Australian Embassy and Permanent Mission to the United Nations
Bosnia and Herzegovina, Hungary, Slovakia and Slovenia

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty 20th Anniversary Ministerial Meeting


Statement delivered by Mr Richard Sadleir, First Assistant Secretary, International Security Division, Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade


13 June 2016


Thank you Mr Chair, Ministers, Excellencies, Distinguished Delegates,

On behalf of the Australian Government, I am pleased to take part in the forty-sixth session of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). 

Australia was a leading supporter of a legally binding nuclear test ban regime long before negotiations for the CTBT began in 1994.  We introduced the CTBT to the UN General Assembly in 1996 and have been strong proponents of it ever since.  For more than a decade, Australia, Mexico and New Zealand have alternated as lead sponsor of the UN General Assembly resolution on the CTBT.  Last year, we secured over 100 sponsors and co-sponsors, and look forward to working closely with New Zealand who will lead on this year’s resolution.

This Preparatory Commission is particularly special as we mark the 20th anniversary of the Treaty’s opening for signature.  This year is an opportunity to promote the work we do to galvanise support for the work that still remains to be done. 

With 183 signatories and 164 ratifying states, our work over the past 20 years has resulted in the Treaty being widely recognised as a critical component of the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture.  The nuclear test moratorium generated over these 20 years has become a clear and powerful international norm.  The CTBT constrains the development of nuclear weapons and their qualitative improvement, which combats both horizontal and vertical nuclear proliferation.  However, without the lasting and legally-binding effect of entry into force of the Treaty, this norm could be under-minded. 

In fact, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is the only exception to the global moratorium against nuclear testing this century, challenging the international norm and the Treaty’s intent.  Australia strongly condemns the nuclear tests of the DPRK of 2006, 2009, 2013 and 2016, and urges the DPRK to comply with all relevant Security Council resolutions, and to abandon its nuclear weapons program in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner.

Australia urges all states that have not done so to sign and ratify the CTBT, in particular the remaining eight Annex 2 States.  These states need to sign and ratify without delay in order to advance the mutually reinforcing goals of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  Pending its entry into force, Australia urges all states to refrain from any action that would defeat the object and purpose of the CTBT or undermine the global moratorium on testing it has under-written.

This year, we are also celebrating the 20th anniversary of the establishment of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO which was mandated by a resolution adopted on 19 November 1996.  We welcome advances made by the CTBTO in building the Treaty’s verification regime and demonstrating its strength.  It is pleasing that the credibility of the verification regime continues to be affirmed in the scientific community, including in states that have yet to ratify the Treaty. 

Australia is encouraged by the fact that the CTBT International Monitoring System (IMS) and the International Data Centre (IDC) have so ably demonstrated their utility in providing accurate real-time data relating to major earthquakes, tsunamis and nuclear accidents, as well as other civil scientific benefits for all States Signatories.  We reiterate the importance of capacity building relating to National Data Centres which equips states to analyse verification data, as well as for the CTBTO to advance its capacity to conduct on-site inspections.

We look forward to the early completion of the IMS and other elements of the verification regime, with the active support of all States. Australia continues to provide strong support to the CTBTO, through our hosting of the third largest number of facilities in the IMS [20 monitoring stations and a radionuclide laboratory], and through our expert contribution in the field of on-site inspection. 

Australia is honoured to co-chair with Japan the six-country “Friends of the CTBT”, which meets biennially to maintain high-level advocacy, alternating with the Article XIV Conference. 

Australia is also a proud member of the 12 country Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) and Chair of the Vienna Group of Ten through all of which we advocate CTBT Entry-Into-Force.

In conclusion, the earliest possible entry into force of the CTBT is a non-proliferation and disarmament priority which Australia will continue to pursue. 

We must redouble our efforts to convince, and if necessary assist, all countries which have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty. 

I thank you.