CONFERENCE OPENS IN VIENNA

PI/2003/31

Secretary-General Kofi Annan called upon all States that had yet to sign or ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to do so without delay, as the 2003 Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT opened this morning in Vienna, Austria.

In a message to the Conference read out on his behalf by Antonio Maria Costa, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, the Secretary-General called particularly upon the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the other 11 States whose ratification was needed for the Treaty to enter into force. Emphasizing that the world could ill afford to fail, or even to be unduly delayed in achieving a comprehensive nuclear-test ban, he said that delay increased the risk that nuclear testing might resume and jeopardized efforts to take further steps towards the goal of nuclear disarmament.

In his opening remarks, Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), announced that 168 States had signed the CTBT and 104 had ratified it. Of the 44 States whose ratification was necessary for its entry into force (the Annex 2 States), 32 had already ratified. For almost seven years, the Preparatory Commission had been working on ensuring that the verification system was credible, functional and cost-effective and more than half of the 321 monitoring stations had been installed.

Drafted at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and opened for signature on 24 September 1996, the CTBT bans all nuclear-test explosions in any environment. The Vienna Conference has been convened by the United Nations Secretary-General at the request of the majority of States that have ratified the Treaty.

Addressing the Conference this morning, Benita Ferrero-Waldner, Austria's Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs, said the issue of weapons of mass destruction had dominated the international agenda and was a major ingredient of some of the most dangerous crises the world was facing today. "Despite the difficulties in the ratification process and the uncertainty about the entry into force of the CTBT, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to the Treaty," she added. "We must continue to work hard on those countries which still harbour doubts about the Treaty's verification capabilities and usefulness in the new international security environment or which link the ratification of the CTBT with the resolution of the Middle East conflict."

During the general debate that followed the opening of the Conference, speakers welcomed the progress made regarding the entry into force and establishment of the verification system, but stressed that commitment to the Treaty was now more necessary than ever. They also underlined the importance of continuing voluntary moratoria on nuclear weapon test explosions, while pointing out that they could not provide a lasting substitute for the permanent, legally binding and internationally verifiable commitment offered by the CTBT.

Malaysia's representative, speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), said the Movement was concerned and disappointed that one nuclear weapon State had taken the position not to proceed with ratification. "We believe that the principle of leadership by example should be displayed by the nuclear weapon States in this important endeavour," he added. He also expressed serious concern about the Nuclear Posture Review as advocated by the United States, which considered the development of new types of nuclear weapons through the resumption of nuclear testing.

Also this morning, the Conference unanimously elected Erkki Tuomioja, Finland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, as its President. It also elected, by acclamation, five Vice-Presidents - Italy, Morocco, New Zealand, Poland and Venezuela - and a Credentials Committee comprising five representatives of ratifying States: Namibia, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Ukraine and Venezuela. In other action, the Conference confirmed the appointment of Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO, as Conference Secretary.

Others speaking this morning included representatives of Japan, Turkey, Italy (on behalf of the European Union), Bolivia, Ukraine, Ireland, Norway, Cyprus and Greece.

The Conference will resume its general debate at 3 o'clock this afternoon.

 

Opening of Conference

ANTONIO MARIA COSTA, Director-General of the United Nations Office at Vienna, declared open the Conference, which was convened by the Secretary-General of the United Nations in his capacity as Depositary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), pursuant to Article XIV of the Treaty. He also read the Secretary-General's message to the Conference.

In his message, the Secretary-General emphasized the importance of progress in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Noting that the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization and the Provisional Technical Secretariat had continued to promote the goal of universal adherence, he pointed out, however, that obstacles remained to the Treaty's entry into force. The world could ill afford to fail, or even to be unduly delayed in achieving a comprehensive nuclear-test ban. Delay increased the risk that nuclear testing might resume and jeopardized efforts to take further steps towards the goal of nuclear disarmament, he stressed.

Calling upon all States that had yet to sign or ratify the CTBT to do so without delay, the Secretary-General directed that call particularly to the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, as well as the other 11 States whose ratification was needed for the Treaty to enter into force. Unless it became operational, it was crucial for all relevant States to maintain a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions. The CTBT's entry into force would be a victory for the cause of peace that could not come too soon.

Election of Conference President

Delegations unanimously elected Erkki Tuomioja, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Finland, as President of the Conference.

Statement by Conference President

ERKKI TUOMIOJA, Conference President, said the CTBT belonged to a new generation of arms control regimes providing an efficient monitoring system. Most participating countries had completed the necessary technical and administrative work to ensure full preparedness for effective monitoring. It would be equally important to continue to give technical, training and financial support to the Preparatory Commission in order to enable it to ensure that the CTBT Organization would be able to meet all its verification requirements at the Treaty's entry into force.

He said the CTBT was a product, the irreplaceable value of which the international community continued to believe in, as the wide and high level of attendance at the present Conference clearly demonstrated. Despite that support and the progress made, the Treaty had, nevertheless, not yet entered into force. That constituted a major disappointment to all delegations gathered today. There could be different technical, administrative, economic or political reasons for the delays in the ratification process in different countries, he said.

Procedural Matters

The Conference then adopted its draft rules of procedure, its agenda and other organizational matters. It also decided to establish a Committee of the Whole to consider agenda item 12, namely the consideration of specific measures to facilitate the entry into force of the CTBT.

Election of Officers

The Conference then elected, by acclamation, five Vice-Presidents as endorsed by their respective regional groups: Italy, Morocco, New Zealand, Poland and Venezuela. Also elected was a Credentials Committee comprising five representatives of ratifiers appointed by the Conference on the proposal of the Conference President: Namibia, the Republic of Korea, Spain, Ukraine and Venezuela.

Election of Conference Secretary

WOLFGANG HOFFMANN, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), was then confirmed as Secretary of the Conference.

Among other procedural actions, the Conference approved the attendance of specialized agencies, related organizations and intergovernmental organizations. They included the African Union, the European Commission, the International Atomic Energy Agency, the League of Arab States, the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and the World Meteorological Organization. The Conference also approved requests for attendance by the representatives of 19 non-governmental organizations.

BENITA FERRERO-WALDNER, Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, associating herself with the statement to be made on behalf of the European Union (EU), said the issue of weapons of mass destruction had dominated the international agenda and was a major ingredient of some of the most dangerous crises the world was facing today. The prevention of proliferation and of testing of such weapons was therefore of the utmost urgency. The hope that the entry into force of the CTBT would have already come about had unfortunately not materialized. There was therefore an urgent need to tackle the enormous gap between the number of signatures and the number of ratifications. Seven years after opening the CTBT for signature, it was time for those States which had not signed and ratified the Treaty to do so without conditions and without further delay.

She suggested that, in the future, additional emphasis be put on the benefits of the civil and scientific applications of the verification technologies, especially in the areas of environment and earth science. The Provisional Technical Secretariat was doing excellent work in setting up the international verification system. In view of the growing threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, efforts to combat it must be intensified. The CTBT had an essential role to play as it curbed the qualitative nuclear arms race and stopped the decades-long deadly spiral of developing ever more sophisticated nuclear weapons.

"Despite the difficulties in the ratification process and the uncertainty about the entry into force of the CTBT, we must remain steadfast in our commitment to the Treaty," she said. "We must continue to work hard on those countries which still harbour doubts about the Treaty's verification capabilities and usefulness in the new international security environment or which link the ratification of the CTBT with the resolution of the Middle East conflict."

WOLFGANG HOFFMANN, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO, said that, as of today, 168 States had signed the CTBT and 104 had ratified it. Of the 44 States whose ratification was necessary for entry into force, 32 had already ratified. The vote of confidence expressed in terms of the large number of signatures and ratifications was a major source of motivation for all who were working on the verification system and demonstrated the ever-growing commitment of the international community to the Treaty.

He said the Preparatory Commission had been working for almost seven years on ensuring that the verification system was credible, functional and cost-effective. So far, more than half of the 321 monitoring stations had been installed and substantially met the Commission's specifications. Data from the established stations were flowing via the Global Communications Infrastructure to the International Data Centre in Vienna. The Provisional Technical Secretariat was building up its capacity to support the verification responsibilities of the States under the Treaty. In that context, the continuously growing number of National Data Centres was playing a crucial role.

The Preparatory Commission was working closely with many States in order to provide assistance in the process of ratification and implementation of the CTBT, he continued. Training programmes and information visits helped to familiarize experts and decision makers with the Commission's work. The Preparatory Commission had entered into relations and cooperation agreements with the United Nations and other international and regional organizations and specialized agencies.

In conclusion, he said those activities were important accessories, but only accessories to the political will of the international community to bring about entry into force of the Treaty. The purpose of the meeting was to strengthen that political will and to create a new dynamic in pursuing the common objective. The comprehensive ban of nuclear test explosions had been a dream for many decades, he said, and he hoped that in the next few days that dream would be brought closer.

PATRICIA ESPINOSA CANTELLANO, Permanent Representative of Mexico to the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO, presented a report on progress achieved in cooperation to facilitate the Treaty's entry into force. She noted that to date, 168 States had signed the CTBT and that 104 signatories had deposited their instruments of ratification. That was twice the number that had ratified the Treaty at the time of the 2001 Conference in New York.

She said that the progress included the organization of regional seminars; publication of articles in the international press; the generation of greater awareness of disarmament and global security issues; the promotion of greater support in the United Nations General Assembly; and specific actions to raise awareness in specific areas. Reiterating her country's commitment to the Treaty's entry into force, she said that the only guarantee against weapons of mass destruction was their elimination and the assurance that they would never be created again. For Mexico, the CTBT was a fundamental instrument affirming its commitment to all efforts towards general and total disarmament.

General Exchange of Views by Ratifiers and Signatories

YORIKO KAWAGUCHI, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, said that since her country was the only one in the world to have suffered the tragedy of atomic bombings, the Japanese people had a particularly strong desire for a ban on nuclear testing. Prior to adoption of the CTBT, all nuclear weapon States had announced moratoria on nuclear testing. Both India and Pakistan had faced overwhelming international criticism and consequently had announced moratoria on nuclear testing. Thus, the CTBT, even before entering into force, was playing an important role as a strong deterrent against nuclear testing. She urged all countries that had not yet ratified the CTBT to do so at the earliest date possible and urged the nine Annex 2 countries that had signed but not ratified the Treaty to ratify it, and the three Annex 2 countries that had not signed the Treaty to sign and ratify it.

The CTBT's verification regime was unprecedented, she said. Verification technology made it extremely difficult to conduct nuclear tests clandestinely without having the world know about it, and therefore added a significant deterrent against nuclear testing. Because of frequent earthquakes, Japan possessed the most advanced seismological know-how, and had used that knowledge to provide technical assistance to developing nations. Her country had also started constructing and preparing facilities for the International Monitoring System.

She said the CTBT had a crucial role to play in the disarmament and non-proliferation regime that had been built up on the foundations of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The importance and urgency of achieving the early entry into force of the CTBT, which was affirmed at the 2000 NPT Review Conference, should certainly be reaffirmed at the 2005 NPT Review Conference. However, by that time she hoped a major step would have been made towards the full realization of the Treaty.

ABDULLAH G?L, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs of Turkey, said that in order to have a credible and durable international regime of peace, security and stability, it was important, more than ever, to stand firmly behind the non-proliferation regimes and reaffirm commitment to the underlying principles of non-proliferation. The same level of support needed to be given to the NPT, to the safeguards regimes of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and to facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT.

He said the integrity of the global non-proliferation agenda was universally acknowledged at the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference and the conference called for the completion of the negotiations on a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. In the past seven years, the CTBT had covered remarkable ground. An unprecedented global network of monitoring stations and laboratories would verify compliance with the Treaty.

However, the Treaty had not entered into force, he continued. Momentum in establishing the verification systems must be maintained and no effort should be spared to accelerate entry into force of the Treaty. "As a ratifier State in geographical proximity to certain regions of particular concern to global non-proliferation efforts," he called upon all States to sign and ratify the CTBT without delay and without conditions. He also underlined the importance of continuing the moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions. However, a voluntary moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions could not provide a lasting substitute for a permanent, legally binding and internationally verifiable commitment offered by the CTBT.

ALFREDO LUIGI MANTICA, Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs of Italy, speaking on behalf of the European Union (EU) and Cyprus, the Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania and Turkey, said the basic prerequisite for the viability of any multilateral agreement was the awareness of the common interests that it represented and safeguarded. That must be kept in mind in developing an overall strategy aimed at facilitating the entry into force of the CTBT. All EU members, acceding countries and associated countries had ratified the Treaty and remained steadfast in their commitment to the CTBT.

He said the EU was convinced that the CTBT met global concerns, since it was an important measure for achieving nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and had an essential role to play in strengthening international peace and security, including the fight against terrorism. The EU fully endorsed the importance awarded to the CTBT by the States parties to the NPT, which remained the cornerstone of the global non-proliferation regime and the essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament. The EU had adopted a decision to implement a Common Position as an instrument of its Common Foreign and Security Policy.

The EU attached the utmost importance to the entry into force of the CTBT at the earliest possible date and called upon all States that had not yet signed and ratified the Treaty to do so without delay and conditions. The EU also urged all States to abide by a moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions and to refrain from any actions which would defeat the object and purpose of the Treaty. In order to enhance early entry into force, individual and collective efforts aimed at accelerating the ratification process should increase. Enhancing activities within the Preparatory Commission was an important contribution to promoting the entry into force of the CTBT.

CARLOS SAAVEDRA BRUNO, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Bolivia, noting that the new century had not given the world a greater capacity to resolve disputes peacefully, said that pain, death and desolation remained widespread around the globe. But while a nuclear risk still existed, it was not as great as it had been some years ago. There was still a possibility that nuclear tests would not lead to something more terrible and the CTBT was the first step towards that goal.

Bolivia had offered its territory for three monitoring installations, he said. The country called upon all States parties to participate actively, otherwise the Treaty would not have its full practical effect. Multilateral treaties must have a central role in instilling confidence that common sense would prevail and that the nuclear risk would be ended. Bolivia called upon all States that had not signed or ratified the CTBT to do so as soon as possible.

IHOR KHARCHENKO, Acting Foreign Minister of Ukraine, called for a reduction of the role of nuclear weapons in national security doctrines. Further upgrading of nuclear weapons, including the miniaturization of nuclear warheads, would not only lead to their vertical proliferation, but would also risk their falling into the hands of terrorist organizations. An important step towards strengthening international security and non-proliferation could be the immediate commencement of negotiations for a non-discriminatory, multilateral and effectively verifiable treaty.

He said that such a treaty would ban the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices and establish within the Conference on Disarmament an appropriate subsidiary body mandated to deal with nuclear disarmament. Emphasizing Ukraine's support for the efforts of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO and its Provisional Technical Secretariat, he said the PTS had grown into a strong and confident international body. It had achieved important progress in the establishment of the global network of 321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories located in some 90 countries.

TOM KITT, Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs of Ireland, associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the EU, said this third Conference must serve to underline the overwhelming support for the Treaty throughout the international community. On a more practical level, one had to examine what could be done to accelerate the Treaty's entry into force. The CTBT was a multilateral instrument and was therefore linked to other multilateral instruments and fora connected with non-proliferation and disarmament.

He said there was a fundamental link between the CTBT and the NPT, which was the cornerstone of the nuclear non-proliferation regime. The relationship with the NPT should inspire and encourage efforts to achieve early entry into force of the CTBT. The fact that many of the undertakings of the 2000 NPT Review Conference had not yet been fulfilled was testimony to how far one still had to go in the search for a nuclear-weapon-free world. It was not, however, a reason for the abandonment of that search or for a lowering of ambition. The International Monitoring System would be a concrete example of multilateral verification in action and would provide an opportunity for gathering and exchange of scientific information.

Since the Treaty opened for signature in 1996, there had been some worrying developments in the world, such as tests conducted by India and Pakistan in 1998 and a recent event on the Korean Peninsula. Such events should serve to reinforce the determination of the international community to strive for the earliest possible entry into force of the CTBT. A new energy was needed in the dynamic of disarmament which would be a reminder of the goals and the essential bargain of the NPT. Fulfilment of that bargain could not be a pipe dream but was rather a vital test of the strength of the multilateral system, he said.

KIM TRAAVIK, State Secretary and head of the delegation of Norway, welcomed the recent ratification of the CTBT by Algeria and Cyprus, but noted that the NPT faced serious challenges. Deploring deeply the announcement by the Democratic People?s Republic of Korea regarding its withdrawal from the NPT, he called upon that country to reverse its action, comply with its obligations under the treaty and cooperate fully with the IAEA. Welcoming the initiative leading to the recent six-country meeting in Beijing, he said that although that event had not been as productive as had been hoped, the process should and must continue.

He said his country fully supported the IAEA's efforts to conduct a comprehensive examination of Iran?s nuclear programme. Norway called upon that country to cooperate fully with the Agency in all its nuclear activities as well as for its immediate and unconditional signing, ratification and implementation of the Additional Protocol to its Safeguards Agreement. Transparency regarding Iran?s nuclear programme and cooperation with the IAEA was necessary for the restoration of confidence, he added.

SOTOS ZACKHEOS , State Secretary of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Cyprus, associating himself with the statement made on behalf of the EU, said early entry into force of the Treaty was an essential element to the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the promotion of international peace and stability. Cyprus had ratified the Treaty on 18 July and looked forward to an increasing level of cooperation with the CTBTO. In February, Cyprus had also ratified the Additional Protocol of the IAEA for the application of safeguards in connection with the NPT. It would also become a member of the Missile Technology Control Regime and the Wassenaar Arrangement.

He fully supported efforts of the EU for the entry into force of the CTBT and urged those countries that had not done so to ratify the Treaty, in particular the remaining 12 States whose ratification was required for its entry into force. He also urged all States to abide by a moratorium on nuclear explosions of any kind and to refrain from any actions that might run counter to the spirit of the Treaty.

IOANNIS MAGRIOTIS, Deputy Foreign Minister of Greece, associating himself with the EU, noted that 33 years had elapsed between the Limited Test Ban Treaty and the CTBT, reflecting a major evolution in international thinking about security issues. That evolution had been marked by technological, economic and social progress coupled with increasing awareness of public opinion. The international community had been forced to continue negotiating new arms control and non-proliferation agreements with a view to fighting terrorism for the benefit of global security.

Pointing out that the NPT was intrinsically connected with the CTBT, he cited its article VI, calling on all parties to pursue negotiations on effective measures relating to cessation of the arms race and to nuclear disarmament as well as general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control. The main responsibility fell on the nuclear weapon States as the strong must set the pace so that others could follow. The CTBT had been criticized by certain international players, who claimed that it hampered the possibilities of small countries to develop a nuclear arsenal. He pointed out that the Treaty?s objective was to prevent, under article IV, not only horizontal but also vertical proliferation, namely the development of new nuclear weapons.

HUSSEIN HANIFF (Malaysia), speaking on behalf of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) States that were signatories and ratifiers of the CTBT, extended condolences to the families of the victims of the attack on the United Nations compound in Iraq. He said the NAM condemned that attack in the strongest possible terms and believed that such attacks could not break the will of the international community to continue to extend all possible assistance to the Iraqi people to regain their national sovereignty.

He said the NAM was participating for the first time in the Article XIV Conference. The XIII Summit Conference in Kuala Lumpur in February had taken several decisions on the issues of disarmament and international security, and had expressed strong concern at the growing tendency to resort to unilateralism. The NAM reiterated its support for the objectives of the Treaty. Any measure of success of the CTBT would only be gauged when all five nuclear weapon States, as well as the remaining Annex 2 countries that had not signed and ratified, were on board. The NAM was therefore concerned and disappointed that one nuclear weapon State had taken the position not to proceed with ratification and hoped that State would reconsider its position. "We believe that the principle of leadership by example should be displayed by the nuclear weapon States in this important endeavour," he said.

He recalled that at the time of the negotiation of the CTBT, the nuclear weapon States had stated that the Treaty would halt both vertical and horizontal proliferation, thereby preventing the appearance of new types of nuclear charges. He expressed serious concern about the Nuclear Posture Review as advocated by the United States, which considered the development of new types of nuclear weapons through resumption of nuclear testing. Development of new types of nuclear weapons was in contravention of the assurances provided by the five nuclear weapon States at the time of the conclusion of negotiations for the CTBT, he said.

For further information on the CTBTO, please see www.ctbto.org or contact:
Annika Thunborg, Chief, Public Information  
T    +43 1 26030-6375  
E    annika.thunborgping@ctbtopong.org
M    +43 699 1459 6375       
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