Around the Globe and Around the Clock: The Science and Technology of the CTBT

From 12 to 23 November, participants from 75 countries took part in the course Around the Globe and around the Clock: the Science and Technology of CTBT. Approximately 70 attended the course in Vienna throughout, while many more followed the course online through the Capacity Development Initiative (CDI) e-learning platform, which was frequented by over 1,000 visitors during the course. The two-week event was made possible through generous financial support from the government of Norway.

Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth delivering the keynote lecture at the high-level event, “Science for Peace - Applying Technical Expertise to Emerging Security Challenges”, 16 November 2012

Education will create over time a new generation of experts. Not a generation whose expertise is entrenched in the dark legacy of nuclear development, but one that is committed to applying science for peace.

The Science Course is a key element of the Capacity Development Initiative, launched by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) with the objective of training and educating the next generation of experts on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Course participants included International Monitoring System (IMS) station operators, National Data Centre staff, diplomats, scientists, academics, students and members of civil society.

The CDI e-learning platform enjoyed nearly 4,000 visits during the course, here the top 12 countries.

Science Course at a Glance

Throughout the two-week course, participants had opportunities to learn about the science and technology that underpin the CTBT and its verification regime, including the build-up of the IMS and its operation, data processing and analysis at the International Data Centre (IDC), and the development of the on-site inspection (OSI) regime.
I come from Nagasaki, the place where the nuclear bomb went off in 1945. It was a huge disaster. When I found out about this course I decided to come here and learn more about the issues related to this event.

The course featured a series of scientific keynotes, including from Paul Richards, Special Research Scientist at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Colombia University, who provided a talk on the past, present and the future of seismic nuclear test monitoring. Wendy Watson-Wright, Assistant Director-General and Executive Secretary at UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC), focused her scientific keynote on cooperation between the CTBTO and UNESCO/IOC on tsunami warning systems, as well as how IMS data can be utilized to promote sustainability of oceans.

Paul Richards, here at a previous conference, was one of the keynote speakers at the course.

This course has completely met my expectations. It gave me a platform to merge my scientific background with policymaking procedures. In fact, it was even more than I expected. I hope that I will be able to join the OSI team in the future.

In addition to live lectures, participants also visited the IDC Operations Centre and interacted with IDC analysts, observing how data from IMS stations all over the world are processed and analyzed. A tour of the rooftop radionuclide station and laboratory provided the participants with an introduction to the technology used to capture and identify radioactive particles released from atmospheric explosions or vented from underground or underwater explosions. The course participants also visited the OSI Equipment Storage and Maintenance Facility in Guntramsdorf (see video), providing insight into the development, testing and maintenance of critical OSI equipment.

CTBTO's Robert Werzi explaining the "Snow White" radionuclide detection system.

I particularly enjoyed the lectures on the on-site inspections. It is a big challenge to go to a site, take samples and perform investigations. It is very interesting both at the level of thinking and methodology: how to overcome all the challenges posed by on-site inspections, especially after the entry into force of the Treaty.

On the final day of the course, participants engaged in a role-play exercise that simulated negotiation aspects of the on-site inspection process under the CTBT that would occur after a request for OSI is submitted and approved for launch by a future Executive Council. Based on a fictitious scenario, participants were divided into two groups – the inspected State party and the CTBTO inspection team – and given specific roles to play in the negotiation of the modalities for the conduct of the inspection. Negotiations between inspected State party and CTBTO inspection team was one of the aspects trained during the OSI exercise in September 2012:

Video: A glimpse at the OSI regime and Table Top Exercise at ASC12

Science for Peace
One particular highlight of the course was the high-level event entitled Science for Peace: Applying Technical Expertise to Emerging Security Challenges, held on Friday, November 16. The programme included presentations by some of the world’s leading scientists and policy experts in CTBT-related fields. See below for the individual presentations.
There is plenty that the CTBTO can be proud of. I call the CDI a gem because the initiative wholly embraces the age of information that we live in.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth in his opening lecture touched upon the importance of using innovative technologies in the pursuit of peace and security. He also emphasized the urgency to invest in training and education for the next generation of disarmament and non-proliferation specialists.

Linton Brooks, former U.S. Undersecretary of Energy for Nuclear Security and Administrator of the National Nuclear Security Administration, delivered a keynote address, and explored, among other issues, U.S. perspectives on arms control verification and prospects for CTBT ratification in the United States.

A Panel on Ethics and Science, moderated by Emmy Award winning producer and director Bob Frye, was held with panellists Wendy Watson-Wright of UNESCO, Pierce Corden, CTBT expert and former Director of Administration in the CTBTO, and Konrad Osterwalder, Rector of the United Nations University. The panellists examined the unique moral considerations faced by scientists and policy makers in a rapidly-changing technological environment.
The high level event was very inspiring... to see so many different people come together to discuss issues related to science and technology.

During a special lunchtime presentation, Lee W Howell, Managing Director of the World Economic Forum, identified key findings of the World Economic Forum’s 2012 Global Risks Report and explained important aspects of its conclusions and research methodologies.

On the Panel on the Nexus Between Science and Verification, Andreas Persbo of the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC), Paul Richards of Columbia University, Svein Mykkeltveit of Norway’s NORSAR research foundation, and Randy Bell of the US National Nuclear Security Administration discussed how scientific innovation could be harnessed to strengthen existing verification technologies.

Paul Kerr of the Congressional Research Service moderated the programme’s final event, a Panel on Science and Strategic Stability. Panellists Linton Brooks and Nikolai Sokov of the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-proliferation explored lessons both men took away from their experience in representing the United States and the former Soviet Union during the negotiations of first START Treaty.

The CTBTO will continue to hold Capacity Development Initiative courses and events in the coming years, which will also introduce the CTBTO's two major projects for the coming years, the Science and Technology 2013 Conference, from 17 to 21 June 2013 in Vienna and the OSI Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14) in Jordan. Additional information on these events will be made available through this website and the CDI e-learning platform