08/10/1999, updated at 16:00       

China to Speed up Ratification Process of CTBT, Official Says

  China will try her best to speed up the ratification process of a global nuclear test ban treaty based on a full review of the treaty and the international security environment, a Chinese official said in Vienna Wednesday.

  Sha Zukang, head of a Chinese delegation for the first Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), made the remark at the opening ceremony of the gathering.

  He reiterated that China, as a responsible and signatory state, will abide by the CTBT, actively support and participate in the preparatory work of the treaty organization, and work to promote its entry into force.

  The Chinese government's basic position on the treaty has remained unchanged, he told participants coming from more than 100 countries and groups.

  Sha said that the CTBT, the result of long-term painstaking efforts by the international community, is of epoch-making significance in international nuclear disarmament.

  It not only represents a major step in mankind's endeavors toward complete prohibition and destruction of nuclear weapons, but also constitutes an important achievement in global arms control and disarmament, he said.

  Since its opening for signatures on September 24, 1996, 14 days after its approval by the United Nations General Assembly, 47 out of 154 states have ratified the treaty. This demonstrates that the international community is supportive and confident of it, Sha said.

  The Chinese official lauded CTBT's preparatory work over the past three years, saying the endeavor is in full swing due to efforts of many concerned people, including Dr. Wolfgang Hoffman, the first Executive Secretary of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Preparatory Commission.

  He expressed regret over the sluggish ratification process and the lack of participation by the parties concerned in the Treaty Organization's preparatory work, while commenting that the phenomenon is not an isolated event and its root causes deserve reflection.

  He set out as examples the successive nuclear explosions in South Asia a year ago, and the 78-day bombing campaign against a small non-nuclear weapons state by the world's most powerful military bloc.

  All these events, Sha said, dealt "a heavy blow to the nuclear non-proliferation regime and disarmament process" and is not something the world wishes to see occur again. "Some countries" want to "strengthen both their sword and shield to gain their own absolute security" by vigorously pursuing a national missile defense system and theater missile defense system, Sha noted.

  Such an approach will "inevitably bring severe damage to global and regional strategic balance and stability," he said, and "this is surely not a gospel to those states which are positively considering to ratify CTBT."

  As a result, Sha said, the consequences of the mentioned developments have begun and will continue to reveal themselves. They will ultimately hinder the entry into force and the universality of CTBT.

  China sincerely hopes the window of opportunity in arms control and disarmament -- opened in the wake of the relaxation of international relations after the end of the cold war -- "will not be closed by some countries as a result of their irresponsible pursuit of cold war mentality and hegemonism," Sha added.

  He noted that it should be realized that disarmament can be promoted and international peace and security achieved only by abandoning the old security concept based on a military alliance and build-up of armaments and establishing a new one based on mutual trust, mutual benefits, equality and cooperation.

  Sha held that only this represents the precondition and foundation for CTBT's increasing acceptance and early entry into force.

  He urged those states which have not yet signed or ratified the treaty to do so at an early date.

  The final declaration and the follow-up actions of this conference should be in line with such an aim, he said, noting that attempts to amend the entry-into-force article will be legally or practically undesirable.

  CTBT can only take effect 180 days after all 44 countries in Geneva-based Conference on Disarmament with nuclear reactors or research programs endorse it. At present only 21 states with nuclear capacity have ratified it.

  UN Deputy Secretary-General Louise Frechette and Austrian Vice-Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Wolfgang Schuessel spoke at the conference which is aimed at accelerating the implementation of CTBT by appealing to those that have not signed or ratified the treaty. (Xinhua)

WorldNews 1999-10-08 Page6