Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty (CTBT) plays key role in nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament

Tibor Tóth and Amb. Ünal Çeviköz at a press conference organized during the workshop.

“First and foremost, the essential role of the CTBT in curbing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and advancing nuclear disarmament, thereby significantly contributing to the enhancement of international peace and security, should continue to be promoted. Its entry into force would strengthen the international security architecture built upon the foundation of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).” In an address welcoming participants to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Cross Regional Workshop for International Cooperation, Ambassador Ünal Çeviköz, Deputy Undersecretary at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Turkey, urged the nine countries that have not yet ratified the Treaty to do so in order for it to enter into force. The nine remaining States are China, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States of America.

Turkey’s support for global disarmament

Çeviköz outlined the importance of the CTBT and the political and technical progress that has been made since Turkey last hosted a CTBTO International Cooperation workshop in 2001. He also stressed Turkey’s participation in all international non-proliferation instruments and export control regimes and underlined the fact that “Turkey favours global, overall disarmament and supports all efforts in the field of sustaining international security through arms control, non-proliferation and disarmament.”

Turkey was among the 71 countries which signed the CTBT on the day it was first opened for signature on 24 September 1996 and ratified the Treaty on 16 February 2000. It also hosts one primary seismic station, which is part of the 337 facilities comprising the CTBT’s International Monitoring System (IMS).

32 States participate in cross-regional workshop in Istanbul from 1-2 July 2008

Workshop participants in Istanbul.

The workshop on “Twelve Years of the CTBT: Achievements and Perspectives” brought together representatives from Africa, Asia, Europe, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Middle East. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the Organization of the Islamic Conference were also represented at the workshop.  Delegates from both ratifying and non-ratifying States were in attendance. Previous international cooperation workshops have been held in all geographic regions identified by the Treaty, with the most recent workshop having been held in Samoa in May 2008.

CTBT as catalyst for nuclear disarmament

Tibor Tóth, the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, stressed the character of the CTBT as a catalyst for nuclear disarmament and asserted that the Treaty provides a firm legal barrier against nuclear testing, thereby curbing the development of new types and designs of weapons. Tóth told participants that the Treaty is an example of democratic and transparent verification and a strong confidence- and security-building measure among nuclear-weapon States as well as in regional contexts.

States urged to ratify Treaty
The keynote speaker, Ambassador Jaap Ramaker, the Special Representative to promote the ratification process of the CTBT, informed the workshop that: “Ratification of the CTBT by all five NPT nuclear weapon states would constitute the proverbial litmus test of their seriousness when it comes to nuclear arms control and disarmament. All five would (re-)gain in political credibility.”

Oliver Meier from the Arms Control Association concluded in his presentation that “Perspectives for CTBT entry into force are better than they have been for many years, if current opportunities for making progress are exploited by CTBT supporters and holdouts.” He stressed the importance of continued political pressure on “holdout states” to ratify the Treaty so that it can enter into force.

Turkey’s support for global disarmament

Participants reviewed CTBT related achievements in support of the nuclear non-proliferation regime and discussed ways of facilitating capacity building for the purpose of implementing the Treaty, as well as the verifiability of the Treaty’s monitoring system.

Potential use of CTBT verification data for disaster mitigation
Participants were also informed of the potential civil and scientific benefits of the CTBT for Member States. These benefits include the use of verification technologies for the detection of earthquakes and accidental radioactive releases, the forecasting of volcanic explosions, and the location of underwater explosions. The use of CTBT verification data for tsunami warning purposes was also addressed in a presentation by Masahiro Yamamoto from UNESCO on the tsunami warning system in the Arabic Sea.

The CTBTO is already providing data to organizations devoted to tsunami warning in Australia, Japan, Malaysia and the United States (Hawaii) and will soon provide several more organizations in the Pacific and Indian Oceans with the fastest and most reliable seismic and hydroacoustic data available to enhance their ability to issue timely and reliable tsunami alerts.

Earthquake monitoring centre

Turkey is susceptible to seismic catastrophes because of the country's geological setting. The North Anatolian fault produced seven large earthquakes in Turkey between 1939 and 1999. The most destructive of these earthquakes struck northwest Turkey on 17 August 1999, killing over 17,000 people and generating a local tsunami within the enclosed Sea of Marmara.

A National Data Centre was established in Turkey in November 2002, which is run by the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute of the Bosphoros University. Participants were invited to pay a site visit to the institute during the workshop. “Kandilli's area of expertise is monitoring earthquakes and sending the information to relevant government organs,” said the director of the Kandilli Observatory, Professor Gülay Altay. “While the technology for detecting nuclear tests is slightly different than that for finding earthquakes -- the sensors are deeper and require more intricate maintenance -- Kandilli's duty within the framework of the treaty is to collect all the data and send it to the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna.” The IDC processes and analyses monitoring data originating from the 337 facilities that comprise the IMS. Processing and analysis results are then presented as lists of events, bulletins and reports to Member States.

Foreign Minister asked to help promote CTBT ratification

Primary seismic station PS43 was certified on 22 December 2003.

At the invitation of Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Tóth met with H.E. Ali Babacan, the Minister of Foreign Affairs, who reiterated Turkey’s support for the CTBT and for the activities being carried out by the CTBTO.  Tóth briefed him on ratification progress and requested his assistance in promoting signatures and ratifications in those countries where Turkey may be able to exert some influence.

Tóth also visited the sub-array of primary seismic station (PS43) at Belbaşı and the Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute, where he made a presentation on the CTBT and the establishment of the IMS. He explained the importance of the verification regime not only in terms of monitoring the Earth, sea and atmosphere as the last line of defense against the testing of nuclear weapons, but also its potential to serve a variety of important civil and scientific applications.