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Latin American and Caribbean Countries Support the Nuclear Test Ban

By Reinhard Jacobsen

Photo: CTBTO Executive Secretary Floyd meets Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit. Credit: CTBTO

VIENNA (IDN) — The Commonwealth of Dominica announced its decision early February to join the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) that bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere—on the Earth's surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. The Treaty was signed 26 years ago but it has yet to enter into force. [2022-02-25-28] ITALIAN | JAPANESE TEXT VERSION PDF | PORTUGUESE

The reason: though 185 countries have signed the CTBT, of which 170 have ratified it, 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries have yet to sign and ratify it, including three of the nuclear weapon States: France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. Of these eight are still missing: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA. India, North Korea and Pakistan have yet to sign the CTBT. The last Annex 2 State to ratify the Treaty was Indonesia on February 6, 2012.

According to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), with headquarters in Vienna, Dominica's commitment to sign the CTBT, underlines the Treaty's universal recognition across Latin America and the Caribbean and highlights the region’s leadership in non-proliferation and disarmament.

Subsequent to Cuba’s signature and ratification of the CTBT in February 2021, Dominica’s signature will mean all 33 countries in the region will be States Signatories to the Treaty.

"This marks a new era of partnership with Dominica, and I look forward to further strengthening the norm against nuclear testing together," said Robert Floyd, CTBTO Executive Secretary, who met the Caribbean nation's Prime Minister Roosevelt Skerrit on February 7

Floyd was on his first visit to the region since taking over the CTBTO in August 2021 from Dr Lassina Zerbo of Burkina Faso. His 10-day visit included engagements in Barbados, Dominica, Costa Rica and Mexico, offering an opportunity to deepen engagement with key regional partners.

The importance of the visit is underlined by the fact that the states of Latin America and the Caribbean are committed and engaged advocates of the CTBT and important technical partners to the CTBTO, hosting 43 of the organization’s 337 International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities and contributing important technical and scientific expertise to the global alarm system designed to detect nuclear tests.

The Treaty of Tlatelolco (the Treaty for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean), which opened for signature in 1967, established the world’s first nuclear-weapon-free zone in a densely populated area.

Speaking in Mexico at an event marking that CTBT’s 55th anniversary, Floyd stressed the region’s integral role in achieving the shared vision of a world free of nuclear tests.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Floyd said: "The Latin America and Caribbean region can stand tall and proud of its long history of leadership in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. Soon you will also be able to celebrate with pride and solidarity when every state in this region will have also ratified the CTBT. Latin America and the Caribbean States, I honour you."

In Barbados, the first leg of his tour, the Executive Secretary met senior officials including the Minister of Foreign Affairs and Foreign Trade, Jerome Xavier Walcott, and expressed his appreciation for the Caribbean state’s diplomatic support for the CTBT.

He also explored capacity-building initiatives for the Eastern Caribbean region and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) and met technical experts from various government agencies to expand cooperation in the use of CTBTO data in climate change adaptation and disaster risk management in a country affected by tropical storms and hurricanes.

Following his visits to Barbados and Dominica, Floyd travelled to Costa Rica, which hosts the CTBTO’s auxiliary seismic station AS25 at Las Juntas de Abangares, overseen by the country’s Volcanological and Seismological Observatory, OVSICORI.

“I have been impressed with the depth of technical capability and the active diplomacy in this country,” he said, praising Costa Rica’s non-proliferations efforts. “I am also encouraged to hear a vision, which is about strong domestic implementation of responsibilities.”

Engaging with students and staff at the United Nations-backed University for Peace in San José, Floyd joined the long-standing tradition of planting a corteza amarilla, a timber tree native to the region, as a symbol for CTBTO’s engagement in educating and empowering the next generation.

Floyd’s final destination was Mexico, where he delivered an address at an event hosted by the Agency for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons in Latin America and the Caribbean (OPANAL) to mark the 55th anniversary of the Tlatelolco Treaty.

"What I find most powerful about the Treaty of Tlatelolco is that it allows countries in the region to speak in one voice on the issue of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, as well as work together to promote collective security, disarmament education and training,” he said.

The CTBTO chief also met Foreign Minister Marcelo Ebrard, a long-standing supporter of the CTBT, to discuss Mexico’s engagement to advance the universalization and entry into force of the Treaty. The country hosts five IMS facilities: three auxiliary seismic, one hydroacoustic and a radionuclide station with noble gas system.

At the Instituto Matias Romero, which educates and trains Mexican diplomats, Floyd discussed the state of play of the CTBT and the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament architecture. [IDN-InDepthNews — 25 February 2022]

Photo: CTBTO Executive Secretary Floyd meets Dominica’s Prime Minister, Roosevelt Skerrit. Credit: CTBTO