What provided a real-life opportunity to test the CTBTO’s global alarm system?

The announced nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on 9 October 2006 broke an eight-year-long de-facto moratorium. However, it also provided the first real-life test case for the CTBTO’s global alarm system.

Although only partially completed and operating in test mode, the CTBTO’s Verification Regime proved that it was capable of meeting expectations. Over 20 IMS seismic stations throughout the world detected the explosion. Data on the time, location and magnitude of the event was transmitted to all Signatory States within two hours.

A detailed analysis was provided by the International Data Centre within two days. Importantly, within two weeks, the radionuclide noble gas station at Yellowknife, Canada was able to detect elevated amounts of Xenon 133 in the atmosphere. Only radonuclide findings can provide ultimate proof that an explosion is nuclear in nature. Applying atmospheric transport models to backtrack the gas dispersion, its registration was found to be consistent with the hypothesized release from the DPRK’s announced test.

All the data and analyses were provided to Signatory States enabling them to make their own judgements.

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