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Media release

24 September 2008

Foreign Minister Chairs Ministerial Nuclear Test Ban Meeting

Today at the United Nations in New York I chaired a meeting of Member States of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Ministers from a wide range of countries released a joint statement reaffirming the international community’s enduring support for the Treaty.

Speakers at the meeting supporting the Treaty included United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon; and UN Ambassador for Peace and actor, Mr Michael Douglas; and former US Secretary for Defence, Mr William Perry.

The strong international support for the CTBT is demonstrated by its 179 signatures and 144 ratifications.

The challenge remains that the Treaty has not yet entered into force.

The CTBT makes a key contribution to both non-proliferation and disarmament. It serves as a practical step toward nuclear disarmament and an effective non-proliferation measure limiting the technological development of nuclear weapons.

The meeting called on all States who have not yet done so, to ratify the Treaty without delay. This particularly applies to those nine States whose ratification is required for entry into force: China, The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

The meeting congratulated Iraq on its signature of the Treaty on 19 August 2008. Given the many challenges facing the Government of Iraq, this action is particularly commendable, and is a valuable sign of support for the Treaty.

Australia chairing the meeting demonstrated our ongoing support for the Treaty’s entry into force and implementation.

This year Australia funded a major field test of the Treaty’s on-site inspection mechanism, as well as CTBT workshops in Samoa and Indonesia. Australia is also assisting with technical studies to improve the ability of the CTBT’s verification system to detect any nuclear explosion.

To further support the CTBT in our region, Australia will co-host with Indonesia a workshop in Jakarta in November.

The Australian Government will continue to urge all countries to ratify the CTBT at the earliest opportunity, and to support the completion of its verification system.

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