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Nongovernmental Experts Urge States to Translate Words Into Action on Nuclear Test Ban Treaty
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For Immediate Release: Sept. 22, 2011

Media Contacts: Daryl G. Kimball, Director, Arms Control Association, (202-463-8270 ext. 107); Togzhan Kassenova, Carnegie Endowment for Intl. Peace (202-939-2306);

(New York/Washington) -- At a meeting of more than 100 senior government officials at the United Nations to discuss pathways to bring the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty into force, a diverse set of nongovernmental nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament leaders, as well as former government officials and diplomats are calling on all states to translate their words of support for the Treaty into concrete action.

In the statement to be delivered at the conference on behalf of NGOs by Nuclear Policy Associate Togzhan Kassenova of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, the nongovernmental experts said:

"Fifteen years since negotiations on the Test Ban Treaty were concluded, the long journey to end testing is not over. The CTBT must still be ratified by the remaining nine “holdout” states before it can formally enter into force.

We are grateful for the strong statements delivered at this conference on the value of the treaty and the need for prompt entry into force. But actions speak louder than words. We call upon every state at this conference, collectively and individually, to act. This conference must help produce a serious diplomatic action plan for getting the remaining holdout states on board."

The full text of the statement can be found here.

Nine more states including—China, the DPRK, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, Iran, Pakistan, and the United States—must ratify before the CTBT can formally enter into force. To date, 182 states have signed the Treaty (including China and the United States) and 155 have ratified.

In the statement, the NGOs note that: “Ratification by the United States and China is particularly important. Given their existing nuclear test moratoria and 1996 signature of the CTBT, Washington and Beijing already bear most CTBT-related responsibilities, yet their failure to ratify has denied them—and others—the full security benefits of CTBT entry into force.”

"Under the CTBT," the NGO statement notes, "the established nuclear-weapon states would be barred from proof-testing new, more sophisticated nuclear warhead designs. Without the option of nuclear explosive testing, newer testing nations cannot perfect smaller, more easily deliverable warheads.

With the CTBT in force, global and national capabilities to detect and deter possible clandestine nuclear testing by other states will be significantly greater and short-notice, on-site inspections can be used to investigate suspicious events.

In his address before the UN General Assembly on Sept. 21, U.S. President Barack Obama said "America will continue to work for a ban on the testing of nuclear weapons ...." Earlier this year President Obama and President Hu Jintao of China issued a joint statement expressing support for early entry into force of the Treaty.

“We welcome President Barack Obama's and President Hu Jintao's stated support for CTBT entry into force, but now they must act," said Daryl Kimball, executive director of the U.S.-based Arms Control Association, which coordinated the NGO statement. "To indicate the seriousness of his intentions and to sustain the effort, we call on President Obama to promptly name a senior, high-level White House CTBT coordinator," Kimball said.

"Such efforts take time and may not show results in the next several months," he noted. "But to build the support necessary for U.S. ratification, the Obama administration can and must begin to make the case for the Treaty now."

The NGO statement also argues that "... ratification [of the CTBT] by Israel, Egypt and Iran would reduce nuclear weapons-related security concerns in the region. It would also help create the conditions necessary for the realization of a Middle East Zone free of Nuclear and other Weapons of Mass Destruction."

"Iran was at one time an active participant in the CTBT negotiations and on September 24, 1996 it signed the treaty," the NGO statement notes.

"Today, Iranian ratification would help reduce concerns that its nuclear program could be used to develop and deploy deliverable nuclear warheads. Continued failure by Iran to ratify the CTBT raises further questions about the nature of its sensitive nuclear activities, which remain under investigation by the International Atomic Energy Agency. We strongly urge the states involved in the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) to play leadership role in pressing Iran, the incoming chair of the NAM, to ratify the CTBT," say the experts in their statement to the conference.

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Posted: September 22, 2011