U.S. nonproliferation community briefed on International Scientific Studies Project

A briefing session on the International Scientific Study project (ISS) to a U.S. audience was organized by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) in Washington from 11 to 12 December 2008. The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) was invited to present the ISS project. The meeting provided a unique opportunity for ISS coordinators and integrators from China and European countries to have a scientific exchange with a broader group of American scientists about the verification capabilities of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
The main objectives of the ISS are to conduct an independent assessment of the capability and readiness of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty's (CTBT) verification regime to detect nuclear explosions worldwide as well as to provide for further cross-fertilization between nuclear-test ban verification and science.

The International Scientific Studies Project will culminate in an international conference in June 2009

Outreach to the scientific community

The Washington briefing is part of an on-going information and outreach effort by the CTBTO to the international scientific community for the ISS project. Over 80 participants from the government, various national laboratories, relevant research institutions, universities, think tanks and companies attended the briefing. A fruitful exchange of views was facilitated by the high level of knowledge of the audience, some of whom have been involved in CTBT developments for decades.
The audience was briefed on the recent developments of the ISS: a planning meeting was held in March 2008 which paved the way for the project. The ISS project is currently in the phase of compiling and analyzing scientific results and knowledge in identified topic areas relevant to the Treaty’s monitoring and verification capabilities. It will culminate in an international conference in Vienna, Austria, from 10 to 12 June 2008.
Participants heard presentations from scientific experts from the ISS involved in shepherding the various ISS topic areas of: system performance, seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound, radionuclide, atmospheric transport modelling (ATM), on-site inspections (OSI), data mining and data fusion.

Experts agree on the large potential for cross-fertilisation of CTBT verification and the global scientific community (picture: the symposium “CTBT: Synergies with Science. 1996-2006 and Beyond” in Vienna).

Fresh ideas for further strengthening CTBT verification

The lively Q&A session reflected the keen interest and critical thinking amongst the audience in addressing the need for an effectively verifiable regime. There was a general recognition of the relevance of the ISS project and the importance of assessing the capabilities of the CTBTO's International Monitoring System (IMS) to detect, locate and characterize events.

The use of synergies among the various techniques within as well as between the different technologies was stressed.  Participants also discussed using recent scientific and technological advancements such as new analytical methods for strengthening the CTBT's verification regime. ISS marks the coming of age of the CTBT verification system The ISS project provides an opportunity for the CTBTO's 180 Member States to receive an independent assessment of the development of the Organization's monitoring and verification capabilities. Since the Treaty’s opening for signature over more than a decade ago, Member States have cumulatively invested around one billion US $ into this system.
The ISS comes at an appropriate moment as the IMS approaches full implementation. A recently conducted large-scale OSI Integrated Field Exercise will further contribute to this process.

Communications equipment being set up at the Integrated Field Exercise IFE08 in Kazakhstan in September 2008.