Permanent Mission of Australia
to the United Nations
New York

230829 - High-level plenary meeting of the UN General Assembly to commemorate and promote the International Day against Nuclear Tests


29 August 2023

Statement delivered by H.E. Mr James Larsen, Ambassador and Permanent Representative, Australian Mission to the United Nations on behalf of ‘Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)’

I have the honour to deliver this statement on behalf of the ‘Friends of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)’: Australia, Canada, Finland, Germany, Japan and the Netherlands.

We thank the President of the General Assembly for convening this meeting.

At a time when news of the deteriorating international security situation appears to be a daily constant, it can be hard to see where positive change towards peace and security is possible.

But one significant step the international community can positively work towards is eliminating nuclear weapons testing.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is already among the most widely accepted and most effective normative instruments to contain and reduce nuclear threats.

But we cannot take for granted the norm against nuclear testing until the Treaty is legally binding.

Its entry into force, as a universal and verifiable ban on any nuclear explosions, will benefit all States and must be achieved without delay.

It will also significantly strengthen the full implementation of the NPT and reinforce the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.

With signature by 186 States and ratification by 178 States, the CTBT is approaching universality.

We welcome the four most recent ratifications, by Sri Lanka, the Solomon Islands, São Tomé and Príncipe and Equatorial Guinea.

We applaud the persistent efforts of the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organisation Preparatory Commission, Dr. Robert Floyd, to achieve further ratifications.

We urge all States that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the Treaty without further delay, particularly the remaining eight States listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty has been instrumental in creating and promoting the global norm against nuclear testing. The norm which, in the 21st century has only been defied by the DPRK.

We recall our condemnation of the six nuclear tests conducted by the DPRK since 2006 and strongly urge the DPRK to comply fully with all relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions, and to take concrete actions towards the complete, verifiable and irreversible dismantlement of its nuclear weapons related programs.

We reiterate that any new DPRK nuclear test would be irresponsible, unacceptable, and in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Pending the entry into force of the Treaty, we call upon all States to declare or maintain their existing national moratoria on nuclear weapon test explosions and other nuclear explosions and to refrain from any action that would undermine the Treaty’s objective and purpose.

We welcome ongoing steps to complete the Treaty's verification regime, consisting of the International Monitoring System, the International Data Centre, and On-Site Inspection capabilities.

The International Monitoring System is at the core of the verification regime, and already contributes to regional stability by providing reliable means to ensure compliance with the Treaty obligations, including through over 300 verification facilities worldwide, representing almost 90% of the network foreseen by the Treaty.

The system has detected every nuclear explosive test that has taken place in the 21st century.

It also has valuable scientific and civil applications, including monitoring environmental change and detecting volcanic activity, earthquakes and tsunamis.

And we reiterate that individual States’ financial commitments remain crucial to ensure the continued operation and the long-term sustainability of all elements of the verification regime, including the ongoing programme of capacity-building and training for national authorities.

In conclusion, there is no doubt that the CTBT contributes significantly to the international security, non-proliferation, and disarmament landscape.

More than 25 years since the Treaty opened for signature, its value is unquestionable.

But we cannot take it for granted.

And we urge all States that have not already done so to sign and ratify the Treaty and encourage States signatories to support continued efforts to strengthen the Treaty, its verification regime, and to achieve its entry into force as soon as possible.