CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo travels to Russia
Moscow, 20 October 2017
On his week-long visit to Russia, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo visited St. Petersburg, Sochi and Moscow to participate in several conferences and meetings. On 16 October, Zerbo participated in the 137th Assembly of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) in St. Petersburg. On the sidelines of the IPU meeting the Executive Secretary met with Ali Larijani, Speaker of the Parliament of Iran and discussed the cooperation between CTBTO and Iran. Larijani explained the position of his country regarding nuclear disarmament and non- proliferation.. Zerbo commented on the successful adoption of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015 and welcomed Iran’s openness to non-proliferation and disarmament initiatives, The possibility of the Executive Secretary visiting Iran at some point in the future was also raised in the meeting.
St. Petersburg State University
While in St. Petersburg, Zerbo delivered a lecture entitled “The Role of CTBTO in the International Non-Proliferation Regime and the Role of Youth” at the School of International Relations in St. Petersburg State University in which he highlighted the important role of youth in advancing the entry into force of the CTBT. He also had the opportunity to exchange views with Russian and international students.
On 18 October, Zerbo spoke at the opening ceremony of the Moscow CTBTO Youth Group Conference (18 – 20 October). Co-hosted by CTBTO and the National Nuclear Research University/Moscow Engineering and Physics Institute (MEPhI), the Conference brought together members of the CTBTO Youth Group, the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), as well as a number of high-level speakers including Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, and Mikhail Strikhanov, Rector of MEPhI. The aim of the Conference is to foster knowledge exchange on the CTBT and its role in global peace and security, as well as to discuss ways to facilitate the Treaty’s entry into force, deepen participants’ knowledge of the CTBT verification regime and exchange best practices of public advocacy and effective communications to promote the Treaty.
Valdai Discussion Club
On 19 October, Zerbo participated in the 14th Annual Meeting of the Valdai Discussion Club in Sochi where he was a panellist in the session entitled “The conflict between progress and humanism”. The Executive Secretary also published an op-ed entitled “Bridging the Conflict between Progress and Humanism” in which he addresses both the promise and the danger of technology in the context of the still pending CTBT and its functioning verification regime.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs
During this visit to Russia, Zerbo also held a number of bilateral meetings. This included meetings with Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Major General Igor Kolesnikov, Head of the 12th Main Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, as well as Saber Hossain Chowdhury, President of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU). Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed his gratitude for Zerbo’s active involvement in the many events taking place in Russia this week, especially the CTBTO Youth Group Conference which was co-hosted by CTBTO, MePHI, as well as the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Ministry of Defense. The Minister reiterated that the entry into force of the CTBT remained a priority for Russia and expressed concerns over the lack of progress in this regard. In turn, Zerbo expressed his deep appreciation for Russia’s commitment to the CTBT and the country’s leadership role in supporting the entry into force. “La Russie est un bon eleve du CTBT,” Zerbo commented (Russia is a “good student” of the CTBT). Lavrov highlighted that the International Monitoring System (IMS) had once again proven its efficiency during the latest announced nuclear test by the DPRK and he reconfirmed Russia’s full commitment to a swift completion of the entire system of monitoring facilities in the Russian Federation.
Zerbo also participated in the 2017 Moscow Non-proliferation Conference organized by the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), held on 20-21 October.