Israel should ratify the nuclear test ban treaty within five years — and Iran should also ratify but the timing is uncertain, the head of the U.N. organization established to implement the treaty said Wednesday.
Lassina Zerbo said in an interview with The Associated Press that Israel should be the next key country to ratify the treaty and he hopes it takes less than five years.
“I’m putting five years as the longest it should take now based on the positive sign that I’m seeing from Israel,” said Zerbo, who met Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the first time during a visit there in June.
He cited the impact of last year’s Iran nuclear deal in the Middle East for “creating the confidence-building conditions in the region to help others to move forward.”
Zerbo said he has met Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif several times and the Iranians participate very actively in the test ban organization.
“I think in Iran it’s a matter of when, and the when will depend on the condition that will be right … for them to consider the ratification,” he said. “The only thing I say as head of the organization is I hope the when is yesterday!”
The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, known as the CTBT, has 196 member states — 183 that have signed the treaty and 164 that have ratified it.
But the treaty has not entered into force because it still needs ratification by eight countries that had nuclear power reactors or research reactors when the U.N. General Assembly adopted it in 1996: the United States, China, Iran, Israel, Egypt, India, Pakistan and North Korea.