Washington: The Obama administration is preparing to approach the US Congress to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), in line with the president`s commitment to seek an early ratification for the treaty.
"We are preparing to seek the advice and consent of the United States Senate to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty," said Susan F Burk, Special Representative of the US President for Nuclear Non-proliferation.
The CTBT, which bans all nuclear explosions, was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996 but it has not yet entered into force. The US has signed the CTBT, but not ratified it.
Burk said, in the meantime, the US would continue its nuclear testing moratorium, in place since 1992, and called on other states publicly to declare moratoria of their own.
"The United States also is committed to pursuing a verifiable ban on the production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons or other explosive nuclear devices, a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT)," she said in her address to the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
The US Senate had rejected the ratification of the CTBT in 1999, but Barack Obama said during his election campaign that if elected he would reach out to the Senate to secure the ratification of the CTBT "at the earliest practical date".
"Last year the Conference on Disarmament (CD) agreed on a programme of work that included a negotiating mandate for an FMCT, but the CD remains unable to move forward," she said.
"In the interim, we are continuing our decades-long moratorium on production of fissile material for use in nuclear weapons, and we call on others to join us," she said.
Burk said the Eighth NPT Review Conference in May, must be used as an opportunity to strengthen implementation of the non-proliferation pillar.
"The burden for providing the necessary assurance to the international community that nuclear energy programmes are, in fact, solely peaceful falls to the IAEA as it carries out its safeguards mission," she said.
She said in addition to the comprehensive IAEA safeguards agreements, NPT parties are required to have in force the Additional Protocol that has added a new and important tool to the non-proliferation toolbox.
Under the Additional Protocol, countries are required to give more information on nuclear and related activities to the IAEA, and IAEA inspectors have greater rights of access.
"... with the protocol in force the IAEA is more able to verify the absence of clandestine nuclear activities as part of an incipient weapons programme," he said. Currently, 95 IAEA Member States, including the United States, have Additional Protocols in force.
"The IAEA director general has set a goal of 100 APs in force by the time of the Review Conference. This demonstrates the growing consensus that the Additional Protocol represents the new international safeguards standard," she said.
She said the IAEA must be provided with the resources and authorities it needs to carry out all of its mandates and the international community must work together to encourage full compliance with the NPT and to address non-compliance.