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The new head of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization said the treaty would place a “real limit” on the further development of new weapons by nuclear armed states if it comes into effect and becomes legally binding.

Robert Floyd, who was appointed executive secretary of the preparatory commission for the CTBTO this month, told Kyodo News in a recent interview that having the test ban enter into force would also make it “practically impossible” for any non-nuclear armed states to develop such weapons in the future.

The CTBT, which prohibits countries from carrying out all types of nuclear explosive tests, has been signed by 185 states and ratified by 170 after it was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1996. Japan ratified it in 1997.

For the treaty to come into effect, it must be signed and ratified by all 44 countries that had nuclear reactors for research or power generation while the treaty was under negotiation, but eight including China and the United States have yet to do so.

“The CTBT as a treaty enjoys really strong support by the vast majority of states in the world,” Floyd said, adding that the pact is “actually already having an effect” due to the global norm against nuclear testing.

With the CTBTO providing the International Monitoring System, a worldwide system that detects nuclear explosions by collecting seismic data and observing radioactive particles among other verification technologies, “nobody can test without that being detected, which gives us some benefit already,” Floyd said.

The Australian scientist further stressed that having “a strong ban in place on nuclear testing is a really valuable and important thing” to counter moves by nuclear weapon states, such as the United States and Russia, that are seemingly moving in the opposite direction by upgrading and increasing their existing arsenals.

As for North Korea, Floyd said efforts to denuclearize the country have been taking place by the United States and other countries, and he expressed hope that it would take steps toward signing and ratifying the CTBT in the future when talks progress.

“That would be a powerful signal from the North Korean leadership and could be a confidence building measure, a gesture to move towards a solution,” he said.

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