Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | October 19, 2017

Op-Ed: Bridging the Conflict between Progress and Humanism

Portrait Dr Lassina Zerbo CTBTO 2015In this op-ed for the Valdai Discussion Club, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo addresses both the promise and the danger of technology in the context of the still pending CTBT and its functioning verification regime.

The perspective from a highly technical and science-based organization, gives a positive and hopeful outlook on what technological progress can contribute to the future of humanity.

Progress has always been a double edged sword. Nuclear technology is a clear example: it has the ability to harness nuclear power but also to develop nuclear weapons. This is a problem that has dominated international diplomacy for over 70 years and has left the greatest of minds searching for practical solutions.

Francis Bacon once said “If we are to achieve results never before accomplished, we must employ methods never before attempted”. For a verifiable end to nuclear testing this meant creating something new. In 1996, the international community agreed to a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and verification regime.

More than 2000 nuclear tests were conducted over the course of the 20th century. But in 1996, efforts to preserve our humanity lead to the conclusion of a nuclear test ban treaty that was both effectively verifiable and practically enforceable.

A global network of 337 monitoring facilities of the IMS, together with National Technical Means (NTM), makes it impossible to conduct a nuclear test without the international community knowing about it. Twenty-seven of these monitoring stations are in the Russian Federation with five more on the way. This system is supported by the International Data Centre in Vienna which processes and analyses data continuously.

Today, I can say with confidence that even if a country conducting a nuclear test does not announce it, the CTBTO ensures that the international community receives accurate, reliable and timely data about any suspicious event.

The Treaty’s verification regime is in fact already so advanced that its detection capability is far greater than negotiators had thought possible. Isn’t this an example of technical progress in the interest of humanity?

As an illustration:  On 3 September 2017 at 3:30 UTC 36 of our seismic stations detected a large unusual seismic event in North Korea. Within an hour, analysts were reviewing data from over 130 stations and we were able to brief member States that same morning on the details of what emerged as the latest and largest announced nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

In addition, the potential of the IMS goes further than nuclear non-proliferation. There are a wide range of civilian uses for the technology and the data. The IMS and its radionuclide laboratories were invaluable in monitoring the Fukushima nuclear disaster in 2011. IMS data is also used for tsunami early warning, tracking marine mammal migration patterns; it can contribute to weather forecasts and climate change research, and more. The CTBTO and its verification regime represents a real achievement for science and diplomacy in making the world a better place. It is a representation of what we can achieve when we work together as the international community towards a common goal.

Our verification regime is nearing its completion. The CTBT has been described as operational, but not yet in force. There are currently eight from the so-called 44 Annex 2 States that must ratify the Treaty before it comes into force. Five States have signed but not yet ratified the Treaty. Three States have neither signed nor ratified the Treaty.

An in-force CTBT would lock-in and enhance the nuclear testing verification regime.

Looking forward, we should have a positive and hopeful outlook at what technological progress can bring to the future of humanity. Progress does not have to conflict with humanism, progress can be in the interest of all.

The CTBTO and its verification regime have achieved more than anyone could have predicted more than 20 years ago. This is possible due to the strong will and commitment of Member States. This has also been possible thanks to technological progress.

Leo Tolstoy once said “the sole meaning of life is to serve humanity”. Let us paraphrase it by saying that progress must always serve human values. This is exactly what the CTBTO is working towards, a future that will benefit everyone. For a world free of nuclear weapons.

Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | October 18, 2017

News Coverage of the Moscow CTBTO Youth Group Conference


The First International Conference of the Youth Group of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is being held in Moscow on  18-20 October 2017. Prominent Russian and international experts will take part in the discussion groups, scientific and political workshops and simulation exercises aimed at facilitating the exchange of knowledge about the CTBT, as well as searching for the best ways to overcome the political and regional obstacles that stand in the way of the entry into force of the CTBT. More information about the conference can be found on CTBTO Youth Group  as well as the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation website (in Russian).

In anticipation of the conference, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo stated in an interview with RIA, that he does not rule out the possibility of establishing informal contacts with North Korea and that the entry into force of the CTBT can stop the DPRK nuclear tests (RIA, RIA 2Gazeta in RussianSputnik in Spanish).

Moscow is committed to the non-proliferation of nuclear weapons, as well as to strengthening global strategic stability, stated Major-General Igor Kolesnikov at the opening of Moscow CTBTO Youth Group conference (Ministry of Defense of Russia, TVZvezda,, Rambler in Russian).

“We consider (the Treaty) as one of the pillars of world security and stability,” stated Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs of Russia Sergey Ryabkov in his opening remarks. Addressing the growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, he also urged the parties to “return to dialogue and negotiations – the only way to solve existing problems (Press release of MFA of the Russian FederationMFA of the Russian Federation 2, TASS, Stoletie, Argumenti, Yodda, Profile, News Russia, Nasha Pressa, SodrugestvoRIA, RIA 2, RIA 3, Politexpert, Rambler,  KPInterfax, IZVladtime in Russian).

In an interview with Sputnik, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo spoke on the importance of the enactment of the Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the role of Russia and the Iran nuclear deal, as well as the situation on the Korean Peninsula (SputnikVanguard, NAN in EnglishRIA, BBC24 in Russian).

During the planned meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov on Friday, CTBT-related issues, the situation on the Korean peninsula, the latest DPRK announced nuclear test and the Iran deal will be among the topics of discussion, Zerbo told in a meeting with media representatives (RIART, RT 2,, Rambler in Russian).

In an op-ed for the Valdai Discussion Club – the Annual Meeting of which is currently ongoing in Sochi, Russia – CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo addresses both the promise and the danger of technology in the context of the still pending CTBT and its functioning verification regime (Valdai Club in English).

In his opening speech for the Valdai Discussion Club annual meeting, the President of Russian Federation Vladimir Putin mentioned that while Russia has ratified the CTBT more than 17 years ago, USA has not done so yet (Valdai Club, TASS, Associated Press, Reuters, Egypt Today in English; TV Zvezda, People CN, RIA, RG in Russian; Diario Digital Nuestro Pais, Telemundo in Spanish).

During the meeting, CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo thanked Russia for fulfilling its obligation under the CTBT and suggested that Russia could share this leadership in nonproliferation and disarmament issues and contribute to the ratification of the treaty by the remaining countries. Putin responded by saying “We will contribute, of course, we are interested in this and we will work”. (Valdai Club, News.Az in English; RIA,, Interfax, RT, Ridus, Belrynok in Russian).

In the course of the Moscow Non-Proliferation Conference, which opens on Friday in Moscow, special attention will be given to the situation around the CTBT (TASS in Russian, KBS in German).


С 18 по 20 октября 2017 года в Москве проходит CTBTO Youth Group Conference – Первая Международная  конференция Молодежной группы Организации по Договору о всеобъемлющем запрещении ядерных испытаний (ОДВЗЯИ). Видные российские и международные эксперты примут участие в работе дискуссионных групп, научных и политических рабочих сессиях и симуляционных упражнениях, целью которых является содействие обмену знаниями о ДВЗЯИ, а также поиск наилучших путей преодоления политических и региональных противоречий, стоящих на пути вступления ДВЗЯИ в силу. Подробно о конференции –  на сайте Молодежной группы на английском а также на сайте Министерства обороны Российской Федерации.

В преддверии конференции Ласина Зербо не исключил возможность установления неофициальных контактов с Северной Кореей и заявил что вступление в силу ДВЗЯИ может остановить испытания в КНДР  (RIA, RIA 2Gazeta на русскомSputnik на испанском).

В ходе выступления на открытии первой международной конференции молодежной группы CTBTO, начальник 12-го Главного управления Министерства обороны РФ генерал-майор Игорь Колесников что Москва привержена нераспространению ядерного оружия, а также укреплению глобальной стратегической стабильности  (Министерство иностранных дел Российской Федерации TASS, Столетие, Аргументы, Profile, News Russia, Nasha Pressa, СодружествоRIA, RIA 2, RIA 3, ПолитЭксперт, Rambler,  KPInterfax, IZVladtime на русском).

“Мы рассматриваем (Договор) в качестве одной из опор мировой безопасности и стабильности”, – также подчеркнул Заместитель Министра иностранных дел Российской Федерации Сергей Рябков выступая на открытии конференции (RIA, RIA 2, RIA 3, Politexpert, Rambler,  KPInterfax, IZVladtime на русском).

В интервью агентству Sputnik Исполнительный секретарь ОДВЗЯИ Лассина Зербо рассказал о важности вступления в силу Договора о запрещении ядерных испытаний, о роли России и ядерной сделки Ирана, а также о ситуации на Корейском полуострове (SputnikVanguard, NAN на английскомRIA, BBC24 на русском).

Зербо также рассказал представителям СМИ, что в ходе встречи в пятницу обсудит с российским министром иностранных дел Сергеем Лавровым Договор о всеобъемлющем запрещении ядерных испытаний, ядерные испытания КНДР и ядерную сделку с Ираном (RIART, RT 2,, Rambler на русском).

В своей обзорной статье для дискуссионного клуба Валдай, ежегодное собрание которого продолжается в Сочи, Зербо рассматривает перспективы и опасности технологий в контексте все ещё не вступившего в силу ДВЗЯИ (Клуб Валдай на английском).

На заседании дискуссионного клуба «Валдай» президент России Владимир Путин напомнил, что Россия более 17 лет назад ратифицировала Договор о всеобъемлющем запрещении ядерных испытаний (ДВЗЯИ), в то время как США не сделали этого до сих пор. (Valdai Club, TASS, Associated Press, Reuters, Egypt Today на английском; TV Zvezda, People CN, RIA, RG in Russian; Diario Digital Nuestro Pais, Telemundo на испанском).

Исполнительный секретарь ОДВЗЯИ Лассина Зербо поблагодарил президента РФ, что Россия выполняет свои обязательства по этому договору. Зербо также спросил может ли Россия поделиться этим лидерством со странами «пятерки». Президент России ответил на это, что, конечно, мы все заинтересованы в ратификации ДВЗЯИ всеми странами, и пообещал: – «Будем способствовать». (Valdai Club, News.Az на английском; RIA,, Interfax, RT, Ridus, Belrynok на русском).

Также в ходе Московской конференции по нераспространению отдельное внимание получит ситуация вокруг Договора о всеобъемлющем запрещении ядерных испытаний (TASS на русском, KBS на немецком).

In an interview with RT on 16 October 2017,  Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo responds to a range of issues in the nuclear non-proliferation regime including: addressing the “nuclear crisis in North Korea”; the risks and possible consequences of further nuclear tests; as well as the role of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons.

Once again, the world faces a nuclear crisis in North Korea – this time more than ever, with unpredictable leadership on both sides. With missiles armed and ready, the world may perish in a free-for-all exchange, despite all the diplomacy. Calls for a total ban on nuclear weapons are also ringing louder. But can humanity really give them up? We ask Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty organization and participant of the Valdai Discussion Club.

For the video and the full transcript of the interview visit RT.

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