CTBTO GEM Statement on Alleged Low-Yield Nuclear Tests
Vienna, 26 June 2019
The CTBTO Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), meeting on the sidelines of the CTBT Science and Technology 2019 conference, issued the following statement:
“The GEM recognizes the overwhelming international support for entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). Maintaining the freeze on nuclear testing is paramount. Any set-back to the Treaty, or possibility to resume nuclear testing, would constitute a serious threat to international security.
“In reaction to recent reports on alleged low-yield nuclear testing, the GEM stresses that all States Signatories share the “Zero-Yield” understanding of Article I of the CTBT, which clarifies that the CTBT prohibits all nuclear test explosions, whatever the level of energy released.
“The most effective way to enforce compliance with the zero-yield standard is to bring the Treaty into force, which would allow for intrusive, short-notice, on-site inspections to detect and deter any possible non-compliance.
“If there are credible concerns about a violation of the CTBT, the Treaty has a comprehensive verification system which consists of four elements: the International Monitoring System (IMS), on-site inspection, consultation and clarification, and confidence building measures. Additionally, it allows the use of information from national technical means to address any possible concerns.
“Access to IMS data and information is available freely and without discrimination, but only to States Signatories. The GEM welcomes the great achievement of establishing over the past two decades a reliable and effective verification system, based on the highest scientific and technical standards.
“The UN General Assembly has repeatedly called for all States that have not yet signed or ratified the CTBT to do so as soon as possible. This was also emphasised in UN Security Council Resolution 2310.”
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The Group of Eminent Persons supports and complements efforts to promote the Treaty’s entry into force, as well as reinvigorating international endeavours to achieve this goal.
The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions, thus hampering both the initial development of nuclear weapons as well as significant enhancements. The Treaty also helps prevent harmful radioactive releases from nuclear testing.
The CTBT has so far been signed by 184 States, of which 168 have ratified the Treaty (map). However, its demanding entry-into-force provision requires 44 particular “nuclear technology holder” States to ratify the Treaty for it to enter into force. Eight of them have yet to ratify: China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, and the United States. (China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the United States have already signed the Treaty.)
A verification regime to monitor the globe for nuclear explosions is nearing completion with around 90 percent of the 337 planned International Monitoring System (IMS) facilities already in operation. The system has proved its capabilities to detect even small nuclear tests during the announced DPRK nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2016 and 2017.