Further ratifications needed to increase pressure on remaining holdouts

Philippine Foreign Secretary Alberto Romulo meeting Tibor Tóth, the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO.

Further ratifications of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in the next 12 to 18 months would put pressure on those States whose lack of consent is holding up its entry into force, the head of the CTBT organization has told a meeting of nuclear experts in Manila, the Philippines.

CTBTO and Philippines to work to secure additional ratifications

Tibor Tóth, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and Alberto Romulo, the Foreign Minister of the Philippines, agreed to work actively to secure additional ratifications.  Tóth said that ratifications by States belonging to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) would deliver a powerful message.

Manila workshop discusses ways to promote nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

More than 90 international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament experts attended the workshop from 1 to 2 February, which was organized to discuss ways to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and technology, advance nuclear disarmament, and promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

Makati City, the major financial, commercial, and economic hub of Manila, the venue of the “Working Towards a Successful 2010 NPT Review Conference” workshop organized by Austria, Norway, and the Philippines.

The workshop was part of preparations for the 2010 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference, which is being convened to discuss how to promote nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in the next five years, said Libran Cabactulan, the Ambassador of the Philippines to the United Arab Emirates.  Cabactulan will chair the NPT Review Conference in New York from 3 to 28 May. The workshop was designed “to encourage in-depth discussions on the many challenges and issues facing the NPT regime and possibly find solutions to these problems,” said Romulo.

A lot could be gained through additional ratifications

“A consensus agreement on the CTBT and its early entry into force will be essential for the success of the NPT. Progress on the CTBT will be a catalyst for progress on other measures necessary for the strengthening of the non-proliferation regime,” said Tóth in Manila. “In the US-Russia strategic relationship, additional confidence would be gained if the United States were to ratify the Treaty as Russia has done,” he added.

“Today the question is not if, but rather when will the Treaty enter into force,” said Tóth. He noted the “robustness” of the Obama administration's resolve to secure U.S. ratification, but stressed that the international community does not have the luxury “to wait and see” if and when States such as the United States and China will ratify. The CTBTO Executive Secretary added that much would be gained for confidence- and security building in Asia if the continent as a whole moved towards ratification.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) is a geo-political and economic organization of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore and Thailand, and Vietnam.

The CTBT bans all nuclear test explosions. It has been ratified by 151 States and signed by 182. From the ASEAN countries, Brunei, Indonesia, Myanmar, and Thailand still need to ratify. Indonesia’s ratification bears particular significance as it is one of the nine remaining countries whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force – together with China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.

A unifying Treaty with a democratic nature

“The CTBT as it stands today is a unifying Treaty around which the international community can rally,” Tóth told the workshop. He emphasized the democratic nature of the CTBT verification regime, which places a legally binding obligation on all Member States and empowers all countries through an all-inclusive arrangement on data gathering and sharing. “It is clear that a CTBT in force is a logical and necessary cornerstone of the security architecture, if today’s and future nuclear non-proliferation challenges are to be addressed credibly,” he said.