Statement by H.E. Ertuğrul Apakan, Permanent Representative of Turkey to the UN, at the Informal Meeting of the GA on the International Day Against Nuclear Test

Ertuğrul Apakan 06.09.2012
Mr. Chairman,
I would like to begin by once again congratulating the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan for taking the initiative that led to the declaration of 29 August as the International Day Against Nuclear Tests. Turkey lent its full support to this initiative from the very outset. I commend the efforts of Ambassador Aitimova in organizing today’s important meeting.

Mr. Chairman,
In the early 1990s, Kazakhstan took a courageous decision to shut down the world’s second largest nuclear test site in Semipalatinsk. It also voluntarily renounced the world’s fourth largest nuclear arsenal, and promoted the establishment of a nuclear weapons free zone in Central Asia. I believe that the path that Kazakhstan has chosen for enhancing regional and global peace and security needs to be praised, and emulated throughout the world.

Taking this opportunity, I would also like to express our gratitude to the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan for its pioneering role in the establishment of the Nuclear Discussion Group, which aims to initiate informal discussions on achieving progress towards nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation.

Mr. Chairman,
Turkey strongly believes that the cessation of all nuclear weapon tests explosions constitutes an indispensable measure of both nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. In this regard, we stress the crucial role of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in achieving the objectives pertaining to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. Taking this opportunity, we would like to once again call for the early entry into force of this Treaty.

Turkey promotes the entry into force of the CTBT in all fora, and through different initiatives. One of such initiatives is the “Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative – NPDI – that aims to work towards implementation of the consensus outcomes of the 2010 NPT Review Conference, as mentioned by Ambassador Quinlan. The NPDI Ministers last met in June 2012 in Istanbul, and agreed on the Istanbul Statement, which takes up many important issues, including the entry into force of the CTBT.
Furthermore, as part of its efforts, Turkey hosted on 15-17 November 2011, a joint regional conference with the CTBTO, to raise broader awareness and deeper understanding of the role of the CTBT as a building block in the security architecture for a nuclear weapons free world. Particular focus of the conference was the linkage between the CTBT and the Nuclear Weapon Free Zones.

As in the example of the Central Asia, Nuclear Weapon Free Zones have proven to work, and should be established throughout the world. In this context, pursuant to the decision taken at the NPT 2010 Review Conference, we look forward to the convening of a Conference on the establishment of a Middle East zone free of nuclear weapons and all other weapons of mass destruction, and their means of delivery, before the end of 2012. Given the volatile and unstable situation in the Middle East, developing a common regional understanding on the establishment of this zone is all the more important. The Middle East needs and deserves peace and security.

Mr. Chairman,
It is our sincere hope that the International Day Against Nuclear Tests will continue to play an instrumental role in raising awareness about the effects of nuclear explosions, and orchestrating our efforts aimed at making concrete, verifiable and irreversible progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons.
Thank you, Mr. Chairman.