In January 1998, Jayantha Dhanapala was appointed United Nations undersecretary-general for disarmament affairs. A career diplomat with extensive arms control experience, Dhanapala is perhaps best known for his skillful handling of the 1995 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) review and extension conference, at which he was able to secure unanimous support for indefinite extension of the treaty.
Dhanapala joined the Sri Lankan foreign service in 1965 after spending several years in the private sector. He held diplomatic posts in London, Beijing, Washington and New Delhi until 1984, when he was appointed ambassador and permanent representative of Sri Lanka to the United Nations. In 1987 Javier Perez de Cuellar named him director of the Geneva-based United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR). Dhanapala returned to Sri Lanka in 1992, where he served as additional foreign secretary and then as ambassador to the United States.
When he retired from the foreign service in 1997, Dhanapala joined the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies as diplomat-in-residence, a post he held until his current appointment. He attended the University of Peradeniya in Sri Lanka and received a master's degree in international studies from American University in Washington, D.C.
On September 28, Arms Control Today editor J. Peter Scoblic met with Dhanapala at UN headquarters in New York to discuss the United Nations' involvement in a wide range of arms control issues, including the future of the Conference on Disarmament, the prospects for the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the disarming of Iraq and the regulation of the conventional arms trade. The following is an edited version of their conversation.
Readers should note that this interview was conducted before both the October 6–8 Vienna conference on the CTBT's entry into force and the U.S. Senate's October 13 rejection of the test ban. However, following the Senate vote, Dhanapala submitted a brief statement to Arms Control Today (see Statement).
ACT: How broad is the scope of current UN arms control activities?
Dhanapala: The United Nations has been involved in disarmament from its very inception. The first General Assembly resolution adopted by the UN was on disarmament, and since 1945 the UN has covered the entire gamut of disarmament issues—weapons of mass destruction, conventional arms, confidence-building measures, regional disarmament. In doing so, it has attempted to develop a consensus among its membership so that there could be commonly agreed goals and action toward the achievement of those goals.
The three special sessions of the General Assembly that have been convened have been able to achieve this consensus, and following the first special session on disarmament in 1978, we have developed a machinery for the UN to work on disarmament that is divided basically into two arms: the deliberative machinery, which consists of the First Committee of the General Assembly and the Disarmament Commission; and the negotiating machinery, which consists of the Conference on Disarmament [CD], which has recently been expanded to 66 members.
In addition, there is the Department of Disarmament Affairs, recently re-established as part of Kofi Annan's reforms; the Advisory Board on Disarmament Matters, a group of eminent persons in the field of disarmament that advises the secretary-general; and the UN Institute for Disarmament Research. All these elements in the UN system contribute toward not only advising the secretary-general himself on disarmament issues, but also providing assistance to member states on disarmament issues in terms of information and objective data.
We also work in the area of outreach activities with the general public through our regional centers in Katmandu, in Lima, and in Lome, as well as through our headquarters here in New York. We organize conferences; we have public lectures, seminars and symposia; and we produce and disseminate a large number of publications. All this is part of our advocacy of disarmament. We are a norm-based organization, and therefore the propagation of those norms to the general public and to member states is part of our mission.
ACT: The Conference on Disarmament is one of the UN's major arms control institutions, but for the past three years there have been no substantive negotiations, and for two of those years members have not even been able to agree on a working program. Do you think there is a future for the CD?
Dhanapala: I share the concern of the international community over the fact that for three years the Conference on Disarmament has not adopted a program of work nor made any meaningful progress in negotiating disarmament agreements after it negotiated the Chemical Weapons Convention and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty [CTBT]. But we must, at the same time, recall that during the Cold War, there were many years—many more than three years—when the CD was inactive and unable to make any progress. At that time, I did not hear the same clamor for the abolition of the CD or, as the Tokyo Forum Report calls for, the suspension of the CD. I think those are very extreme and drastic views.
I believe that when there is a forum that has been established for the discussion of multilateral issues and disarmament, we should preserve that forum as far as possible. And we should try to examine why the CD has been allowed to be inactive in these three years. I believe it is a symptom of the international situation, that the deep disagreements among the great powers, the permanent five members of the Security Council [P-5], intensified in 1999. It is no secret that the bilateral nuclear talks between Russia and the United States have made no progress since 1995—we have had agreements, but we have not had treaties signed. START II remains to be ratified, and the CTBT is still unratified by the U.S. There are clearly problems, and in such a situation, the fact that the CD has not been able to make any progress is not a surprise really. I believe that the key to the CD beginning to work successfully lies in the general improvement of the international situation.
ACT: On a more specific level, would it be desirable, or even possible, to amend the consensus rule and move to a different procedure for agreeing?
Dhanapala: That would be difficult to achieve at this point in time. Disarmament touches on the security of sovereign nation-states, and it would be extremely difficult to have disarmament treaties with a few countries being outvoted. It certainly does not augur well for international peace and security if you isolate a minority in a general majority vote in favor of specific treaties. I think the objective should be to try to be as inclusive as possible, and the original purpose of the consensus rule was that it would bring a convergence of views of all states-parties. Unfortunately, the actual operation of the consensus rule has worked differently.
The views on the question of consensus have been very subjective. If countries are in the majority, they would be in favor of abolishing the consensus rule. If you are in a minority, you would be very wary of making such a recommendation. So, I believe that we must still move toward consensus, and decisions that have been arrived at through consensus are more likely to ensure the universality of global treaties on disarmament, and they will also be more likely to ensure their durability—and that is an important factor.
I would therefore advocate caution in rushing to abolish the consensus rule because it might lead to a steamroller majority, which would be counterproductive and which could lead to polarization and a very fractious minority acting against the interests of international peace and security out of frustration that the system is iniquitous or not sufficiently cognizant of its security interests. What we have to do internationally—and the UN provides a forum for doing this—is to try to draw all these different national interests into a global common security interest.
ACT: What are the prospects for the CTBT's entry into force and what do you anticipate in the upcoming conference in Vienna?
Dhanapala: First we must recognize that the CTBT is unique in having an entry-into-force provision in Article XIV that is unprecedented. Article XIV requires 44 specified countries to sign and ratify the treaty before its entry into force. That requirement is not in any other disarmament treaty. So there is an built-in handicap against the entry into force of the CTBT. Having said that, I think it is most unfortunate that we have today only 154 signatories of the treaty and 45 that have ratified it [as of September 28]. And of those 45, many of the countries specified in Annex 2 of the CTBT are missing, including three of the nuclear-weapon states: the United States, Russia and China.
I will be present at the October 6-8 meeting of the states-parties to the CTBT to which the secretary-general as depositary has invited signatory states as well as non-signatory states at the request of the ratifying states. I can see that the meeting will, after three days, end with a declaration, which cannot do very much more than exhort the international community to enable the treaty to enter into force as soon as possible. [See Final Declaration.]
We have very important countries, including three nuclear-weapon states, who have not ratified the treaty, and I do not think that their non-ratification is a function of the international situation that we were talking about, which has led to the general pause in the whole progress of disarmament. I think in certain cases it is domestic issues. In the case of India and Pakistan, we have of course seen the tests in South Asia, but we also have promises of both countries to sign the treaty, and I'm confident that those promises will be fulfilled sooner rather than later.
I think, therefore, in the short term, the prospects for entry into force of the CTBT are not very rosy, but I remain optimistic that if the ratification of the CTBT takes place in the United States, this itself would be a catalyst for others to follow suit.
ACT: If the CTBT does not enter into force in the short term, what effect will that have on the five-year review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty [NPT] to be held next April?
Dhanapala: Well, clearly it will have a negative effect on the 2000 NPT review conference, but it is more than the non-entry into force of the CTBT that acts as a unfortunate preparation for this important conference, which will be the first review conference since the treaty was indefinitely extended. I believe the fact that there has been inadequate progress in the implementation of Article VI of the NPT, in which the P-5 agreed to work toward disarmament, will be cited by many non-nuclear-weapon states—as indeed they already have in the preparatory process—as being an indication that the promises of the 1995 conference have not been completely fulfilled. The Statement of Principles and Objectives is one aspect of it. The resolution on the Middle East is another aspect. And so there are a number of factors in addition to the non-ratification of the CTBT that will place a great strain on the NPT regime unless something dramatic happens between now and April.
ACT: What besides the entry into force of the CTBT would serve that purpose?
Dhanapala: I think a demonstration of the political will of the nuclear-weapon states toward making deep cuts in their nuclear arsenals—either through a statement or through actual negotiations—would greatly help to allay the concerns of the non-nuclear-weapon states. As you know, there is an ongoing review of NATO's nuclear doctrine as a result of the efforts of Germany and Canada. There is also the public opinion pressure built up through the New Agenda Coalition of seven countries who had a resolution in the UN General Assembly last year and who will repeat that resolution in the General Assembly this year. There is also the Tokyo Forum Report, a report of a group of international nuclear disarmament experts that has had a considerable international impact and that will, no doubt, also be the subject of discussion when the First Committee of the General Assembly meets. So all these developments could help to avert what I see as a very serious debate in April 2000 on the nuclear non-proliferation regime, of which the NPT is the crucial element.
ACT: What is the future of UNSCOM?
Dhanapala: UNSCOM in its present form is clearly not going to survive for very much longer, and I would think that the draft resolutions that are now being circulated in the Security Council, which alone is empowered to act on this matter, make it very clear that a successor organization to UNSCOM is already being contemplated. Precisely what form it will take and what the details of that organization will be are not clear, but at its center it will have the implementation of the Security Council resolutions, beginning with Resolution 687 to disarm Iraq of its weapons of mass destruction and missiles with a range over 150 kilometers.
The panels that were organized at the beginning of this year under the chairmanship of Ambassador [Celso] Amorim of Brazil, who was president of the Security Council earlier this year, did produce a great deal of very useful material. I was a member of the disarmament panel, but there were also two other panels on the humanitarian aspects and on the question of prisoners of war and Kuwaiti property. In the disarmament panel alone there were a number of recommendations that were agreed upon, but the political decision on what should be done had to be taken by the Security Council, and we know that for several months the Security Council has been locked in disagreement on this issue.
Last week, P-5 foreign ministers held discussions and decided that the permanent representatives here will continue with the negotiations on this issue. So clearly UNSCOM is no longer operational; it is unable to go back to Iraq to fulfill the Security Council resolutions. That is also the case with the International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA], which helped UNSCOM in the implementation of the Security Council resolutions.
But at the same time, it must not be forgotten that both organizations destroyed more weapons of mass destruction in Iraq than were destroyed during the Gulf War. In the process, they also acquired a great deal of expertise on the subject of Iraq's weapons of mass destruction program. The Amorim panel felt that a reinforced monitoring and verification work plan could take into account the remaining disarmament obligations of Iraq. The ongoing monitoring and verification plan already envisaged in Resolution 715 is a basis on which one could build a successor organization to UNSCOM that, together with IAEA, would be able to fulfill those obligations. So it is now a matter for the Security Council to take up this issue.
ACT: Given the recent developments in U.S. negotiations with North Korea, what are the prospects for resolving the North Korean nuclear and missile issue?
Dhanapala: Well, on the nuclear issue, I think, as the director-general of the IAEA said in Vienna yesterday, the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] must come into full compliance with its safeguards agreement with the IAEA and restore its good status in the NPT regime. I remain hopeful that the agreements that were worked out under the Agreed Framework will be fulfilled, and I think it's also a beneficial development that the United States has reached an agreement with the DPRK on the subject of its missile program and that, for the moment, the DPRK has agreed to desist from any missile tests. We are aware that in conducting missile tests, the DPRK was not violating any norms—unlike in the case of the nuclear issue—because there are in fact no internationally negotiated agreements on missile issues, which is perhaps a lacuna in disarmament agreements that should be addressed by the international community.
But the tests did create a great deal of tension, particularly in Northeast Asia, and the fact that the tests will be suspended is certainly something to be welcomed. It is difficult to predict what will happen hereafter, but I think the way in which diplomacy can be used to check proliferation has been demonstrated by these recent bilateral discussions between the United States and the DPRK. The UN can only applaud political solutions to problems instead of the use of force, and so we also welcome this bilateral agreement for that reason and hope very much that it will endure.
ACT: It has been over a year since India and Pakistan conducted their nuclear tests. What has been the damage to the non-proliferation regime?
Dhanapala: Again, as the secretary-general stated at the time of the South Asian nuclear tests in May 1998, neither India nor Pakistan violated a treaty or any convention when they tested because they did not belong either to the NPT or to the CTBT. But there is no question that both countries caused a very serious setback to the momentum that had been generated, particularly after the Cold War, toward nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. With 187 countries today being members of the NPT, the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons is very much customary international law, so a norm has been practically established. In addition to that, when we—all of us, including India and Pakistan—are advocating nuclear disarmament, that cause is not advanced by two more countries crossing the threshold, whatever the security compulsions of those countries may be.
So, my conclusion, therefore, is that it has been a setback, but that that setback could be mitigated to some extent by both countries joining the CTBT, and with the statements made in the fall of 1998 here in New York by the prime ministers of both countries that they will do so, we remain optimistic. But beyond the signing of the CTBT by these two countries, restraint is absolutely necessary in terms of the weaponization programs, in terms of the development and deployment of delivery systems, in terms of command and control systems. That is why the secretary-general supports the continuation of the Lahore process between these two countries. It would be a way forward for two neighboring countries that have demonstrated their nuclear capability to solve the bilateral issues between them.
ACT: Is there any hope of rolling back the nuclear programs of those two countries?
Dhanapala: In the short term I see no prospect of that. The elections that are ongoing in India are likely to see the BJP [Bharatiya Janata Party], the party that launched India on the nuclear road, return to power, and there is already a draft nuclear doctrine that has been published. [See ACT, July/August 1999.] It does not appear from this evidence that there is going to be rollback of India's nuclear weapons program. And it follows—because the Pakistani nuclear program was a reaction to the Indian program—that Pakistan's program will remain. My hope is that the solution of the political problems, together with general progress on the international nuclear disarmament front, will persuade these countries to rollback. But it has to be linked to progress in international nuclear disarmament.
ACT: So you see the draft doctrine that India issued as a serious document as opposed to a political document released to influence the elections?
Dhanapala: Well, the timing of the publication may have been related to the election campaign to indicate the incumbent government's seriousness in following through with its nuclear plans after the May 1998 tests. But I think that it also is consistent with the statements that were made in the Indian parliament, in the United Nations and in other international forums about India's plans. For example, the concept of "no first use" was always mentioned by India as being an essential element of its nuclear doctrine, and that has been reflected in the draft nuclear doctrine.
It has been stated that the doctrine as published is a discussion document, and the intention is to have as widespread a discussion as possible within India and for the new government, when it is firmly in the saddle, to then decide on making the draft a permanent document. So I think there are serious elements in it that have to be considered, but the timing of its publication was probably dictated by electoral considerations.
ACT: What is the UN doing in the field of conventional arms, including small arms and light weapons?
Dhanapala: We have an entire branch devoted to the subject of conventional arms. While we recognize that the greatest threat to humankind remains weapons of mass destruction, and in particular nuclear weapons, the wars that have been fought since 1945 have been fought with conventional weapons and have caused an enormous number of deaths and an enormous amount of destruction. Most recently, the use of small arms and light weapons during conflicts within countries has resulted in an appalling cost in terms of civilian lives.
Small arms and light weapons have thus emerged as a major item on the disarmament agenda. The UN took the lead in recognizing this issue in 1997 by commissioning a group of government experts, who issued a report with recommendations to arrest the proliferation and the accumulation of small arms and light weapons. That report was followed by another that was issued this year. There have also been several resolutions in the General Assembly—four last year—together with the consideration of the issue at the Security Council level. Last week, the secretary-general spoke at a special session of the Security Council, presided over by the minister of foreign affairs of the Netherlands, that was devoted entirely to the subject of small arms.
We also had the secretary-general designate the Department for Disarmament Affairs as the focal point in the UN system for action on small arms and light weapons, and we have established a mechanism called the Coordinating Action for Small Arms [CASA] to serve as a clearinghouse for information on the activities of the entire UN system in this area, together with forging new initiatives in a multifaceted way. The small arms issue embraces a wide variety of aspects—the security aspect, the humanitarian and human rights aspect, the developmental aspect, and the environmental aspect—all of which have to be addressed holistically when we look at this problem.
ACT: What is the UN doing to control exports and imports of conventional weapons?
Dhanapala: We have developed a number of initiatives that build on the initiatives of member states, such as those of ECOWAS [Economic Community of West African States], which has established a moratorium on the import, export and manufacture of small arms and light weapons; the OAS [Organization of American States] convention on firearms; and the Joint Action of the European Union regarding arms exports. All these are building blocks toward a growing international consensus on what should be done. Right now, we are planning an international conference on the illicit trafficking of small arms in all these aspects, which is likely to be held in 2001 in Geneva.
We are also assisting member states in collecting and destroying weapons, particularly in post-conflict situations. The failure to destroy surplus weapons after a conflict can pose a grave risk in terms of recurrence of that conflict, but that risk can be eliminated by collecting the weapons and by finding employment for the demobilized combatants. In addition, we have to look into the protection of civilians in conflict, where easy availability of weapons tends to increase criminality.
Now this means, of course, that exporters have got to be very responsible. We recognize that small arms and light weapons are legitimately used by established governments of sovereign states in the normal defense of their security. But we are talking about surplus arms and the proliferation of small arms well beyond these legitimate security needs. The supply of such weapons has to be arrested if we are to make any impact on current conflicts and on terrorist groups, criminal gangs and drug cartels. So the conference in 2001 will be crucial.
ACT: What is the role of the UN Register of Conventional Arms?
Dhanapala: The Register of Conventional Arms, which was established in 1992, increases transparency in the export, import and national production of conventional arms, and as such serves as an important confidence-building measure. It embraces seven categories of conventional weapons—major weapons, not small arms—but, unfortunately, only 90 countries participate in this registry, approximately. I hope we can expand the number of countries in the registry and also widen its scope to include more categories.
We also have a standardized instrument for the reporting of military expenditure, which again is inadequately used by member states, and we need to also universalize that. Our regional centers in Katmandu, Lima and Lome also assist in our task with the Conventional Arms Register, in organizing seminars with regard to small arms and light weapons, and in developing regional registers.
ACT: What specifically can the UN do to get a handle on the illicit trafficking of weapons?
Dhanapala: A number of proposals are being made. First, I think governments need to agree on measures that will allow more accurate tracing of the journey between exporter and end user through more rigorous customs cooperation. Very often there is a gray market through which some of these exports enter, and their end user is very different from the original destination of these weapons. Therefore if customs, intelligence agencies, Interpol and the entire machinery of both national governments and international organizations work together, we would be able to trace these links much better and prevent the diversion of these exports to undesirable destinations.
Second, some have proposed international markings that would enable tracing of firearms or guns and other small arms. There are also suggestions regarding regional registers and subregional registers of small arms. We are also looking into a study on the feasibility of restricting trade of such weapons to authorized dealers so that it would be possible to locate responsibility more clearly. I think the extent to which governments can agree on these proposals will determine the success of the 2001 meeting I mentioned.
ACT: In recent months, a number of observers have noted that there has been a slowdown in arms control. Some have even referred to the "death of arms control." What is your comment on those observations and what can be done to reverse that perception?
Dhanapala: Well, I'm not ready to deliver an autopsy because I don't think that there has been a death of arms control and disarmament. I think it is not surprising, as I said earlier, that given the post-Cold War euphoria and the international consensus that existed then for disarmament, we had a number of disarmament agreements in quick succession, culminating in the CTBT of 1996. We have seen a change in the international situation since then, and the plateau that we are now on as far as disarmament is concerned is, in my opinion, a temporary lull. As soon as the international situation improves and the conditions are ripe for us to move forward, I believe there will once again be a progressive movement as far as disarmament is concerned.
Now, the elements that will go into this new situation will have to, of course, be generated by the international community, and we cannot allow the lull to last too long because that itself would be a failure and would be self-perpetuating. Therefore, I must urge the international community to look into this.
I am particularly concerned about the question of military expenditure. Global military expenditure fell very sharply after the Cold War. In 1998 it was $745 billion, according to one estimate. Projections for global military expenditure next year indicate a rise from that figure, and I fear that unless we reach disarmament agreements quickly, we are going to see once again a rise of this figure to Cold War levels. That would be a major setback to the global community because of the fundamental relationship between disarmament and development and the many other needs that have been unmet internationally—many people living below the poverty line, many people without safe water and many other global problems that have to be addressed with these resources.
ACT: You have mentioned the relationship between disarmament and the international situation several times. What aspect of the international situation needs to be changed so that disarmament may begin to move forward once again?
Dhanapala: Well, first, I think that with the end of the Cold War and the bipolar structure of international relations that it entailed, it is no longer a situation between the Russian Federation and the United States alone. There are clearly more actors today—more actors than the five permanent members of the Security Council. We have a number of important countries internationally. We are becoming increasingly a multipolar society, although we do have some countries that are clearly more powerful than others. Second, we face a great need today to strengthen the United Nations and the primacy of international law. We need to ensure that the rule of law prevails in the dealings that states have with each other and that the implementation of disarmament agreements and the forging of new disarmament norms is part and parcel of that body of international law.
Finally, I think that we need to work together more cooperatively with regard to the global interest. In today's globalized society there is a greater integration of the international economy and the political systems of countries. Therefore, in the pursuit of their national interests, states must recognize that there is a fundamental correlation between national interests and global interests, whether it is the political, military, economic or trade aspects. This global perspective has to be increasingly borne in mind.
ACT: Is part of the problem a sense of unease with the overwhelming relative power of the United States?
Dhanapala: I think inevitably after the end of the Cold War, which left the United States as the sole surviving superpower, a period of adjustment has become necessary between this overwhelmingly superior power and the rest of the world, including the United Nations. I believe there have been areas in which the United States has worked very well with the international community in achieving global norms and implementing global norms, but clearly there are areas where some elements within the United States have perceived the U.S. national interest to be at variance with the global interest. I think that the degree to which we can harmonize the U.S. national interest with the global interest will be the measure of success of U.S. leadership in the international community—leadership it is called upon to assume by virtue of its superior power.
ACT: What would be your vision of an expanded or refocused role for the UN in arms control and disarmament?
Dhanapala: I think our primary objective at this point is to reassess the global objectives in disarmament and reforge a global consensus on what the world community must set as its targets. This can be done, in my opinion, through a fourth special session of the General Assembly, which we call SSOD IV in the shorthand that we adopt here. My hope is that the member-states of the UN can agree on having that meeting in order to address the roles of multilateral disarmament in the immediate future and agree on a program of action to achieve those goals. Without that, I think we are groping and making piecemeal arrangements, whether in the area of weapons of mass destruction or the in the area of conventional arms.
It is useful to have these benchmarks, and the final document of the first special session SSOD I is already 21 years old. We have had several achievements, including the CTBT, and therefore we need to look at a fresh set of goals that should be achieved in the changed situation since the Cold War ended. And unless we do that, I think we do not have a compass for the future. SSOD IV will also help us to forge that vision, upon which the UN would very much like to see the international community agree. We must move toward an international society that places less emphasis on weaponry to solve issues that should be solved through nonviolent political means, through diplomacy.
Having a common security at lower levels of arms is the vision that the UN would have. A general and complete disarmament under international control has been the motto that has been adopted from the earliest times, but it translates really into possession of the minimum level of armaments—of conventional weaponry, that is, because I do think weapons of mass destruction should be abolished as we have abolished chemical and biological weapons—and that the minimum level required for national security would therefore pose no security threat to other countries. The realization of these goals would enable us to achieve a more peaceful and a more prosperous world.
Dhanapala Reacts to the U.S. Senate's Rejection of the CTBT
The decision to join a major international security treaty is, of course, a decision that is left exclusively to individual nation-states in the exercise of their sovereignty. The secretary-general has already expressed his regret over the U.S. Senate's recent vote against the ratification of the CTBT, reaffirming the importance of a universal and internationally and effectively verifiable comprehensive nuclear test ban treaty in maintaining the nuclear non-proliferation regime and progress towards nuclear disarmament. The vote was all the more regrettable given the efforts of U.S. leaders over several decades to achieve such a treaty and the strong public support this goal continues to enjoy.
The fate of the CTBT will shape significantly the future of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)—a treaty whose indefinite extension in 1995 was closely tied to the conclusion of a CTBT. In April of next year, the states-parties to the NPT will assemble in New York for the treaty's next five-year review conference. I fully expect that participants will assess closely the progress made in achieving this comprehensive ban on all nuclear tests, which had been promised in 1995.
The good news is that the fundamental norm against testing remains strong worldwide and that no nuclear-weapon state has indicated any intention of ending its current moratorium on conducting such tests. The challenge ahead is to persist in a collective international effort to make this norm binding under international law and to reinforce this basic obligation with a highly reliable system of verification that is being established in terms of the treaty's process. The sooner the CTBT enters into force, the sooner both of these goals will be achieved. —Jayantha Dhanapala