New Radionuclide Station inaugurated on Galápagos, Ecuador

Cutting RN24 ribbon (Ms. Carola Iniguez, CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, Vice Admiral Fernando Noboa and Mr. Mera Gilen.

Station RN24 on Isla Santa Cruz, Galápagos becomes the latest to join the growing network of monitoring stations that make up the International Monitoring System (IMS)  – the backbone of the verification regime that underpins the global ban on nuclear testing. CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo travelled to Ecuador to attend the inauguration ceremony on 11 November. The station RN24 extends the coverage of the IMS and brings the number of installed radionuclide stations to 68 of a total of 80. Of these, 63 have been certified and contribute data to the various products provided by the International Data Centre (IDC). The data gathered by the IMS is used to monitor the Earth for nuclear explosions as well as for scientific purposes  to study the oceans, volcanoes and climate change. It will also assist local authorities in the detection and early warning of tsunamis.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo speaking to the audience on RN24 inauguration ceremony.

Radionuclide technology , as deployed in RN24, is used to detect traces of radioactive substances in the atmosphere, to determine whether a recorded event was nuclear in origin. CTBTO experts worked closely with the Ecuadorian Navy, the Galápagos National Park and the Ecuador Oceanographic Institute on the installation and calibration of the equipment and construction was completed in record time of just 6 months.

All IMS stations adhere to stringent environmental guidelines for installation and operation, a fact that was particularly appreciated by the Ecuador authorities, given the extraordinary significance of Galápagos as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a unique environmental habitat. Ecuador ratified the  CTBT on 15 November 2001 after signing it about five years earlier. With its ratification Ecuador also promised to host the necessary facilities for the IMS.

"By completing its portion of the IMS, Ecuador sends a clear message of support towards the CTBT and its concepts of multilateralism, equity, verifiability" CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo

Zerbo thanked all of the Ecuador partner organizations and entities which made the implementation of this project possible: from the high level decision makers to the engineers and construction workers. In his remarks at the ceremony, he  gave an overview of the status of the IMS and of data usage. He highlighted the specific case of radionuclide data as the only technology that can confirm whether an explosion detected and located by waveform data is indicative of a nuclear test. Moreover, Zerbo pointed out the compliance of the station with the high environmental standards of the Galápagos Park and the contribution of the station to Ecuador's philosophy and commitment towards the protection of the environment. He concluded his speech by assuring the participants of further productive and mutually beneficial collaboration between Ecuador and the CTBTO in the future.

Vice Admiral Fernando Noboa, Commander in Chief of the Navy, speaking at RN24 inauguration.

Vice Admiral Fernando Noboa recalled that Ecuador signed and ratified the Treaty. He praised the sustained efforts and tight cooperation between Ecuador and CTBTO that led to the establishment and inauguration of RN24. He pointed out that Ecuador now participates in monitoring activities for a world free of nuclear tests. He further highlighted civil applications of the Verification technologies most relevant for Ecuador, in particular for tsunami warning, preservation of the environment and characterization of undersea events.

"As of today, Ecuador is part of this incredible and unique global network,"Commander in Chief of the Navy Admiral Fernando Noboa
Group photo

Present at the event were high ranking national representatives of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Environment.

Undersecretary for International Organisations Carola Iñiguez, speaking at RN24 inauguration

The Undersecretary of International Organizations of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Human Mobility, Carola Iñiguez, stressed the importance of CTBTO civil applications for Ecuador, highlighting in particular the tsunami warning systems . She reiterated Ecuador’s commitments to its obligations under the Treaty as well as its continuing support for the nuclear test-ban and complete nuclear disarmament.

"Ecuador is one of the few countries that has made a decision that disarmament is a priority,"Undersecretary for International Organisations Carola Iñiguez
Dr. Jorge Carrion Tacuri, Galapagos National Park Directorate speaking at RN24 inauguration.

The Director of Environmental Affairs at the Galápagos National Park Jorge Carrion Tacuri expressed his pride to host this unique station in Galapagos and congratulated both the CTBTO and national representatives for this success. He assured the participants on the National Park’s continued support.

" We are convinced that international cooperation leads to objectives on common benefit,"Director of Environmental Affairs, Galapagos National Park Jorge Carrion Tacuri

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