UNITED NATIONS: Nuclear weapons will continue to pose a risk to humanity unless countries fully adhere to the treaty that prohibits their testing, a senior UN official has said.
At a news briefing at UN Headquarters in New York, Robert Floyd, Executive Secretary of the body that oversees the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), said that the treaty which opened for signature 25 years ago, has yet to enter into force because it requires ratification by a “handful” of key countries that have nuclear capabilities.
“Once in force, the CTBT will serve as an essential element of a nuclear weapons-free world. In order to achieve this world, we all aspire to, a universal and effectively verifiable prohibition on nuclear testing is a fundamental necessity,” he said.
Floyd was speaking against the backdrop of the latest nuclear non-proliferation conference, which began last week at UN Headquarters after two years of pandemic-related delays.
Countries are reviewing progress towards implementing the 50-year-old Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
At the opening on Monday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned that the world was “just one misunderstanding, one miscalculation, away from nuclear annihilation”.
“Until we have full adherence to the CTBT, nuclear testing and the proliferation of nuclear weapons will continue to pose unacceptable risk to humanity,” Floyd said.
The CTBT complements the non-proliferation treaty, Floyd said, adding it has already made a difference in the world.
“We’ve gone from over 2,000 nuclear tests conducted between 1945 and 1996, to fewer than 12 tests since the treaty opened for signature,” he said. “Only one country has tested this millennium.”
The treaty has also received near-universal support. So far, 186 countries have signed the CTBT, and 174 have ratified it, four in the last six months alone.
However, entry into force requires that the treaty must be signed and ratified by 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries,?eight of which?have?yet to ratify it: Pakistan, India, Israel, China, Egypt, Iran, South Korea and the United States.
Asked about these countries, Floyd said, “they have their own calculus and strategic objectives and geopolitical considerations as to whether they feel free to move forward”, adding that they all support the CTBT and its objectives.
Floyd also reported on the activities of the organization that promotes the treaty, which he heads.
The CTBTO, as it has known, has built a state-of-the-art verification system to detect nuclear explosions, capable of 24/7 monitoring.
Staff also train inspectors from member states so that they are ready to conduct on-site verifications once the treaty enters into force. Furthermore, countries use CTBTO data for civilian and scientific applications, such as tsunami warning systems and other university research.
“Even without having entered into force, the CTBT is already helping to save lives in countries around the world,” Floyd said. “Even those that have not yet ratified the treaty are benefiting from this global collaboration and technological expertise.”