Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Fifteen years after the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature, Indonesia has finally ratified the treaty, a decision that has been applauded by world leaders who said it helped the world move closer to end nuclear tests.

"Indonesia has always vigorously supported the CTBT and was among the first to sign when the Treaty was opened for signature on 24 September 1996. However, as a matter of principle, it deferred the ratification process on the principle that states that possessed nuclear weapons should commit to the Treaty ahead of anyone else," the Indonesian foreign ministry said in a statement recently.

The country`s House of Representatives (DPR) on Tuesday, December 6, 2011, passed legislation officially endorsing the CTBT that bans all nuclear explosions in all environments for military or civilian purposes.

"Members of all factions in the parliament have agreed to ratify the CTBT," House Deputy Speaker Priyo Budi Santoso said in a plenary session that was also attended by Foreign Affairs Minister Marty Natalegawa and Head of Preparatory Commission for Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Tibor Toth who had flown in from Vienna, Austria, to witness the historic moment.

Marty said the House`s endorsement would strengthen Indonesia`s stance in supporting the non proliferation and total eradication of weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons, and Indonesia would henceforth make efforts to persuade other countries to ratify the CTBT.

Indonesia`s endorsement of the Treaty will receive official recognition when it is presented to the United Nations.

The CTBT bans any nuclear explosion for military or civil purposes, and establishes a complex verification system to monitor compliance.

When complete there will be 337 facilities monitoring the planet, underground, the oceans and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion.

According to CTBO, 182 countries have signed the treaty, of which 156 have also ratified it.

The CTBT`s stringent entry-into-force provision proscribes that all 44 designated nuclear technology holder countries must sign and ratify the treaty in order to make it law.

With Indonesia`s ratification, 36 have now done so. The eight countries that still have to ratify it are China, the Democratic People`s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.

The Vienna-based CTBTO was established to implement the treaty but pending its entry into force, the organization had the status of a so called Preparatory Commission.

Toth congratulated Indonesia`s parliamentarians for bringing the CTBT "a significant step closer to becoming global law."

"By this historic decision, the gap keeping the Treaty from entering into force has been narrowed down to eight countries," he said.

The ratification of the CTBT by Indonesia has been applauded by a number of countries including the United States, Turkey, Mexico, Japan, the European Union, Australia, Germany, France, Austria, Britain, New Zealand, and Sweden.

US President Barack Obama said in a statement issued by the White House on Tuesday (Dec 6) that the ratification provided a strong example of the positive leadership role Indonesia could play in the global effort to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons.

"The United States remains fully committed to pursuing ratification of the Test Ban Treaty and will continue to engage members of the Senate on the importance of this Treaty to US security," Obama added.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her statement thanked President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono and the Government of Indonesia for their leadership in this global effort to reinforce the nuclear nonproliferation regime.

Australian Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd Rudd said in a statement that "This decision further attests to Indonesia`s strong practical commitment to disarmament and will lend new impetus to efforts to universalise the CTBT, especially given Indonesia`s role as the Non-Aligned Movement`s Coordinator for Disarmament."

Australia hosts 21 monitoring facilities, the third-largest number of any state in the world, and supports the CTBT Organization in developing on-site inspection and verification procedures.

Praising Indonesia`s action on the CTBT, UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said "My message is clear: Do not wait for others to move first. Take the initiative. Lead. The time for waiting has passed."

Ban encouraged all states that have not yet done so to sign and ratify the treaty.

Catherine Ashton, the High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the Commission, also issued a statement saying "With its ratification, Indonesia confirmed its commitment to the objective of eliminating all nuclear test explosions worldwide."

The entry into force of the CTBT is a major objective on the multilateral agenda, and remains a strategic priority for the European Union as an essential element of advancing nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, she said.

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle called Indonesia`s decision "a further advance" that "will help pave the way for the Treaty to finally enter into force".

According to Westerwelle, the approval of the Treaty by Indonesia`s Parliament showed that "all over the world the importance of nuclear disarmament and arms control is increasingly recognized."

Germany acceded to the CTBT in 1998. With annual funding in the order of seven million euro, the German Government is the third largest contributor to the CTBTO.

The Mexican government applauded the decision of the Indonesian Parliament and said it would contribute to a nuclear-weapon-free world.

The Mexican government, which ratified the CTBT on October 5, 1999, urged the countries that have not yet endorsed or adhered to the treaty to do so as soon as possible so that the CTBT can enter into force around the world.

Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt welcomed Indonesia`s CTBT endorsement and said "With this fine example of political leadership and international engagement by Indonesia, the CTBT moves yet one step further towards entry into force. This is indeed good news for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects as well as for regional and international security."

Appreciation also came from British Foreign Secretary William Hague who said "I congratulate the Indonesian government for ratifying the CTBT, the 156th country to do so. This is a significant step towards the Treaty`s entry into force and to a global ban on nuclear weapon test explosions. I now call on the remaining eight states that need to ratify the treaty for it to enter into force to do so. I hope the Indonesian example of a change of direction in policy on the CTBT after 15 years will send a positive signal to them."

The CTBT provides for a system capable of detecting nuclear explosions anywhere in the world, either in the atmosphere, underwater or underground, and is made up of 321 stations for seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound monitoring, and 16 radionuclide laboratories.

Indonesia currently hosts six of the seismic stations which are part of the CTBT`s global alarm system monitoring the planet for any evidence of nuclear explosions.

The seismic stations are crucial for a country like Indonesia, which is prone to natural disasters, because the stations` seismic data also provide warnings about tsunamis and volcanic eruptions, and can be used for other civil and scientific applications.

Indonesia has been actively pushing for a world free of nuclear weapons at various regional and international fora such as the United Nations, the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), and ASEAN.

Marty had announcement that his country intended to ratify the CTBT at the opening of the 2010 Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in New York on May 3, 2010.

Indonesia`s step is expected to generate a domino effect inspiring the eight countries which have not yet shown their intention to ratify the Treaty. (*)

Reporter: By Fardah
Editor: Kunto Wibisono
Copyright © ANTARA 2011