The 2012 NPT Preparatory Committee in Vienna

Vienna was the centre of attention for members of the disarmament and non-proliferation community between 30 April and 11 May 2012 when a new review cycle of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) opened with the First Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) for the 2015 NPT Review Conference (RevCon).
The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty must enter into force without further delay.... together with our NPDI [Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative] partners, we are launching a global campaign to promote the entry into force of the CTBT...

Over the next three years, delegates from 189 State parties to the NPT and representatives from civil society will try to build on the consensus reached at the 2010 NPT RevCon. Delegates attending that conference adopted an ambitious action plan on disarmament, non-proliferation and the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, the so called three NPT pillars. Progress towards the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was discussed at the 2012 meeting with the CTBT as an integral part of the NPT process. In the words of the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Tibor Tóth, the CTBT is “an indicator of the state of health of the NPT and the nuclear non-proliferation regime.”

Interns Julia Kreienkamp (left) and Mina Faraj manned the CTBTO info stand

When it comes to verification, my delegation would like to emphasize the importance of the CTBT's entry into force. The CTBT is an important tool for building mutual trust and confidence, which is needed to reduce the threat posed by nuclear weapons.

Many delegations voiced their strong support for the CTBT, called for its early entry into force and welcomed the most recent ratifications that have increased the total number to 157. They also praised the fast build up and the successful operation of the International Monitoring System. Many delegates thanked the CTBTO for its contribution to disaster mitigation efforts, in particular in the aftermath of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake in Japan and the ensuing Fukushima nuclear accident. See UNODA website for complete list of statements.

In his statement (PDF), Tibor Tóth acknowledged the increased support and interest by States for the CTBT, but cautioned that the Treaty’s “entry into force still eludes us. Determined efforts are needed to achieve substantial progress on the Treaty’s entry into force leading to the 2015 RevCon. This is one of the most practical ways, if not the most practical way, to sustain the credibility and viability of the NPT regime.”
It is not an option, but rather a duty for all NPT parties, in particular the nuclear weapon States...The first order of business should be an early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

CTBTO tours for NPT PrepCom participants

Over 200 participants from the NPT PrepCom, including delegates and members of civil society, took the tours offered by the CTBTO. One of the places visited was the CTBTO’s International Data Centre (IDC), where data harvested from every corner of the planet are screened. CTBTO staff demonstrated some of the cutting-edge monitoring equipment they use, including the radionuclide station on the rooftop of the Vienna International Centre and on-site inspection equipment. Some participants blogged about their experience.

CTBTO scientist Robert Werzi explaining the “Snow White” radionuclide detector system.

Side event: International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists

Tibor Tóth was the keynote speaker for the side event organized by the International Network of Emerging Nuclear Specialists (INENS). Tóth said that the CTBTO has great expectations of young scholars and scientists. For that reason, the organization is investing heavily in training and educating the next generation of experts, in particular women and people from developing countries. This is the main aim of the CTBTO’s Capacity Development Initiative (CDI), a project that has received positive response with over 700 people participating in the two courses organized in 2011. Tóth used the occasion for the live launch of the new CTBTO iTunes U page that allows users to access video, audio and document files of educational value.

CTBTO Head Tibor Tóth launching the CTBTO iTunes U page

Side event: Bringing the CTBT into Force

Mexico and the Arms Control Association jointly hosted a side event entitled “Bringing the CTBT into Force” with the participation of Vienna-based diplomats and some of the world’s leading experts in verification technologies. Ellen Williams, Chairperson of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel that produced the 2012 Report on the CTBT, presented the report’s key findings. Lassina Zerbo, Director of CTBTO’s IDC provided key facts and figures regarding the CTBTO verification system’s capacity. Hein Haak, Chairman of the CTBTO’s working group on verification, focused on the added value for States of combining CTBTO data with national technical means. Ambassadors I Gusti Puja of Indonesia and Nils Daag of Sweden (speech - PDF) talked about Indonesia’s path towards the ratification of the CTBT, the prospects for entry into force and the increasing support for the Treaty over recent years. Audio recording of the event available on the CTBTO iTunes U site (requires iTunes software).

From left to right: Lassina Zerbo, Ellen Williams, Amb. I Gusti Puja¸ Tom Collina, Amb. Alejandro Diaz, Amb. Nils Daag and Hein Haak

Side event: Nuclear Weapons Practices and Policies

The Global Security Institute (GSI) hosted the panel “Scientific/Technical Experts’ Briefing on Nuclear Weapons Practices and Policies” which explored public and international advocacy for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation from an empirical point of view. Tóth talked about current challenges and past successes of international efforts to promote and establish the global norm against nuclear testing. Other panelists included Frank von Hippel, co-chair of the International Fissile Material Panel, and Tariq Rauf from the International Atomic Energy Agency. GSI President Jonathan Granoff moderated the panel.

From left to right: Tariq Rauf, Frank von Hippel, Jonathan Granoff and Tibor Tóth