Foreign Minister Heiko Maas issued the following statement in Berlin today (29 August 2018) to mark the International Day against Nuclear Tests:
Particularly in this world of ours that is characterised by a new disorder, disarmament and arms control are a question of humanity’s survival. We will also use our seat on the UN Security Council to work towards putting these issues back on the agenda.
The danger posed by nuclear weapons is particularly concrete when it comes to nuclear tests. Despite a de facto ban, these tests are unfortunately still taking place. Only one year ago, North Korea conducted its most recent nuclear test. Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear programme is in violation of international law and remains a threat to peace and security both in the region and around the world. Our chief priority therefore continues to be fighting the proliferation of nuclear weapons and preventing nuclear tests for their further development.
It’s clear that we need swift entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). It would put in place a binding instrument of international law that universally bans nuclear tests. We are working unstintingly to achieve this, together with our partners in Europe and elsewhere. The states that have not yet ratified and signed the CTBT should finally do so.
The International Day against Nuclear Tests was established by the United Nations in 2009, at the initiative of Kazakhstan. The day commemorates both the first Soviet nuclear test of 1949 in Semipalatinsk and the closing of the test site there in 1991. So far, 166 countries have signed and ratified the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). For its entry into force, ratification by the United States, China, Egypt, Iran and Israel is required, along with signature and ratification by India, Pakistan and North Korea. However, a de facto ban on nuclear tests has been created, as a norm of international behaviour, and in the last 20 years only North Korea has conducted tests. All CTBT signatories are abiding by the voluntary moratorium on nuclear tests.
In cooperation with our European partners, and through the Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI) that was launched in 2010, Germany is campaigning hard for entry into force of the CTBT and through these efforts became a member of the Friends of the CTBT in 2013. Germany provides some 7.3 million euros annually for the budget of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, which is headquartered in Vienna and has built a global network for detecting possible nuclear detonations that meanwhile comprises more than 300 monitoring stations. These stations played a key role in detecting and measuring the North Korean nuclear tests. Moreover, they are also used for civilian purposes, e.g. to provide early warning of tsunamis.