Reporters were briefed by Robert Floyd, executive secretary of the agency that oversees the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (TCBT), which was opened for signature 25 years ago but has not yet entered into force because it requires ratification by a handful of key countries, which have nuclear capabilities.
“Once in force, the CTBT will serve as a essential element of a world free of nuclear weapons. To achieve this world, we all aspire to, a universal and effectively verifiable ban on nuclear testing is a fundamental necessity,” he said.
World at risk
Mr. Floyd was speaking against the backdrop of the latest conference on nuclear non-proliferation, which began this week at UN headquarters after two years of pandemic-related delays.
Countries are reviewing progress towards implementing the 50-year model Treaty on the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons.
At the inauguration on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the world was “just a misunderstanding, a miscalculation, away from nuclear annihilation”.
“Until we have full accession to the CTBT, nuclear testing and the proliferation of nuclear weapons will continue to pose an unacceptable risk to humanity,” said Mr. Floyd.
Download the tests
The CTBT complements the Non-Proliferation Treaty, said Mr. Floyd, and has already made a difference in the world.
“We’ve gone from more than 2,000 nuclear tests conducted between 1945 and 1996, less than 12 tests since the treaty was opened for signature,” he said. “Only one country has tested this millennium.”
The treaty has also received almost universal support. To date, 186 countries have signed the CTBT and 174 have ratified it, four in the last six months alone.
However, entry into force requires the treaty to be signed and ratified by 44 specific nuclear technology possessor countries, eight of which have not yet ratified it: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Pakistan and the United States.
Asked about these countries, Mr. Floyd responded that they “have their own calculations and strategic goals and geopolitical considerations about whether they feel free to move forward,” adding that they all support the CTBT and its goals.
Mr. Floyd also reported on the activities of the organization promoting the treaty, which he heads.
The CTBTO, as you have learned, has built a state-of-the-art verification system to detect nuclear explosions, capable of 24/7 monitoring.
The staff also trains inspectors from Member States to be ready to conduct on-site verifications once the treaty enters into force. In addition, countries use CTBTO data for civilian and scientific applications, such as tsunami warning systems and other university research.
“Even without entering into force, the CTBT is already helping to save lives in countries around the world,” said Mr. Floyd. “Even those who have not yet ratified the treaty benefit from this global collaboration and technological expertise.”