technical divisions has absorbed most of our budget, we have succeeded in keeping the administrative share of the budget below 20 per cent, thus giving States Signatories real value for money.

Training of nationals from States Signatories has been our ongoing effort. We have conducted five Introductory Training Programmes in the IMS verification technologies, two in-depth technical training Programmes, four IDC Training Courses for prospective staff (a fifth is currently under way), a workshop on aspects related to the transmission of data through the GCI, five workshops to develop OSI techniques and procedures for inclusion in the Operational Manual, two introductory OSI training courses and one tabletop exercise simulating an on-site Inspection.

In establishing the global verification regime, CTBTO PrepCom is equipping 89 countries with cost-free, cutting-edge technology, supporting the operation of their stations, and training their staff in processing, using and evaluating the data from the four verification technologies. All the monitoring facilities will be owned and operated by the countries hosting or taking responsibility for them. However, the potential spin-off benefits arising from the CTBT verification technologies may be no less significant. For instance, the knowledge of the earth and atmosphere gained through IMS data, and processed by the IDC, may enable States signatories to better plan major infrastructure projects and more efficiently exploit their natural resources. IMS data could also help foreseeing the movements of weather fronts and volcanic eruptions, which could be vital for the early warning of populations and civil aviation.

To help States signatories to benefit from the CTBT and from the work of the Commission, two International Cooperation Workshops were held in Vienna and Cairo and two more are scheduled for this year in Beijing and Lima. They explore the possible uses of verification technologies and IMS data for other peaceful applications, examine the potential for regional or international cooperation in collecting, analysing and using data, and they also highlight the fundamental importance of the CTBT for global peace and security. Last, but not least, they promote signature and ratification of the Treaty.

The work of the Preparatory Commission has been enjoying sustained support by our States Signatories. This support has been manifold: active participation in the work of the Commission, political support in enhancing signature and ratification, and preparedness to accept the necessary budget increases. Year after year, the support of our States Signatories has also been reflected in the collection rate of the assessed contributions, which is 100 per cent for the 1996 budget, over 97 per for 1997, over 96 per cent for 1998, over 95 per cent for 1999 and already close to 80 per cent for 2000.

At a recent panel discussion held in Vienna to commemorate the third anniversary of the Preparatory Commission, it was stated that "the CTBT keeps alive confidence in non-proliferation measures as an important element to avoid the danger of a nuclear arms race and, eventually, a nuclear war".

At the same event, reference was also made to the importance of strong support for the CTBT and its implementation process among States attending this NPT Review Conference. As in 1995, when endorsement for the CTBT by the NPT Review and Expansion Conference facilitated the negotiation process, the 2000 NPT Review Conference could definitely enhance the preparation for entry into force of the Treaty. Mr. Chairman, let me therefore call, through you, upon all States participating in the NPT Review Conference to support a strong endorsement for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and for the work of the Preparatory Commission by this Conference.