UK affirms commitment to nuclear test ban

UK affirms commitment to nuclear test ban
UK affirms commitment to nuclear test ban

A Foreign Office Minister has today said that the UK has reaffirmed its commitment not to carry out nuclear weapons testing.

The announcement comes only days after the Department for Trade and Industry announced that it would be giving £1.1 million to the International Atomic Energy Association (IAEA) to help in the work against nuclear proliferation.

The UK is one of five declared nuclear nations, along with the USA, Russia, France and China. In 1996 the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear test explosions, was opened for signature, and was signed and ratified by the UK.

The ban will not come into international force until all of the named states in annex two, which possess nuclear reactor technology, sign and ratify the treaty. The formal nuclear powers of USA and China have failed to ratify the treaty, the known nuclear powers of Pakistan and Iran have refused to sign, and North Korea, which is suspected of having nuclear capability has also refused to sign. Iran and Israel, who some also suspected of having nuclear technology, have not yet ratified the treaty.

Baroness Symons today sought to reconfirm the UK's commitment to the treaty, despite its setbacks, saying: "The United Kingdom played a leading role in the formation of this Treaty and continues to work towards its early entry into force.

"We believe that the Treaty has an important role to play in the fight against nuclear proliferation and we urge all non-States Parties to join its growing membership".

Earlier this week, DTI Minister Nigel Griffiths announced that the UK would be giving £1.1 million to the IAEA to re-engineer one of its computer support systems the IAEA Safeguards Information System (ISIS).

Mr Griffiths said: "Countering the proliferation of nuclear weapons is a key priority for the Government and international community. The IAEA has a central role in this area, in particular through continued effective and efficient safeguards work. This is why the ISIS re-engineering project is so important.

"Earlier this year the Foreign Secretary made a statement to Parliament, where he stressed the importance of providing adequate financial support for the IAEA's safeguards activities. Today's announcement delivers on this commitment".

"I very much hope that this donation will encourage other countries to come forward with funding to support the Agency's work in this area."

The computer system supports the IAEA safeguards system which is used to analyse whether countries are keeping to their nuclear commitments. It has requested member states help fund the technological upgrade, but so far only the US and the UK have come forward with funding.