Time to Finish What We Started, CTBTO Head Tells UN Conference on Disarmament

“It was here, 20 years ago, that we created a means of banning, detecting, and monitoring for signs of nuclear explosions. It’s time to finish what we started”, CTBTO Executive Secretary, Lassina Zerbo, told the UN Conference on Disarmament (CD) at its Geneva headquarters today.

Between 1994 and 1996, the Conference created a disarmament and non-proliferation instrument that was unprecedented in history, Zerbo said. “It brought diplomacy and science together in a way that no treaty on nuclear weapons issues had before.”

The conclusion of negotiations and the adoption of the Treaty by the General Assembly was an outstanding achievement, the Executive Secretary said. “But twenty years without the entry into force of the CTBT is simply twenty years too long”.

The CTBT remains “stunted in its growth”, despite the fact that its verification regime is fully operational. Eight countries still must ratify the nuclear test ban before it becomes a legal reality.

Media interview Executive Secretary Zerbo.

“The Organization is ready. The verification system is ready. What is missing is an in-force Treaty.”

Zerbo outlined opportunities for progress in non-proliferation and disarmament in the Middle East. A nuclear-test-free zone could be a building block towards the establishment of the WMD free zone, he said. “I see such a zone taking shape through joint ratification of the CTBT by these countries.  All have signed the Treaty, so ratification does not require any policy U-turns.”

On North Korea, the only country to have conducted nuclear tests this century, the Executive Secretary warned that each additional test brings a degree of learning. “We should not close the door to dialogue with North Korea. We should at least seek to bring the country towards a moratorium on nuclear testing. This would be a first step towards a de-escalation of the current crisis.”
The CTBT was the result of a shared vision, painstaking effort, and the goodwill and spirit of compromise that is the lifeblood of multilateral agreements.

Read the full speech here .
On the margins of the conference, Zerbo met with Syed Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan, Ambassador Robert Wood, U.S. Delegation to the CD, Geneva, and Brahima Sanou, Director of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Telecommunication Development Bureau.

ES Zerbo met with Syed Tariq Fatemi, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs of Pakistan.