European Union External Action

Statement by the HR/VP at the Tenth Article XIV Conference in support of the Entry-into-Force of the CTBT

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Distinguished Co-Presidents,

I have the honour to speak on behalf of the European Union. The Candidate Countries Turkey, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia* and Albania*, the country of the Stabilisation and Association Process and potential candidate Bosnia and Herzegovina, and the EFTA country Iceland, member of the European Economic Area, as well as Ukraine, the Republic of Moldova and Georgia, align themselves with this statement.

The European Union would like to congratulate you on assuming the Presidency of the tenth session of the Article XIV Conference. Let me assure you of our full support and cooperation in fulfilling your important mandate. We would also like to express our great appreciation for the work carried out by Japan and Kazakhstan as previous Article XIV Coordinators. We thank you, Mr Secretary General, for convening this Conference and thank all distinguished high representatives of States Signatories for being present here today. We would also like to commend Dr Lassina Zerbo, the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO and his team for their tireless work in promoting the entry into force and universal adherence to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty.

The entry into force and universalisation of the Treaty are among the top priorities of the European Union. All 28 EU Member States have ratified the treaty, and we remain strongly committed to pursuing the achievement of its objectives. The EU calls on all States who have not yet done so, to sign and ratify the Treaty without any preconditions or delay. In particular call on the remaining 8 Annex II States, whose ratification is essential for the Treaty’s entry into force.

In this context we welcome the positive developments since the 2015 Article XIV Conference: the ratifications of the CTBT by Myanmar and Swaziland, and the adoption of UNSC Resolution 2310, which reaffirms the vital importance and urgency of achieving the prompt entry into force of the Treaty and its universalization. The EU would have preferred to see a direct reference to this Resolution in the Final Declaration. Nevertheless its absence does not affect the relevance and significance of UNSC Resolution 2310, which should be implemented by all UN members as international law.

Nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions represent a serious threat to international peace and security, and they undermine the global non-proliferation regime. The European Union firmly believes that effective multilateralism and a rules-based international system are indispensable in countering the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. We all can contribute to the review process of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty by accelerating the entry into force and universalisation of the CTBT. The European Union has been and will continue to be a committed supporter of the CTBT and its Organization. The Treaty has established itself as a strong, fully verifiable instrument, signed by 183 States and ratified by 166. Its strength is demonstrated by the fact that all State Signatories already adhere to the objectives of the Treaty. But only its entry into force will outlaw nuclear weapon test explosions or any other nuclear explosions in a verifiable way. 

The CTBTO has evolved from a mere blueprint to the custodian of the world’s largest and most sophisticated multilateral verification system. The remarkable progress in establishing this system has demonstrated professional commitment and solidarity, a joint effort to build a network of monitoring stations to the benefit of all. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, Distinguished Co-Presidents,

North Korea's nuclear test on 3 September, 2017 is once again a direct and unacceptable violation of the DPRK's international obligations not to produce or test nuclear weapons, as determined by multiple United Nations Security Council Resolutions. The test represents a major provocation, a grave threat to regional and international security. The EU condemns in the strongest possible terms the DPRK’s nuclear explosive tests, and its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes. The DPRK is the only State to have conducted nuclear explosive tests in the 21st century. Through its repeated tests, the DPRK is making quick progress in its nuclear capability and is getting dangerously close to operational capacity. It is now very clear that Pyongyang's intention is to acquire a functional nuclear arsenal – to disrupt the strategic equilibrium in Asia, and beyond. This development in the Korean Peninsula underlines the vital importance and urgency of the prompt entry into force of the CTBT and its universalisation.

The EU urges the DPRK to make credible progress on its obligations to denuclearize, enabling negotiations leading to a peaceful solution and the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. In this regard we welcome the unanimous adoption of UNSC resolution 2375 on 11 September, imposing further sanctions on the DPRK.

The only reasonable course of action for the DPRK is quite clear: 

• DPRK must refrain from any further provocative action that could increase regional and global tensions.

• DPRK must comply without delay, fully and unconditionally, with its obligations under all relevant UNSC Resolutions.

• DPRK must abandon all its nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs, in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner, and cease immediately all related activities.

• DPRK must sign and ratify the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty. 

The Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty Organisation responded immediately and effectively to the nuclear tests conducted by the DPRK in 2016 and 2017: it demonstrated the verification regime's ability to provide independent and reliable data. These data play an important role in deterring non-compliance with the Treaty, and developing appropriate responses. This is an important contribution to regional and international stability: it helps strengthen the nuclear non-proliferation regime and is essential for verifiable nuclear disarmament. The CTBTO has provided the world with a truly global, hi-tech monitoring system for nuclear explosions – something that no single country alone would be able to do. Nonetheless the absence of the CTBT’s entry into force prevents the use of on-site inspections, an important verification tool.

We all have to meet our budgetary commitments to enable this work to continue. Since 2006 the European Council has adopted seven Joint Actions and Council Decisions to support the activities of the CTBTO, and to further strengthen its monitoring and verification capabilities. The EU's total voluntary financial support to the CTBTO to date exceeds 18.5 million euros.Unfortunately, about 40% of States Signatories have failed to honour their financial obligations to the Organization for several years.

Our financial support for the CTBTO's efforts in promoting capacity building and the Treaty's entry into force will continue. We use every opportunity to advocate the Treaty's ratification and universalisation, in international fora and in meetings with countries that have not yet signed or ratified the Treaty, and we use diplomatic means to promote the entry into force of the Treaty in those countries. The European Union will continue to work actively with the CTBTO and with all interested States to encourage the prompt entry into force of the CTBT and its universalization. 

Let me repeat our strong call to all States Signatories to actively support the Article XIV Conference of the CTBT and the goals of the Treaty at the highest level, and to urge everyone to do their utmost to bring the CTBT into force. Pending the entry into force, we call upon all States to maintain moratoria on nuclear weapon test explosions and other nuclear explosions and to refrain from any actions that would undermine the Treaty's object and purpose.

I would like to conclude on a personal note. You know that for years I have been working for non-proliferation and for the Test-Ban Treaty. But today, this is all the more urgent. After the latest nuclear test by North Korea, I met Lassina Zerbo to agree together on our next steps. Our cooperation today is more important than ever.

North Korea's nuclear tests are a major cause of destabilisation in our difficult world. But there is a way out of this crisis. Any long-lasting solution involves the entry into force and universalisation of the Comprehensive Test-Ban Treaty.

Thank you.

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