May 5, 2010 / 9:05 PM / 9 years ago

U.S., other big powers to refrain from atomic tests

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The five official nuclear powers said on Wednesday they will continue to refrain from conducting any atomic tests and called for all nations to ratify a treaty banning all nuclear explosions.

The United States, Russia, China, Britain and France issued their statement at a month-long meeting of the 189 signatories of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which is taking stock of the landmark arms control pact.

“We reaffirm our determination to abide by our respective moratoria on nuclear test explosions before entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and call on all States to refrain from conducting a nuclear test explosion,” the statement said.

“We will continue our efforts aimed at early entry into force of the CTBT and achieving its universality and call upon all states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify this treaty,” the five added.

Under the terms of the NPT, the five powers were permitted to keep their nuclear weapons, though they agreed to enter into negotiations on disarmament. The treaty is aimed at stopping the spread of atomic arms while guaranteeing signatories the right to civilian nuclear energy programs.

Indonesia announced earlier this week that it plans to ratify the CTBT, bringing the treaty a step nearer to entering into force.

Indonesia is one of nine remaining nations whose ratification is required for the CTBT to come into effect. The others are the United States, China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel and Pakistan.

U.S. RATIFICATION

The United States signed the test-ban treaty in 1996 during the administration of President Bill Clinton, a Democrat. When George W. Bush took office in 2001, his Republican administration said it did not want its options limited by such a treaty and never asked the Senate to vote on the pact.

President Barack Obama, a Democrat, as part of a new push for nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament has vowed fresh efforts to secure Senate ratification.

Under Secretary of State Ellen Tauscher told reporters and NPT delegates on Wednesday that the Obama administration will work to secure ratification of a recent U.S.-Russia arms reduction agreement during the current legislative year.

Afterward, it will resubmit the CTBT when the political atmosphere is right, she said.

The five stopped testing nuclear devices in the 1990s.

The big powers’ statement also reiterated their commitment to continuing disarmament steps, something the previous U.S. administration had refused to do.

The former U.S. position on disarmament angered nonaligned developing nations and played a key role in the failure of the 2005 NPT review conference to agree on a final declaration.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan, like Israel, never signed the NPT. Both Pakistan and India have tested nuclear devices. Israel neither confirms nor denies reports that it has a sizable nuclear arsenal. There are no confirmed reports of an Israeli nuclear test.

North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003 and carried out atomic tests in 2006 and 2009.

Editing by Vicki Allen

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