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UN Security Council adopts resolution on nuclear test ban, calls for quick enforcement of CTBT

The Obama administration is willing to ratify the treaty but faces strong opposition from Republicans who say it would limit security options. Photograph: (Getty)

WION United Nations Headquarters, New York, NY, United States Sep 23, 2016, 06.49 PM (IST)
The United Nations Security Council on Friday adopted a resolution urging quick global implementation of a treaty that would ban tests of nuclear weapons.

More than 160 countries have ratified the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). But eight nations have not yet ratified the treaty. 

The 15-member Council urged China, the United States, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel and Pakistan to ratify the agreement, which would allow the deal negotiated 20 years ago to come into force.

Since then India, Pakistan and North Korea have conducted nuclear tests. 

Invoking North Korea's latest and largest nuclear explosion, the US secretary of state John Kerry said the treaty would make for "a safer, more secure, and more peaceful planet."

The resolution draft by the United States calls on all states to refrain from conducting any nuclear explosions.

"But it does reinforce the core purposes and objectives of the CTBT itself: to diminish our reliance on nuclear devices, to reduce competition among nuclear powers, and to promote responsible disarmament," Kerry told the council.

14 member countries voted in favour of the resolution and an abstention by Egypt.

Egypt's Hisham Badr, assistant foreign minister for multilateral affairs, described the resolution as "substantively flawed and ill-suited to be addressed in the Security Council."

"Its contribution to the nuclear disarmament regime is minimal and ineffective. Rather than strengthening this regime, the resolution squanders the opportunity to emphasise the urgency to advance nuclear disarmament," he told the council.

Although the resolution does not impose any legal obligations on the countries, but would add political weight to the push for an early ratification of the treaty. 

The United States itself has not yet ratified the ban on nuclear tets. US President Barack Obama's administration is in favour of the treaty but a number of lawmakers, including Republicans oppose the pact fearing it would limit their security options. 

"Our affirmative vote here is a sign of our unwavering commitment to a safer world in which nuclear technology is used solely for peaceful purposes and the risk of nuclear conflict is no more," Kerry said.

Anti-treaty minded Republicans had rejected it under former US President Bill Clinton and congressional opposition remains strong till date. 

UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin of Russia said Moscow hoped the next president of the United States would be "more strident in his desire to ratify it." 

The UN's Comprehensive Test Ban Organisation has a network of monitoring stations. But it still cannot go on site to inspect for tests until the treaty enters into force. 

For that, the holdouts among the 44 countries that are designated "nuclear-capable" the United States, China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea and Pakistan must ratify. 

(WION with inputs from agencies)
 
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