SEOUL, Aug. 13 (Yonhap) -- North Korea should realize it has "no room" for further nuclear tests, given increased global pressure and an upgraded international monitoring system, the steering-committee head for an international test ban treaty said Wednesday.
The remark by Lassina Zerbo, the executive secretary of the preparatory committee for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), came only days after North Korea reasserted its intention to keep pursuing nuclear weapons.
Attending the ASEAN Regional Forum over the weekend in Myanmar, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-yong insisted that Pyongyang's nuclear weapons program exists as a deterrence against U.S. hostile policy toward the country and vowed to strengthen its nuclear capabilities.
Since its third nuclear test in February 2013, the North has repeatedly threatened to conduct another atomic detonation, escalating tensions in the region.
"I think the three tests are just the beginning, and what we have to do is to make sure they don't go further," Zerbo said in an interview with a group of South Korean reporters, vowing to stop North Korea from conducting additional tests.
For North Korea, "there is no room for nuclear test any more" because of increased global pressure and the upgraded international monitoring system on nuclear activities, the scientist-turned-executive secretary said.
"We moved from thousands of nuclear tests to nearly none (recently). And there have been only those three tests from the DPRK (North Korea) in this 21st century," said Zerbo, who was in Seoul for a meeting with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se.
The United Nations General Assembly adopted the treaty in 1996 in efforts to prevent the development of nuclear weapons around the globe, but it has yet to enter into force due to non-ratification by eight of the 44 nuclear-armed countries, including the U.S., China and North Korea.
With 337 monitoring facilities scattered around the world, CTBTO's nuclear test detection ability is about 90 percent complete, the executive secretary said, adding that it's not likely that any test relevant to the development of nuclear weapons will go unnoticed by the international monitoring system.
Zerbo also called for the U.S., China and North Korea to join the treaty, stressing that their entry would help stop global nuclear proliferation. Washington and Beijing have signed, but not yet ratified the treaty, a process which is necessary for the test ban treaty to take force.
"(The U.S. and China) said no to nuclear testing by signing the treaty now. We have to get them to say never by ratifying the CTBT," Zerbo said, adding that his commission is making efforts to that end.
"We together with the international community (also) urge the DPRK to join the consensus on nuclear testing and to contribute to the regional peace and security," he said. "If this treaty enters into force, we will have legally binding framework that will stop anyone from doing nuclear test. And Korea will be no exception."
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