Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo visit to France 11-14 December 2017

The Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Lassina Zerbo visited France from 11 to 14 December 2017. In Paris, he met French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian and other high-ranking officials, as well as Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie, the international organization representing French-speaking countries and regions.

During their meeting, Foreign Minister Le Drian reiterated France’s firm commitment towards the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the country’s engagement for its entry into force – France’s top priority for non-proliferation and nuclear disarmament, together with the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT). Zerbo expressed his gratitude for France's continuous strong political, technical and financial support.
“I reaffirm France’s support to the CTBT. The CTBT is a crucial and credible step towards a robust non-proliferation and disarmament framework.”

Zerbo stressed the importance of recalling the relevance of the CTBT in all instances, in particular when addressing the nuclear tests conducted by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK).

Zerbo and Le Drian exchanged views on ways to advance non-proliferation in the current geopolitical context, putting emphasis on the entry into force of the CTBT as a priority. This consensual and effective element would help achieve concrete progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons. Zerbo encouraged Le Drian to exercise France's leadership and to work accordingly with partners for a positive agenda on disarmament and non-proliferation around the CTBT.
“The CTBT is a consensual subject that should enable all States to advance the agenda of non-proliferation and disarmament towards the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference.”

In Paris, Zerbo also met with Michaëlle Jean, Secretary-General of the Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie. Jean recalled that La Francophonie counts 84 member states and governments (58 members and 26 observers). She emphasized the role that the Francophonie could play to further the non-proliferation and disarmament agenda within its engagement for the promotion of peace and security. She recalled the reference to the CTBT in the declaration of the Head of States in Antananarivo at the OIF XVI summit in 2016. Zerbo highlighted the relevance of the Francophonie as an important vehicle for dialogue and cooperation.

Zerbo and Jean exchanged ideas on potential synergies between CTBTO and OIF on capacity building and education, including building upon initiatives to mobilize the Youth, such as “Libres Ensemble” and the CTBTO Youth Group. Michaëlle Jean also stressed the importance of multilingualism in international organizations.
“I look forward to joint initiatives between the OIF and the CTBTO to sensitize, educate and mobilize the youth on non-proliferation issues and progress towards a safer world.”

At the French Ministry of Defense Zerbo met Admiral de Bonnaventure, Deputy Director General for International Relations and Strategy. Admiral de Bonnaventure recalled the Ministry’s support and commitment to the CTBT and expressed his satisfaction with the performance of its verification system. Zerbo and Admiral de Bonnaventure exchanged views on the global non-proliferation and disarmament agenda and emphasized the relevance of the CTBT in this context.

During his visit to France, Zerbo also met with the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly of France, as well as the Commission of Foreign Affairs, of Defense and Armed Forces of the Senate. They reviewed the status of the CTBT and its verification regime, France’s contribution to the CTBT, and CTBTO’s relationship with the United Nations and other international organizations. During the discussions, they identified initiatives to highlight the CTBT in the context of the forthcoming review conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and the role that parliamentarians could play in engaging their counterparts in other countries.

Finally, Zerbo held meetings with representatives of the Commissariat à l'Energie Atomique et aux Énergies Alternatives (CEA) and reviewed with CEA directors recent joint achievements, including the certification of hydroacoustic station HA04 in Crozet, as well as the certification of radionuclide laboratory RL08 for noble gas capability and the development of data processing software to support capacity building activities.  Beyond provision of scientific and technical expertise to the activities of the Organization, CEA’s contribution has been very valuable for the development of various components of the verification system ranging from infrasound sensors, radionuclide detectors, xenon background measurements, to performance models, data processing software and the installation and operation of IMS stations, as well as capacity building.