Executive Secretary visits
nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya

PI/2003/06

The Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, Mr. Wolfgang Hoffmann, has returned from an official visit to Russia. Mr Hoffmann spent time in Moscow and at the Russian underground nuclear test site at Novaya Zemlya.

While in Moscow from 25 to 27 March, the Executive Secretary visited the Ministry of Atomic Energy, the Research Institute of Pulse Techniques, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was received on 26 March by Deputy Minister Georgy Mamedov of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and held discussions with him on issues including the promotion of signatures and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) by Eastern European and Asian States. Mr. Hoffmann expressed his gratitude for the opportunity to visit the test site at Novaya Zemlya, stressing that it confirmed Russias openness on nuclear disarmament, as well as its adherence to the CTBT.

Severe weather conditions lifted on 28 March, allowing flights to the Novaya Zemlya test site. Accompanied by officials from the Ministry of Defence, the Executive Secretary first visited Arkhangelsk, and then continued on to the main military base of the test site, Belushia Guba, near where underwater nuclear tests were carried out from 1955 to 1961.

On 29 March, the Executive Secretary participated in a 2.5 hour helicopter overflight to an area 270 km north of the main military base, where underground nuclear tests were carried out between 1964 and 1990. Sub-critical experiments have been carried out in an underground tunnel at this location between 1998 and 2002. Details of the sub-critical experiments were explained. These tests do not initiate a chain reaction of fission and are conducted in accordance with the CTBT.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear weapon test explosions in any environment. Drafted at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, and opened for signature on 24 September 1996, the Treaty must be ratified by 44 named States before it can enter into force. Russia, one of the 44 named States, ratified the Treaty on 30 June 2000.

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