Nuclear power plant (illustration)
Nuclear power plant (illustration) Thinkstock

Israel should ratify the nuclear test ban treaty within five years, the head of the UN organization established to implement the treaty told The Associated Press on Wednesday.

Lassina Zerbo said he put no longer than five years as the limit “based on the positive sign that I’m seeing from Israel,” where he met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for the first time during a visit 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 also told AP 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 told AP. “The only thing I say as head of the organization is I hope the when is yesterday!”

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has 196 member states - 183 that have signed the treaty and 164 that have ratified it.

In the past, an Israeli official said that Israel is ready to ratify the CTBT, but conditioned that on Iran agreeing to recognize the Jewish state.

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 UN General Assembly adopted it in 1996: the United States, China, Iran, Israel, Egypt, India, Pakistan and North Korea.

The Obama administration supports a worldwide ban on nuclear testing but hasn’t ratified the treaty because it doesn’t have the votes in the Republican-controlled Senate, noted AP. China also reaffirmed its commitment to the treaty at Wednesday’s meeting, but didn’t say when it might ratify, Zerbo told the news agency.

He said Pakistan has shown leadership recently, talking about a “bilateral moratorium with India” on nuclear testing. “They’re waiting for a response from India,” he said.

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