Provisional Technical Secretariat Marks Tenth Anniversary

Over the past ten years the PTS has grown into a strong and confident international organization with 254 staff members.

The Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) will commemorate its tenth anniversary on 17 March 2007. The PTS began work on 17 March 1997 in Vienna under the auspices of Ambassador Wolfgang Hoffmann, along with 9 staff members. Today the PTS has grown into a strong and confident international organization with 254 staff members led by the new Executive Secretary, Ambassador Tibor Tóth who took office in August 2005.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the universal norm banning all nuclear test explosions. Since September 1996, when the CTBT opened for signature, 177 States have signed and 138 States have ratified the Treaty.

The PTS is responsible for establishing the global verification regime which monitors compliance with the CTBT. The PTS supervises and coordinates the operations of the International Monitoring System (IMS). The IMS network is made up of 321 stations: 50 primary seismic stations, 120 auxiliary seismic stations, 60 infrasound stations and 11 hydroacoustic stations which monitor vibrations in the atmosphere, underground or under water that may result from a nuclear explosion. The IMS also includes 80 radionuclide stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories which sample or analyse radioactive material which may have been released during a possible nuclear explosion.

Data from the IMS stations are transmitted via the Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI) to the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna, where they are processed and forwarded to the Member States for review. The verification regime also includes On-site Inspections in the event of a nuclear explosion, a consultation and clarification process as well as confidence-building measures.

In the last 10 years, the PTS has achieved great progress in the establishment of the verification regime. As of today the number of IMS facilities transmitting data to the IDC are 193. The event in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea on 9 October 2006 presented a real-life test case for the system. Although completed only partially and operating in test mode, the CTBT verification regime proved that it was capable to meet the expectations set for it.

Drafted at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and opened for signature on 24 September 1996 at the United Nations in New York, the Treaty must be ratified by 44 States listed in Annex II to the Treaty for it to come into force. These states possessed nuclear power or research reactors at the time of the negotiations. To date 34 of those States have ratified the Treaty. The ten remaining States are China, Colombia, DPRK, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Islamic Republic of Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States of America.