Meeting of the CTBT's Group of Eminent Persons in Seoul, Korea, from 25 to 26 June 2015

ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se (right) and Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se addressing the meeting

f.l.: Yun Byung-se, Hans Blix, Ho-jin Lee and Sérgio Duarte

Hans Blix, former IAEA Head and GEM member

Media cover the opening of the GEM meeting

Lord Desmond Brown, former UK Secretary of Defence.

GEM Meeting in Korea

CTBT Group of Eminent Persons meeting 25-26 June 2015, in Seoul, Korea

A group of high-level advocates of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) have gathered in Seoul, Republic of Korea (ROK), to rally support for the Treaty’s entry into force and to highlight the threat posed by nuclear weapons testing. The group has issued a strong call for the CTBT's entry into force through the Seoul Declaration [PDF].  

In order to avoid further endangering peace in Northeast Asia, the DPRK is urged to sign and ratify the Treaty and refrain from undertaking any further tests.GEM Seoul Declaration
ROK Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se with former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs Angela Kane
CTBTO Executive Secretary Zerbo meets with Ambassador Joonkook Hwang Special Representative for Korean Peninsular Peace and Security Affairs.
Wolfgang Hoffman, former CTBTO Executive Secretary
Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs with Wolfgang Hoffman, former CTBTO Executive Secretary and and Sha Zukang, former UN Under-Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs

"The CTBT is a sleeping beauty waiting to wake to its potential," declared Yun Byung-se, Minster of Foreign Affairs of the ROK, as he opened the meeting of the CTBT’s Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) in Seoul, Korea, on 25 June, see speech. The two-day meeting is being hosted by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the ROK to consider the current status of the CTBT, identify ways to advance its entry into force, and assess developments pertaining to the situation on the Korean Peninsula and their implications for regional peace and security.

...nineteen years on, the CTBT has yet to become law. It still remains a “sleeping beauty,” bidding its time to wield its great potential.Yun Byung-se, Minster of Foreign Affairs of the ROK

Emphasizing the importance of bringing the CTBT into legal effect and securing international support against the nuclear threat posed by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), the Minister explained that: "Nuclear weapons bring only isolation and sanctions…Signing the CTBT is a strong signal to demilitarization."

Referring to the recent Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference in New York, the Minister pointed out that the failure of the conference to reach a conclusion “brings the clock closer to doomsday” and makes the urgency of the CTBT’s entry into force even more imperative.

Hans Blix, former IAEA Director General and Des Brown former UK Secretary of Defence and Vice-Chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative
CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo addressing the meeting
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se, with Rachmat Budiman, Permanent Representative of Indonesia to the United Nations (Vienna), Wolfgang Hoffman, former CTBTO Executive Secretary and Sha Zukang, former UN Under-Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, who established the GEM - a group of senior statesmen/women, active and former politicians and internationally recognized experts - in September 2013, acknowledged Korea’s strong support for the Treaty, as well as the country’s commitment to broader nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts.  In view of the ROK’s location next to the DPRK - the only country in the world to have conducted nuclear tests this century - Zerbo noted that the ROK is acutely aware of the dangers posed by the destabilizing and destructive practice of nuclear explosive testing. He also emphasized his continued commitment to establishing a dialogue and reiterated that he did not believe in isolation.

I believe that any future talks regarding the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula should also focus on ceasing nuclear testing as a first step.CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

A number of members of the GEM are attending the meeting in Seoul including: Hans Blix, former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency; Des Browne, former UK Secretary of Defence and Vice-Chair of the Nuclear Threat Initiative; Cristian Diaconescu, former Foreign Minister of Romania; Sérgio de Queiroz Duarte, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (2007-2012); Wolfgang Hoffmann, former CTBTO Executive Secretary; Angela Kane, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs (2012-2015); Ho-jin Lee, Principal Vice President of the UN Association of the ROK and Sha Zukang, former UN Under-Secretary-General, Department of Economic and Social Affairs.  

Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo addressing the media in the Korean Demilitarized Zone

On 26 June the Group toured the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), which was established at the end of the Korean War to serve as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The 250 km long DMZ is one of the most heavily militarized borders in the world.

During his welcoming address, Minister Yun Byung-se announced that the RoK hopes to host a high-level CTBT Ministerial meeting in 2016 to mark the 20th anniversary of the Treaty opening for signature.