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Conference on CTBT opens in Vienna

VIENNA, 6 October 1999 - Ministers and high-level governmental representatives from nearly 90 States (including ratifying States, Signatory States and non-Signatory States), as well as intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations, are meeting in Vienna this week for a three-day Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Conference opened today, 6 October 1999, at the Hofburg Palace, and is scheduled to last through 8 October 1999.

The aim of the Conference is to decide by consensus what measures consistent with international law may be taken to accelerate the ratification process and to facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force. The Conference is being convened by the United Nations Secretary-General as the Treaty’s Depositary, at the request of ratifying States, under Article XIV, which provides for the holding of such a conference if the Treaty has not entered into force "three years after the date of the anniversary of its opening for signature", on 24 September 1996.

By the opening of the Conference this morning, 154 States had signed the CTBT and 51 States Signatories had deposited their instruments of ratification. To enter into force, the CTBT has to be ratified by 44 nuclear-capable States listed in Treaty Article XIV. So far, 41 of these States have signed the CTBT, and 26 of them have deposited their instruments of ratification. (States that have deposited their ratification instruments and whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to enter into force are shown in boldface in the last paragraph.)

At the morning session, the Conference was opened by the Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Jayantha Dhanapala, on behalf of the United Nations Secretary-General, Kofi Annan. The former Minister for Foreign Affairs of Japan, Masahiko Koumura, was elected President of the Conference by acclamation. The Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Wolfgang Hoffmann, was confirmed as the Secretary of the Conference. Five Vice-Presidents were elected from the following countries: Australia, Czech Republic, the Netherlands, Peru and South Africa.

Highlights of the Opening Day

The Conference was addressed by the United Nations Deputy Secretary-General, Louise Fréchette; the Vice-Chancellor and Federal Minister for Foreign Affairs of Austria, Wolfgang Schüssel; and the Secretary of the Conference, Wolfgang Hoffmann.

In the general exchange of views, several speakers:

  • Noted that over half the number of ratifications required for entry into force had been received;
  • Underscored the importance of those States that had not yet signed observing a moratorium on nuclear tests pending their signature and the Treaty’s entry into force;
  • Encouraged nuclear-weapon States that had not done so to ratify the CTBT as soon as possible, and urged countries that had not yet signed the CTBT to do so without delay;
  • Called on countries whose ratifications were required for the Treaty’s entry into force to do so as expeditiously as possible;
  • Expressed concern that one State whose ratification was required for entry into force had not yet expressed its intention to sign the Treaty;
  • Voiced grave concern over the implications of the nuclear tests last year for the South Asian region;
  • Considered that acceleration of the ratification of the CTBT would contribute to the success of the Review Conference of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in April 2000;
  • Emphasized the need to keep up the political momentum for early entry into force of the CTBT.

The 51 ratifying States are: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Belgium, Brazil, Bolivia, Bulgaria, Canada, Czech Republic, Denmark, El Salvador, Estonia, Fiji, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Grenada, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Lesotho, Luxembourg, Mali, Mexico, Micronesia (Federated States of), Monaco, Mongolia, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Panama, Peru, Poland, Qatar, Republic of Korea, Romania, Senegal, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Uzbekistan.