CTBTO at the 2018 NPT PrepCom

The 2018 Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2020 Review Conference (RevCon) of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the so-called NPT PrepCom is in session from 23 April to 4 May at the United Nations in Geneva. It is the second of three sessions that are scheduled to be held leading up to the 2020 NPT RevCon. At the three PrepCom sessions, States parties to the NPT will discuss substantive and procedural issues relating to the Treaty and the 2020 NPT RevCon. The Chair of the 2018 NPT PrepCom is Ambassador Adam Bugajski, the Permanent Representative of Poland to the UN Office and the International Organizations in Vienna. CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo delivered his statement to the PrepCom on the opening day.

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo delivers the CTBTO statement to the 2018 NPT PrepCom

Our challenge is not to re-think the very value of the NPT or of the multilateral approach; rather it is to put it back on track. Diplomacy, backed up by rigorous science-based verification tools, remains the key to unlocking real security.

Widely regarded as the foundation of the nuclear non-proliferation regime, the NPT opened for signature in 1968, entered into force in 1970, and was extended indefinitely at the 1995 NPT RevCon. Based on three pillars (non-proliferation, disarmament and peaceful uses of nuclear energy), the NPT was negotiated to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons, to further the goals of nuclear disarmament and general and complete disarmament, and to promote cooperation in the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. NPT Review Conferences take place every five years (the last RevCon was in 2015), and a PrepCom session takes place on each of the three years preceding a RevCon.

Lassina Zerbo with CTBTO GEM members Angela Kane and Sergio Duarte at the CTBTO/Pugwash side-event

If the NPT is under strain it is not because of a fatal flaw in the instrument itself. It is because not enough has been done to maintain and secure its entire chain of responsibilities – of which the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is an essential part.

Other distinguished speakers—including Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono—stressed the vital importance of CTBT in their country statements to the 2018 NPT PrepCom. Foreign Minister Kono pledged that Japan “will further promote its early entry into force and its universalization”.

Lassina Zerbo and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono at the 2018 NPT PrepCom

Japan will continuously ask all non-signing and non-ratifying states of the CTBT for their commitment to the treaty.

The CTBTO co-hosted and the Executive Secretary participated in two side-events in the margins of the 2018 NPT PrepCom. On 23 April, the European Union and the CTBTO co-hosted a high-level discussion panel entitled “The European Union support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its Organisation”. The high-level speakers, which included the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and High Representative for Disarmament, Izumi Nakamitsu, highlighted the key role that the CTBT—and its state of the art verification regime—plays in building trust and confidence in the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

CTBTO GEM member Ambassador Jose Luis Cancela, Lassina Zerbo, and CTBTO Youth Group member Marzhan Nurzhan at the CTBTO/Pugwash side-event

On 25 April, the CTBTO and Pugwash co-hosted a discussion panel entitled “Bridging the Gap: the CTBT”. This discussion panel showcased the views of inter-generational experts on the role and contribution of the CTBT to bridge various gaps in the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Lassina Zerbo, members of the CTBTO’s Group or Eminent Persons (GEM), and representatives of the CTBTO Youth Group  provided their expert perspectives on the relevance and contribution of the CTBT to efforts in the disarmament and non-proliferation regime. At another side-event during the PrepCom, CTBTO Youth Group members presented their independent research on lessons learned from the CTBT and NWFZs. Their paper is available here (PDF). (Disclaimer: The study is the work of the CTBTO Youth Group members listed as authors. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and should not necessarily be seen as representing the Organization.)

While at the UN in Geneva, Zerbo held a press briefing on the DPRK’s 21 April announcement on halting its nuclear testing programme and to dismantle its test site. The full video recording of the press briefing is available for viewing here.

Video recording of press briefing (25 April) by Lassina Zerbo at the UN in Geneva

Throughout the 2018 NPT PrepCom, the majority of States Parties expressed support for the CTBT and many called for the remaining Annex II states to ratify the Treaty in their national and grouping statements. Many states highlighted the importance of the CTBT in the NPT review cycle, and its role as one of the practical measures towards nuclear disarmament.
Four paragraphs of the chair’s factual summary (NPT/CONF.2020/PC.II/CRP.3) were devoted to the CTBT. They indicated that “the urgency of bringing into force the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as a core element of the nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime was underscored. The link between the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and the goals and objectives of the Non-Proliferation Treaty was emphasized. All States that have not yet done so were urged to sign and/or ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty without delay, in particular the remaining eight Annex 2 States.”
Furthermore, it was noted that “states parties called on all States to refrain from any action that would defeat the object and purpose of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty pending its entry into force. In this context, some States parties called for the unconditional cessation of all nuclear weapon tests and the closure of all nuclear weapon test sites”. The chair’s summary also notes that “States Parties further expressed their support for the International Monitoring System as vital to the effectiveness of the Treaty and to maintaining the norm that existing signatures and ratifications establish against nuclear testing”.

Ambassador Robert Wood, U.S. Permanent Representative to the Conference on Disarmament, and CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo at the 2018 NPT PrepCom