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Indonesia drops key demand of U.S. on test-ban treaty

Indonesia announced today that it will seek ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, dropping its demand that it would only do so after United States had ratified the landmark agreement. The announcement marks the most significant non-proliferation commitment by a non-nuclear state at the NPT conference.

"I wish to inform the present august assembly that Indonesia is initiating the process of the ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty," said Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa. "It is our fervent hope that this further demonstration of our commitment to the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation agenda will encourage other countries that have not ratified the treaty, to do the same."

The test-ban treaty was established in September 1996, and more than 150 states have ratified it. But the pact will not go into force until eight countries with nuclear power programs --China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, Russia, and North Korea -- ratify the treaty.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, who chaired a preparatory commission on the treaty in 1999, has pressed the United States and other governments to ratify the agreement. "The time has come to think seriously about setting a timeframe for ratification," he said Monday. "It has been 15 years since the treaty was opened for signature. Here, too, how long must we wait?"

Most of the declared nuclear powers, including the United States, have observed a moratorium on nuclear tests. But the United States has sought for years to develop technological procedures that would allow it to ensure the effectiveness of its nuclear weapons without having to test explosives.

The Obama administration supports the ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, but it has not put it forward for consideration by the U.S. Senate because of concerns that it will be voted down. But Secretary of State Hillary R. Clinton today reiterated support for the pact. "We have made a commitment to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty," she said.