The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) in one of the most important non-proliferation and disarmament agreements since the Cold War and is one of the pillars of the international system for controlling and limiting the use of nuclear weapons.
The CTBT of 1996 grew out of the Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT) of 1963 aimed at banning nuclear testing in the atmosphere, outer space and under water. Drafting of the CTBT began in 1993 when the Conference on Disarmament set up an hoc committee to study the feasibility of a treaty banning all nuclear testing.
Actual negotiations began in January 1994 on the invitation of the UN General Assembly and continued over the next two years until a final text was approved on 10 September 1996 through Resolution A/RES/50/245, signed on 24 September of the same year.
States Parties pledge, without exception, not to carry out nuclear testing on their own soil nor to encourage or participate in such testing by another state, with a view to limiting the development, upgrade and creation of new generations of nuclear weapons.
To date the Treaty has been signed by 180 states and ratified by 148. As indicated in Art. 14, the CTBT will enter into force only after ratification by 44 states with advanced nuclear capability. Of these the United States of America, China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and Indonesia have not yet begun ratification procedures, while others, such as India, Pakistan and North Korea have yet not signed the Treaty.
Having signed the Treaty on 24 September 1996 and ratified it with Law no. 484/1998 (amended by Law. No 197/2003), and always attached great importance to its complete and effective application, Italy has been actively engaged in exerting its influence in international forums in the hopes of facilitating and encouraging ratification by those countries that have not yet done so. It has promoted conferences and workshops to raise awareness of the importance of the CTBT and contributed operationally to the activities of the provisory technical secretariat, in particular in the creation of the complex International Monitoring System (IMS) envisaged by the Treaty. To this end the foreign ministry recently signed agreements with the Advanced Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) and the Bureau of New Technologies, Energy and the Environment (ENEA) to bolster the activities of the National Data Centre set up at this ministry and linked with the IMS in Vienna.