Largest-ever CTBT on-site inspection exercise begins in Jordan
Joint press release by the CTBTO and the Jordanian Ministry of State for Media Affairs
Vienna / Amman, 10 November 2014
Under the royal patronage of His Majesty King Abdullah II, a full-scale exercise of an on-site inspection under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14), has started in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. It is by far the most sophisticated exercise the CTBTO has conducted to date, involving four years of preparation, 150 tonnes of specialized equipment including through in-kind contributions amounting to U.S.$ 10 million, and over 200 international experts.
An on-site inspection is the ultimate verification measure under the CTBT to establish whether or not a nuclear explosion has taken place. The five-week exercise in Jordan is based on a purely fictional but technically realistic and challenging scenario. The exercise started with preparatory activities in Austria on 3 November and will last until 9 December. Experts arrived in Jordan on 7 November and are currently setting up the base of operations near the Dead Sea.
Jordan’s active support for nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation
This is the second time Jordan will be hosting an important event within the CTBT verification framework. A previous on-site inspection exercise took place there in 2010.
“Jordan continues to stress its full commitment to the successful execution of IFE14 to ensure the full realization of its goals. The wide range of countries, organizations and institutions participating in the event further emphasizes the importance the outcome will have on global security. Jordan, a country which finds itself in a unique geopolitical position in light of current events in the Middle East, has embraced all treaties and instruments aimed at nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, including the CTBT, thus further solidifying its stance on nuclear disarmament and the peaceful use of nuclear technology,” said Mohamad Al Momani, Jordanian Minister of State for Media Affairs.
“I would like to express my deep appreciation to the Jordanian government for its generous support. By hosting IFE14, Jordan underscores its role as an anchor of stability in the region and sends a positive political signal for international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation efforts,” said CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo. “Given the involvement of many countries from the region, I am hopeful that this exercise could even become a vehicle to promote the creation of a zone free of nuclear weapons in the Middle East.”
By banning all nuclear explosions anywhere and by anyone, the CTBT effectively hampers both the first-time development of nuclear weapons and the development of more powerful nuclear weapons by nuclear possessor States. It is widely considered a pillar of the international nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation regime.
Taking capabilities to uncover a hidden nuclear test to a new level
An on-site inspection is the ultimate verification measure under the CTBT. It involves a fact-finding search within a certain area to establish whether or not a nuclear explosion has taken place.
“The Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14) in Jordan will prove that CTBT on-site inspections are a viable deterrent against would-be Treaty violators. With a range of new techniques envisaged by the CTBT but never used before in on-site inspection-related tests and exercises, IFE14 will take our capabilities to a new level," said Oleg Rozhkov, Director of the On-Site Inspection Division and IFE14 Project Executive.
The exercise will test state-of-the-art techniques, including instruments to detect traces of relevant radionuclides on and beneath the ground as well as from the air. Other techniques will scan the ground in frequencies invisible to the human eye.
No more excuses not to ratify the CTBT
“I am confident that this exercise will create new political momentum and factor positively into the decision-making process in the eight countries that are still hesitant about fully endorsing the CTBT,” Zerbo said. “This exercise will prove that would-be violators of the CTBT cannot hope to evade detection.”
The CTBT’s stringent entry-into force formula prescribes that 44 countries defined as nuclear technology holders must sign and ratify the Treaty before it can enter into force. Eight still remain: China, Egypt, Israel, Iran and the United States, which have already signed; as well as India, North Korea and Pakistan, which have yet to sign and ratify.
Jordan was one of the first countries to have signed and ratified the CTBT, in September 1996 and August 1998, respectively. Globally, 183 countries have signed the Treaty, of which 163 have also ratified, making the CTBT one of the most universally respected international security treaties.
Unique network of stations already scanning the globe
In addition to on-site inspections, which will only be possible after the CTBT has entered into force, the CTBTO is already operating a global network of over 300 monitoring stations. The network, which is around 90% complete, features seismic, infrasound and hydroacoustic sensors to detect shockwaves in the ground, atmosphere and oceans respectively, as well as stations to pick up traces of radioactivity. Jordan contributes to this network by hosting a seismic station at Tel-Alasfar, near the Syrian border.
- VIP day, Saturday 15 November from 09.00, Dead Sea area, Jordan. Limited places, to be reserved on a first come, first served basis. Contact: Pablo Mehlhorn, Tel. +43 1 26030 6451, firstname.lastname@example.org
- Media day, Sunday 16 November from 9.30, Dead Sea area, Jordan. Opportunity to film field teams and the base of operations and interview exercise participants. Limited places, to be reserved on a first come, first served basis. Contact: Pablo Mehlhorn, Tel. +43 1 26030 6451,
- Regular video and image packages during the exercise. Contact: Kirstie Gregorich Hansen, Tel. +43 1 26030 6540, Kirsten.Gregorich.Hansen@ctbto.org