Istanbul cross-regional workshop on the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Around 70 participants from 30 countries mainly from the Middle East, but also from Europe, Asia and the Americas, as well as academic and research institutions attended the workshop “Role of the CTBT [Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty] in regional and global security” from 15 to 17 November 2011 in Istanbul, Turkey. The meeting was co-organized by the government of Turkey and the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO).
Deputy Undersecretary Fatih Ceylan from the Turkish Ministry of Foreign Affairs delivered a statement on behalf of Ahmet Davuto?lu, Minister for Foreign Affairs of Turkey. It was the third meeting of its kind in Istanbul following previous workshops in 2001 and 2008, as CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth noted in this opening statement .
When Turkey hosted the first workshop in 2001, the CTBTO was still in its infancy. As we meet today, 182 States have signed the Treaty, and 155 States have ratified it. Our International Monitoring System is 80% completed.

Security benefits of the CTBT

Participants consistently emphasized the CTBT’s considerable benefits for regional and global security. The Treaty bans all nuclear explosions, anywhere, by anyone, thereby effectively hampering both the initial development of nuclear weapons as well as the enhancement of existing nuclear arsenals. An unprecedented verification regime assures that any Treaty violation is sure to be detected.
However the CTBT’s stringent entry into force provision foresees that all 44 nuclear-capable states listed in the Treaty must sign and ratify before it can become legally effective. Nine have yet to do so: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. Of these, China, Egypt, Indonesia, Iran and the United States actively participated in the workshop. Aris Munandar from the Indonesian Permanent Mission to the CTBTO confirmed that his country’s internal ratification process was well advanced and to be finalized soon.
A number of participants emphasized that CTBT’s security benefits are already taking effect, before entry into force. As Researcher David Cliff from VERTIC reflected in his statement, “…though it is not yet in force, the CTBT has already made a positive impact on peace and security around the world and has rightly been described as a crucial building block for both nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament.”
The CTBT is already a de facto norm that increases global security.

The two countries currently coordinating the international community’s efforts at promoting the CTBT’s entry into force, Mexico and Sweden, addressed the workshop. In his statement , Mexican Ambassador Porfirio Thierry Muñoz Ledo urged "greater cooperation and involvement by States, non-governmental organizations, the media and civil society" in order to "tear down the barriers that avoid the entry into force of the Treaty". Fredrik Löjdquist, Deputy Head of Mission of Sweden to the CTBTO emphasized in his statement that: "The prospect of nuclear arms being used is not a matter only to national and regional security, it is a threat to global security and to human mankind as such, and therefore needs a global, universal response. The CTBT is such an instrument."

Click to watch the video "Building Momentum for the CTBT"

Cooperation in the verification of the CTBT

Countries shared experiences in the use of data from the International Monitoring System (IMS). The CTBTO transmits around 10 gigabytes of data daily from its seismic, infrasound, hydroacoustic and radionuclide stations to its Member States. In this regard, the CTBTO’s extensive efforts at increasing the capacities especially of developing countries to make better use of this data and thus actively participate in the CTBT’s verification were positively acknowledged. A number of participants indicated their intention to participate in the upcoming CTBT Advanced Course (28 November to 9 December, in Vienna or via live streaming).

Participants visited the Bogazici University Kandilli Observatory & Earthquake Research Institute, which runs the CTBT National Data Centre.

…the monitoring regime has demonstrated the potential value of the Treaty’s regime, and provided to the nine remaining States of the Annex II [who have yet to ratify for the CTBT’s entry into force] that this is the best international guarantee to their national security.

Disaster warning benefits of the verification regime

The session on the non-verification applications of the CTBT’s verification regime met lively interest. Contributions highlighted the added value of International Monitoring System data for earthquake and volcano monitoring, tsunami warning and the monitoring of radioactive release from nuclear accidents such as after the 11 March Japan disaster. Contributions by Greece, Italy, Indonesia and Oman underlined the usefulness of CTBTO data for national disaster early warning efforts.

Tsunami-prone Indonesia is one of the countries where CTBT monitoring stations provide added value for tsunami early warning.

Japanese Authorities have confirmed that the CTBTO data helped them issue timely tsunami warnings after the March 11 earthquake, thus helping many reach high ground.