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:: Nuclear Weapons Issues Proliferation South Africa Minty CTBT Statement

Statement by Mr Abdul S Minty
Deputy Director-General, Multilateral Security and Governance
Department of Foreign Affairs Statement on the Occasion of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT)
New York, 12 November 2001

Mr President,

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South Africa would also like to congratulate you on your election to preside over this important conference. We believe that this conference has the potential – if we are willing to rise to the challenges that confront us – of making a significant contribution to the strengthening of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament. I also want to assure you of my delegation’s support in steering this conference to a successful conclusion. I would also like to assure Ambassador Hoffmann and the CTBTO Secretariat of our full support.

As this is the first time that my delegation is taking the floor, may I also take this opportunity of extending the condolences of the South African delegation to the Government and people of the United States, and to all other countries whose nationals died, or are still missing, in the recent horrific terrorist attacks in the United States. South Africa has already clearly stated its views on these attacks (also in debates within the General Assembly), and it has joined the world in unreservedly denouncing these senseless and horrific terrorist attacks, and in pledging its full support to international efforts to apprehend the culprits and to bring them to justice.

These events should remind us all that in order to safeguard the security and stability of nations, it is necessary to utilize all measures at our disposal, including those international multilateral legal instruments that seek to promote and enhance international security and stability. We believe that the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is one such instrument that could enhance international security and stability, in addition to the benefits it holds for the nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament regime.

South Africa has always been a strong supporter of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We strongly associate ourselves with the CTBT’s call for the cessation of all nuclear weapons test explosions and all other nuclear explosions by constraining the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons. This distinguishes this Treaty as an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and nuclear non-proliferation. Sadly, however, Mr President, the potential that the Treaty holds for the international community’s aspirations to free the world from the ever present threat of nuclear war, will never be realised for as long as the CTBT fails to enter into force. Even more sadly, it would appear as though some States would not hesitate to delay the entry into force of the Treaty to serve particular and narrow interests, rather than to take the broader international community’s interests and aspirations into account.

Given these circumstances, it is incumbent upon all of us gathered here, not only to reiterate our commitment to the CTBT, but also to examine the extent to which the requirements for its entry into force have been met. We are furthermore to decide what measures consistent with international law may be undertaken to accelerate the ratification process to ensure that the Treaty enters into force without further delay. It is our duty, Mr President, to work together and to lay aside our differences in order that we may expedite the entry into force of this important Treaty. Since the CTBT was opened for signature, five years have gone by. We cannot afford to let another five years go by before it enters into force. This situation raises doubts about our commitment to rid the world of nuclear weapons. As we have done on previous occasions, we reiterate our call for the necessary political will to expeditiously facilitate the early entry into force of the CTBT.

Mr President,

Like many other delegations at this Conference, my delegation welcomed the Final Document of the 2000 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). In particular, we welcome the unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear-weapon States to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals leading to nuclear disarmament to which all States Parties are committed under Article VI of the NPT. We also welcome the fact that the Conference underscored the importance and urgency of signatures and ratifications of the CTBT to achieve the early entry into force of the Treaty, including a moratorium on nuclear-weapon-test explosions or any other nuclear explosions pending entry into force of the CTBT. Mr President all Parties to the NPT have therefore already committed themselves to the early entry into force of the Treaty and they should therefore proceed to sign and/or ratify the Treaty.

The Treaty was negotiated as an instrument of nuclear non-proliferation and of nuclear disarmament. These goals of the Treaty have remained the cornerstone of our endeavours since the CTBT was first conceived. The Treaty was, and is, not only intended to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons to additional holders, so-called "horizontal proliferation". It was, and is, also intended to prevent the development of new and improved nuclear weapons, or so-called "vertical proliferation". Together, these two aspects – so-called "non-proliferation in all its aspects" – were intended to lay one of the cornerstones for the achievement of our common objective of the elimination of nuclear weapons. This is a common objective of the international community in general, and also a key and integral part of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), particularly Article VI.

Mr President,

My delegation commends those States that have signed and ratified the Treaty, because it has the potential of making a meaningful contribution to the strengthening of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. It would be disappointing if the Final Declaration of this Conference merely recycled the 1999 Declaration. For that would mean that we have achieved little in the two years that have passed since the First Article XIV Conference convened in Vienna in 1999. My delegation therefore reiterates its belief that this Conference should ensure a qualitative difference from the 1999 Conference and that we should not fall into the trap of taking the simplistic view of the CTBT.

It should also be borne in mind that these so-called Article XIV Conferences are convened at the request of the majority of States that have already deposited their instruments of ratification in respect of the Treaty, while States Signatories are invited to attend as observers. It would therefore appear, Mr President, that the progress made at this Conference should not be subject to – or exclusively depend on – those States that have not ratified the CTBT. This situation may have to be evaluated and considered at future Article XIV Conferences, should it be necessary to convene further conferences.

This is of particular importance given that this Conference meets at a juncture where a rising unilateralist paradigm shift in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament seems to be taking place. This shift has the potential to seriously undermine agreed international treaty regimes and conventions in the nuclear field. With this in mind, my delegation has noted with concern a recent statement by a member of the Preparatory Commission for the Establishment of the CTBTO that future contributions to the financing of activities of the Preparatory Commission would be restricted to those activities that relate to the establishment and operation of the international monitoring system. For South Africa this is an unfortunate turn of events that does not meet the obligations of all of the States Signatories to the CTBT that are determined by the agreements and rules for the establishment of the Preparatory Commission.

Mr President,

As my delegation has already pointed out in the past, we believe that progress in one area of nuclear non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament often facilitates progress in other areas. Similarly, however, it is also true that obstacles in one area may undermine achievements in other areas. The same holds true for the CTBT, since it is one cog in a larger machine. If the Treaty does not enter into force, it will weaken the non-proliferation and disarmament machinery and deal a blow to the international community’s quest to achieve a world free from the threat of nuclear devastation. Surely, Mr President, we cannot allow this to happen, as we would be sending a signal that we had the opportunity to act, but failed to do so because we could not act together for the common good of the international community and the future of generations still to come.

In conclusion, Mr President,

We have the opportunity to expedite the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. We have the opportunity to add an international legal instrument to the nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament machinery by facilitating its early entry into force. We have the opportunity to strengthen the non-proliferation and disarmament regime.

We should take advantage of this opportunity and act decisively to promote peace and security.

I thank you, Mr President.