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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Secretary-General calls for early end to nuclear testing worldwide

23 September 2010 – Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon today called on all countries to work together to rid the world of the nuclear threat and to bring about the early entry into force of the United Nations-backed treaty banning nuclear testing.

“Until we have universal adherence to a legally-binding global norm against nuclear testing, there is no guarantee that nuclear tests will not recur,” Mr. Ban said in remarks to the Fifth Biennial Ministerial Meeting in support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

He told the gathering, held at UN Headquarters on the margins of the annual high-level General Debate of the General Assembly, that nuclear testing has left a legacy of devastated and inhabitable landscapes and lasting health and economic effects on local and downwind populations.

“More troubling, nuclear testing has still not been consigned to history,” he said, noting that two tests have been conducted in the past five years.

Mr. Ban urged all governments that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the CTBT without further delay, and to work together to bring the treaty into force by 2012. He also urged Governments to maintain existing moratoriums on nuclear weapon test explosions.

Of the 182 countries that have signed the CTBT, 153 have ratified it. There are 44 countries that have to ratify the treaty for it to enter into force, of which 35 have already done so.

The remaining nine are China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. Indonesia announced in May that it had initiated the CTBT ratification process.

In addition, Guatemala, Iraq, Papua New Guinea and Thailand have indicated that they intend to ratify the treaty, which opened for signature in 1996.

He told participants that developing new nuclear weapons and modernizing existing weapons are incompatible with the world’s collective non-proliferation and disarmament efforts.

“We can no longer wait for the perfect international environment before taking advantage of existing – and potentially short-lived – opportunities,” he stated. “Be courageous. Take the initiative. Be the first mover.”

Traditionally, there are three types of nuclear tests: underground tests, atmospheric tests and underwater tests. With each possessing a tremendous potential for destruction, the CTBT bans them all.

“The time has come to end such tests and to sustain the current momentum towards a world without nuclear weapons,” Mr. Ban told reporters after the meeting.

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