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Britain and France ratify nuclear test ban


Foreign Office Press Release, 6 April 1998

Britain and France today became the first nuclear weapons states to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). The Treaty bans all nuclear weapons test explosions.

Robin Cook, the Foreign Secretary, said:

'The CTBT is a cornerstone of international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation. Britain's ratification signals our commitment to the goal of a nuclear weapons free world.

I am pleased that we were able to ratify jointly with France, demonstrating our close cooperation on such issues. I urge all countries which have not yet signed or ratified to do so - whether or not they possess nuclear weapons.'

Notes:

1. Britain played a central role in the negotiation of the CTBT and signed it on the day it was opened for signature, 24 September 1996. The Nuclear Explosions (Prohibition and Inspections) Act, which became UK law on 18 March 1998, provides the legal framework for inspections and prosecutions under the terms of the Treaty and enables the UK to ratify.

2. 149 states have signed the CTBT and 13 have ratified (including Britain and France). The Treaty will enter into force when it has been ratified by 44 named states. Of these, 6 have ratified, but 3 (India, Pakistan and North Korea) have not yet signed. Entry into force is therefore unlikely in the near future. The CTBT does, however, provide a powerful moral and political international norm against nuclear testing.

3. Britain has made a leading contribution to the establishment of the Treaty's verification provisions, through the work of the Seismology Group at AWE Blacknest and the CTBT Preparatory Commission. This regime will be the world's most extensive permanent verification system:

4. Britain's National Data Centre (NDC) is currently being set up at the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh, in collaboration with AWE Blacknest. The Centre will analyse data received from the IDC, to provide an independent UK assessment of potentially suspicious events in the context CTBT.