CTBTO will assist additional tsunami
warning centres in the Pacific
and Indian Oceans
Agreements for tsunami warning purposes will shortly be concluded between the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) and several organizations in Australia, Indonesia, Japan, the Philippines, the United States (including one in Alaska), Thailand and Malaysia. The Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Tibor Tóth, informed delegates at the Thirtieth Session of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, which took place from 23-24 June 2008, that by providing these organizations with the fastest and most reliable seismic and hydroacoustic data, the CTBTO is “…a very important regional and national backbone to tsunami warning centres and will enhance their ability to issue timely and reliable tsunami alerts.” The decision to contribute data for tsunami warning purposes was made by the CTBTO Preparatory Commission at its Twenty-Seventh Session in November 2006. Data is already being provided to other organizations devoted to tsunami warning in Australia, Japan, Malaysia and the United States (Hawaii).
Support for CTBT expressed at highest political levels
Speaking at a press briefing, the Chairperson of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, Ambassador Hans Lundborg, Permanent Representative of Sweden, referred to the “positive political wind blowing in the right direction of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).” Presidential candidate Barack Obama supports the CTBT and will seek ratification while John McCain has pledged to “have another look at the CTBT to see what can be done to overcome the shortcomings that prevented it from entering into force.” The bi-partisan support of the CTBT as expressed by US senior statesmen George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger and Sam Nunn, in their Wall Street Journal article published on 15 January 2008, was also a sign of the political momentum for the Treaty. In the article, the four statesmen renewed their call for a nuclear-free world by supporting, among other measures, the adoption of a process for bringing the CTBT into effect “…which would strengthen the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and aid international monitoring of nuclear activities.” The strong support for the Treaty expressed at the highest political level by President Nicolas Sarkozy of France and Prime Minister Gordon Brown of the United Kingdom in recent speeches was also part of this positive momentum.
Lundborg underlined that Sweden will hold the Presidency of the European Union in the fall of 2009 and will do its utmost to ensure that the CTBT is a prioritized issue in the high level political discussions between the EU and the United States. Tóth recently met with Sweden’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Carl Bildt, and the Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Stephen Smith, to discuss ways of promoting the CTBT’s entry into force. Both Sweden and Australia have traditionally taken strong stands on nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament and have been staunch advocates of the CTBT since its inception.
Progress in building up CTBT’s verification regime since 2004
In his oral report to the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, Tóth reported on the improvements in building up the global verification regime since 2004 and the 33 percent increase in Treaty ratifications since then. With 178 signatures and 144 Treaty ratifications, the CTBTO now features in the “big league” of international organizations. The International Scientific Studies (ISS) Project, which is an independent scientific evaluation of the capability of the CTBT’s verification regime to detect nuclear explosions worldwide, was heralded by delegates as a timely initiative. Delegates also noted with satisfaction the preparations for the upcoming on-site inspection (OSI) Integrated Field Exercise (IFE), which will take place in Kazakhstan in September 2008. This exercise, which has entailed meticulous preparations since 2005, will provide a unique opportunity for the CTBTO to test most of the major elements of the OSI system. The importance of a detailed and transparent evaluation of the exercise was emphasized.