Statement of Non-Governmental Organisations to the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) held in Vienna (Austria) from 3 to 5 September 2003


Vienna, 5 September 2003

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an integral part of our global efforts to achieve international security for all, free from the threat of weapons of mass destruction. All states should recognize that action on the CTBT is all the more important in light of the rising  hostilities across the globe. From ongoing casualties in Iraq, the tension and unstable situation on the Korean peninsula, and the resulting precariousness of the NPT, the dire necessity of a comprehensive test ban is evident. Implementation of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty will  take the world one important step closer to the kind of global security framework it desperately needs. States presently resisting the CTBT are undermining their own security as well as the security of the world.

The CTBT was brought about largely through the hard work and determination of NGOs and millions of ordinary people around the world. In all these years, the NGO community has never faltered in its advocacy  for a test-ban treaty. People throughout the world understood that ending nuclear testing was essential for three powerful reasons: to halt  the spiraling arms race; to obstruct the emergence of new nuclear powers; and to prevent further devastation of human health and the global environment, already contaminated from decades of atmospheric and  underground explosions.  

Since the middle of the 20th century, more than 2,000 nuclear tests have been conducted throughout the world, with direct, serious, and long-term adverse health and environmental effects. It is estimated that atmospheric testing directly produced 430,000 fatal human cancers by the year 2000. Eventually, that total will be 2.4 million. If the horizontal and vertical proliferation of nuclear weapons leads to new rounds of testing, as we believe that it will, deleterious impacts on public health and social well-being can only increase.  

The health burdens of nuclear testing, uranium mining, and other impacts  of nuclear weapons development have fallen most heavily on colonized, indigenous, or minority groups: aboriginal people in Australia, Micronesian and Polynesian Pacific Islanders, Uygur people in China, Western Shoshone people in Nevada, the Kazakh people in the former Soviet Union, and, most recently, tribal villagers in Pokhran, India and  Chaghi, Pakistan.

We are profoundly disappointed with the countries that failed to attend the second Conference on the entry into force of the CTBT in November of  2001, especially those states whose signature or ratification is essential for entry into force. We are pleased, however, at the support  for the CTBT demonstrated by three Nuclear Weapon States France, Russia, and the UK- and we call on them to maintain and strengthen their  support. We also welcome the statement issued in September 2002 by 18  Foreign Ministers in support of the Treaty, the June 19th declaration by  the Organisation of American States in support of the Treaty, despite the objection of the United States , as well as the statement from Prime  Minister Koizumi on Nagasaki Day, calling for the early entry into force of  the Treaty.

It is crucial to the stability and future of the non-proliferation regime in its entirety that the CTBT enters into force, as was unanimously confirmed by all NPT States Parties at the 2000 Review Conference. Among the 13 practical steps for systematic and progressive  nuclear disarmament identified in the Final Document of that Conference,  the very first two are devoted to the CTBT and nuclear testing. These steps stressed the importance and urgency of signatures and ratifications, without delay and without conditions, to achieve the early entry into force of the CTBT. Furthermore, the document called for maintaining the moratorium on nuclear-weapon test explosions pending  the entry into force of the Treaty. The urgency of the Treaty entering-into-force has not waned in the three short years since that unanimous document; indeed, these goals are in serious danger of being undermined today.  

A ban on testing is an essential step towards nuclear disarmament because it helps to block dangerous nuclear competition and new nuclear threats from emerging. However, it must be recognized that technological advances in nuclear weapons research and development mean that a ban on nuclear test explosions by itself cannot prevent qualitative improvements of nuclear arsenals. Efforts to improve nuclear arsenals and to make nuclear weapons more useable in warfare will jeopardize the test-ban and non-proliferation regimes. We call on all states possessing nuclear weapons to halt all qualitative improvements in their nuclear armaments, whether or not these improvements require test explosions.

In this context, we are alarmed by recent disclosures of proposals by the present US administration for the research and development of a new generation of earth-penetrating nuclear warheads and new types of "low yield" warheads, as well as proposals to  reduce the time necessary to resume underground nuclear testing. Research, development, production, or testing of such weapons could lead to a dangerous nuclear action-reaction cycle that would not only undermine the test ban, but international security as a whole.

Although US Secretary of State Colin Powell said on August 7, 2003, that  the US "has no intention of testing nuclear weapons at this time," Powell also noted that "we can't rule it out forever". This pledge is hardly reassuring given the view of other senior officials in the Bush administration that nuclear testing might be needed to develop and produce new types of nuclear weapons or to maintain the reliability of the US stockpile. Such research could lead to development and proposals  to resume nuclear testing within the next two to three years.  

These disclosures underscore the link between nuclear testing and continued US reliance on nuclear weapons for security. They also reveal  an appalling disregard of the NPT commitment to ban nuclear testing permanently.

We recognize that any new step in the field of security generally often involves some risk, but the CTBT has been carefully designed so that its  benefits greatly outweigh any possible risks. The CTBT establishes a far-reaching global monitoring, verification, and compliance system. A series of independent studies, most recently by the US National Academy of Sciences in 2002, have all concluded that the system is capable of detecting nuclear explosions in all environments with a high degree of confidence, thereby deterring potential treaty violators. We commend the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organisation and the Provisional  Technical Secretariat for their work in establishing the International Monitoring System and International Data Centre, which are already proving their capabilities beyond expectations. We support efforts to promote the civil and scientific applications of the CTBT verification technology as a means of recouping costs and expanding the range of CTBT  stakeholders.

We oppose attempts by some states to delay full construction of the CTBT's verification system. Such behaviour signals a lack of political commitment, harms efforts to increase the number of parties to the Treaty and prevents the system from demonstrating its full technical capabilities, thereby giving comfort to those who question the Treaty's verifiability. We deplore efforts by a small number of states to obstruct finalization of the on-site inspection arrangements for the Treaty by not paying their dues, not participating in discussions on the  on-site-inspection manual, or by adopting unreasonable positions in those negotiations. Six years after discussions on the manual first began, we should expect it to be ready. We call on all signatories to provide the political, financial and technical support necessary for the  earliest feasible implementation of all elements of the CTBT's verification system.

We believe that global security would be enhanced if all states with nuclear test sites engaged in confidence-building processes, including transparency measures at those sites, during the interim period prior to  their complete elimination. In this regard, we note with interest the Russian proposal for mutual confidence-building measures with the United  States following the CTBT's entry into force. We applaud Ambassador Hoffman's visit to the Novaya Zemlya test site earlier this year and encourage the United States and Russia, as well as India, Pakistan, and China to pursue initiatives to increase transparency at their test sites  to dispel concerns about ongoing activities at those sites, including subcritical tests.

Despite overwhelming international support for the CTBT, 12 key states have not yet signed and/or ratified , unnecessarily delaying entry into force. The Bush administration has declared that it is not even seeking Senate approval for ratification. Washington has also announced that it will not pay its share of, nor participate in, non-IMS (International Monitoring System) activities of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBT Organisation in Vienna, including preparations for on-site inspections. The CTBTO's Provisional Secretariat was prevented from addressing this year's NPT Prepcom because the United States objected, employing a narrow reading of the rules. Although the US remains a signatory, it was the only country to oppose the retention of the CTBT on the agenda of the UN General Assembly in November 2001. The US has declared its intent not to contribute financially or to participate in non-IMS activities of the  Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO, including preparations for on-site inspections.

Most importantly, this conference must train its attention and its future efforts on the signatures and ratification by those states that are required by the stipulations of Article XIV, in order for the Treaty  to enter into force. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India, and Pakistan must sign and ratify the CTBT. China, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, the United States, and Viet Nam must now ratify, without further procrastination. The longer these states wait to join the Treaty, the greater the chance that some nation may begin testing and set off a dangerous international action-reaction cycle of military and nuclear confrontation.

Since the last Article XIV Conference, only Algeria has set an honorable example by moving from the signatories' to the ratifiers' list. What are the prospects for the next two years? Let us take a closer look at the problems relating to the reaching the Treaty's goal of entry into force as stipulated in Article XIV and its associated Annex II.

Twelve states must navigate through competing priorities and complex legislative processes, but that can no longer remain an excuse for delayed ratification. We strongly urge Colombia, Indonesia, Viet Nam, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to make a concerted effort to complete ratification before the end of this year. The world cannot tolerate any more procrastination.

We are disappointed that progress in China has ground to a halt. There does not appear to be any domestic political obstacle in the way of completing the ratification process, and we therefore strongly urge China to also complete ratification before the end of the year.

Three Annex II countries in the Middle East have attached conditions to their ratification of the Treaty. This is profoundly self-defeating. All states in the region are in favour of the creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction, as expressed in a long line of UN General Assembly resolutions. The full adherence of each of these states to the Treaty could only help to advance that common objective. We call on Israel, Egypt, and Iran to cease the counterproductive finger pointing and abandon the conditions they have attached to ratification, and to begin demonstrating real leadership. We find it significant that all of the Annex II states in the region are  signatories, and we strongly urge other countries in the region that have not yet signed the Treaty to do so immediately.

We welcome Pakistan's participation in this conference as an observer; we are disappointed that India chose to stay away. Given the series of crises with grave nuclear overtones that have shaken the sub-continent since the 1998 nuclear explosions, it should be self-evident that another round of tit-for-tat testing would adversely affect regional and  international security. More so than any other region in the world, South Asia needs a nuclear-test-ban. We urge these two nations to embrace the CTBT as symbolic of their mutual desire to move back from the brink and to cultivate peaceful relations.

It is perhaps ironic that this tour d'horizon leaves us with two such dissimilar nations: the Democratic People's Republic of Korea and the United States of America. Unfortunately, they hold in common a desire to retain  the option of conducting nuclear tests. Neither one of them has provided  the world with assurances that it will not exercise that option in the next years before the next Article XIV Conference. We hope that in context of the six-nation talks now underway, the issue of adherence to the CTBT will feature alongside the issue of adherence to the NPT. It would be an excellent confidence-building measure for North Korea to sign the CTBT and for both countries to proceed toward ratification.

It is the fundamental responsibility of this meeting to send an urgent and strong message to the remaining 12 CTBT hold-out states and urge their prompt signature and ratification without conditions or reservations. States Parties must also endorse the continuation of the current global nuclear test explosion moratorium until such time as the CTBT enters into force. On these points, there is no room for compromise.

NGOs are ready to make greater contributions to the efforts for entry into force. In particular, they will be able to do so if the interaction between governments, parliaments, NGOs and the media is intensified. Governments, for instance, should report to their parliaments on activities to implement the decisions of earlier Article XIV Conferences and their plans for future activities. The matter of entry into force should be discussed at regional intergovernmental meetings and parliamentary bodies linked to such organizations. The Provisional Technical Secretariat should be asked to assist the Intersessional Coordinator in compiling the reports from States Parties on their individual and collective initiatives, and to make them available to all  Parties on a regular, perhaps bi-monthly basis. NGOs, in the meanwhile,  will increase their own efforts at monitoring and reporting these initiatives, and disseminating this information to the public and to the  media. We will also continue our advocacy efforts aimed at the CTBT hold-out states. Through a strengthened network of NGOs, governments, international bodies and the media, we can promote further initiatives, intensify public discussion, promote solidarity, and exert broad pressure on the hold-out states.

Entry into force of the CTBT is truly within reach. But as a result of the actions of a handful of states, the viability of a verifiable, comprehensive ban on nuclear tests and the future of the NPT itself is in jeopardy. No single government or individual leader should be allowed to stand in the way of the historic opportunity to permanently  end the scourge of nuclear testing, an indispensable step towards eliminating nuclear weapons threats and preventing nuclear war.

This presentation was prepared and supported by NGOs who have worked for a comprehensive test-ban treaty for many years, in many countries, and in many ways. On behalf of the world's citizens, we urge you to do all that is within your power to ensure the entry into force of the CTBT and  the full implementation of all elements of this historic Treaty.