Excellencies, distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen.

Together with Minister Fumio Kishida, I warmly welcome all of you here today to the Eighth Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Ministerial Meeting, hosted by the Friends of the CTBT, in cooperation with the Article 14 Co-Chairs.

I especially welcome the Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon and the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, Dr Lassina Zerbo.

I acknowledge the States represented here today for their continuing support for the CTBT and their efforts towards achieving its entry into force.

We are gathered here to demonstrate the strong international will to end nuclear testing, and to express our support for the CTBT.

The CTBT is a critical component of the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture. It constitutes a fundamental step towards the elimination of nuclear weapons, and enhances our regional and global security. It has 183 signatories and 164 ratifying states, which will increase to 166 today. The entry into force of the treaty is in the overwhelming interest of all countries.

This meeting is particularly important as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Treaty's opening for signature, which should galvanise our efforts and remind us of the work that needs to be done.

The CTBT has helped underpin the global moratorium on nuclear testing, which has itself become a clear and powerful international norm.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the only country to have conducted a nuclear test this century, its latest and largest test earlier this month.

The international community swiftly condemned this test, as it had previous ones.  In doing so, the international community made it clear that these actions, which directly challenge the Treaty's object and purpose, were totally unacceptable. Of course, a moratorium is no substitute for a permanent and legally-binding commitment to end nuclear testing.  This can only be achieved by the CTBT entering into force.

It is crucial that all countries sign and ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty without further delay, in particular the eight remaining Annex 2 states.

This will bring us closer to achieving the objective of a global prohibition against nuclear testing. On behalf of all the Friends countries and Article 14 Chairs, I welcome the imminent ratifications by Myanmar and Swaziland, and there is a  ratification ceremony scheduled for 4pm today, 21 September.

I look forward to a successful and productive meeting, and to issuing our joint Ministerial Statement at its conclusion.

I now invite His Excellency Mr Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, to make his opening remarks.

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