CTBTO head meets with U.S. Senators Sam Nunn and Richard Lugar

Vienna, 13 October 2014

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo visited Washington D.C. on 6 and 7 October where he met with several senior current and former U.S. government officials, as well as representatives from non-governmental organizations, including former Senators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn. Zerbo participated in a high-level meeting organized by the James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies and was the keynote speaker at a dinner attended by a number of senior representatives, including Senator Lugar and former Congresswomen Ellen Tauscher, who served as Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs until 2012.
In his keynote speech, Zerbo recalled the main reasons why the U.S. Senate did not give its consent to U.S. ratification when it was first considered in 1999.  Zerbo argued that “today the situation has vastly changed”, and emphasized the strength of the almost fully operational verification system that underpins the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT); the advances made in the on-site inspection regime; and the strong and worldwide support for the Treaty, including from within the United States.
Referring to the link between the CTBT and nuclear security, especially in relation to  the Nuclear Security Summit which will be held in the United States in 2016, Zerbo remarked that given the global framework of nuclear security, which includes arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation, all aspects should be interlinked: “We do not have the luxury to take a singular approach to these critical intertwined issues. In today’s interconnected world, we owe it to generations to come to consider all nuclear threats in a holistic way.”
Nunn and Lugar, while no longer in the U.S. Senate, remain active and influential in U.S. and global arms control and international security. Together they established the Cooperative Threat Reduction Program, and both were deeply involved in the Senate’s consideration of the CTBT in 1999. Lugar now heads the Lugar Center, which aims to educate the public, global policymakers, and future leaders on critical issues such as controlling weapons of mass destruction, and effective governance. Senator Nunn co-chairs the Washington-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), which aims to strengthen global security by reducing the risk of use and preventing the spread of nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons.

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo (left) and U.S. Senator Richard Lugar

In addition to meeting Nunn at the NTI, the Executive Secretary met with NTI President Joan Rohlfing, NTI Vice Chairman Des Browne (who is a member of the CTBT’s Group of Eminent Persons - GEM), and other senior NTI officers. He also held consultations with senior staff at the Center for Non-Proliferation Studies, Daryl Kimball, Executive Director of the Arms Control Association and Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister and also a member of the GEM, who was in Washington for high-level consultations.
Reflecting on his visit, Zerbo commented “I am very much encouraged by the wide level of support for the CTBT coming from U.S. governmental and non-governmental circles in Washington. I believe the Obama Administration is stepping up its campaign to create the conditions conducive to eventual positive consideration of the CTBT by the Senate. In this regard, I am particularly pleased by the Honorable Ellen Tauscher’s offer to actively support efforts to promote the Treaty.”

Secretary of State John Kerry at the September 26 CTBT Ministerial Meeting: “unshakable commitment to seeing this treaty ratified and entered into force”