Statement by The Netherlands


Date:   6 October 1999

Delivered by: H.E. Ambassador Jaap Ramaker, Head of Delegation of the United Kingdom of Netherlands

Mr. President,

Let me join previous speakers in congratulating you on your election as President of this Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. It is only fitting that a high representative of Japan occupies the chair of this Conference which aims at silencing nuclear test-sites once and forever, wherever in the world. May I take this opportunity also, Mr. President, to endorse the statement to be made Later during this Conference by H.E. the Minister for European Affairs of Finland, Mr. Kimmo Sasi, on behalf of the European Union and the Associated Countries, to which the Netherlands fully subscribes.

Mr. President,

There is no need to underline the paramount importance to be given, as the Netherlands does, to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. We see it as an essential prerequisite for our efforts to ultimately rid the world of nuclear weapons and making it a safer place to live for all. While its importance sometimes is belittled or its feasibility, in some circles, is sometimes put into doubt, the Treaty is an indispensable building block in the entirety of nuclear disarmament because,

- it will render nuclear test explosions in whatever environment, be it above or under the earth's surface, illegal forever;

- it constrains "the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons" and ends "the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons" in the words of the Treaty;

- it serves the worldwide efforts at both nuclear disarmament and at preventing the spread of nuclear weapons;

- it is for all of these reasons an essential step on the road towards the ultimate banning of nuclear weapons, an objective the Netherlands fully subscribes to.

Mr. President,

Since its opening for signature on that eventful day in New York, on the 24th of September 1996, and well before its entry into force, the Treaty has developed into a world-wide norm against the conduct of nuclear test-explosions. This being so, I regrettably have to add that in the past three years that very norm was challenged. We have witnessed a series of nuclear tests only a little over a year ago. We have expressed our grave concerns over the implications of these unfortunate events. Implications, though, not so much maybe for the object and purpose of the CTBT itself as for peace and stability in South Asia. The condemnations from all over the world that followed these tests, some would say ironically, served to illustrate how strong a norm against nuclear test explosions the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty had become in the meantime.

Mr. President,

Fate had it that in 1996 my then delegation and I myself as chairman of the nuclear test ban negotiations in Geneva had to bring these negotiations to a successful conclusion. One of the most thorny issues, if not the most thorny issue, towards the end of the negotiations was precisely the question under what conditions the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty would come into effect so as to meet the different objectives negotiators had

set themselves. The outcome of our deliberations on that point have resulted in the Entry into Force article, article XIV, of the Treaty. And that outcome, Mr. President, brings us together here in Vienna these days, in the splendid Hofburg so graciously offered by the Government of Austria.

Article XIV, at the time of the negotiations, was - to put it mildly - hardly seen as the ideal outcome. Nevertheless it was the only outcome generally acceptable. Negotiators realized that under the circumstances it might well be that an early entry into force was not likely for years to come. In any case, they thought it useful that ratifying States, fully

respecting the sovereign right of other States, would come together after a few years to discuss how to promote the ratification process thus bringing closer the day on which the Treaty would actually take effect.

The Netherlands ardently hopes that this Conference convened with that purpose in mind will send a strong signal to the world that the ratifying States, gathered here in Vienna, attach the highest importance to universal adherence to the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. This Conference has to reach out not only of course to those States that have signed the Treaty but were not yet in a position to complete their ratification process, but in particular also to those - few - remaining States that have neither signed nor ratified the Treaty.

Mr. President,

We have already achieved a great deal. Including the depositing of some more instruments of ratification yesterday, we are now more than half way the number of ratifications required for entry into force. In order to strengthen the signal that should emanate from this Conference as much as possible, the Netherlands, right from the start, has been in favour of a broad participation of States to this Conference. A participation, Mr. President, of ratifying States and States signatories alike. The Netherlands calls upon all States which have not yet done so to sign and/or ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. We urge all participants to contribute to a successful outcome of this Conference so as to open a real perspective for an early entry into force of the Treaty.

Pending entry into force the Netherlands is happy to note that ratifying States and State signatories in the last few years have been energetically preparing the actual implementation of the Treaty. We have been carefully listening to the Preparatory Committee's Executive Secretary, Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann, who gave us a clear picture of the progress made with regard to the International Monitoring System and the administrative structures of the CTBT Organization. We are pleased to see also progress

made on the On-side Inspection Regime. There is no doubt in our minds that thus the solid foundations are laid for an effective verification of the Treaty at its entry-into-force. Dr Hoffmann, as I remember well, was involved in the negotiations in Geneva right from the beginning. We commend him for the formidable job done now here in Vienna. The

progress achieved in this area not only shows our commitment to the Treaty and our confidence in its viability, but in itself furthers the objectives of this Conference.

The Netherlands takes the process started with this Conference very seriously. The momentum should be maintained. We have to succeed. We, therefore, maintain our strong preference for an annual event which was in the mind of negotiators at the time. It goes without saying, of course, that the less annual events of this kind the better, since that would mean that we have reached all the required number of ratifications. At any rate, efforts at promoting early entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban

Treaty should remain in the focus of attention of the world community.

Mr. President,

Who can deny that we are all better off with the Treaty than without?

I thank you, Mr. President.