International conference on Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in Brussels: “Towards a world without nuclear tests: fulfilling the promise”

At the initiative of Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Didier Reynders, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egmont Institute organize on this Tuesday 22nd of May an international conference on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT). The conference, titled Towards a world without nuclear tests: fulfilling the promise, takes place in the Egmont Palace in Brussels. It is part of the efforts made by Belgium to facilitate the entry into force of the treaty. This mandate, also known under the name of the “Article XIV Conference”, was given to Belgium and Iraq for the years 2017-2019.

The CTBT is an international treaty which prohibits all nuclear tests or any other kind of nuclear explosion, be it for peaceful or military ends and in any environment. Open to signature in 1996, it must still be signed and/or ratified by eight countries before it can enter into force. Its existence and the work of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban-Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) have however already put an effective brake to the proliferation of nuclear weapons and to the development of new types of weapons. Since the beginning of the 21st century, no other country than the Democratic People's Republic of Korea has tested nuclear devices. All other countries in the world respect a voluntary moratorium. Despite its “interim” character, the CTBTO has succeeded in establishing a verification regime which is already so advanced that its detection capability is greater than negotiators had thought possible.

Minister Didier Reynders and Federica Mogherini, the Europan Union's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, will open the conference. Their interventions will be followed by a keynote speech delivered by CTBTO’s Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo. Ambassadeur Sha Zukang, member of the Group of Eminent Persons and China’s CTBT negotiator, and the Ambassador of Iraq to Belgium will also address the audience before the debate moderated by the Director of the Egmont Institute.

Didier Reynders will emphasize in his speech that even if recent announcements by North Korea have instilled hope that a world free of nuclear tests may be within reach, only the signature and the ratification of the CTBT will offer the prospect of lasting security. He will reiterate that the banning of nuclear tests remains a crucial step on the road towards a world without nuclear weapons. He will also underline that it is necessary to involve the youth, guardians of the world of tomorrow, in the endeavour to make the treaty internationally binding law.

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