Namibia shows its strong support for the CTBT

“The commitment of Namibia to the objectives of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is well known. Indeed, Namibia ratified the Treaty back in June 2001,” said the Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Tibor Tóth, as he welcomed participants in Windhoek, Namibia, on 1 April 2009 to the seventh CTBTO International Cooperation workshop in the African region.  
Signing of Facility Agreement
The Government of Namibia, represented by the Minister of Mines and Energy, Hon. Erkki Nghimtina, also concluded a Facility Agreement with the CTBTO on 1 April 2009, which entered into force the same day. This agreement has granted the CTBTO the necessary legal authority to carry out work on its two International Monitoring Stations in Namibia, auxiliary seismic station AS67 and infrasound station IS35.

The CTBTO’s Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth, to the left of the photo with the Speaker of the Namibian National Assembly, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab.

Namibia shows its strong support for the CTBT

Tóth met with both the Speaker of the Namibian National Assembly, Dr Theo-Ben Gurirab, and the Minister for Defence, Major General Charles Namoloh, during his visit to Namibia. As the host of the CTBTO’s two-day Regional Workshop on International Cooperation for Member States of the Southern African Development Community (SADC),  Gurirab reiterated Namibia’s commitment to nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament in general, and the CTBT in particular.

The Pelindaba Treaty and the CTBT

With the goal of an African nuclear-weapon-free zone in sight, Gurirab referred to the important link between the CTBT and the Pelindaba Treaty. The Pelindaba Treaty was opened for signature on 11 April 1996 and prohibits states parties from conducting research on, developing, manufacturing, controlling, stockpiling, or possessing any nuclear weapons. As of April 2009, 26 countries had ratified the treaty including Namibia. A total of 28 ratifications are required before the treaty can enter into force.

Cooperation between the CTBTO and the Inter-Parliamentary Union

In his capacity as current president of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), Gurirab also drew attention to the ongoing cooperation between the CTBTO and the IPU. Of particular relevance is the draft IPU resolution on the CTBT to be considered for approval at the IPU Assembly in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from 5 to 10 April 2009.

CTBTO’s International Cooperation workshop for SADC Member States

The workshop was opened by the Minister of Mines and Energy, whose Ministry also hosted the activity on behalf of the Government of Namibia, and the CTBTO's Executive Secretary. One of the main aims of the workshop was to review the latest CTBT-related developments, including the Treaty’s political significance for the region.

11 SADC Member States participate in the workshop

Representatives from 11 SADC countries participated in the workshop:  Lesotho, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, Namibia, Seychelles, South Africa, Swaziland, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe. The workshop was also attended by representatives of several regional, governmental and intergovernmental organizations based in the region including the African Union Commission, members of the Defence and Foreign Relations Committee, the Pan-African Parliament, the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) and the United Nations Regional Centre for Peace and Disarmament in Africa (UNREC). UNREC’s Director, Ms. Jacqueline Seck Diouf, provided participants with an overview of the organization’s role in disarmament and non-proliferation issues, UNREC’s support for the CTBT by promoting the Treaty’s entry into force, and its activities in the region. 

Four remaining SADC States urged to ratify CTBT

With 180 signatures and 148 ratifications, the CTBT is now approaching universality. However, Tóth informed participants that “…in the African region, 17 States have not yet ratified the Treaty, including four SADC Member States.”  Those outstanding SADC States, Angola, Mauritius, Swaziland, and Zimbabwe were urged to ratify.

Possibility of tsunami warning system for African region

The workshop also provided an opportunity to facilitate regional and national capacity-building measures and to examine the benefits of applying the CTBT’s verification technologies for civil and scientific purposes, especially the possibility of a tsunami early warning system for the African region. The importance of such a system was outlined by UNESCO’s Senior Advisor at the Tsunami Co-ordination Unit, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, Masahiro Yamamoto.

Number of certified IMS facilities around the world constantly increasing

A total of 26 IMS stations have been certified in Africa as meeting the CTBTO’s stringent technical requirements, of which 12 are in the SADC region. Another four stations on the continent have either been installed or are under construction. To date, a total of 246 IMS facilities have already been installed around the world. By the time the Treaty enters into force, the network will comprise 337 facilities to monitor the oceans, underground and the atmosphere for evidence of a nuclear explosion.