North Korea nuclear weapon test: time for test ban

MELBOURNE, 25 MAY 2009. Reports of a North Korean nuclear weapons test have brought new calls for a treaty to ban nuclear tests, and for progress towards abolishing nuclear weapons. MAPW Vice President, Associate Professor Tilman Ruff, has called on existing nuclear weapons states to get rid of their nuclear weapons.

Associate Professor Ruff was speaking on behalf of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANi):

The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICANi) this afternoon expressed grave concerns following reports of a nuclear test explosion in North Korea.

"Any nuclear testing is unacceptable and flies in the face of a long-standing international moratorium on testing of these most deaidly of weapons," stated Assoc Prof Tilman Ruff, Chair of ICANi Australia.

Assoc Prof Ruff was recently part of the Australian government delegation at the United Nations participating in the Preparatory Committee meetings around the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPTi). Two other ICANi Australia representatives, Dimity Hawkins and Dr Ruth Mitchell also attended the New York conference as non-government observers.

"It is time for the international community to raise the expectation of the USA and China to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBTi) and help bring this vital treaty into force. It is only through international agreements on measures such as the CTBTi that we will see North Korea truly isolated and pressured into extinguishing their nuclear weapons programs," stated Assoc Prof Tilman Ruff.

"Todays nuclear test by North Korea, while not wholly unexpected, seriously flies in the face of the international progress around issues of nuclear weapons disarmament and non-proliferation," stated Dimity Hawkins, ICANi Australia Board Member. "Recent statements calling for a world free from nuclear weapons by US President Obama, the Russian President Medvedev and even our own Prime Minister Rudd were largely supported by the world community at the NPTi negotiations at the United Nations in New York just this month. North Korea is seriously out of step with the world view on these weapons and is endangering progress towards this goal."

In April, US President Obama said that his administration would "immediately and aggressively" seek ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBTi) which would effectively create a global ban on nuclear testing. The USA and China, both nuclear weapons states, have failed consistently to ratify this treaty, which requires their participation and that of several other non-nuclear nations to be brought into force. Obama in April described nuclear weapons as "the most dangerous legacy of the Cold War."

“Unless there is serious progress towards abolishing nuclear weapons we can expect more nuclear tests and nuclear proliferation. The nine nuclear weapons states* must make the stated goal of a world free from nuclear weapons a reality,” concluded Assoc Prof Tilman Ruff. “Our government should condemn North Korea's test and do everything in their power to pressure our allies to bring the CTBTi into force."

For comment please call:
Assoc Prof Tilman Ruff - ICANi Australia Chair - 0438 099 231
Dimity Hawkins - ICANi Australia Chair - 0422 612 702

*nations with nuclear weapons are: the USA, Russia, France, China, the UK, India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea.