17 June 2009 - Page 1

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“This project is about connecting to the scientific community around the world so that we can learn from each other, enrich and inspire each other.” Welcoming participants to the three-day long International Scientific Studies (ISS) Conference in Vienna, Austria, on 10 June 2009, the ISS project chairperson, Ola Dahlman, explained that the purpose of the project was twofold: to assess the capability and readiness of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) verification system; and to further develop the cooperation between the scientific community and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

The International Scientific Studies Conference took place in the former imperial palace Hofburg in Vienna, Austria.

ISS Conference attracts worldwide interest

The Conference was the culmination of a year-long series of independent assessments and studies of the CTBT’s ability to detect nuclear explosions anywhere on the planet. There were roughly 600 participants from around 100 countries, including approximately 500 scientists, who came together to contribute ideas, data and research findings. Over 200 scientific posters were submitted to the Conference covering the eight topic areas addressed by the project. The number of participants and diversity of countries represented reflected the interest that the project has generated worldwide.

The United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, addressed participants through a welcoming video message. The Conference was then officially opened by the Austrian Foreign Minister, Michael Spindelegger (address), and Tibor Toth, the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO (address). Please click here for information about the opening ceremony.

Themes covered

A video address of UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was delivered at the opening of the Conference.

The Conference involved a series of presentations and panel discussions in which some of the world’s most eminent scientists in the verification field participated.  Various themes were discussed in detail including:
•    Advances in the detection capabilities of the four CTBT verification technologies over the last decade.
•    Synergies between the different technologies.
•    On-site inspections.
•    Potential civil and scientific applications of verification data.
•    Science for security.
•    Future collaboration between the CTBTO and the scientific community.

1. Advances in detection capabilities

Seismologist Paul G. Richards said that the work of IMS and IDC was uniquely important.

The CTBT’s International Monitoring System (IMS) was described by scientists as unique in terms of its technical equipment and global coverage – by the time the Treaty enters into force, there will be 337 monitoring facilities around the world.

Scientists across the board praised the high quality, accuracy and reliability of monitoring data and analyses provided by the CTBTO.  Dmitry A. Storchak of the International Seismic Centre attributed this to the consistency in procedure and the high standard of technologies and instruments used.  Paul G. Richards of the Columbia University, USA, added that the work of the IMS and the International Data Centre (IDC) were “uniquely important because of their work of prompt association on a global scale.” Association is the process in which all monitoring data on a single event from a multitude of stations are combined.

Over 200 scientific posters were submitted to the Conference.

Scientists acknowledged that the verification regime’s infrastructure and analysis methods have improved greatly over the last decade. The increasing sensitivity in event detection has led to a corresponding increase in the number of progressively smaller events being registered globally by the IMS network. Several scientists said that event screening procedures needed to be further refined to face this challenge.