Statement by Ursula Plassnik, Federal Minister for European and International Affairs at the CTBT Ministerial Meeting, New York
CTBT Ministerial Meeting
New York, 24 September 2008
Statement by Ursula Plassnik,
Federal Minister for European and
International Affairs of the Republic of Austria
Check against delivery
Mr. Secretary General,
Dear Colleagues and Friends,
Let me first join the words of gratitude to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon for his personal dedication. His presence underlines the relevance of the CTBT for international security. I also thank all of you, dear Colleagues, for your participation in today’s meeting.
12 years after its adoption, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty has still not entered into force. In many ways, the stagnation of the CTBT reflects the crisis of confidence in disarmament and in nuclear non-proliferation.
Apart from individual initiatives, such as this year’s successful effort to ban cluster munitions, the developments of the last decade give reason for concern:
- The failure of the NPT Review Conference in 2005;
- The nuclear test by North Korea in 2006;
- The continuing uncertainty about the nuclear program in Iran and its nature.
Two weeks ago, the Nuclear Suppliers Group exempted a non-NPT-Party from its trade restrictions. This was a very difficult decision for many states and Austria was the last NSG-Member to decide that it would not refuse consensus. And I have to add on a personal note that this was one of the most difficult decisions to take for me as a Foreign Minister. One reason for our discomfort was that a reference to the CTBT was rejected in the exemption - even though all 45 NSG-Members are signatories of the CTBT and 43 members ratified it. This has raised serious questions about the commitment of the international community to the CTBT. And these questions are not dispelled.
But let me also shed some light on the many positive developments the CTBT has seen recently:
- One year ago, more than 100 ratifying states called for early entry into force of the CTBT at the Article XIV Conference in Vienna which I co-hosted together with my distinguished colleague from Costa Rica.
- Last month, Iraq became the 179th signatory of the Treaty.
- Barbados and Malaysia, as well as the Annex-II-state Colombia ratified the CTBT this year, bringing ratifications up to 144 and the number necessary for entry into force down to 9.
- In Workshops, which Austria supported in the Pacific and the Caribbean, we have seen strong interest in the Treaty and its civil and scientific applications, for example the tsunami warning capabilities.
- And the CTBT-system works: Almost 1000 institutions from over 100 countries make use of the information provided by the CTBT’s International Monitoring System today.
If there are questions about our determination to end nuclear testing and its irresponsible effects on human health and the environment, we must provide convincing answers.
This meeting and the declaration we adopt today provide such a clear answer: The CTBT has the full support of all its ratifying states. It remains a pillar of our international security architecture.
Testing nuclear devices is a clear threat. Twenty years after the end of the Cold War the language of threat is no longer the language we want to speak. It will not be the language of the future.
I am grateful to former US Secretary of Defence William Perry and Messenger of Peace Michael Douglas for adding their voices to ours. The active involvement of committed individuals and civil society is vital for our endeavours.
We need to build confidence in the power of peaceful alternatives. With our support for the CTBT we are conveying such a message of hope, a message of peace.
Let us all redouble our efforts to ensure that this message is heard around the world.