New York, 23. September 2011 Press release

Spindelegger: “Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty has tangible benefits”

New York, 23 September, 2011 – Austrian Foreign Minister and Vice-Chancellor Michael Spindelegger today attended the Ministerial Conference on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) which took place as part of the UN General Assembly. "This is the seventh Ministerial Conference in which we have demanded that the CTBT’s entry into force is accelerated. Our goal remains a nuclear test ban that is globally binding. It is thus regrettable that central nuclear powers are still hesitant to join this cornerstone of international disarmament efforts”, said Foreign Minister Spindelegger after the special conference.

“But despite this reluctance, the Treaty is already yielding concrete benefits. With the development of a world-wide surveillance system headed by this Vienna-based organisation, it has become possible to control nuclear weapons tests worldwide. Quite simply, a secret nuclear explosion can no longer happen”, said Spindelegger.

In addition to its importance for nuclear disarmament, the surveillance system is also relevant due to its possibilities for civic use. “Without having planned it, we have also created a kind of disaster relief organisation with the CTBT. The surveillance system continuously gathers data that could save lives, for instance through a tsunami early warning system. When the nuclear incident happened in Fukushima, the surveillance stations also proved to be reliable”, Spindelegger concluded.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature on September 24, 1996, following lengthy negotiations at the Geneva Conference on Disarmament. Since then, 182 nations have signed the treaty and 154 have ratified it. However, the CTBT has still not yet entered into force: a special paragraph requires ratification by 44 states that are specified by name and have the corresponding level of nuclear technology at their disposal. Nine of those states have so far refused ratification.

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