IRAQ SIGNS THE COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR-TEST-BAN TREATY

Vienna, 20 August 2008: Iraq signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on 19 August 2008.

”We welcome the decision by Iraq to sign the CTBT,” Tibor Tóth, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) said in a statement. “This is particularly significant given the multitude of challenges facing the Government of Iraq today: It is a strong political signal for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. My hope is that it will encourage other countries of the region and beyond to follow suit.”

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions. A verification regime is being built to monitor compliance with the Treaty. A total of 337 facilities worldwide constituting the International Monitoring System (IMS) are foreseen to monitor the underground, the oceans and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion. Of these, 230 facilities are already transmitting data to Vienna. Despite many stations not having been established, the IMS performed better than foreseen by the Treaty negotiators when the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced a nuclear test on 9 October 2006.

Tóth highlighted the benefits that Iraq will enjoy having joined the family of CTBTO Member States. In addition to participating in the organization’s decision-making bodies, Iraq will gain access to the raw and analyzed IMS data, which can also be used for civil and scientific applications, such as for disaster mitigation. Furthermore, Iraqi citizens will now be able to work at the CTBTO.

As Iraq was one of the few remaining larger countries worldwide not to have signed the CTBT, its signature is an important milestone for the Treaty. The total number of signatures in the critical Treaty-defined region of the Middle East and South Asia has now increased from 20 to 21, leaving only 5 non-signatories: Bhutan, India, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria. Among the Arab League, the total number of signatures now stands at 18 out of a total of 22 States.

Adherence to the CTBT is now almost universal. With Iraq’s signature, a total of 179 States have signed the CTBT. To enter into force, however, the Treaty must be signed and ratified by the 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the CTBT. These States participated in the Treaty’s negotiations in 1996 and possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time. Thirty-five of these States have ratified, including the three nuclear weapon States: France, Russian Federation, and the United Kingdom. The nine remaining States are: China, DPRK, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States.

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Source: CTBTO.org