The Nuclear Dialogue

Dr. Lassina Zerbo, head of CTBTO speaking at the Forum.
Photo: Courtesy of Dr. Lassina Zerbo (Twitter)

On the 31st of May 2019, I went to Yonsei University to attend a forum that sought to involve the youth in the Global Nuclear Dialogue. There were these global leaders who gave important speeches on the need to transform global crises into extraordinary creative opportunities for dialogue and engagement. They preached nuclear disarmament, warned about the dangers of nuclear weapons and encouraged countries to pursue other forms of energy other than nuclear.  Of these were H.E Ban Ki-moon- former Secretary General of UN, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Executive Secretary, Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and Dr. Heinz Fischer, 11th  President of Austria. The subsequent sessions weighed in on the role of Youth in denuclearization, gathering a group of young scholars who took it up with zeal and extensively discussed the subject.

The elephant in the room was N. Korea whose persistent nuclear tests have caused their neighbors  sleepless nights, and other nations who have already built nuclear weapons. The goal now is to discourage these nations from toying with those weapons and preventing others who would think investing along those lines. It is noteworthy that the 2011 Fukushima power plant accident (Japan) send across a serious message. As a result countries like Germany have planned to shut down their nuclear power stations by 2022.

But then you ask, what has been done so far to address these concerns? Bring in CTBT. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. The treaty came into force in 1996 and its commission is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. 184 countries have signed the Treaty, of which 168 have ratified it, including 3 of the nuclear weapon states : France, Russian and UK. But some specific nuclear technology holder countries must sign and ratify before the CTBT can enter into force. Of these, 8 are still missing: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, N. Korea, Pakistan and USA. India, N. Korea  & Pakistan are yet to sign it. The most recent nuclear technology holder country to ratify the Treaty was Indonesia in 2012.

So folks, why am I confounding you with all these statistics? It is pretty simple. You could be coming from one of these ‘reluctant countries’ and in one way or the other, you could cause your government to join the bandwagon. A simple tweet, a facebook update, an academic forum, a newspaper article, one of these could spur the debate and make your government see the need to sign and ratify the treaty. And we will inch towards sustainable global peace.

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