CTBTO head visits Republic of Korea, meets Foreign Minister

The head of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Lassina Zerbo, paid his first official visit to the Republic of Korea (ROK) from 10 to 13 August 2014. He met with Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se and visited the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral Resources (KIGAM) which hosts the country’s National Data Centre. Zerbo also visited the Samsung Innovation Museum and the inter-Korean demilitarized zone.

Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (left) and CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo. Image courtesy of Yonhap News Agency.

I thank the Republic of Korea for its strong support of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty and its organization. We stand ready to detect any militarily relevant nuclear explosion.

Foreign Minister Yun expressed his country’s grave concern at the recent threat by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) to conduct a fourth nuclear test. He expressed his hope that the international community would again stand firmly united in condemning any such act. Yun welcomed Zerbo’s visit as a strong political signal against the backdrop of the DPRK’s threats.

The DPRK’s nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 were detected immediately, precisely and confidently by the CTBTO's global network of monitoring stations (map).
Zerbo and Yun underlined the urgency to achieve the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which l bans all forms of nuclear explosions. The DPRK is one of eight remaining countries defined as nuclear technology holders by the CTBT whose ratification is still needed for the Treaty’s entry into force. In this context, Zerbo stated his support for the denuclearization efforts on the Korean peninsula and his openness to enter into a dialogue with the DPRK and to visit the country if invited.

The ROK is host to primary seismic station PS31 at Wonju, some 130km from the border to the DPRK. Click for station profile.

We moved from thousands of nuclear tests to nearly none (recently). And there have been only those three tests by the DPRK in the 21st century. There is no room for further nuclear tests by the DPRK.

Zerbo briefed Yun on the activities of the recently founded Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) and the statement adopted at the group's April meeting in Stockholm, Sweden. Former Korean diplomat Ho-Jin Lee, currently Principle Vice President of the United Nations Association of the ROK, is a member of the GEM. Yun invited the GEM to hold a special meeting in the ROK in 2015, to coincide with the 70th anniversary of the division of the Korean peninsula.

Zerbo also expressed his appreciation for the excellent technical cooperation with the ROK through KIGAM, which has hosted several technical workshops and seminars on the CTBT.
During his visit Zerbo participated in a roundtable discussion at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy (KNDA), where he briefed participants on the status of the CTBT’s entry into force process and progress in building up the CTBT’s verification regime.

Visit to the Korea Institute of Geoscience and Mineral resources (KIGAM), Korea’s National Data Centre, where Zerbo met the institute’s President Dr. Kyu Han Kim. Image courtesy of KIGAM.

The ROK signed the CTBT on 24 September 1996, the very day it was opened for signature, and ratified it exactly three years later. The country hosts primary seismic station PS31 at Wonju, located at around 130km from the border with the DPRK.
The Executive Secretary’s visit received considerable coverage in the Korean media; see CTBTO Newsroom. See also the press release by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.