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Need for Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty's Entry into Force Reiterated

By Reinhard Jacobsen

Photo: Participants in Vienna ceremony to mark International Day against Nuclear Tests 2019. Credit: CTBTO.

VIENNA (IDN) – Urgent calls to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force as a key pillar of the international non-proliferation and disarmament framework marked the International Day against Nuclear Tests 2019 commemorated around the world on August 29 with ceremonies to remember the devastating consequences of nuclear tests. The Day will also be marked by a high-level UN plenary meeting at United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 9. [2019-08-30] 

More than 20 years after its adoption and despite being widely supported – with 184 signatories and 168 ratifying States – it has not entered into force, said UN Secretary-General António Guterres in a message. "An effective and legally-binding prohibition remains one of the longest unfulfilled goals of nuclear disarmament," he said.

Guterres reiterated his call for all States that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty, especially those whose ratification is needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. "In a world of rising tensions and divisions, our collective security depends on it," he declared.

According to the Vienna-based CTBTO, Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries must sign and ratify before the Treaty can enter into force. Of these, eight are still missing: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA.

In a statement marking the International Day Against Nuclear Tests, María Fernanda Espinosa Garcés, President of the UN General Assembly joined Guterres in urging all States that have not done so to sign and ratify the CTBT.

"I appeal to the international community to make progress on our shared vision of a world free of nuclear weapons –set out in the very first resolution of the UN General Assembly. This is the best way to honour the victims of past tests, and to ensure no more join their ranks in the future," she added.

August 29 is highly symbolic, commemorating both the anniversary of Kazakhstan’s closure of the former Soviet Semipalatinsk nuclear test site in 1991, and the date the first Soviet nuclear test was conducted there in 1949.

Photo: CTBTO's Zerbo receives the Nazarbayev Prize from Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The late IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's brother looks on. Credit: CTBTO.

In the Kazakh capital, Nur-Sultan, the Central Asian republic's Foreign Minister Beibut Atamkulov and CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo issued a joint statement calling for a world free from nuclear testing and urging those States that have not yet signed or ratified the CTBT to do so without delay.

“We especially call on the remaining eight CTBT Annex 2 States, whose ratifications are required for the Treaty's entry into force, to demonstrate leadership by taking this important step,” the statement said.

"It is high time to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty into force. Let us take the last steps of this long journey and finish one of the longest sought international instruments in the area of non-proliferation and disarmament. We owe it to ourselves, and to future generations," statement urged.

During the August 29 ceremony in Nur-Sultan, Zerbo and the late Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Yukiya Amano, were named laureates of the Nazarbayev Prize for a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World and Global Security, acknowledging their contribution to global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.

Zerbo received the award from Kazakhstan’s First President, Nursultan Nazarbayev.

In Vienna, a ceremony marking the Day was held at the CTBTO's headquarters with the support of the Kazakh Permanent Mission in Vienna and the United Nations Information Service (UNIS).

Photo: Participants admiring the artworks from students. Credit: CTBTO.

The accompanying exhibition in Vienna included winning artworks from a children’s art campaign launched last year by CTBTO and the Spanish NGO Paz y Cooperación.

Also marking August 29, a group of high-level figures from France and Madagascar published a joint appeal in the French newspaper Libération calling on the eight remaining CTBT Annex 2 States to ratify the Treaty.

The appeal was issued in the context of an international campaign launched earlier this year by the Parliamentary Assembly of the Francophonie (APF). Signatories included Bruno Tertrais, a member of the CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons, APF Secretary General Jacques Krabal, Madagascar’s Defence Minister Richard Rakotonirina and the President of the Madagascar National Assembly, Christine Razanamahasoa. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 August 2019]

Top Photo: Participants in Vienna ceremony to mark International Day against Nuclear Tests 2019. Credit: CTBTO.

Photo in text: CTBTO's Zerbo receives the Nazarbayev Prize from Kazakh First President Nursultan Nazarbayev. The late IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano's brother looks on. Credit: CTBTO.

IDN is flagship agency of the International Press Syndicate.

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