Speech

"We have come a long way towards ending nuclear explosive testing"

Speech by Alok Sharma, Minister for Asia and the Pacific, on the Adoption of a UN Security Council resolution on the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty

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Thank you Mr President.

The United Kingdom welcomes the adoption of this important resolution.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty, so today’s resolution is both well timed and an important contribution to the goals of the Treaty. Today’s call for entry into force of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty is a tangible step towards a safer and more stable world.

The United Kingdom was one of the first signatories to the CTBT in 1996 and we ratified the Treaty in 1998.

We regret that the treaty has not yet entered into force. But further ratifications would demonstrate the global commitment towards ending nuclear test explosions. We welcome the newest ratifications, made by Burma and Swaziland. They join the 166 states in total to have done so.

Further ratifications would also send a clear message to the global community that nuclear explosive testing will not be tolerated.

The entry into force of the Treaty has clear advantages for all of us. These benefits include a fully operational International Monitoring System and International Data Centre, as well as the on-site inspection element of the Treaty.

Combined together, these will ensure that any State tempted to conduct a nuclear explosive test would know that it could not do so without facing detection.

It is worth remembering that when the Treaty was written, no-one knew whether the International Monitoring System would actually be possible. Today we know that it is. All state signatories have equal access to the regular data it provides. And this monitoring can only improve as the system continues to grow - it is now 89% complete. The success of the system is down to the dedication and collaboration of many countries who have established stations.

Given the importance of these objectives and their contribution towards effective nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation measures, it is regrettable that some states chose not to vote in favour today.

We believe this was a well-intentioned and balanced Security Council resolution. We thank the United States for tabling it for adoption.

Mr President.

We have come a long way towards ending nuclear explosive testing. Only one state, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, continues to undertake such activity.

We condemn the recent nuclear test conducted by the DPRK, which as well as going against the spirit and purpose of the Treaty, is a direct violation of binding Security Council Resolutions.

As this Council agreed, only a fortnight ago, there is now a need to work immediately on further significant measures in response to provocations by the DPRK. The UK will be consulting with our international partners to help deliver a robust response, making clear to North Korea that it must engage constructively with the international community.

In conclusion, Mr President, the United Kingdom calls upon all those states who have not yet done so to ratify this treaty. To bring it into force. And so end explosive nuclear testing forever.

Published 23 September 2016