The test-ban figures prominently in meeting of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

"The EU believes that a legally binding prohibition of nuclear weapons test explosions and all other nuclear explosions as well as a credible verification regime, are vital. A new momentum towards the entry into force of the CTBT can now be sensed. We therefore reiterate our call on States, particularly those listed in Annex 2, to sign and ratify the Treaty without delay and without conditions and, pending its entry into force, to abide by a moratorium on nuclear testing and to refrain from any action contrary to the obligations and provisions of the CTBT."

With this strong delivery, the European Union ensured that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) would command center stage in the two-week meeting of the 1968 Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) that took place in Geneva from April 28 - May 9 2008. The meeting was the second preparatory meeting leading up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference. It focused on all issues pertaining to the three mutually reinforcing pillars of the NPT-regime: nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

The message of the EU carried considerable weight not only because of the high number of states supporting it but also because the EU includes among its members the two nuclear-weapon States, France and the United Kingdom, as well as the overwhelming majority of NATO countries.

The EU also urged "all States to dismantle all their nuclear testing sites in a manner that is transparent and open to the international community."

The vast majority of States express support for the CTBT

The vast majority of the 106 States that participated in the meeting expressed their support for the CTBT. The European Union, the Non-Aligned Movement, the Vienna Group of Ten, the New Agenda Coalition, the Latin American and Caribbean group, and states such as Japan, the Republic of Korea, and Russia, all underlined the importance of the CTBT. This almost universal support focused on a number of key points:

  • The CTBT was an essential instrument of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime, and its early entry into force would greatly enhance this regime.
  • The CTBT was an integral part of consensus agreements made within the NPT framework in 1995 and 2000.
    All States that had not yet signed or ratified the Treaty were called upon to do so without conditions or delay, especially those nine remaining countries whose ratifications were necessary for entry into force. The ratification of the nuclear-weapon States was emphasized as particularly important.
  • The recent ratifications by Palau, the Dominican Republic, Bahamas, Barabados, Malaysia and Colombia were warmly welcomed, and indicated that there is currently a positive dynamic towards further ratification and entry into force.
  • Pending the Treaty's entry into force, the moratorium on nuclear testing should be upheld. However, this moratorium could not be a substitute for a legally-binding Treaty.
  • States were called upon to work to complete the global verification regime to monitor compliance with the CTBT. The regime had proven its capability of detecting nuclear test explosions anywhere in the world, on the occasion of the DRPK's nuclear test in October 2006. The CTBTO should be supported politically, scientifically and financially.
  • The value of the system had also been demonstrated through its civil and scientific benefits.

All remaining States are urged to sign and ratify the CTBT

Many working papers and reports submitted to the meeting emphasized the significance of the CTBT. The most comprehensive paper in this regard was put forward by the Vienna Group of Ten (Australia, Austria, Canada, Denmark, Hungary, Ireland, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and Sweden). "The CTBT combats both horizontal and vertical nuclear proliferation", the group reaffirmed. It was "concerned that any development of new types of nuclear weapons may result in the resumption of tests and a lowering of the nuclear threshold." The group renewed "its call upon all states yet to do so to sign and/or ratify the Treaty without delay, in particular the 9 remaining Annex 2 countries, and to recognize the value of the CTBT for their national and for international security. The reliable performance of the International Monitoring System (IMS) and the practical development of other aspects of the verification regime, as well as the example of a still growing number of ratifiers, should help them in a positive decision."

Of the nine States whose ratification is necessary for entry into force but who have not yet ratified the Treaty, China underlined that it "actively supports early entry into force of the CTBT and has been working for an early ratification of the CTBT and will continue to honour its commitment on nuclear test moratorium."

Indonesia stated that "the immediate decisions by the remaining nuclear weapon States to ratify the CTBT would have a positive impact on progress towards the entry into force of the CTBT."

The New Agenda Coalition (Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Sweden) expressed "its total opposition to nuclear test explosions and all other nuclear explosions." The NAC also welcomed "the progress made on ratification of the CTBT" and underlined the "need to build on this positive momentum through directing further efforts towards the Treaty's early entry into force."

The Non-Aligned Movement which included non-ratifying States Egypt, Indonesia and Iran emphasized the "full implementation of the 13 practical steps agreed on at the 2000 NPT Review Conference." In Step 1, States Parties agreed to ratify the Treaty to achieve its early entry into force. In Step 2, States Parties agreed to a moratorium pending the Treaty's entry into force.

The United States did not mention the CTBT in its statements. The DPRK, India, Israel and Pakistan, who also need to ratify the CTBT for it to enter into force, did not participate in the NPT meeting.

Positive news were given by Thailand that announced that it was "in the process of completing its internal process to ratify" and expected "to become a State Party to the CTBT in the near future." The statement was made as a follow-up to meetings held with the Deputy Speaker of the House of the Thai Parliament and the CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth on the margins of the Inter-Parliamentary Union Assembly meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, in April 2008.

Validation of the CTBT verification regime

In the presentations by nearly 30 non-governmental organizations, the CTBT was paid particular attention in the context of the proposed deal on peaceful nuclear cooperation between India and the United States. All governments were urged to play an active role so as to ensure that the proposal did not further undermine the nuclear safeguards system and non-proliferation efforts. All nuclear supplier states were urged to terminate their supplies to India if India resumes nuclear testing for any reasons. Governments were urged to support the implementation of UN Security Council resolution 1172 which calls on India and Pakistan to sign the CTBT.

In the side event "Entry into Force of the CTBT: New Opportunities", organized by The UN Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR), renowned expert on the CTBT, Dr Rebecca Johnson, presented some of the key conclusions from her forthcoming book. The book will look at the Treaty's entry into force and what lessons the CTBT negotiations hold for multilateral arms control and disarmament. Her talk discussed the roles of effective leadership, ways to enhance the structure, context and dynamics of negotiations, and the importance of civil society working in partnership with governments to frame objectives, mobilize pressure, and lay the groundwork for negotiations. She concluded by emphasizing how the CTBT's entry into force would enhance international security and disarmament, and that it should be prioritized by states that wish to strengthen the non-proliferation regime and promote a successful NPT Review Conference in 2010.

Alexander Kmentt from the CTBTO assessed the work that had been achieved since the CTBT was opened for signature in 1996, and looked ahead to what the value and significance of the CTBT would be after entry into force. He explored both the technical capability of the verification regime - a regime that has already been validated very clearly in the technical sense, as demonstrated in October 2006 when the DPRK announced that it had conducted a nuclear test. The true value of this regime, however, can only be fully realized - technically and politically - once the Treaty enters into force. It is only when the CTBT enters into force that the world will have a fully operational, comprehensive, global system able to detect nuclear explosions anywhere on Earth. It is only then that the full potential will be realized, of the CTBT as an effective measure for nuclear disarmament, non-proliferation and confidence- and security building.

Chair's summary: "Strong support for the CTBT"

At the close of the two-week meeting, the chairman, Volodymyr Yel'chenko of Ukraine, presented his summary, which reflected the "strong support ... expressed for the CTBT" at the meeting. "States that had not ratified the Treaty, especially the remaining nine whose ratification was necessary for its entry into force, were urged to do so without delay. The Joint Declaration of the Article XIV Conference held in 2007 in Vienna was welcomed."

"The testing of a nuclear weapon by the DPRK had highlighted the need for an early entry into force of the CTBT," the summary continued. "States Parties reaffirmed the importance of maintaining a moratorium on nuclear-weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions. States Parties commended the progress made by the CTBTO in establishing the International Monitoring System." They were also "called upon to support the CTBTO by providing adequate resources and expertise."

In the context of NPT universality, "States Parties called upon India and Pakistan to maintain the moratoria on nuclear testing, and called upon India, Israel and Pakistan to become party to the CTBT."

Finally, "All States in the [Middle East] region that had not yet done so were urged to accede to the NPT and conclude with the IAEA Safeguards agreements and Additional Protocols and become party to the CTBT."