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Annan urges States: ratify nuclear test-ban treaty

Secretary-General urges key States to ratify nuclear test-ban treaty

Citing heightened global anxiety over weapons of mass destruction, particularly nuclear weapons, United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan today expressed alarm that countries whose ratification is essential for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to enter into force had still not acted.

“The treaty was opened for signature nine years ago,” he told the fourth conference on facilitating its entry into force at UN Headquarters in New York. “But after nine years, the treaty is still not in force. We should all be gravely concerned about that.

“The longer entry into force of the treaty is delayed, the greater the risk that someone, somewhere, will test nuclear weapons. That would be a major setback for the cause of non-proliferation and disarmament,” he added, noting that although the vast majority of the States – 176 in all – have signed it and 125 have ratified it, 11 of the 44 who must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force still had not done so.

Those States are China, Colombia, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, United States and Viet Nam, though Mr. Annan did not mention them by name.

“I call on all States that have not signed or ratified the treaty to do so without delay – particularly those States who must ratify the treaty in order to bring it into force,” he told the opening session of the three-day conference, which brings together representatives both of States who have signed and ratified the CTBT and those who have not as well as non-government organizations (NGOs).

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“Pending its entry into force, I urge all States to maintain a moratorium on nuclear weapons test explosions or any other nuclear explosions, and to refrain from acts that would defeat the object or purpose of the treaty,” he declared.

Mr. Annan reiterated his oft-repeated disappointment of the “significant failure” of last week’s UN World Summit to agree on moving forward on disarmament, non-proliferation, and peaceful uses of nuclear energy.

“We meet at a time of heightened global anxiety about weapons of mass destruction – particularly nuclear weapons,” he declared. “It is our collective duty to promote and strengthen the various multilateral instruments which reduce the threat these weapons pose to us all. Yet we are not, as yet, rising to this challenge.”

The conference will hear progress reports on measures seeking to facilitate CTBT’s entry into force and adopt a final document on the proceedings.

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