Australian Commonwealth Coat of Arms

Opening Statement by Minister for Foreign Affairs as Chair of the Fourth Ministerial Meeting on the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty

24 September, 2008, United Nations, New York

Excellencies, distinguished Delegates, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I warmly welcome you here today to the Fourth Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Ministerial Meeting.

We are gathered here to demonstrate the strong international will against nuclear testing and underscore our support for the CTBT.

I welcome the Secretary-General and thank him for attending this morning.

Let me acknowledge Ambassador Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization. I had the pleasure of meeting Ambassador Tóth when he visited Australia earlier this year.

I also welcome Special Representative to promote ratification of the CTBT, Ambassador Jaap Ramaker.

Finally, I would like to thank Mr. William Perry and Mr. Michael Douglas for coming today to share their insights.

Australia considers entry into force of the CTBT an immediate nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation priority.

Australia’s practical support has been demonstrated this year by its support for a major field exercise to test the Treaty's on-site inspection mechanism, as well as support for regional workshops. We are contributing also to scientific evaluation of the readiness and capability of the CTBT’s verification system.

The value of the global monitoring component of the verification system was shown when it provided critical information about the DPRK nuclear test in October 2006

The widespread condemnation of the test demonstrated firm international unity against nuclear testing.

But the test also highlighted the urgent need for the Treaty to enter into force.

Today we congratulate those states that have ratified the CTBT since the last Ministerial Meeting: Montenegro, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Moldova, Palau, the Dominican Republic, the Bahamas, Barbados, Malaysia and Colombia.

I also applaud Iraq’s recent signature. This action is very commendable given the many challenges facing the Government of Iraq, and is a valuable sign of support for the Treaty.

I wish everybody here all the best for a successful and productive meeting and look forward to issuing our joint Ministerial Statement at its conclusion.

Thank you.