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ElBaradei Calls for Entry Into Force of the Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

CTBT Symposium

IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei and Mr. Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO) at yesterday´s Symposium "CTBTO: Synergies with Science", marking the Treaty´s 10-year anniversary. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA)

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The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a key to global security, IAEA Chief Mohamed ElBaradei remarked at the opening of a two-day symposium marking the 10th anniversary of the adoption of the Treaty.

Praising the organization in setting up a comprehensive monitoring system for verification, he said that the Treaty is "our best hope of stemming nuclear proliferation". It was against this background that Dr. ElBaradei expressed his disappointment that the Treaty was still not formally in force.

"The CTBT is key to a system of security we are trying to build. A system of security that does not rely on nuclear weapons," Dr. ElBaradei told the 500-plus participants who gathered to mark the anniversary in Vienna. "We either send a clear message that we want to see a world free from nuclear weapons or we will continue to see a gradual erosion of the kind of system we have tried to build since the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was adopted in the late 1960s."

The CTBT, which bans all nuclear weapons testing, will not enter into force until it has been ratified by all 44 States that are listed in the agreement. Still missing are seven States (China, Colombia, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel and the United States) that have signed but not ratified, and three States (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan) that have yet to sign the CTBT. The Treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly and opened for signature in New York in September 1996 when it was signed by 71 States, including the five nuclear-weapon States. To date, it has 176 signatories and 135 ratifying States. (See Story Resources for related links).

Quoting the preamble to the NPT which recalls the determination of all parties "to seek to achieve the discontinuance of all test explosions of nuclear weapons for all time...", Dr. ElBaradei cited the CTBT as the most logical step after the NPT for the international community to "make good on a desire to move toward a world free of nuclear weapons."

The slow pace of the CTBT's entry into force is not an isolated phenomenon, noted Dr. ElBaradei but rather it is "symptomatic of the slow progress with the regard to movement toward disarmament." In this context, the IAEA Chief noted the on-going work to achieve a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMTC). "These are instruments which should work in parallel," he noted, "to prohibit both the quantitative and qualitative tools which will enable countries to move and develop nuclear weapons."

In his closing remarks, Dr. ElBaradei recalled that the CTBT has been described as "the longest sought, hardest fought prize in the history of arms control." The description served to underline how much the international community "yearns" for the CTBT.

"We owe it to ourselves, we owe it to humanity and we owe it to our people to see that the CTBT comes into force as early as possible."