The CTBT & North Korea Discussed at Munich Security Conference

17-19 February 2017, Munich

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was part of discussions at the Munich Security Conference held 17-19 February 2017 in Germany.  The conference is the pre-eminent foreign policy gathering, bringing together some 450 senior decision-makers from around the world, including heads-of-state and ministers to discuss current and future security challenges.

(photo courtesy of: Munich Security Conference)

CTBTO Executive Secretary, Lassina Zerbo, spoke at the session "Pacific no More? Security in East Asia & the Korean Peninsula'.  Zerbo called for urgent dialogue based on mutual respect to prevent further nuclear tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo speaking at Munich Security Conference panel

The North Korean nuclear testing crisis urgently requires dialogue, with mutual respect.

Fellow panellist, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Korea, Yun Byung-Se, said that with its fifth nuclear test in September 2016, North Korea was now close to functional nuclear weapon capability.

"Pacific no More? Security in East Asia & the Korean Peninsula'" panelists

North Korea is nearing a functional nuclear weapon capability.

"The CTBT should be used as platform for dialogue by  the United States and China with North Korea as a first step to prevent more tests,” Zerbo said. Fu Ying, Chairwoman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National People's Congress, Parliament of the People's Republic of China, said that engaging North Korea was vital.

Fu Ying, Chairwoman of the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National People's Congress, Parliament of the People's Republic of China

Only imposing sanctions and pressure won't work. Without talking to North Korea you will only drive them further.

Singapore Defence Minister, Ng Eng Hen and United States of America Senator, Dan Sullivan, were also on the panel, which was moderated by Former Prime Minister of Australia and CTBT GEM member Kevin Rudd.

Impressions from the Munich Security Conference

What if the CTBTO were not in place today? We wouldn’t know what’s going on in the Korean peninsula.

The ban on nuclear testing was also raised at a plenary session “Old Crises, New Middle East?’” Minister of Foreign Affairs, Islamic Republic of Iran, Mohammad Javad Zarif, was asked if Iran would consider ratifying the CTBT, as an additional confidence-building measure that its nuclear programme is for peaceful purposes.   Iran has signed the Treaty.  It is one of eight countries whose ratification is needed for the Treaty to enter into force.  “Before Iran takes the extra step in providing this additional layer of assurance [CTBT ratification] it needs to receive more benefits from the international community first. The international community still owes that to Iran,”  Zarif said. [See full question at 13:59 and answer at 17:24].