Lassina Zerbo, the head of the U.N.-adopted Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) representing 196 countries—of which 183 have signed the accord and 164 have ratified it—said that among the eight countries with nuclear power reactors or research reactors that have not ratified the treaty, Israel and Iran are “the closest” to doing so.
Israel and Iran signed the treaty when it was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1996, but have yet to ratify it. (Ratification would consist of the treaty’s approval by those countries’ legislatures, making the accord legally binding.) The treaty cannot go into full effect unless the additional eight countries possessing nuclear capabilities ratify it. In addition to Israel and Iran, the U.S. has yet to ratify the treaty, along with China, Egypt, India, Pakistan, and North Korea.
Zerbo, who spoke at a conference marking the treaty’s 20th anniversary, said he hopes to visit both Iran and Israel because “I think that they’re the ones who can unlock what is stopping the CTBT from moving.”
In reference to the nuclear deal between Iran and P5+1 nations reached last summer, he said that the signing of the treaty by Iran, along with the nuclear deal, would mean “the biggest threat for Israel is gone and over.”
“Israel and Iran can make a huge difference for this treaty, and they have nothing to lose…absolutely nothing. Both of them can take leadership and show carte blanche to the world to say we have together decided to ratify the CTBT,” Zerbo said, according to the Associated Press. In addition, if Iran and Israel ratify the treaty, it would place pressure on the U.S. to do the same.
Zerbo explained that since North Korea is not likely to ratify the treaty, “what they need at this point in time is…maybe a bit of respect and dignity in the dialogue we have with them. Instead of bang, bang on their head, maybe we have to come to sit with them around the table and say: ‘Hey guys, if this is confirmed that it’s the fourth test, we don’t want this to happen again. How can we work?’”