European union makes voluntary contribution of over five million euros

Vienna, 14 November 2012

On Tuesday 13 November 2012, the Council of the European Union (EU) approved a new voluntary contribution in support of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth welcomed the decision: “A contribution of this magnitude, especially in times of austerity budgets, is testimony to the EU’s unwavering support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the CTBTO. The EU’s leadership on this issue is reflected in many ways.”

The new contribution will enable the CTBTO to further enhance its verification regime to detect any nuclear explosion and, in particular, to assist developing countries to participate actively in this multilateral verification effort. The contribution has six elements (see EU Official Journal for full text):

  1. Enhancing the CTBTO’s Atmospheric Transport Modelling (ATM) capabilities: This will allow better backtracking of the movement of airborne radioactive materials after their detection by a radionuclide monitoring station.

  2. Enhancing the CTBTO’s noble gas detection capabilities: Increasing knowledge of radioxenon background levels will improve detection methods, especially of the noble gas xenon, which is typically emitted by underground nuclear explosions.

  3. Support for the further build-up of on-site inspection (OSI) capabilities, in particular for the next major OSI simulation in Jordan in 2014, the Integrated Field Exercise 2014: By developing multispectral and infrared sensors for installation on helicopters or aircraft in order to capture image data at specific frequencies across the electromagnetic spectrum, the CTBTO will be able to identify signs of a nuclear explosion on the ground more efficiently.

  4. Support for the sustainment of auxiliary seismic stations: 120 of the CTBTO’s 170 seismic stations are auxiliary stations, meaning they send data on request only. The operation and maintenance of this type of station is the responsibility of CTBTO Member States. The EU assists those developing countries that lack the necessary resources and know-how.

  5. Capacity building and training: Through technical workshops and training, experts – especially from developing countries – will be able to make use of up to 16 gigabytes of data collected daily by the CTBTO’s global network of monitoring stations. This will not only allow experts from CTBTO Member States  to have an informed opinion about whether a nuclear explosion has taken place but will also permit them to use the data for disaster warning and research purposes.

  6. Support for the Capacity Development Initiative (CDI): This is part of the organization’s efforts to increase awareness and stimulate understanding of the Treaty through training courses and e-learning activities covering all technical, scientific, legal and political aspects of the CTBT and its verification regime.

The contribution amounts to € 5,185,028 (around US$ 6.7 million). It follows a previous contribution in 2010 of over €5 million (see press release) and is the fifth such contribution, totalling over € 15.5 million since 2006.  As part of the EU Strategy against the Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (PDF), these contributions aim to promote peace and stability, an endeavour for which the EU was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize last month.

Background

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, in outer space, underwater and underground. 183 countries have signed the Treaty. Of these, 157 have also ratified the Treaty. The EU’s 27 Member States have all signed and ratified the CTBT; see interactive map. With regular contributions from EU Member States comprising around 40% of the CTBTO’s total budget, the EU is the largest financial contributor to the organization.

An unprecedented global verification regime with over 330 facilities monitors the globe around the clock for nuclear explosions to detect any violations of the Treaty. These facilities use four technologies: seismic sensors to detect shockwaves in the Earth, hydroacoustic and infrasound to ’listen’ for sound waves in the oceans and the atmosphere respectively and radionuclide stations to ‘sniff’ for radioactive particles or noble gases. Seventy-three of these facilities are hosted by EU Member States. Of these, all but five are operational; see interactive map.

After the CTBT has entered into force, on-site inspections can be dispatched to search for evidence of a nuclear explosion on the ground.

For further information on the CTBT, please see www.ctbto.org – your resource on ending nuclear testing, or contact:

Annika Thunborg,
Spokesperson and Chief of Public Information

T    +43 1 26030-6375 
E    annika.thunborgping@ctbtopong.org
M    +43 699 1459 6375      
I    www.ctbto.org

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