CTBT discussed by Sweden's Minister for Foreign Affairs and CTBTO's Executive Secretary

Sweden’s Foreign Minister urges ratification of the CTBT

Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.

At the invitation of the Swedish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, Tibor Tóth, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), visited Sweden from June 11-12 2008 where he met with Carl Bildt, Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs. Ways of accelerating the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) were top of the agenda and it was agreed that there will be a window of opportunity over the next couple of years to move the ratification of the Treaty forward. Bildt is personally committed to the CTBT’s entry into force and has raised the subject on many occasions in an arms control or security policy perspective.

Sweden’s important role as President of the European Union in 2009

Bildt and Tóth also discussed the important role that Sweden could play in promoting the Treaty’s entry into force leading up to and during its Presidency of the European Union between July and December 2009. The EU recently reinforced its long-term support of the CTBT at a meeting of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty in April-May 2008, calling on States, particularly those listed in Annex 2, to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay and without conditions. Ratification is required by all Annex 2 States before the Treaty can enter into force. The States that still need to ratify are: China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States. The EU’s support of the CTBT is of particular importance since it includes among its members the two nuclear-weapon States, France and the United Kingdom, as well as the overwhelming majority of NATO countries.

CTBT recognized as vital issue on arms control and disarmament agenda

Meetings were also held with Frank Belfrage, the State Secretary for Foreign Affairs, and Henrik Salander, Head of the Department for Disarmament and Non-proliferation at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs and Secretary-General of the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission. In a press release issued by the Ministry for Foreign Affairs on 10 June 2008, Salander acknowledged the key role of the CTBT, “Ensuring that the Treaty enters into force is perhaps one of the most important issues on the multilateral arms control and disarmament agenda.” It was also recognized during discussions that the CTBT’s entry into force would hinder the development of new nuclear weapons and reduce the security policy significance of nuclear weapons worldwide.

Seminar on “Revitalizing the momentum for the elimination of nuclear weapons”

Auxiliary seismic station AS101, Hagfors, Sweden, certified on 17 December 2002

Tóth was also a key note speaker at a seminar entitled “Revitalizing the momentum for the elimination of nuclear weapons.” The seminar was organized by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), Stockholm University’s Center for Pacific Asia Studies and International Pugwash. Pugwash Conferences are held annually and bring together influential scholars and public figures from around the world who are concerned with reducing the danger of armed conflict and seeking cooperative solutions for global problems. Other key note speakers included Rolf Ekéus, chairman of SIPRI and former head of the United Nations Special Commission for Iraq (UNSCOM), and Jayantha Dhanapala, Secretary-General of Pugwash and former UN Under-Secretary General for Disarmament Affairs.

Tóth emphasized that nuclear proliferation is a main challenge confronting the international community today. He cited climate change and the current energy crisis with their relevance to the “nuclear renaissance” as two other topics of great concern, both of which are closely related to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Whereas global warming and the resurgence of nuclear energy are recognized as key priorities by the international community, non-proliferation and disarmament are accorded less attention. Tóth stressed that this situation needs to change and explained how the CTBT is both a significant non-proliferation and disarmament instrument in its own right and a catalyst for many other arms control measures, such as strategic and tactical reductions of nuclear weapons and the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty.

Sweden’s long standing commitment to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation

Nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation are long-standing priorities of the Swedish Government. During the height of the Cold War, the Swedish Defense Institute (SDRI) put forward the idea of creating the Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) to study the technical aspects of monitoring for nuclear explosions in the early 1970s. This laid the foundation for the CTBT’s verification regime. The group has been chaired by Sweden since its inception, with Dr. Ola Dahlman the chairperson since 1983. Dahlman also headed the Working Group on verification issues at the CTBTO from 1996-2006. Sweden is currently chairing the CTBTO under the leadership of the Permanent Representative of Sweden to the international organizations in Vienna, Ambassador Hans Lundborg, who was formerly Head of the Department for Global Security Issues at the Ministry for Foreign Affairs in Stockholm.  

Sweden has always been one of the greatest supporters and contributors to the Treaty, politically, financially and scientifically. As one of the original members of the Conference on Disarmament which began its negotiations on a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in January 1994, Sweden was instrumental in proposing a draft treaty at the very beginning of these negotiations.

Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission

Auxiliary seismic station AS101, Hagfors, Sweden.

Sweden is also home to several organizations committed to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) and the Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (WMDC), which was an initiative of Anna Lindh, the late Swedish Minister for Foreign Affairs. On 1 June 2006 the WMDC Chairman, Dr. Hans Blix, presented the Commission’s report "Weapons of Terror" (also known as the “Blix Report”) to the United Nations Secretary-General. The report strongly recommended, inter alia, the entry into force of the CTBT, declaring, “Bringing the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force would significantly impede the development of new nuclear weapons.”

Importance of Swedish Unattended Noble gas Analyzer (SAUNA) for the CTBT’s verification regime

Sweden hosts two International Monitoring System (IMS) stations: a radionuclide station in Stockholm and an auxiliary seismic station at Hagfors. These stations are part of a network that monitors the Earth for evidence of nuclear explosions. Sweden also invented Swedish Unattended Noble gas Analyzer (SAUNA), which is one of the systems used by the CTBTO to measure radionuclide noble gases released by nuclear explosions.