CTBTO head visits Moscow, signs tsunami warning agreement

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo visited Moscow, Russia, from 1 to 4 October 2013. He met with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov and Deputy Defence Minister Anatoly Antonov.
Foreign Minister Lavrov expressed Russia’s ongoing commitment to support the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).  Zerbo thanked Lavrov for “Russia's political commitment to the Treaty at the highest level and promoting its entry into force."

Zerbo also expressed his hope that Russia could help encourage the CTBT’s signature by Syria, saying: "If Syria showed its will and readiness to join the CTBT, this could send a positive message to the region. It would be very important for our work and for the functioning of the Treaty and would bring us closer to the creation of a zone free of weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East."

Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov (right) and CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

Zerbo introduced the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), which was launched recently to reinforce international efforts aimed at promoting the CTBT’s entry into force. He also expressed his appreciation to former Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov for joining the group.

Former Russian Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov is a member of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM).

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization is a key element to nuclear non-proliferation…The entry into force of the CTBT will strenghen the global security architecture.

Russia together with France and Britain are the three nuclear weapon States as defined by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to have ratified the CTBT. Eight remaining ratifications are needed - from China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States - for the CTBT to enter into force.
Zerbo emphasized that "no country should feel isolated from the point of view of the Treaty" and called upon Russia’s support to help convince those eight remaining countries of the CTBT’s security benefits and in particular in findings ways to engage with the DPRK.

Deputy Defence Minister Antonov assured Zerbo of Russia’s full support for the establishment of the CTBTO monitoring facilities hosted by Russia: “We will work to finish the stations [hosted by Russia] by the end of 2014, beginning 2015,” Antonov said.
Zerbo also met with Deputy Head of the Russian State Nuclear Energy Corporation ROSATOM, Vitaly Kamenskih, to discuss certification of the Russian radionuclide stations and Russia’s contribution to the development of the on-site inspection regime, in particular preparations for the next full-scale inspection exercise, the Integrated Field Exercise 2014 in Jordan.

Harsh climatic conditions render operation & maintenance of primary seismic station PS36 at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski challenging.

Zerbo further gave a keynote speech at a seminar organized by the Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS) on the future of the CTBT. The event was attended by non-proliferation experts and diplomats. He followed this with a well-attended lecture at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University.

Russia is the second-largest host country for International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities. Currently some 25 of the 32 planned IMS facilities in Russia are certified and sending data to the CTBTO’s International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna. They comprise radionuclide, seismic and infrasound stations and a radionuclide laboratory. The stations form part of a global network that monitors the planet for nuclear explosions, thus ensuring that any violation to the CTBT’s comprehensive ban is detected. Some stations in Russia are in extremely remote locations, such as the stations at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski in Russia’s Far East.

Radionuclide station RN60 at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatski is one of two stations that detected traces of radioactive noble gases consistent with the 13 February 2013 announced DPRK nuclear test.

When complete, the IMS will comprise 337 facilities to monitor underground, the oceans and the atmosphere. Over 85% of this global system has already been established and is sending data to the CTBTO’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, for processing, analysis, and distribution to Member States.
In addition to reliably detecting nuclear explosions, CTBTO data can be used for civil and scientific uses such as tsunami early warning or scientific research. During his visit, Zerbo signed a tsunami warning agreement with Alexei Malovichko, Director of the Geophysical Survey of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia. This agreement enables Russia to receive data from certain IMS stations in near-real time to issue more timely and precise tsunami warnings. Russia is the 11th country to have signed such an agreement with the CTBTO.