Statement by Azerbaijan
Date: 7 October 1999
Delivered by: Amb. Vaqif Sadiqov, Permanent Representative to the PrepCom for the CTBTO
Distinguished members of the Bureau, Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen.
Let me associate myself with the previous speakers and congratulate you, Mr. President, and all members of the Bureau on occasion of your election to these posts. Taking this opportunity, I would like to thank the Government and people of Austria for hosting this Conference.
The Republic of Azerbaijan is committed to the goals and objectives of the Treaty and stands for reduction of nuclear arsenals, non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, means of their delivery, appropriate technologies. The nuclear disarmament process has to ultimately lead to complete elimination of nuclear weapons.
Sharing the concerns of international community over the issues of nuclear security, in particular the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Azerbaijan signed the Treaty on July 28, 1997. Having ratified the Treaty on December 1, 1998, Azerbaijan deposited its instrument of ratification with the Secretary-General of the United Nations on February 1, 1999.
The negotiation and signature of the CTBT represent a milestone in the decades-long international effort to stop the qualitative improvement of nuclear stockpiles. Its implementation will mean the end to nuclear tests for all time globally and will strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It is obvious that vigorous efforts are needed to provide for entry into force of the CTBT. The delay in this process prevents full implementation of the extensive monitoring and on-site inspection system established by the Treaty. Therefore, Azerbaijan calls on the States that have not yet ratified the CTBT to do that as soon as possible and by doing so to provide for the universality of the Treaty.
In terms of nuclear risks the South Caucasus is a very sensitive area. In this regard, I would like to recall the initiative of the President of Azerbaijan to establish a zone free of nuclear weapons in the South Caucasus which was put forward in September of 1997 at the international conference in the capital of Uzbekistan Tashkent. This major initiative could be a significant contribution to creating world free of nuclear weapons. However, the practical implementation of this initiative is hampered by the continuation of the armed conflict between Armenia and Azerbaijan. This conflict imposed on us by Armenia and the continuing occupation of the Azerbaijani territories, in addition to the major consequences of the conflict, endangers the general security situation in the region, including also in connection with nuclear risks. Nevertheless, we continue to pursue our non-proliferation policy. Recently in the framework of a bilateral cooperation programme the relevant agreement has been signed with the U.S.
The ongoing military conflicts in the South Caucasus and other potential hotspots, the presence in Armenia of a nuclear power station of a low security degree in a seismically highly unstable area, the ambivalent nuclear policy in the region and the lack of a reliable monitoring system are among serious security risks to Azerbaijan and to the region as a whole.
We support the efforts of the Preparatory Commission, its Provisional Technical Secretariat and the Executive Secretary to establish a viable and effective verification regime to start functioning once the Treaty enters into force. It has been reassuring to see in the comprehensive background document compiled by the PTS the results of the work carried out since the establishment of the Preparatory Commission. One has to mention the work of the International Data Center and the results achieved so far, in particular in the fields of technical training and monitoring. We note with satisfaction the increased number and wide scope of training events prepared by the PTS within the framework of the International Monitoring System, On-Site Inspections programmes, as well as the workshops within the framework of International Cooperation programme. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express our gratitude to the PTS for invitations issued to representatives of my country to participate in the above-mentioned programmes.
We are of the opinion that the present Conference and adoption of the Declaration will identify the ways and specific measures to achieve a universal character of the CTBT, as well as address the ways of strengthening international cooperation in the field of peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The outcome of the Conference should undoubtedly tackle the issue of integrity and continuity of the nuclear disarmament process and thus call upon the Conference on Disarmament to speed up the accession of new members to the CD.
In conclusion, let me reiterate our firm belief that the entry into force of the CTBT will serve as a decisive first step in fulfilling "Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation" adopted at the 1995 Review and Extension Conference of the NPT.