Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo in Israel

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo met Yuval Steinitz, Israel’s Minister for Intelligence and Strategic Affairs and Shaul Chorev, Head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, in Jerusalem on 14 April 2015, as part of a three-day visit to Israel. The Executive Secretary briefed the Minister on the latest developments of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its organization, including the success of the recent Integrated Field Exercise IFE14 in Jordan, the build-up of the verification regime and the status of CTBT signatures and ratifications.

Status of the CTBT in the Middle East – click for interactive map.

Our basic intention is to ratify the CTBT. It's a matter of when.

During the meeting, Zerbo briefed the Minister and Chorev on the global nature of the International Monitoring System (IMS), which is 90% complete. The network now comprises around 300 stations, some in the most remote and inaccessible areas of the Earth and sea. “The latest development is that we are focussing on the construction of an infrasound and radionuclide station on the Galapagos Islands to enhance coverage in the equatorial zone.”

“We are continually developing and improving our system,” Zerbo said.  Israel is among almost 90 counties which host stations in the IMS. With two fully operational seismic stations and a radionuclide laboratory, Israel is making an important contribution to the network, he said.

Inside auxiliary seismic station AS48, Eilath, one of three IMS facilties hosted by Israel.

From left: Shaul Chorev, Director of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo and Merav Zafary-Odiz, Israel's Permanent Representative to the CTBTO.

To enter into force, the CTBT needs to be ratified by eight remaining Annex 2 States: China, Egypt, India, Israel, Iran, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States. Israel signed the CTBT on 25 September 1996, the day after it opened for signature. During the meeting with the CTBTO head, Steinitz stated: “Our basic intention is to ratify the CTBT. It's a matter of when.”
Zerbo also met with Tzipi Livni, former Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs, as well as with other high-level officials. He also briefed journalists in Tel Aviv, Jerusalem and Ramat Gan during the visit from 12-14 April. 

Tzipi Livni, former Minister of Justice and Foreign Affairs (right) and CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

Israel’s ratification is not a matter of if but when -- I am here working on the when

"I am here to respond to the concerns – which are regional concerns – and to work on how we can progress. I believe the CTBT can be used as stepping stone for work towards a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East,” Zerbo told reporters.
Zerbo was in Israel to open a high-level segment, as part of a workshop to evaluate the outcome of the IFE14 on-site inspection simulation exercise, in which around 100 verification experts from 30 countries took part.

High-level segment at the on-site inspection workshop in Ramat-Gan, Israel, from 12 to 16 April 2015.

Through the simulation exercise we’ve proved that we have mastered all components of the verification regime to detect nuclear tests.

“The simulation exercise was in Jordan. We are now holding the first follow-up workshop on the other side of the Dead Sea,” Zerbo said. Read more about the workshop here.

In the framework of the close technical cooperation with the CTBTO, Israel also hosted an infrasound experiment in 2011 (see video below).

Interview with the BBC in Jerusalem on 14 April 2015