States Signatories approve important CTBTO events and activities for 2008
A comprehensive on-site inspection exercise in Kazakhstan will be one of the central events for the CTBTO in the coming year. The organization will also continue the build-up of monitoring facilities, with a strong emphasis on radionuclide noble gas stations. States Signatories discussed activities of the CTBTO for the year 2008 at the Twenty-Ninth Session of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organization (CTBTO) which took place from 12-14 November 2007 in Vienna. The meeting was held amidst continuing financial difficulties. The organization is still facing a budget shortfall of USD 22m. The availability of financial resources will remain an issue for the coming year. However, some countries have agreed to release budget surplus funds of previous years to the organization. "We now have a financial cushion", said Executive Secretary Tibor Toth and added: "We see this as an expression of recognition by the members of the family that there is a financial challenge." Despite the difficult budgetary situation, there has been remarkable progress in the establishment of the CTBT verification regime. A total of 213 monitoring stations have now been certified and are fully integrated in the International Monitoring System. Two thirds of all stations have been built in the last two years alone. During the same period, the data volume generated by monitoring stations and transmitted to Vienna and onwards to States Signatories has tripled. Particular progress has been made in the radionuclide noble gas technology. Since the nuclear test by the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea in October 2006, the number of monitoring stations equipped with noble gas technology has increased by 70%. This technology has the capacity to provide the ultimate proof that a nuclear explosion has occurred. The year 2007 has been a year of important political support for the CTBT. Acting chairperson of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, Ambassador Jennifer MacMillan of New Zealand, said that "the September Conference to promote the CTBT and the recent resolution adopted by the United Nations General Assembly's Disarmament Committee illustrated the political will to bring the CTBT forward". Both, the final declaration of the conference and the resolution underlined the importance and urgency of an early entry into force of the CTBT and urged outstanding States to sign and ratify the Treaty. The Commission agreed that the budget of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission for 2008 will be USD 56 587 200 plus Euro 43 574 800. This is the same budget as for 2007, adjusted for inflation.