CTBT offers signatory States
additional benefits

Improved early-warning forecasting of weather fronts, typhoons, earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and tidal waves, as well as prompt information on disasters - such as aircraft and submarine accidents - or on the rapid location of earthquakes (and their victims) are just some of the potential spin-off benefits that the worldwide monitoring system of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) could offer signatories. Such benefits would be in addition to the main purpose of the International Monitoring System (IMS), which is to verify compliance with article 1 of the CTBT, which bans all nuclear explosions in the atmosphere, under water and underground.

At an International Cooperation Workshop held at Vienna 16-17 November 1998, participants discussed the advantages of participating in the Treaty´s global verification regime and recommended ways in which States signatories could cooperate to maximize the benefits of signing the Treaty. The Workshop was the first meeting that CTBTO PrepCom has held to address scientific and technical opportunities and related cooperation measures within the CTBT regime and was attended by 104 participants from 58 States signatories. Experts from Argentina, China, France, Iran (Islamic Republic of), the Russian Federation, South Africa, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as staff of CTBTO PrepCom, presented papers.

The main conclusion of the participants was that the International Monitoring System to verify Treaty compliance is a unique tool generating a phenomenal 10 gigabytes of raw data daily from the synergistic interaction of four technologies. These data could help to improve the quality of life and protect the environment in many ways, which will increase the more the scientific community uses the data. The benefits accruing to States on joining the Treaty - in terms of access to expertise and training in processing, using and evaluating the data - are tangible, value-added advantages in addition to their significance for arms control and global security.

The Treaty´s seismological network of 170 stations, for instance - which is able to record and make possible the discrimination of the signals from a nuclear explosion and the thousands of earth tremors occurring annually - will provide States signatories, lacking their own network, prompt information on seismic activity in their country or region. These data are invaluable for assessing geophysical hazards and risks and determining safe locations for such large installations as dams, power stations, deep-shaft mines, harbours and building complexes. For instance, deeper knowledge of the earth´s crust and tectonic changes may enable signatory States to exploit their natural resources better. The Treaty´s radionuclide network of 80 stations and 16 laboratories - which will be able to detect radioactive particles and gases released from nuclear explosions - will give States signatories access to evidence of other sources of radioactivity in the environment. The Treaty´s infrasound network of 60 stations - which will record acoustic signals in the atmosphere that might have come from a nuclear explosion - will give States signatories better insight into the movements of weather fronts, volcanic eruptions and shear conditions, which cause atmospheric turbulence. These data are vital for the early warning of populations and civil aviation. The Treaty´s fourth network of 11 hydroacoustic stations - which will pick up acoustic waves in the ocean from under-sea earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, as well as from whales, ships and other sources - may provide important evidence on the possibility of global warming, and could also assist in locating submarine accidents.

All States signatories will have equal and timely access to all data, which will be transmitted from the IMS, via satellite, in near real time to the International Data Centre (IDC) within CTBTO PrepCom. Within 2-48 hours, the IDC will be able to produce lists and bulletins with location and some characterization of events for consideration and final analysis by States signatories. The IDC will also provide 24-hour, customer services to States signatories.

Another advantage of joining the Treaty is the possibility of participating in the Experts Communication System (ECS), which is a secure web site dedicated to sharing technical information among a worldwide circle of registered experts. Equally, they can launch or join in discussions from afar, prior to or during, meetings. The ECS could also be used to disseminate innovative ideas or to seek solutions to technical problems.

The participants in the Workshop made several suggestions for promoting cooperation in verification activities. Chief among them were issues such as: the use of regional fora to exchange information, which should also be open to non-signatory States; the identification and promotion of regional centres of excellence; the building up of regional data centres in order to spread the costs and benefits of Treaty participation over a number of countries; the need for data availability; the benefits of IDC training; and the use of CTBTO PrepCom as an information clearing-house and catalyst for bilateral and multilateral cooperation.

Participation. The Workshop was attended by representatives of: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Benin, Canada, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, Ethiopia, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Holy See, Hungary, Indonesia, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kuwait, Lithuania, Malaysia, Monaco, Morocco, Netherlands, New Zealand, Poland, Portugal, Republic of Korea, Romania, Russian Federation, Slovakia, Slovenia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, United States of America, Uruguay, Uzbekistan and Zambia.

For further information on the CTBTO, please see www.ctbto.org or contact:
Annika Thunborg, Chief, Public Information  
T    +43 1 26030-6375  
E    annika.thunborgping@ctbtopong.org
M    +43 699 1459 6375       
I    www.ctbto.org