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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 25, April 1998

UK & France CTBT Ratifications

UK Statement

'Britain and France ratify nuclear test ban,' UK Foreign & Commonwealth Office Daily Bulletin, 6 April 1998

Full text

"Britain and France today became the first nuclear-weapons States to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Treaty bans all nuclear weapons test explosions. v Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, said:

'The CTBT is a cornerstone of international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Britain's ratification signals our commitment to the goal of a nuclear-weapons-free world.

I am pleased that we were able to ratify jointly with France, demonstrating our close cooperation on such issues. I urge all countries which have not yet signed or ratified to do so - whether or not they possess nuclear weapons.'"

Editor's note: the statement was appended with the folllowing 'Notes for Editors,' reproduced in full -

"1. Britain played a central role in the negotiation of the CTBT and signed it on the day it was opened for signature, 24 September 1996. The Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition and Inspections) Act, which became UK law on 18 March 1998, provides the legal framework for inspections and prosecutions under the terms of the Treaty and enables the UK to ratify.

2. 149 States have signed the CTBT and 13 have ratified (including Britain and France). The Treaty will enter into force when it has been ratified by 44 named States. Of these, 6 have ratified, but 3 (India, Pakistan and North Korea) have not yet signed. Entry into force is therefore unlikely in the near future. The CTBT does, however, provide a powerful moral and political international norm against nuclear testing.

3. Britain has made a leading contribution to the establishment of the Treaty's verification provisions, through the work of the Seismology Group at AWE Blacknest and the CTBT Preparatory Commission. This regime will be the world's most extensive permanent verification system:

  • the International Monitoring System (IMS) is being set up. It will consist of 321 stations around the world. These will monitor air, sea and land continuously for evidence of a nuclear test. This will ensure that, even before the CTBT enters into force, any nuclear explosion with a yield of more than one kiloton will be detected;
  • the International Data Centre (IDC) will collect and analyse data from the IMS. It will make this data available on request to CTBT States, who are responsible for determining whether a breach has occurred;
  • On-Site Inspections (OSIs). There is provision in the CTBT for OSIs to be carried out by independent experts to investigate a suspected test.

4. Britain's National Data Centre (NDC) is currently being set up at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, in collaboration with AWE Blacknest. The Centre will analyse data received from the IDC, to provide an independent UK assessment of potentially suspicious events in the context of the CTBT."

Remarks by French Assistant Director of Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs

'CTBT: Speech of Mr. Michel Duclos, Assistant Director of Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs,' Ministry of Foreign Affairs Daily Press Briefing, 6 April 1998


"Let me say a few words on the principal points of this treaty and on the reasons why we were among the first ones to rapidly ratify it. Among these attributes, four must be noted: the treaty advocates option zero, the complete ban on nuclear testing, regardless of the level and circumstances in which this testing may occur. This option zero was proposed by France on 10 August, 1995.

Secondly, this treaty of complete ban is an essential element to the system of non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament which has been awaited for many years by the international public opinion.

Thirdly, it bears a very effective checking system, notably a system of international monitoring based on a network of 351 stations. This network is headquartered in Vienna, and will start working by the end of the year. Fourth attribute, the implementation of the CTBT: the treaty can only be implemented if 44 designated States ratify it. Among these 44 States, there are five recognized nuclear powers: the United States, Russia, the United Kingdom, France and China. There are also three countries, India, Pakistan and Israel that we qualify as being on the threshold because they have nuclear capacity but they have not yet joined the NPT. India has indicated that it did not intend to sign and ratify the CTBT, and Pakistan has tied its decision to that of India. Consequently, observers think that this Treaty, because of India's and Pakistan's positions, can only be implemented in an indeterminate context, and some think that it would be useless to join the CTBT at this stage.

The British and ourselves have taken a different decision based on another reasoning that has two points:

First of all, the CTBT is a fundamental element of international security, independently of the issue of knowing if it will become effective or not. This is because this treaty was signed by 149 countries, and it was especially signed by the five nuclear powers. The very fact that this treaty was signed, and is supported by such a large part of the international community represents a major political achievement. As we speak, the norm of [a] complete ban of nuclear testing is part of international law, and as such deserves to be supported. One of the means of support of the ban on nuclear testing is to ratify the Treaty, and this is the first reason why we chose to do it.

The second reason is that in the same way this norm is very important, the task is now to adopt the ban on nuclear testing from a major political act - the signing - to a legal act - ratification and implementation. It is thus very important that the maximum number of countries, starting with the nuclear powers, ratify the CTBT. The British and ourselves think that in order to stimulate others' ratification of the CTBT and implementation of this Treaty, setting the example would represent an important lever. The law of approval of this Treaty was adopted by the National Assembly on 14 February and by the Senate on 25 March. The United States already transmitted the Treaty to the United States Congress, and we hope that the ratification procedure for this Treaty will be completed without delay in the United States. Of course, we are calling upon all other countries, and particularly those with nuclear weapons, to join us in this action of support of the complete ban of nuclear testing."


"Question: 'Can we do anything so that the three 'threshold' countries may be in agreement with the others, since generally speaking, these are countries that could really incur catastrophes here or elsewhere?'

Mr. Duclos: 'We believe that even if these three countries do not join this Treaty, it is... inconceivable and unthinkable that nuclear powers resume nuclear testing. This is a closed chapter. We believe that those countries can only be tied by this Treaty. Now, the practical question is how to convince them to join the Treaty and thus to turn their political obligation into a legal obligation.

For this, arguments must be utilized and a dialogue must begin. We do not advocate isolating India from the international community, this would not make a whole lot of sense. We think that it is more by pursuing a dialogue with India and showing it why it is in everyone's best interest, including its own, that international stability and security be guaranteed. By ratifying it ourselves, we are giving weight to our capacity of dialogue with India, Pakistan and Israel.

The verification system and the international monitoring system will come into action within the upcoming months. Thus, even if the Treaty is not implemented, the testing surveillance technical system will be functional. This is an additional element for a number of countries, including towards these three countries. It is thus an additional element of dissuasion in case one of these countries had the intention to proceed with testing. This is also an additional reason for them to join the Treaty, and to have access to this system. Second point, the Treaty plans that if it is not implemented by next year in 1999, a conference will be held between the countries that have ratified it. The goal of this conference will be to study all measures in accordance to international law likely to speed up the ratification of other States to this Treaty.'

Question: 'Which countries have ratified it?'

Mr. Duclos: 'Austria, Czech Republic, Fiji, Japan, Micronesia, Mongolia, Peru, Qatar, Slovakia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan. Among these eleven countries, four belong to the list of the 44 from which ratification is necessary to be implemented: Austria, Japan, Peru and Slovakia. We think that a higher number of countries will ratify in the upcoming weeks and months since as you know the process of ratification in all countries involve rather long procedures. ...'

Question: '[F]or the countries that do not have military nuclear power, why is there a need to sign such an agreement?'

Mr. Duclos: 'They will have access to a system that will allow them the guarantee to oversee countries that have a nuclear arsenal.'

Question: 'But [is] that...the interest for a small country?'

Mr. Duclos: 'You are asking the fundamental question of the role of multilateral instruments in the field of disarmament. What is important is that if a country decides to give up nuclear testing, which is what the nuclear powers have done, and if in addition this unilateral commitment is the object of a multilateral commitment, protection is greater. If this multilateral agreement is itself supported by the whole international community, the commitment is even stronger. Thus, non-nuclear States have a major interest in nuclear countries being tied, not only by unilateral declarations but also by a multilateral instrument that is legally binding. This is a major interest reinforced by the fact of having a system of verification which allows to ensure that all concerned countries respect their obligations.'

Question: 'France has pursued a series of nuclear testing up until the beginning of 1996. How can France defend such a treaty?'

Mr. Duclos: 'We are defending it even more since the President of the Republic announced in June of 1995 his decision to end the last nuclear testing which was necessary. He promised that we would join the Treaty of complete ban on nuclear testing as soon as it was open for signature. Moreover, he justified the resuming of nuclear testing precisely with the necessity to be able to participate to the Treaty negotiations of completely banning nuclear testing, and to be able to sign it as soon as it was concluded. If the President of the Republic had not taken the decision to resume nuclear testing one last time, which by the way was very limited in time and number, we would not have been able to join the Treaty on a complete ban.'

Question: 'And so the other threshold countries could say the same thing?'

Mr. Duclos: 'The Treaty of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, the TNP [NPT], recognizes that five countries have the right to have nuclear weapons, and in the TNP, countries that have nuclear arms have the right and the duty to safely and reliably upkeep their nuclear weapons. It is according to this argument and this necessity that the President of the Republic decided upon this last campaign and the support for the complete ban of nuclear testing.'"

International Reaction


'Australia Welcomes Ratification by France and UK of Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty,' Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer, FA40, 7 April 1998

Full text

"I warmly welcome the ratification by France and the United Kingdom of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) on 6 April in New York. The CTBT - which bans all nuclear explosions for all time - is a milestone in international efforts to address the global threat posed by nuclear weapons proliferation. As a major impediment to the development of new generations of nuclear weapons, the CTBT also promises to bring the nuclear arms race to a definitive end and hasten the process of eliminating nuclear weapons.

Australia played a pivotal role in the promotion and negotiation of the CTBT and its adoption, by an overwhelming majority, by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996.

I signed the CTBT on behalf of Australia in September 1996. The Treaty has now been signed by 149 countries and ratified by 13. Like a number of other countries, Australia's ratification and legislation process is well advanced and we hope to be in a position to ratify well before the end of 1998. I will be tabling the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Bill in Parliament tomorrow.

I am optimistic that the ratifications yesterday by two of the five nuclear-weapons States will help to accelerate the pace of ratifications and thus consolidate the powerful international norm against nuclear testing which the Treaty represents. I look forward to the early ratifications of the other nuclear-weapon States China, Russia and the United States.

Australia is also working hard at building up the institutional fabric of the Treaty at its headquarters in Vienna, including through development of the International Monitoring System (IMS). Twenty one IMS monitoring facilities will be established on Australian territory. Australia is one of the 44 countries whose ratifications are necessary before the CTBT enters into force. I particularly urge all countries on that list - most notably India, North Korea and Pakistan who have not yet signed the Treaty - to sign and ratify the Treaty at an early date."

United States

Statement by President Clinton, White House text, 6 April 1998

Full text

"Today, France and Great Britain deposited their instruments of ratification for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) with the Secretary General of the United Nations in New York, thus becoming the first nuclear-weapon States to ratify the CTBT.

I applaud this milestone in the global effort to reduce the nuclear threat and build a safer world. In particular, I want to thank Prime Minister Blair and President Chirac and the parliaments of Great Britain and France for their leadership in paving the way towards early entry into force of this historic Treaty.

The CTBT has now been signed by 149 States, including all five nuclear-weapon States. In my State of the Union address, I asked the Senate to give its advice and consent to the CTBT this year. The CTBT is in the best interests of the United States because its provisions will significantly further our nuclear non-proliferation and arms control objectives and strengthen international security."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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