High Level CTBT meeting, Egmont Institute, Brussels

“Progress is possible, even in these difficult times. The entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) must be our goal here and now, not in some vague future. Let us never underestimate the relevance of this Treaty to our daily work on non-proliferation,” was the message from Frederica Mogherini European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs to the Egmont Institute, Brussels on 22 May 2018.

High Level CTBT meeting, Egmont Institute, Brussels

The high level meeting on the CTBT “Towards a world without nuclear tests: fulfilling the promise” was organised by the Belgium Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Egmont Institute, with the support of the EU.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo and Belgium Foreign Affairs Minister Reynders brief the media.

We all know that the work for non-proliferation requires time, and a lot of patience. It is easier to demolish than to build. But patience brings results. And only multilateral agreements have effectively guaranteed non-proliferation.

 “Thanks to its monitoring system, the CTBTO has been able to respond immediately and effectively to the recent nuclear tests by North Korea. The Organisation has proved its capacity to provide independent and reliable data – something that no single country could do alone,” Mogherini’s said in her remarks delivered by Special Envoy for Disarmament and Non Proliferation, Jacek Bylica.
Self-declared moratoria are not good enough. The DPRK’s recent moves are a step forward, but do not permanently prevent it from resuming nuclear tests in future. Nothing except adherence to the CTBT can achieve this goal.

In a keynote address, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo said “supporters of the CTBT must make the case more firmly than ever that, until it enters into force, the possibility of backsliding into nuclear testing will always remain.”

CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo and Belgium Minister of Foreign Affairs Reynders (right)

Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Foreign Affairs and European Affairs of Belgium, Didier Reynders, told the meeting the CTBTO has “made great strides in preparing for the day the Treaty enters into force. A vast global network of monitoring stations was created to detect nuclear tests, using sophisticated methods such as seismic calculations or hydro acoustic measurements. These instruments have also proven their value in areas outside the scope of the CTBT, such as tsunami warning or data collection in case of nuclear accidents.”
“...only the signature and ratification of the CTBT by North Korea will offer the prospect of lasting security.”


Together with Iraq, Belgium is leading the so-called Article XIV process, promoting adhesion to the Treaty.  The Ambassador of Iraq in Brussels, Jawad al-Chlaihawi spoke at the meeting about the importance of the CTBT and multilateral agreements. China’s chief negotiator for the CTBT & GEM member, Ambassador Sha Zukang,  said the Foreign Minister recently reiterated his country’s “firm commitment to the CTBT”.

Belgium Minister of Foreign Affairs Reynders, CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo and Ambassador Sha Zukang, China’s chief negotiator for the CTBT.

The Chinese Government has said it will not be the obstacle to the entry into force of the Treaty.

Youth Group member, Simon Herteleer, was three years old at the time the Treaty opened for signature.  “I don’t want to sound like a doomsday prophet since I believe the generations that precede me are already experts at doing so. The situation in North Korea, and to a lesser extent in Iran, have been reason for optimism for many of us. The international community however has continued to fail in the efforts in securing a world free of nuclear weapons - often because of so called ‘national security,’” Herteleer said. Visit the Egmont's 'Towards a world without nuclear tests: fulfilling the promise' multi-media page.

CTBTO Youth Group members with Belgium MFA Reynders, ES Zerbo, Ambassador Willem van de Voorde, and Sigurd Schelstraete.

In Belgium, Executive Secretary Zerbo also met with Members of the European Parliament and visited the SKC-CEN, Belgian Nuclear Research Center. Belgian scientific institutions, such as the nuclear research centre SCK-CEN and the Institute for Radio Isotopes (IRE) have been conducting research to support CTBT verification, examining ways to make the measurement of radionuclides more accurate. Since 2006, the European Union has committed over 23 million euros to finance CTBT. In February, the Council decided to provide a new package of 4.5 million euros over the next two years. The funding is used to strengthen the verification regime, to support the universalisation of the Treaty, as well as to promote the potential civil and scientific applications of monitoring data.

Deputy Director General SCK.CEN Peter Baeten, ES Zerbo and Ambassador Willem van de Voorde.

Executive Secretary Zerbo meeting with Members of the European Parliament.