We are still relevant! This was the rallying cry of Tibor Toth, the executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization, in a statement to reporters on Monday. Toth was marking both the 15th anniversary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, and the upcoming 50th anniversary of the Cuban Missile Crisis, which he used to illustrate the necessity of the treaty.
“Before the Cuban Missile Crisis, this treaty would not have been possible,” Toth said, noting that a partial test-ban treaty was being discussed, but that no country would have even considered completely banning nuclear bomb-testing.
“After the Crisis, the comprehensive treaty was discussed, and in a couple of months the partial test ban treaty was born.”
Toth spent much of his time emphasizing the fact that the treaty just plain works.
“The [test] ban moved us away from the 2,000 nuclear explosions that happened between 1945 and 1996,” Toth said.
“Each decade there were four or five hundred nuclear explosions. Compare that to what the treaty and verification system achieve, and we pushed the genie back in the bottle.”
Toth noted that the only two nuclear explosions occurred worldwide since the treaty was written and ratified in 1996 -- in 2006 and 2009, both by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (i.e., Communist North Korea). “They were considered 'pollutant', politically and environmentally, and the verification system detected the breach.”
157 countries have ratified the treaty, but there are still eight major countries who have not ratified it: the U.S., China, North Korea, India, Pakistan, Iran, Israel and Egypt. Toth said that it was these countries who were “stepping out of line” of the international norm and “isolating themselves.”
“It’s absolutely clear from the news of the day, week and month that there are important spots of tension,” Toth told reporters. “Historically, the relevance [of the treaty] is clear. We don’t want to wait for another Cubna Missile Crisis to happen to realize that this treaty is needed.”
Maya covers the U.N., Europe, and the Middle East for IBTimes. She joined the company in July 2012 after having previously worked with DNAinfo.com and Gawker.