The Australian Government is deeply disappointed by the inability of the
Conference on Disarmament in Geneva to reach consensus on the draft Comprehensive
Test Ban Treaty prepared by the Chairman of the Negotiations, Ambassador
Ramaker of the Netherlands.
I believe that the CTBT text represents an historic achievement by the international
community. The many commitments and compromises embodied in the text reflect
more than two and a half years of intense multilateral negotiations, including
at the highest political levels.
Australia and many other countries worked hard to balance the interests
of all countries participating in the negotiations in Geneva. Australia
supports the treaty text as the best outcome achievable in the negotiations.
The vast majority of negotiating countries agree, including the five nuclear
weapon states - the United States, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and
China - and an impressively diverse group of non-nuclear weapon states.
I regret that the Indian Government was not able to allow the treaty text
to go forward to the UN General Assembly.
Australia and other supporters of the CTBT have come to the conclusion that
failure to close on this treaty now would mean the loss of a CTBT for the
foreseeable future. I am convinced that this would represent a very serious
setback for global efforts to advance nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
The program of action agreed in May 1995 at the Review and Extension Conference
of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) identified
a CTBT as an important immediate step towards nuclear disarmament in fulfilment
of Article VI of the NPT.
Subsequently, in December 1995, the UN General Assembly declared its readiness
to resume work before the end of its current session in September in order
to endorse the text of a CTBT.
I am deeply committed to an end to testing and I am convinced that this
historic opportunity to secure a CTBT should not be lost. A growing number
of countries share this view and are prepared to consider appropriate international
action to save the treaty.
Therefore Australia has taken action in New York to have the CTBT text put
to the UN General Assembly for endorsement. With the support and cooperation
of other CTBT supporters, we will work to achieve the treaty's endorsement
during the current session of the UN General Assembly and its opening for
signature at the earliest possible date.
For further information, contact Paul Molloy on 06.261.3207 or Kirk Coningham