International Scientific Studies
Conference Assessing the Capabilities
of the Verification Regime
“Science gave us the atomic bomb, but science also gave us the means to control it and create a world free of nuclear weapons.” With these words Austrian Foreign Minister Michael Spindelegger opened the International Scientific Studies (ISS) Conference today, Wednesday 10 June 2009 at the famous Hofburg, the seat of the former Austrian-Hungarian monarchy.
A global scientific undertaking
The ISS is a major global undertaking uniting around 450 scientists from over 70 countries in the most complex independent assessment to date of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty’s (CTBT) capability and readiness to detect nuclear explosions anywhere on the planet. Participants will also focus on how the CTBT’s global alarm system can benefit from future scientific and technological developments.
The International Scientific Studies (ISS) Conference comes two weeks after the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK) announced nuclear test on 25 May 2009. The findings of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) findings on this event will play an inportant role at the Conference. Spindelegger referred to his condemnation of the DPRK’s action as “an irresponsible provocation in a time where there are promising developments in the field of global disarmament.” (full speech)
U.N. Secretary-General: entry into force urgent
In his address to the roughly 600 participants of the Conference, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed that the DPRK’s action underscored “the urgency of the early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).” (full speech)
"Overwhelming response" from the scientific community
CTBTO Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth, described the scientific community’s response to the ISS project as “overwhelming” and expressed his profound gratitude towards the Austrian hosts and the countries that have provided voluntary financial contributions to the project: Australia, Czech Republic, France, Spain and Sweden. Tóth added that: “If ‘Big Science’ is needed to build and test nuclear weapons, then ‘Big Verification’ (with a capital “V”) is needed to monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban.” (full speech)
"Dramatic" scientific development
Dr. Ola Dahlman of Sweden, the projet leader of the ISS, described the "dramatic scientific and technical development" having taken place in the years since the CTBT's opening for signature in 1996 as one of the main reasons for conducting the ISS project. According to Dahlman, other factors were the fact that most of the stations of the International Monitoring System are now in place and the increased political interest in the CTBT.
The CTBT will ban all nuclear testing when in force. The CTBTO is establishing a global verification regime to monitor compliance with the Treaty. 180 States have signed the Treaty to date, of which 148 have also ratified. However, the CTBT can enter into force only after all 44 States listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty have ratified, of which nine have yet to do so: China, DPRK, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.