For information only - not an official document

17 February 2012


United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon:

Remarks at Press Conference with Mr. Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

17 February 2012

Thank you, Ms. [Annika] Thunborg [CTBTO Spokesperson].

It is a great pleasure to join our distinguished colleague Foreign Minister Carl Bildt of Sweden, Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth and State Secretary [Wolfgang] Waldner of Austria, and I thank you for your strong leadership and commitment.

I have been to Vienna many times and I am very much committed to see the CTBT come into effect as soon as possible. In fact, I made 2012, this year, the target year to have this CTBT come into effect. We have been waiting 15 years. This is in a sense irresponsible for the international community just to wait. I urge again all eight so-called hold-out States to sign and ratify as early as possible.

I would like to commend the leadership and commitment of Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth. He is in fact a one-man WMD, a one-man weapon of mass disarmament, instead of weapon of mass destruction. As I told you in my earlier speech I am ready to travel to the capitals of these eight countries together with Ambassador Tibor Tóth to convince those leaders who are still not ready or even reluctant, even doubtful about the importance of the CTBT.

That is my commitment, as I had such a distinguished honour of serving for six months in 1999 [as Chairperson] at the early stage of the CTBT. Let us work together with a wholehearted commitment to make this world free of nuclear testing, nuclear weapons, so that everybody can live in peace and security without any fear of nuclear explosions.

Thank you very much.

Q: I was wondering whether you see any political will at all in the hold-out States  to ratify this treaty and what would be the consequences do you think, if the treaty is not ratified? Thank you.

SG: It is clearly a matter of political will. If there is political will at the leaders' level, I believe that this CTBT can enter into force any time. You remember that a few years ago there was a nuclear summit for the first time in the Security Council. It was historic in the history of the United Nations that all fifteen Heads of State of the Security Council met in one place. They pledged to make this world free of nuclear weapons.

I hope that such commitment demonstrated by the leaders will live continuously. That is why we need more pressure from the international community. It is not only me as the Secretary-General, it is not only foreign ministers, but it is the citizens - global citizens - who can raise awareness and who can really press - the business community, the civil community, students or women's groups - they can speak out to their leaders. There are only eight countries remaining who are holding out.

Now even without this, I can tell you that the CTBT has been quite effective in terms of monitoring and verification. They have detected explosions of North Korea nuclear testing - twice - and they have effectively detected and given early warning to Fukushima at the time of the tsunami in Japan. They have established almost 300 monitoring stations. These are well established networks, but these networks, they can be more effective and more legal and more authoritative, so this treaty should enter into force - that's what we are doing.

Q: Mr. Secretary-General, Fukushima -  one year ago -  showed that uncontrolled radiation observes no borders. The United Nations system has particular specialization with the CTBTO network, the WMO, UNSCEAR and the IAEA. And yet one year after the meltdown there is no binding structure for data sharing between UN bodies that can help people and protect properties. Why is there no urgency to make a permanent structure and what are you doing about it?

SG: The Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant accident has given a strong alarm to the international community on nuclear safety issues. That is why last September after the IAEA Director-General convened a ministerial meeting on nuclear safety,  I have convened a nuclear safety and security summit meeting where many world leaders came and discussed this matter.

There is a clear link between nuclear safety and nuclear security, so how to combine and link these two, interlink the issues, that will be quite important. I have mobilized all UN agencies to study and to analyze all these situations. We have made good recommendations to a high level summit meeting last September. This will be discussed in a Seoul nuclear security summit meeting next month. So this is now ongoing, world leaders are committed.

At the same time, I would guard against any just unconditional suspicions or doubt about the uses of nuclear energy. Nuclear energy also can be a source of energy when safety is ensured - that is my personal thought, not necessarily as Secretary-General, but having been involved in nuclear energy issues.

Q: Mr. Ban, we are talking today about nuclear security and non-proliferation. I have to ask you about Iran, apparently the policy of sanctions is not working to force Iran to freeze its nuclear programme, what do you think should be the next step or do you see a Plan B in order to convince Tehran to change its mind?

SG: I have stated the position of the United Nations on many occasions. First of all the Iranian authorities must fully comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions. There are five Security Council resolutions which have not been implemented fully by the Iranian authorities and that is one very fundamental, important thing.

Second I am deeply concerned by the latest IAEA report indicating that there may be the possibility of a military dimension in Iranian nuclear development programmes and I have been urging President Ahmadinejad and all senior authorities of the Iranian Government that the onus is on the Iranian side to prove, to convince the international community that their nuclear development programme is genuinely for peaceful purposes. To my mind and to the IAEA, they have not been able to convince the international community, so they have to fully cooperate with the IAEA and with the United Nations and the Security Council, that is their responsibility.

And thirdly all these issues should be resolved peacefully through negotiation, through dialogue. I don't know what you meant by plan B but there is no alternative to peaceful resolution on this issue.


* *** *