Second anniversary of adoption of
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban
Treaty, CTBTO PrepCom
reviews progress

Two years after the opening for signature of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), at the United Nations on 24 September 1996, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom) has concluded a series of meetings to review progress in implementing CTBT.

The Treaty, which bans all nuclear weapon test explosions and any other nuclear explosion anywhere in the world, has so far been signed by 150 countries and ratified by 21. Ten of them are countries listed in the Treaty whose ratification is necessary in order for the Treaty to enter into force. (They are: Australia, Austria, Brazil, France, Germany, Japan, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, and the United Kingdom.) Two of them (France and the United Kingdom) are nuclear-weapon States.

Since starting operations in March 1997, CTBTO PrepCom has concentrated on its mandate of setting up the global verification regime envisaged in the Treaty. The regime - expected to be operational by the time the Treaty enters into force - will consist of a monitoring network of 170 seismic, 80 radionuclide, 60 infrasound and 11 hydroacoustic stations, to be upgraded or newly established around the world. Their purpose is to detect and identify nuclear explosions, prohibited under article I of the Treaty, and supply a continuous stream of data to the International Data Centre in Vienna, which makes the data available to States Signatories for their review and consideration.

Global verification regime

 

To date, CTBTO PrepCom has been authorized to initiate work at 79 stations in 29 countries. Of the four monitoring technologies, the seismic network is the most complete because it draws on an earlier network of monitoring stations that was created by a group of scientific experts, under the Conference of Disarmament in Geneva, from 1976 on. But it will receive the largest investment of capital (about US$ 15.6 million) over the next two years. Surveys to assess the suitability of the locations chosen for the stations specified in the Treaty have taken place at five seismic sites, and six other surveys are under way. Regarding radionuclide monitoring, eight site surveys have been conducted and eleven others are under way. Procurement and installation of equipment for about 10 stations have been initiated. As for infrasound monitoring, six site surveys have been conducted, and 13 others are under way. Four surveys for hydroacoustic stations have been concluded or are under way, and procurement of equipment for two stations has been initiated. The first technical training programme for countries hosting monitoring stations will be held in October, with a week in Vienna followed by in-depth training at facilities in Argentina, Germany, Norway and the United States.

Throughout May, the first of four releases of applications software from the prototype international data center in Arlington, United States, was delivered and initially tested. By 15 May, real-time data from 63 monitoring stations were flowing to the International Data Centre (IDC) at CTBTO PrepCom headquarters in Vienna, through the prototype center, using the new high-speed communications link. Although IDC could not provide real-time processing and analysis during the nuclear tests announced by India because it was still installing the first release of software, it later retrieved the data for 11 May for archiving and analysis. It received and processed data in real time for the announced Pakistani nuclear explosions on 28 and 30 May from 27 and 23 primary seismic stations, respectively. The automatic processing of the data provided reasonable first estimates of the location of the tests on those two days, which were passed on to States Signatories. IDC is scheduled to hold its first training course in Vienna at the end of the year.

On 7 September, CTBTO PrepCom and the international partnership HOT (Hughes Olivetti Telecom Ltd.) signed a $70 million contract to establish the global communications infrastructure for verifying compliance with CTBT. Over the next 10 years, the partnership will design, install, manage, operate and maintain a complex global network of very small aperture terminals (VSAT) to ensure the swift and secure transport of data between the 337 worldwide monitoring facilities, IDC and the States signatories. By April 1999, 30 monitoring stations should be connected by VSAT to IDC in Vienna.

Work has begun on an operational manual for on-site inspections. Under the Treaty, a State party can ask for an on-site inspection to be carried out if it considers that further clarification of an ambiguous event is necessary. A list of initial equipment for testing and training purposes has been drawn up. The third on-site inspection workshop will take place in November.

A total of four regional introductory training progammes on the operation of the international monitoring system have been held since CTBTO PrepCom started operations in March 1997. The last two being one held in Japan (8-12 June 1998) and one being held in Kazakhstan (21-26 September 1998).

Organization

 

The Preparatory Commission has a budget of US$58.4 million for 1998. Over 96 per cent of the contributions for 1997, and over 55 per cent of those for 1998, have been paid. The staff currently numbers 152 from 54 States signatories.

For further information on the CTBTO, please see www.ctbto.org or contact:
Annika Thunborg, Chief, Public Information  
T    +43 1 26030-6375  
E    annika.thunborgping@ctbtopong.org
M    +43 699 1459 6375       
I    www.ctbto.org