CTBTO Preparatory Commission
three years old

Three years ago today the Provisional Technical Secretariat of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO Preparatory Commission) was established at the Vienna International Centre. It promptly started work to build up the global verification regime mandated by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) to monitor compliance with the total ban on all nuclear explosions.

To date, the CTBT has been signed by 155 States and ratified by 54 States Signatories, including two nuclear-weapon States; this includes 28 of the 44 States whose signature and ratification are necessary for the Treaty to enter into force.

On the eve of the anniversary, Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission remarked: "In the three years of its existence, the Commission has laid the foundations for verifying worldwide adherence to the CTBT. I am proud of what the staff has achieved in such a short time. Many of the 321 stations of the International Monitoring System are functional and contributing data to our International Data Centre here in Vienna."

In the course of the three years, the organizational and personnel framework of the Preparatory Commission has been developed. The staff, currently 221 from 67 States Signatories, are concentrating on establishing the global verification regime mandated by the Treaty. When complete, the system will comprise a total of 321 monitoring stations forming a global network that transmits the data generated by four complementary technologies (seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound and radionuclide) to the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna where the data are processed and made available, with IDC summaries, lists and bulletins of events, to States Signatories for final analysis. Under the Treaty´s verification regime, any matter that causes a State party concern about compliance with the Treaty´s basic obligations will be subject to consultation and clarification. As a final verification measure, an on-site inspection may be requested.

The Commission has made steady progress in building up the International Monitoring System (IMS) according to the strict criteria specified by its verification experts. The focus has been on building up each of the four technologies in parallel. Although many of the seismic stations already exist, most of the stations in the other three technologies will be entirely new. Before a station can be installed, a legal framework has to be negotiated and the logistics determined for the coordination of scientific expertise, procurement and installation of state-of-the-art equipment, and the inclusion of a satellite communication link. Given the scale of the engineering involved and the remoteness of many of the locations, this work is unprecedented in the field of arms control. The first step is usually a rigorous site survey to assess the suitability of the location identified in the Treaty and the equipment required for a station to meet the IMS criteria. So far, some 60 per cent of these surveys have been completed and 15 per cent of the entire IMS network has been installed according to IMS specifications.

The International Data Centre, which is being progressively built up at the Vienna International Centre, is 50 per cent complete and is now able to distribute raw and processed data to States Signatories seven days a week. Currently, 82 stations, drawing on the seismic, hydroacoustic and infrasound technologies, together with 18 radionuclide stations, are providing data to enable the IDC to produce bulletins and generate additional information to assist States Signatories verify compliance with the Treaty.

Payment rates of the assessed contributions to the Commission´s budget, by the 155 States Signatories, continue to be high. To date, more than 30 per cent of the $79.9-million 2000 budget and 95 per cent of the $74.7-million 1999 budget have been paid.

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