MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER





FA84
23 AUGUST 1996

COMPREHENSIVE TEST BAN TREATY (CTBT)

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 objectives.

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.

BEIJING

For further information, contact Paul Molloy on 06.261.3207 or Kirk Coningham on 06.261.3214