ROK Foreign Minister & CTBTO Head Discuss Situation on Korean Peninsula

On 13 August 2018, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo met with Foreign Minister of the Republic of Korea (ROK), Kang Kyung-wha, to discuss the situation on the Korean Peninsula, and cooperation between ROK and the CTBTO.
“The Republic of Korea, as an original signatory of the CTBT, would continue to join the international community’s efforts to bring the Treaty into force as soon as possible,”

Minister Kang noted the CTBTO’s role in addressing the North Korean nuclear issue, including by detecting nuclear tests, and asked for Executive Secretary Zerbo’s continued support for efforts to denuclearize North Korea, and to establish a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Zerbo commended the ROK government’s efforts to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula, and establish peace on the Peninsula, including the two inter-Korean summits.  The CTBTO would continue to support such efforts, and provide every necessary support, Zerbo said.

Both underscored the value the Democratic People's Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) signature or ratification of the CTBT would have, not only for Korean and Northeast Asian security, but for global security.

CTBTO Head Lassina Zerbo with ROK Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha

CTBTO head briefs the media

“The signature of the CTBT by the DPRK would be an important initial step toward denuclearisation,”

The Executive Secretary was in ROK from 10-13 August, for high-level meetings and to attend an academic forum.  During the visit, he also met with Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs, Cho Hyun, Deputy Minister for Multilateral and Global Affairs Jeong-sik Kang, as well as Director-General for Nonproliferation and Nuclear Affairs Lim Sang-beom and Permanent Representative of the Republic of Korea to the United Nations (Vienna) Shin Dong-ik.

“While we must not be naïve about the extent of the challenge, we have been presented with a clear opening to bring the DPRK into the CTBT orbit. This is perhaps the best chance that we may ever have. Whether though the verification of the closure of its test site, agreeing to IMS monitoring as part of a non-testing guarantee, or by formally signing and eventually ratifying the Treaty, this opportunity must not be lost,” Zerbo said in briefings with members of the ROK National Assembly. Read the Executive Secretary’s full remarks here .

The meetings reflected the long-standing strong relationship between ROK and CTBTO, and outlined a path for future collaboration in light of recent developments on the Korean peninsula.

Zerbo visited the Truce Village of Panmunjom, or Joint Security Area, of the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) where the Panmunjom Declaration for Peace, Prosperity and Unification of the Korean Peninsula was adopted at the recent Inter-Korean Summit in April. In accordance with the spirit of the Panmunjom Declaration, ROK and DRPK plan to transform the DMZ into a “peace zone” to reduce tensions.
“The situation we see today may best be described as a litmus test moment for the international community. The DPRK has been the top concern with regards to nuclear testing over the last 12 years. If the CTBT and its verification capabilities are not considered relevant for providing a verifiable stop of nuclear testing in the DPRK, then when will they be?”

Traveled to Daejeon, #SouthKorea

Zerbo also visited the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Daejeon, where he met with emerging scientific and policy experts from sixteen countries who are currently research fellows at the Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center (NEREC) .  In an address to the annual NEREC International Nonproliferation Conference, Zerbo highlighted the importance of youth inclusion in peace and security initiatives and the value of science-diplomacy, showcasing how science-backed tools such as the CTBT have built—and can continue to build—the political confidence in the non-testing norm.

During the visit, Zerbo also met with former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, as well as CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons Member Ambassador Ho-Jin Lee and various CTBTO Youth Group members to celebrate International Youth Day. The GEM and CYG will meet in Kazakhstan at the end of the month to commemorate the International Day Against Nuclear Testing on 29 August.