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On the eve of the NSG meeting on India where several members are likely to press the country on the testing issue, Iraq has gone ahead and signed the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, thereby becoming the 179th country to accede to it…
21 August 2008
Test ban treaty official urges India to sign CTBT
Vienna: The timing was pure coincidence but New Delhi is unlikely to relish the appeal, issued by a top disarmament official on the eve of Thursday’s Nuclear Suppliers Group meeting, for India to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty.
At a previously scheduled press conference on Wednesday to unveil the largest ever ‘integrated field exercise’ to be undertaken by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), the commission’s executive secretary, Tibor Toth, announced the “good news” that Iraq had just signed the CTBT, thereby becoming the 179th country to accede to the treaty. “I would like to urge all countries who have not yet signed the treaty, including India, Pakistan and DPRK [North Korea] to do so and for all others to ratify it as soon as they can.”
The “dreamer of this dream of a ban on all nuclear tests” was Nehru, said Mr. Toth and the treaty had been “very vigorously pursued by Indian diplomacy for many years.” He noted that despite having the maximum adherence in terms of signatories of any arms control treaty, the CTBT had not yet entered into force because all of the 44 countries listed in Annex II to the treaty had not yet signed and ratified it.
That list includes the five official nuclear weapon states, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, and 35 other countries with a significant nuclear capability. The U.S. and China have signed the CTBT but not ratified it. As of now, there are a total of nine ‘Annex II hold-outs,’ including India.
Catalyst for final push
In an interview to The Hindu, Ambassador Toth said the catalyst for a final push towards all Annex II countries coming on board could be the ratification of the treaty by the United States. “Of course, China should not wait to ratify, but from China’s point of view, U.S. ratification would be important.” North Korea’s accession might follow in due course as the Six Party Talks process continues, he said, and the Middle East hold-outs of Israel, Iran and Egypt could be persuaded to ratify once all the NPT-defined nuclear weapon states were parties. “That would leave India and Pakistan,” he said. The CTBTO head said India had reiterated its moratorium in the July 2005 joint statement with the U.S. and had also agreed to a bilateral moratorium with Pakistan. “And then there are the statements to the U.N. and the Indian Parliament by the [former] Prime Minister that India will not stand in the way of the CTBT entering into force.” Of course, it is entirely up to each country to decide if it is in their interest to join, he added.
Providing details about the field exercise to be held in the former Soviet testing range of Semiyaplatinsk in Kazakhstan later this month, Mr. Toth said on-site verification was one of the four pillars envisaged by the CTBT to ensure compliance with its provisions.