Ctbt discussed at 15th World Congress on public health in Melbourne

From 6-8 April 2017, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo visited Melbourne and Canberra, Australia.

At the 15th World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne, Zerbo participated in the panel on “Global security, sustainability and public health: chemical, biological and nuclear threats and responses”. Together with the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), the CTBT has made a real difference in reducing the exposure of populations to the effects of such weapons of mass destruction, by regulating and eventually eliminating their use and testing.  In his remarks, Zerbo provided an overview of the human health and environmental consequences of nuclear testing over the course of more than 50 years. He also underlined the important contributions made by the CTBTO’s International Monitoring System (IMS) to addressing a range of challenges to human health and safety, such as tsunami early warning, tracking radioactivity and contributing to climate studies.

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo delivers address to 15th World Congress on Public Health in Melbourne.

“Apart from detecting nuclear explosions, these [radionuclide] stations will also register the dispersion of radioactivity stemming from other sources anywhere in the world, for example from nuclear power plant accidents.”

In Australia the Executive Secretary met with government representatives and participated in a roundtable discussion at the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra. Meetings and discussions focused on the CTBT, its entry-into-force, the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda, and the important contributions Australia is making politically and technically in support of the CTBT.

Roundtable discussion at the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) in Canberra.

Roundtable discussion at the Strategic & Defence Studies Centre (SDSC), Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra.

“Without the Treaty in force, there is no guarantee that nuclear testing, and a related arms race will not resume. The impact of such a scenario would be disastrous, not only for international security but also in terms of human health and the environment.”

In Melbourne, Zerbo met with the CEO of the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency (ARPANSA), Carl-Magnus Larsson. ARPANSA maintains a high level of data availability and operates seven IMS radionuclide stations, two noble-gas systems and one radionuclide laboratory.  ARPANSA and the CTBTO collaborate on technological developments to enhance the sustainability and performance of the IMS network as a whole.

Zerbo visited two of the facilities: RN04 (Radionuclide with Noble Gas Detection Station) and RL02 (Australian Radiation Laboratory Melbourne).

In Canberra, the Executive Secretary also met with Professor Gareth Evans, Chancellor of ANU (and former Foreign Minister of Australia).

ARPANSA site visit by CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo in Melbourne.

"Better be an optimist and be proved wrong at times, than be a pessimist and always be right.”

As one of the 44 so-called Annex 2 countries listed in the Treaty whose ratification is necessary for its entry into force, Australia signed the CTBT on 24 September 1996 and ratified the Treaty on 9 July 1998, the fifteenth signatory State to do so. Australia currently hosts 21 monitoring stations of the global verification regime that the CTBTO is putting in place to monitor and verify compliance with the Treaty. The 22nd station, the last, is currently under construction.

Australia also has a history of nuclear testing. During the 1950s and 1960s, nuclear tests were carried out in the Monte Bello Islands off the Western Australian coast, and at Emu Field and Maralinga in South Australia.

Link to the interview of the Executive Secretary conducted by the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) Canberra
Link to Sydney Morning Herald article