The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
FA168 / 15 November 2001

Australia and the International Community Maintain Strong Support for Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

The terrible events of 11 September, and their aftermath, have underlined the importance of renewed international commitment to the cause of the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction.  The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is a central plank of the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

I therefore welcome this week's affirmation in New York by the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT of the international community's strong commitment to the Treaty.  The Conference Declaration also supported the moratorium on nuclear testing, pending entry into force of the CTBT, and called on countries yet to sign and ratify the Treaty to do so as soon as possible.

Australia played a significant role in the negotiation and acceptance of the CTBT.  In 1996, I led international action to bring the Treaty to the United Nations General Assembly where it was adopted by an overwhelming majority.  I had planned to lead Australia's delegation to the Conference and attend the parallel verification seminar, but was unable to do so due to the Australian election.  Australia's Permanent Representative in New York, Mr John Dauth, led the delegation in my absence.

The Conference, held on 11 to 13 November, welcomed good progress in establishing the International Monitoring System (IMS), which will verify states' commitments to the Treaty.  Australia is playing a central role in establishing this systemby hosting 20 IMS stations, the third largest number of stations of any Treaty signatory. Australia presently has the largest number of IMS certified stations.

Australia also co-sponsored with Canada, Sweden and VERTIC (the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre, a London-based international policy institute) a seminar on CTBT verification at the UN on 12 November, to coincide with the CTBT Conference.  The seminar highlighted the strengths of the CTBT's verification system.

The CTBT now constitutes a powerful international standard against further nuclear testing, with 161 signatures and 87 ratifications, including, most recently, two regional countries, Singapore and Nauru.  But the Treaty must enter into force for its full benefit to be realised.  This requires all 44 countries with significant civilian nuclear technology to ratify it.  So far, 31 of these 44 have done so.  Australia does not underestimate the obstacles to be overcome to secure entry into force, but will work steadfastly with other supporters of the CTBT until our goal is achieved.

Inquiries: Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 or / Nicole Guihot (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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