12 November 2001


NEW YORK, 11 November (UN Headquarters) -- Following are the opening remarks of Secretary-General Kofi Annan to the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, in New York on 11 November:

Thank you all for coming to this Conference, which I have convened at the request of a majority of the 84 States that have already ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). If anyone thinks that that Treaty, or this Conference, have been overshadowed or marginalized by the events of 11 September and their aftermath, I hope they will think again.

Those events should have made it clear to everyone that we cannot afford further proliferation of nuclear weapons. Nor can we afford to lose momentum in efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons from the world's arsenals. We must do everything we can to reduce the risk of such weapons falling into the hands of terrorists.

This Treaty is a crucial element in the non-proliferation regime. The longer we delay its entry into force, the greater the risk that nuclear testing will resume -- and that, in turn, would make non-proliferation much harder to sustain.

As you know, the Treaty names 44 States whose ratification is required for it to enter into force. Thirty-one of those have ratified it so far. The main purpose of this Conference is to find ways of encouraging the remaining States to sign and ratify the Treaty, in particular, those 13 needed for it to enter into force.

Why should this be so difficult? Many of those States have, for years, voiced their support for global nuclear disarmament. Many of them are States which themselves worked long and hard to conclude the Treaty. Now, it is within their power to bring it into force.

I implore them to do so, and I urge all of you to focus on finding arguments, and taking steps, that will allay the doubts still felt in those States. We have a precious, but fleeting opportunity to render this troubled world a safer place, free of the threat of nuclear weapons. We must not let it pass.

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