Eminent Persons Warn Against Any Demonstration Nuclear Test Explosion

By Reinhard Jacobsen

Image: More than 300 International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities certified out of the 337 the CTBTO has planned are already in operation. Credit: CTBTO.

VIENNA (IDN) – Members of the CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) have expressed "deep concern about credible press reports" that senior U.S. officials have discussed the possibility of conducting "a demonstration nuclear test explosion". [2020–05-30 | 05] JAPANESE TEXT VERSION PDF | PORTUGUESE | SPANISH

They warn that if carried out, it would break the global moratorium on nuclear weapon test explosions and severely undermine the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban (CTBT) regime, established to help detect and deter nuclear weapon test explosions anywhere in the world.

"Nuclear weapon test explosions, for any purpose, are a vestige of a bygone era," the Group maintains. "Only one state this century has detonated nuclear weapon tests, and today all of the world's nuclear armed states are observing nuclear test moratoria," it adds.

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions, thus hampering both the initial development of nuclear weapons as well as significant enhancements. The Treaty also helps prevent harmful radioactive releases from nuclear testing.

The U.S. is among eight 'Annex 2' States that must sign and ratify before the Treaty comes into force. Along with China, Egypt, Iran and Israel, the U.S. has signed but not ratified the Treaty. However, the other three Annex 2 countries – India, North Korea and Pakistan – have not even signed.

The CTBT has so far been signed by 184 States, of which 168 have ratified the Treaty.

The GEM, launched on September 26, 2013 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York, supports and complements the CTBTO's efforts to promote the CTBT entry into force, as well as reinvigorating international endeavours to achieve this goal. The group comprises eminent personalities and internationally recognized experts.

The CTBTO, with Dr Lassina Zerbo as Executive Secretary since August 2013, is the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. It is an international organization established by the States Signatories to the Treaty on November 19, 1996, and has its headquarters in Vienna, Austria. An Agreement (A/RES/54/28) to regulate the relationship between the United Nations and the CTBTO was adopted in 2000 by the General Assembly.

The GEM members are calling on eight hold-out Annex 2 countries to ratify the CTBT. "The most effective way to resolve possible concerns about very low-yield nuclear explosions and enforce compliance" with the Treaty, is to bring it into force.  "When it does enter into force, States have the option to demand intrusive, short-notice on-site inspections to investigate suspicious activities," they maintain.

In a statement on May 29, the GEM members appeal to all responsible states to reiterate their strong support for the global norm against nuclear test explosions of any yield that has been established by the CTBT, "to take concrete action to secure its prompt entry into force, and to urge the use of diplomacy rather than intimidation to build a more peaceful and secure international security environment for all".

Awaiting entry into force of the Treaty, the verification regime to monitor the globe for nuclear explosions is nearing completion with currently more than 300 facilities certified out of the 337 originally planned for International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities already in operation. The system has proved its capabilities to detect even small nuclear tests during the announced DPRK nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2016 and 2017.

The GEM members signing the statement include: Nobuyasu Abe (the UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs from 2003 to 2006); Hans Blix (the Director-General of the International Atomic Energy Agency from 1981 to 1997); Grigory Berdennikov (the Governor for the Russian Federation on the IAEA Board of Governors): and Desmond Browne (currently the Chair of the Executive Board of the European Leadership Network).

Other GEM members include: Jayantha Dhanapala (among others, a former President of the Nobel Peace Prize-winning Pugwash Conferences on Science and World Affairs); Sérgio Duarte (the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs from 2007 to 2012 and Pugwash President); Thomas Hajnoczi (Director for Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-Proliferation at the Austrian Federal Ministry for Europe), Tarja Halonen (former President of Finland from 2000-2012); and Wolfgang Hoffmann (the first Executive Secretary of the CTBTO from March 1997 until August 2005).

GEM members Angela Kane (until mid-2015, served as the UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs), Patricia Lewis (the Research Director, International Security at Chatham House in London), Kevin Rudd (Prime Minister of Australia and Leader of the Australian Labour Party from June to September 2013 and from December 2007 to June 2010), and Ahmet Üzümcü (a former Director-General of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapon) have also signed the statement. [IDN-InDepthNews – 30 May 2020]

For further information, please contact: Gill Tudor, Chief of Public Information (T: +43 1 26030 6375 and M: +43 699 1459 6375).

Image: More than 300 International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities certified out of the 337 the CTBTO has planned are already in operation. Credit: CTBTO.

IDN is flagship agency of the Non-profit International Press Syndicate.

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