France reaffirms strong support for the CTBT

CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

The Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Lassina Zerbo, visited France from 19 to 20 January 2017. In Paris, he met French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault and other high-ranking officials.

Ayrault reiterated France’s strong support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Entry into force of the CTBT remains France’s top priority for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, together with the Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT). Zerbo expressed his gratitude for France's continuous political, technical and financial support to the CTBTO.

The CTBT is a consensual subject; it is essential that France and Europe continue to exercise joint leadership in promoting the Treaty in all instances.CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo
CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo with French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault.

Zerbo and Ayrault exchanged views on ways to enhance the effectiveness of non-proliferation initiatives in the current geopolitical context. The Executive Secretary encouraged Ayrault to exercise France's leadership and to work with partners in Europe and beyond for renewed momentum and to advance a positive agenda on disarmament and non-proliferation around the CTBT.

Coherence and exemplarity are essential for a convincing dialogue with non-ratifying States.Foreign Minister of France, Jean-Marc Ayrault
The CTBT discussed at Paris-based think tank Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique.

Discussion at the Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique

At the Paris-based think tank Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS) [Foundation for Strategic Research], Zerbo discussed with journalists, civil society and government representatives about the CTBT’s status, its verification system, non-proliferation and disarmament. The discussion further addressed initiatives that could contribute to raising the CTBT’s profile in the current geopolitical context and the need for leadership

CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo with Admiral de Bonnaventure, Deputy Director General for International Relations and Strategy.

Talks at the Ministry of Defense

At the Ministry of Defense, Zerbo met Admiral de Bonnaventure, Deputy Director General for International Relations and Strategy. Admiral de Bonnaventure expressed his satisfaction with the effectiveness and status of development of the verification system. He recalled the Ministry’s support and commitment to the CTBT. Zerbo and Admiral de Bonnaventure exchanged views on the CTBT as a key element in structuring strategic dialog on non-proliferation and disarmament.

Meeting with the French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (Commissariat à l’énergie atomique et aux énergies alternatives: CEA)

The French Alternative Energies and Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) functions as the National Data Centre (NDC) in France.  NDCs are the national technical organizations competent to advise their governments on the verification of the CTBT. They play an important role in the CTBT’s verification architecture. CEA directors and experts reviewed with Zerbo ongoing cooperation and recent achievements such as the installation of the hydroacoustic station HA04 in Crozet Islands and the certification of radionuclide station R32 in Antarctica. CEA representatives gave an overview of data analysis software for NDCs, which was recently made available to the CTBTO community, and its essential role for capacity building. They also provided a status review of the new Noble Gas detection system SPALAX which is currently under development. Beyond provision of scientific and technical expertise to the activities of the organization, CEA's contribution has been very valuable for the development of various components of the verification regime, including infrasound sensors, radionuclide detectors, xenon background measurements, performance models, data processing software, capacity building measures, and more.

Background

France signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on 24 September 1996, the day it opened for signature. It was the first official nuclear weapon State to have ratified the CTBT (together with the UK) on 6 April 1998. It is the only nuclear weapon State to have permanently dismantled its nuclear test sites. With 17 monitoring facilities, France is one of the largest hosting countries of the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System. France is also one of the largest financial contributors to the organization with a share of 5.7 % of the regular budget. Through the European Union, France has further made voluntary contributions that enable the CTBTO to refine its capability to detect nuclear explosions.

For an overview of France’s cooperation with the CTBTO, see here.