CTBTO starts first ever
on-site inspection simulation

PI/2008/11

CTBTO starts first ever
on-site inspection simulation

The biggest and most ambitious project to date to test the preparedness of on-site inspections – a key element of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s (CTBT) global alarm system - started on 1 September 2008 in Kazakhstan. The 2008 Integrated Field Exercise, IFE08, will examine inspection methods and procedures and test their functioning and effectiveness. 

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions on Earth. The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is building a global system to monitor the Earth for signs of nuclear explosions.  On-site inspections constitute the system’s final verification measure. They complement the International Monitoring System (IMS) with its 337 facilities located worldwide and the data analysis conducted at the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna. 

Hypothetical State of Arkania to be inspected
The exercise will simulate a complete on-site inspection, testing most elements of the on-site inspection regime. In order to provide a realistic setting, a scenario has been developed involving the hypothetical State of Arkania and a nuclear explosion that – based on IMS data and IDC analysis –  is suspected to have been conducted on its territory.  Following a request for an on-site inspection, a mandate was prepared and a team created consisting of international and CTBTO experts. 

Before moving to the former Soviet Union nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk to conduct the on-site inspection simulation, first meetings took place Monday in Almaty, Kazakhstan, between the inspection team and representatives of “Arkania”, the inspected State Party.  Both groups consist of international and CTBTO experts.  Details of the on-site inspection were discussed, including the mandate, the plan, techniques and equipment. 

Testing the CTBT verification regime
“We want to see where we stand with the four elements of the verification regime”, said Tibor Tóth, CTBTO Executive Secretary, commenting on the purpose of the exercise.  Mr. Tóth explained that following the announcement of a nuclear test explosion by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in October 2006, three key elements of the CTBTO global system proved to meet the expectations as set out in the Treaty.  “As the fourth element, on-site inspection was not put to the test then, but the exercise will now show that the entire verification regime is working as prescribed by the CTBT”, Tóth said.

Kazakhstan’s contribution to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament
It is no coincidence that Kazakhstan is hosting this first large scale integrated field exercise. The Central Asian State has an impressive record in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament, having closed the former Soviet Union nuclear test site at Semipalatinsk and renounced the stockpile of nuclear weapons upon gaining independence in 1991.

“Nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament are very important for Kazakhstan”, said Bolat Akchulakov, Vice-Minister of Energy, Mineral Resources and Environmental Rehabilitation of Kazakhstan.  “Knowing about the serious consequences of nuclear testing, Kazakhstan is highly committed to strengthening the non-proliferation regime as a guarantee for international security,” he added.  Mr. Akchulakov also referred to Kazakhstan’s active role in the establishment of the Central Asian Nuclear Weapon Free Zone in 2006.

Kazakhstan’s active support for the CTBT
Kazakhstan is an active supporter of the CTBT and the CTBTO, having signed the Treaty in 1996 and ratified it in 2001. In addition to the five IMS stations located on its territory, Kazakhstan has played an active role in developing the on-site inspection regime by hosting three previous exercises in 1999, 2002 and 2005.

“We have already done a lot in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.  The conduct of IFE08 in our country will further strengthen the non-proliferation regime, support the CTBT and promote the entry into force of the Treaty”, said Akchulakov.