Russia reaffirms strong support for the CTBT

The Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), Tibor Tóth, visited Moscow from 27 to 30 September 2011. He held talks with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov and Deputy Head of Rosatom Ivan Kamenskih. During his trip, Tóth also gave lectures at the International Life Journal's foreign policy forum (video), the Russian Center for Policy Studies (PIR Center) and the Moscow State Institute of International Relations (MGIMO) University.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth (left) with Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov

Russia sees the international Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty as a reliable barrier in the way of nuclear proliferation…a broad international consensus was already reached on the issue long ago, and the countries, which did not join CTBT, cannot ignore this fact any longer.

Lavrov confirmed “Russia’s principal position in favour of CTBT [the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty]” as “one of the most important international legal instruments” For his part, Tóth “valued highly Russia’s consistent policy for the CTBT support and making it universal, as well as the current level of cooperation between Russia and the CTBTO.”
During Tóth’s meeting with Ryabkov, who participated in the conference to promote the CTBT’s entry into force on 23 September 2011 ( statement - PDF), a wide range of issues relating to the CTBT were discussed. These included the prospects for the Treaty’s entry into force as well as various aspects of bilateral cooperation between Russia and the CTBTO, such as the build-up of International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities in Russia. Similar issues were discussed at the Ministry of Defense and at Rosatom.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth (left) with Deputy Head of Rosatom Vitaly Kamenskih

Undoubtedly, the early entry into force of the CTBT is an imperative. The fulfillment of this task is long overdue.

With 32 IMS stations and radionuclide laboratories, Russia is the second-largest host country after the United States, which has 39. The IMS will consist of 337 facilities when complete, of which 85% have been established to date, including 23 facilities in Russia. The pace of installation and certification - the formal approval of meeting the CTBTO’s stringent quality requirements - of Russian stations has increased over recent years. The Russian side expressed its aspiration to complete the build-up of IMS facilities on its territory by 2012, which would make it the first nuclear-weapon possessor State to have done so.
Tóth expressed his optimism for these plans and emphasized that “together with Russia’s already completed ratification, this would send a very strong message to the countries that still have to ratify the Treaty and still have to install stations.”
Some of the IMS stations in Russia are in extremely remote locations, such as the primary seismic station at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy in Russia’s Far East. This makes their operation and maintenance challenging.

Sniffing for radionuclides in Siberia: Radionuclide station at Peleduy

The Russian Federation remains very supportive. Next time we meet, I hope to be able to share with you the news of the complete certification of the Russian stations and the achievement of having certified 300 stations altogether worldwide.

In his presentations to the International Life Journal event, the PIR Center and MGIMO University, Tóth reflected on a number of recent anniversaries. He described the first North Korean nuclear test five years ago as a “very unfortunate test – but a test for our system” and a reminder that we “need to plug this hole in the edifice” and close the door on nuclear testing. Regarding the 15th anniversary of the adoption of the CTBT, Tóth highlighted the accomplishments since then – including near-universality of the Treaty and 85% build-up of the verification regime – but underlined that continued perseverance will be necessary to further advance the Treaty’s entry into force. Finally, he recalled the breach of the testing moratorium between the United States and the Soviet Union 50 years ago, which resulted in an unprecedented escalation of nuclear testing and political tension. Tóth concluded, referring to the CTBT's entry into force: “We can do it, we should do it – these are the lessons of the last 5, 15 and 50 years.”

The radionuclide station at Petropavlovsk-Kamchatskiy was the first outside of Japan to detect radioactivity from the Fukushima power plant in March 2011