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President of the General Assembly, Excellencies,

Let me begin by thanking the President of the General Assembly for organizing this high-level plenary meeting to commemorate the International Day against Nuclear Tests.

For the past sixty years, the world has been free from nuclear explosive tests occurring in the atmosphere, in outer space, or under water.  But despite the great impact of the 1963 Limited Test Ban Treaty and the norm it fostered, the goal of a global, legally binding ban on all nuclear weapon test explosions by all States Parties in all environments remains elusive.  The vital final step to reaching that goal is the entry into force of the CTBT.  President Biden has been a long-standing supporter of, and advocate for the CTBT, and the United States is firmly committed in its support of the treaty, and efforts to achieve its entry into force. We call on all states, and especially those listed in Annex 2 of the treaty, to ratify the CTBT without waiting for others to do so.

For more than thirty years, the United States has not conducted a nuclear explosive test, and we have no plans to do so.  We were the first to sign the CTBT when it was opened for signature in September 1996.  Since then, the United States has maintained a zero-yield moratorium on nuclear explosive testing and calls on all states possessing nuclear weapons to declare or maintain such a moratorium.  While these voluntary moratoria help to maintain the international norm against nuclear explosive testing, we also recognize that there are no substitute for the legally binding ban that an in-force CTBT will provide. Such a ban is in the interest of all states.

As we saw during the 10th Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference last year, a legally binding ban on nuclear explosive testing remains an international priority.  The NPT Parties recognized once again that a ban on all such testing, in all environments, is an important and necessary step on the path to a world without nuclear weapons.  We are concerned, however, by the disturbing nuclear rhetoric from the Russian Federation over the past year and a half – in particular, President Putin’s statement in February about Russia’s willingness to resume nuclear explosive testing.  That statement runs counter to Russia’s commitment to the CTBT.

While much progress has been made towards the universalization and entry into force of the CTBT, there is still work to be done to complete the remaining elements of the treaty’s verification regime, which will serve as a vital deterrent to clandestine nuclear explosive testing.  Chief among that work is providing adequate resources for the long-term sustainment of the International Monitoring System, the IMS.  After more than a quarter century of provisional operations, the IMS is in need of recapitalization to ensure it continues to serve as a vital deterrent to the conduct of nuclear explosive tests. To this end, the United States joined with the leaders of the other G7 states in their most recent leaders’ statement, and committed not only to supporting the CTBT, but also to adequately funding the vital components of its verification regime.

Despite the difficult international security environment in which we find ourselves today, all states must re-commit to the goal of a global, legally binding ban on nuclear explosive tests as an important milestone on the road to a world without nuclear weapons.

I thank you.

U.S. Department of State

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