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Nuclear test ban talks may be held in April amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang’s provocation

Kyodo

The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization plans to convene a ministerial-level meeting as soon as April amid heightened concern over nuclear weapons proliferation following North Korea’s nuclear test last week, commission Chairman Cristian Istrate said.

At the meeting to commemorate 20 years since the opening of the treaty to signing, participants are expected to call for it to be brought into force, and to discuss the commission’s efforts to monitor nuclear tests across the globe.

In a recent interview with Kyodo News, the Romanian ambassador said he hopes Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, a Diet member representing the city of Hiroshima, which was devastated by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945, will attend the meeting.

“It’s now time to act” and send out a “powerful signal” to the public and to political leaders, Istrate said.

“Japan has a particular profile with regard to the prohibition of nuclear tests and nuclear disarmament,” and has a “very strong” and “legitimate voice,” he said.

Istrate also raised the possibility of inviting the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and an atomic bomb survivor to the meeting in Vienna, where the commission is headquartered. Nagasaki is the other Japanese city hit by a U.S. atomic bomb in 1945.

The commission chairman said he also wants the foreign ministers of countries possessing nuclear weapons such as the United States, Russia and China, as well as U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, to attend.

The treaty bans all types of nuclear explosions and has a verification mechanism. It was opened for signing in 1996 but has yet to enter into force because the United States, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan have yet to ratify it.

Meanwhile the commission has developed a system to monitor nuclear testing worldwide, with nearly 90 percent of a planned 337 facilities now in place. It detected North Korea’s nuclear test on Jan. 6.

At the meeting, Istrate said he will explain that the CTBT treaty has “long-term benefits” for global security. “We have to use this opportunity to raise public awareness” to put the treaty into force, he added.

The envisioned meeting is separate from a foreign ministerial-level conference held every two years to facilitate the CTBT’s entry into force. Japan and Kazakhstan co-chaired that conference last September.