Nuclear safety and security high on the agenda at upcoming UN events

21 September 2011Amid the heightened attention given to the issue of nuclear safety and security in recent months, world leaders will convene at United Nations Headquarters this week to discuss how to advance this goal as well as to promote the entry into force of the treaty that bans all nuclear testing. Tomorrow Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon will convene the High-level Meeting on Nuclear Safety and Security on the margins of the annual general debate of the General Assembly.“Nuclear energy may well be the future for many nations, but it is important that we develop the strongest possible international safety standards,” he told reporters last week ahead of this week’s events. At the meeting, Mr. Ban will present a UN system-wide study on the implications of the nuclear accident at Fukushima, Japan, in March following the earthquake and tsunami that struck the country.The report will touch on a variety of areas, including environment, health, food security, sustainable development and the nexus between nuclear safety and nuclear security. It will also present system-wide views on how to improve disaster risk preparedness.Then on Friday, foreign ministers from around 100 countries will convene to discuss how to promote the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which the Secretary-General has stated is key to the global effort to create a nuclear-weapon-free world.Out of a total listed number of 195 States, 182 have so far signed the CTBT and 155 have ratified it. For the treaty to enter into force ratification is required from the so-called Annex 2 States. Of these China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States have yet to ratify it. “The challenge is the nine outstanding ratifications,” Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), told a news conference at the UN today, referring to the remaining Annex 2 States that have yet to ratify the treaty.The CTBTO is tasked with building up the treaty’s verification regime so that it is fully operational when the treaty enters into force, and with promoting signatures and ratifications.This year’s meeting takes on added significance, said Mr. Tóth, since it is being held 15 years after the signing of the treaty, which took place on 24 September 1996. He noted a “dynamism” in terms of countries embracing the treaty and that the verification regime itself is being built up.

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