Statement by Sweden


Date:   7 October 1999

Delivered by: Ambassador Anders Bjurner, Deputy State Secretary for Foreign Affairs

Mr. President,

On behalf of the Government of Sweden, I would like to extend our warmest congratulations on your election as President of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We would also like to thank Ambassador Freeman of the United Kingdom and Ambassador Ikeda of Japan for the preparatory work carried out by them and their delegations during the past year.

Sweden fully associates itself with the statement made by Finland on behalf of the European Union. Therefore, I shall only highlight a few points of special importance to Sweden.

Mr. President,

Having been a strong proponent of a comprehensive test ban treaty for decades and one of its champions during the often-arduous negotiations, which led to its opening for signatures in 1996, Sweden addresses this conference with a mixed sense of satisfaction and concern. We are encouraged that 154 States have signed the treaty and 51 have deposited their instruments of ratification with the UN Secretary-General. Furthermore, the International Monitoring System is being built up. The Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission now has the capability to provide initial data and services to member states. In the midst of a slowdown in nuclear disarmament, the conclusion CTBT stands out as one of the main achievement – a milestone in multilateral arms limitation and disarmament negotiations in recent years.

On the other hand, the prospects of an early entry into force of the CTBT, we have to admit, are far from promising. This most disquieting situation is further underscored when considering the general lack of progress in recent years in the interrelated processes of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. So many years after the end of the cold war, thousands of strategic nuclear weapons remain on hair-trigger alert. And as long as there are nuclear weapons the risk of proliferation is there. Last year's nuclear testing in South Asia threatened not only the regional security. The testing was a serious setback to non-proliferation and challenged the norms inscribed in the CTBT. Moreover, a most unsettling tendency has appeared in recent years whereby several States seem to consider expanding rather than decreasing the role of both tactical and strategic nuclear weapons. Despite promising bilateral efforts to begin work on a START III treaty, progress in this regard is still stalled due mainly to the reluctance on the part of the Russian Duma to ratify START II. Plans for national missile defence systems also cause great concern in this context. Much to our regret, there has also been no progress this year in the Conference on Disarmament on a treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. Against this background and as we approach next year’s NPT Review Conference, we must concede that most of the principles and objectives agreed upon in the last Conference remain unfulfilled at best, which is of course of greatest concern.

Mr. President

This broader perspective and recent developments have added an additional sense of urgency to the speedy entry-into-force of the CTBT. The ratification by three nuclear weapons states – China, Russia and the United States – would be of particular importance. Sweden deplores the fact that India, Pakistan and North Korea so far remain outside the CTBT regime and in particular that the latter State has not even expressed its intention to sign and ratify. This situation must soon change and meanwhile we expect all States to observe a moratorium on nuclear tests pending the entry into force of the CTBT.

Mr. President,

Sweden firmly believes that all States signatories have an obligation to keep up the momentum by proceeding quickly with the establishment of the verification regime. The reasons for this are threefold: Firstly, there is the legal aspect. As stipulated in article IV of the CTBT, the verification regime shall be capable of meeting the verification requirements of the treaty at entry-into-force. Indeed, when the treaty enters into force, it is imperative that the system be in place and ready for operation. Secondly there is the political aspect: Although it is difficult today to foresee exactly when the treaty will enter into force, we believe that the establishment of the verification regime in itself will provide an incentive to join the system and thus serve to speed up the process towards entry into force. Thirdly and finally, the improved ability to tell apart nuclear testing from earthquakes or mining explosions inherently constitutes a confidence-building measure and thus provides a measure of increased international security.

Mr. President,

Sweden believes it is of utmost importance to keep up the political momentum of this Conference. We would welcome an appropriate follow-up process without delay including the delivery of our common message from here to those most concerned.

The comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty is a win-win proposition. Not only will the entry into force of the treaty provide much needed new momentum in international efforts towards nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The treaty will enhance both global and regional confidence and security by signalling the definite end to nuclear testing. Let us not allow national short-term political aims or political gamesmanship to stand in the way of achieving this noble objective. Let us muster the political commitment to seize this historic opportunity to make the world a safer place in the 21st century.

Mr. President,

Sweden calls on all States that have not yet done so, to sign and ratify, unconditionally and without delay, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty.

Thank you, Mr. President.