MEDIA RELEASE

MINISTER FOR FOREIGN AFFAIRS
ALEXANDER DOWNER


FA145

28 November 1997

COMPREHENSIVE NUCLEAR TEST-BAN TREATY

I am pleased to announce that Cabinet has agreed to the preparation of legislation to enable Australia to fulfil its obligations under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and to initiate parliamentary scrutiny of the Treaty leading to ratification.

The CTBT - which bans all nuclear tests for all time - is a milestone in international efforts to address the global threat posed by nuclear weapon proliferation. As a major impediment to the development of new generations of nuclear weapons, it also promises to bring the nuclear arms race to a definitive end and hasten the process of the elimination of nuclear weapons.

I signed the Treaty on behalf of Australia in September 1996. Australia was an active participant in negotiations on the Treaty from the beginning and led international action to save it following the failure of efforts to achieve final consensus at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva. Australia successfully promoted the adoption of the Treaty by the United Nations General Assembly. To date, the CTBT has been signed by 148 countries, including all five nuclear weapon states, and ratified by eight. It has particular significance for the countries of the Asia Pacific region - the only region of the world where all five nuclear weapon states have at some time conducted nuclear tests.

By furthering the twin goals of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, the CTBT strengthens the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the cornerstone of international security arrangements in the nuclear field. A call for the early conclusion of a CT13T was a central recommendation of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference.

Australian technical experts have played and continue to play a central role in the design and implementation of the Treaty's verification regime which will include a global network of more than 300 monitoring facilities using seismic, radionuclide, hydroacoustic and infrasound technologies. The verification system will provide a high degree of confidence that no state .could conduct a nuclear explosion without being detected. By virtue of our large land mass and our geography, Australia will host the third highest, number of monitoring stations and laboratories after the United States and Russia.

Australia is one of the 44 countries whose ratification is necessary before the CTBT can enter into force.

Media Enquiries: Minister: Innes Willox (02) 6277 7500
DFAT: Tony Melville (02) 6261 1555