Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov’s speech at the 11th Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, New York, September 25, 2019
Ladies and gentlemen,
I am happy to welcome all those present in this hall. I hope the conference will fully meet the requirements stipulated in Article 14 of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and will let us approach our common goal – the treaty’s entry into force.
Regrettably, our conference was overshadowed by an outrageous incident linked with the failure of the US to fulfil its commitments on the timely issuance of visas for members of the delegations coming to work at the UN. Almost every member of the Russian delegation that was declared to take part in today’s conference failed to receive visas even though we complied with all the required procedures. Apparently, it is time to consider moving these conferences from New York to more stable venues where the host country treats its commitments responsibly.
Returning to the subject, I would like to welcome the signing of the treaty by Tuvalu and ratification by Zimbabwe and Thailand. With their accession, the number of countries that have signed and ratified the treaty has reached 184 and 168, respectively. Each new ratification is vital for the treaty – it makes its status closer to universal and draws attention to the liability of the remaining eight states on which its entry into force depends.
Regrettably, the situation around the treaty has seriously deteriorated since the holding of the previous conference in 2017. The US official refusal to ratify the treaty is the main destabilising event. Our American colleagues and some of their associates claim that this decision does not change anything in practical terms. Meanwhile, it has serious destructive consequences for the treaty and international security in general.
The US refusal to ratify the treaty deprives it of the prospects to become an operational international treaty by virtue of its entry into force terms. The propriety of all efforts on forming a treaty-related infrastructure including an international monitoring system is being put under a big question mark.
Instead of revising its negative decision on the treaty Washington is trying to a cast a shadow on other states by accusing them of failure to observe it. This is being done without any grounds. This has already become common. The Americans do not support their assertions with any specific arguments. A country that does not intend (as it officially declared) to ratify the treaty does not have a formal or moral right to even discuss the commitments of other states to it. It is simply unseemly to use dirty tricks to cover up one’s potential withdrawal from the treaty.
We are seriously concerned about the US general destructive line as regards well-established and effective mechanisms and agreements on arms control and non-proliferation. We have said this more than once. A continuation of this policy is fraught with chaos and anarchy as well as lack of predictability in the nuclear field. The CTBT treaty is one of the major instruments for limiting the spread of nuclear weapons and promoting non-proliferation and is designed to play a fundamental role in ensuring international security and stability. Paradoxically, it was the United States that initiated drafting the treaty at one time. This has likely been forgotten by now.
As we see it, other states, including those listed in Annex 2 to the treaty, share the US position. The US could become the driver of the treaty’s ratification, it could set an example for others to follow. In this context, we urge the US government to revise its irresponsible decision on the treaty and take all the necessary steps for its ratification without delay.
We are also addressing our appeal to the seven countries on which the treaty’s entry into force depends. We urge them to sign and/or ratify the treaty as soon as possible. Needless to say, each of these countries is liable for the destiny of this document.
We appreciate the activities of the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission headed by our well-known colleague, Lassina Zerbo. We have always supported the secretariat’s efforts to promote the treaty in the international arena. We also support the secretariat’s line on steady and balanced parameters for all elements of the mechanism for verifying compliance with the treaty. That said, we emphasise that the full and effective functioning of this verification mechanism is only possible after the treaty’s entry into force. The treaty can never be fulfilled on a temporary basis.
Having ratified the treaty in 2000, Russia has been strictly implementing its commitments. For us, this is the only effectively verifiable international treaty on the comprehensive ban of nuclear tests. There is no alternative to this. It cannot have any alternative. Russian leaders have repeatedly reaffirmed this position on the treaty.
Since 1991 Russia has observed a moratorium on nuclear testing. We have not staged a single nuclear explosion during this period. We intend to continue observing this moratorium given that other nuclear states follow the same line. We believe that a voluntary moratorium on testing, no matter how important it may be, cannot compensate for the failure to resolve the main task – to ensure the treaty’s entry into force. The unilateral commitments by individual states cannot replace full-scale international legal commitments under this document, either.
Russia closely cooperates with the preparatory commission on creating the Russian segment of the international monitoring system. Russia has already put 28 of the envisioned 32 facilities into service. We intend to make more progress in this area.
I reaffirm that we accept the final declaration of the current conference, which was negotiated in Vienna, including the list of measures on facilitating the treaty’s entry into force. We will take an active part in the implementation of these measures.