UNITED NATIONS – The United Nations on Tuesday appealed to the score of countries who are holding up implementation of a 1996 treaty banning tests of nuclear weapons to ratify the pact.
“Nearly two decades after its negotiation, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has still not entered into force. A breakthrough is long overdue,” Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told delegates to the ninth conference on facilitating the entry into force of the pact, known as the CTBT.
The treaty was approved by the UN General Assembly on Sept. 10, 1996, but remains on hold because a number of countries have yet to ratify the text.
“We need every person in this room to show leadership on the urgent international imperative of ending nuclear tests,” Ban said.
“The CTBT is essential to realizing our vision of a world free of nuclear weapons. It will help ensure that the international community is no longer forced to live in the shadow of nuclear weapons,” the UN chief said.
He pointed out that more than 20 nations have yet to sign or adopt the CTBT, including eight holdouts whose agreement is a prerequisite for the accord to take effect: the U.S., China, North Korea, Egypt, Iran, Israel, India and Pakistan.
“You have a special responsibility,” Ban said, addressing those countries, albeit without naming them. “You must not wait for others to act before ratifying.”
Tuesday’s gathering saw the formal transfer of leadership of the effort for CTBT implementation from Indonesia and Hungary to Japan and Kazakhstan.
Representatives of all four nations expressed frustration over the lack of progress on the establishment of the CTBT, seen as a possible step toward the elimination of nuclear weapons.
Kazakhstan’s foreign minister, Erlan Idrissov, proposed a “more aggressive” approach to pushing for implementation of the comprehensive test ban.
While acknowledging the difficulty of the task, he said that Kazakhstan, “as a young nation, we want to inspire everybody to join this treaty.”
“Kazakhstan and Japan have the moral right to be aggressive” on the issue, Idrissov said.
Japan is the only country to have suffered attack with nuclear weapons and Kazakhstan, as a part of the former Soviet Union, was the scene of 500 nuclear weapons tests over the course of four decades.
Idrissov reminded his colleagues that Kazakhstan is promoting a push to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2045, a target he described as “very serious.”
“Yes, we can achieve a world without nuclear weapons,” he said, invoking the electoral slogan of U.S. President Barack Obama.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida called for the CTBT to be promoted “at the highest possible level” and urged grassroots groups to spread awareness about the importance of the treaty.
“We need everybody for this treaty to be able to enter into force,” he said.