In signing and ratifying the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a State joins a group of like-minded countries that are dedicated to strengthening the international nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime.
Banning nuclear explosions of any kind is an important step towards making the world a safer place.
- The CTBT is essential for nuclear non-proliferation since it limits the ability of countries that do not have nuclear weapons to develop these weapons.
- The CTBT is also essential for nuclear disarmament since it curbs the development of new types and new designs of nuclear weapons.
- The CTBT is crucial in a world in which we see the resurgence of nuclear energy. A legally binding Treaty banning nuclear test explosions provide a clear and visible barrier between prohibited and permitted nuclear activities.
- The CTBT is a strong confidence- and security building measure – internationally, regionally and bilaterally.
- The CTBT also protects against the devastating effects of nuclear testing on human health and the environment.
The CTBT is crucial in a world in which we see the resurgence of nuclear energy. A legally binding Treaty banning nuclear test explosions provide a clear and visible barrier between prohibited and permitted nuclear activities.
Although the CTBT has not yet entered into force, it has already helped to create a de facto international norm. As of September 2019, 184 countries have signed the Treaty, of which 168 have also ratified it. Over 2000 nuclear test explosions were conducted between 1945 and 1996; about half a dozen tests have been conducted since 1996.
Access to verification data and analyses
States Signatories to the CTBT enjoy many benefits deriving from the global verification regime built to monitor compliance with the CTBT. They benefit from the data it collects, the data analyses it generates and distributes, and the technologies it uses.
All data, raw and processed, are available to Member States upon their request. In fact, it is understood that all data are the property of the States Signatories. Through the International Data Centre (IDC), States are provided with open, equal and timely access to all data from the International Monitoring System’s (IMS)
monitoring facilities and to all IDC analysis products. All information is distributed cost-free, on an equal basis and without discrimination.
Access to this vast amount of information enables States to assess whether or not a suspicious event has occurred and whether it constitutes a violation of the CTBT.
All information is distributed cost-free, on an equal basis and without discrimination. This enables all Member States to assess whether or not a suspicious event has occurred and constitutes a violation of the CTBT.
Civil and scientific application of verification data
There is a host of potential civil and scientific applications beyond using the data and their analysis to monitor compliance with the Treaty. These applications can help mitigate the effects of natural or man-made disasters, increase the wealth of knowledge about our planet and contribute in a diversity of ways to human welfare. At the time of the Treaty negotiations in the mid 1990s, these additional benefits were not anticipated. Only now is the international community beginning to understand their full potential.
Civil and scientific application of verification data can help mitigate the effects of natural or man-made disasters, for example tsunamis.
For example, in November 2006, Member States decided to permit the sharing of seismic data with five tsunami warning centres in the Indo-Pacific ocean region. An 18-month test period preceded this decision. It showed that data sent by monitoring stations of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) were the fastest to arrive at tsunami warning centres in comparison with data from any other networks.
For more details on potential civil and scientific applications, please see here.
State-of-the-art science and technology
The use of data and data analyses by States Signatories already constitutes a technological benefit. The CTBTO verification regime is highly sophisticated and remains unprecedented in its level of technological complexity. It uses highly developed technologies in data gathering, transmission and processing.
In order to maintain the highest levels of preparedness so that its mandate can be carried out upon entry into force of the Treaty, the organization continuously enhances its technical capabilities. It also keeps abreast of developments in the relevant fields of science and technology. This approach gives States Signatories access to the most advanced scientific methods and technologies available.
Member States benefit from the advanced scientific methods and highly sophisticated technologies used by the CTBTO verification regime.
States hosting monitoring facilities of the CTBT verification regime enjoy specific additional benefits. Although established by the CTBTO, the 337 monitoring facilities located around the globe are actually owned and operated by the respective host country. Thus, States hosting monitoring facilities receive technical and financial assistance from the organization to establish, upgrade, operate and maintain these facilities.
Established by the CTBTO, the 337 monitoring facilities located around the globe are owned and operated by the respective host country.
National Data Centres
The CTBTO supports States in the establishment of National Data Centres where data are received and managed. Wherever necessary, States receive assistance to install the necessary hardware and software. The organization also helps establish communication links between the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna and the National Data Centres.
Experts Communication System
The organization maintains an internet-based communication tool - the Expert Communication System (ECS) - for users nominated by States Signatories. The ECS is a protected website that provides a platform for discussions, information exchange, meeting schedules and a documents database.
Workshops and training activities
States may benefit from workshops and training activities organized by the CTBTO, in which participants acquire necessary skills for the implementation of the Treaty at the national level.
Member States benefit from CTBTO workshops and trainings, in which participants acquire necessary skills for the implementation of the Treaty at the national level.
Each of the three technical divisions has organized workshops and training activities in accordance with their specific tasks. The IMS Division has organized a number of training activities for station operators and managers about the IMS, its monitoring technologies, and the operation and maintenance of IMS stations.
The IDC has also organized training courses and workshops for analysts and staff of National Data Centres. Building on commonalities, some of these training activities were jointly conducted by the IMS and IDC Divisions. In addition, the IDC has organized training courses for communications experts on the transmission of data through the Global Communications Infrastructure.
Each of the three technical divisions - the IMS, the IDC and the OSI – regularly organizes workshops and training activities in accordance with their specific tasks.
Assisting developing countries
The organization undertakes specific efforts to support developing countries’ participation in the CTBTO’s work. Workshops, seminars and other training activities at the national and international level have been held to respond to the needs of developing countries. Participants are familiarized with the objectives of the Treaty, its significance and its contributions to national capacity building. They also learn about the Treaty’s implementation at the national level and the potential civil and scientific uses of verification data and technologies.
Specific efforts are made to support developing countries’ participation in the CTBTO’s work.
One such training program is the e-learning project. This project will provide electronic, interactive access to training courses and technical workshops in all Member States. Authorized users will engage in computer-based training and self-study through a secure web site. A number of online training modules will be developed together with on-line training packages and lectures on a wide range of topics pertaining to the CTBT verification regime. The aim is to improve the capacity of Member States to fulfill their verification responsibilities under the CTBT and to enable them to participate fully in the work related to the Treaty as well as to civil and scientific applications. The project is funded partly through voluntary contributions by the European Union.