CTBTO Head in Argentina: Meets with Foreign Minister and visits CTBT stations

In his first visit to Latin America as head of the organization, the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Lassina Zerbo, conducted an official visit to Argentina from 12 to 16 April. During his visit, Zerbo met with Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman in Buenos Aires. The Executive Secretary expressed his appreciation for the opportunity to visit Argentina as a State guest and thanked the Minister for Argentina’s strong support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In particular, Zerbo referred to Timerman’s participation in the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), which comprises renowned senior statesmen, politicians and internationally recognized experts. The Group was launched in September 2013 to promote the Treaty’s entry into force and reinvigorate international endeavours in this regard. In line with GEM's objectives and in order to help secure universalization of the CTBT in the Latin America and Caribbean region, Timerman offered to promote the Treaty amongst those countries that have not yet ratified.  Most recently, the GEM met in Stockholm, Sweden, to identify a number of strategies to secure ratification by the eight States that must still ratify the CTBT before it can enter into force. Read the Statement by GEM here .

Héctor Timerman, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Argentina (right) and CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

In his talks with Timerman, Zerbo also conveyed his satisfaction with the discussions held throughout the visit with the CTBTO’s technical partners in Argentina, and the opportunity to visit several stations that operate as part of the CTBT verification regime. Timerman gave his full support to ensuring completion of the remaining CTBT monitoring stations in Argentina. Zerbo held discussions in particular with the Autoridad Regulatoria Nuclear (ARN), which operates radionuclide and infrasound stations in Argentina, and with the Instituto Nacional de Prevención Sísmica (INPRES), which is in charge of the country’s seismic stations. In this context, Zerbo was able to visit a radionuclide station and laboratory in Buenos Aires, a radionuclide station in Bariloche, and an auxiliary seismic station in San Juan. Argentina plays an important role in the CTBT verification regime, hosting 10 of its monitoring facilities, two of which are not yet installed. Following the meeting with ARN, Zerbo said: “I am encouraged by the talks held with our partners to address technical issues of mutual interest, and I am confident that we will very soon move towards the completion of the CTBT monitoring network in Argentina. This, in turn, will give strong impetus to our endeavour towards the completion of the network in Latin America and around the globe.”

Visiting radionuclide station RN03 in Bariloche. Right to left; Ambassador Rafael Grossi, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo and RN03 station operator.

”By undertaking to complete its network of CTBT monitoring stations soon and extending steadfast political support for the Treaty, Argentina has taken up a leadership role that, I have no doubt, will make a strong and tangible contribution to efforts towards the universalization and entry into force of the CTBT."

Whilst in Argentina, Zerbo also visited the facilities of the Centro Atómico Bariloche – which belongs to Argentina’s Comisión Nacional de Energía Atómica (CNEA) – where he was briefed about the activities carried out at the centre.  Although the CTBT has been signed by 183 countries of which 162 have also ratified, it can only enter into force after it has been ratified by the eight remaining countries defined as nuclear technology holders (Annex 2 States) by the Treaty: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.  The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions. The CTBTO is building a verification regime to monitor the planet for compliance with the Treaty. Nearly 90% of the global network of 337 facilities to monitor underground, the oceans and the atmosphere for nuclear explosions have already been established.

Radionuclide station RN03 in Bariloche, Argentina.