Spectrum Issues 2012 and onward

Spectrum 24: September 2015

This issue has been published to coincide with the Ninth Article XIV Conference on 29 September 2015 at UN headquarters in New York, United States.

The Foreign Ministers of Japan and Kazakhstan, Fumio Kishida and Erlan Idrissov will jointly preside over this conference. In this issue, they explain how their countries’ eagerness to see an end to all nuclear testing is rooted in experiencing the horrific effects of nuclear weapons explosions.

Federica Mogherini, the European Union’s High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and member of the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM), argues why the Iran nuclear agreement bodes well for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Angela Kane, former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs and also GEM member, recommends progress on the CTBT’s entry into force as an antidote to the prevalent “disarmament malaise”. 

Reflecting on this summer’s 70th commemoration of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 is an article by Ari Beser, a young journalist whose grandfather was the only U.S. airman to be on board during both attacks.

A little-known aspect of the first series of nuclear tests carried out after the Second World War is explored by physicist and science communicator Michael Bücker, the fate of the captured warships used in the Baker test at the Bikini atoll in 1946.

The effects of a nuclear explosion the size of the Baker test or that of a much more powerful h-bomb developed in the course of subsequent nuclear testing can be visualized for any location on Earth with the “Nukemap”. U.S. nuclear weapons historian Alex Wellerstein explains his motivation for creating this unique online tool.

The Member States’ forum overseeing the build-up of the CTBT’s verification regime that is capable of detecting a nuclear explosion anywhere on Earth is Working Group B (WGB). One of WGB’s longest-serving members, Robert Kemerait, Senior Scientist at the U.S. Air Force Technical Applications Center (AFTAC), looks back upon two successful decades of WGB’s work.

One of the topics discussed by WGB but yet to be exercised is drilling for radioactive samples, the ultimate of the 17 on-site inspection techniques. Walter D. Dekin from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and Ward L. Hawkins from Los Alamos National Laboratory explain what it takes to safely conduct this most elaborate and potentially most hazardous of all on-site inspection techniques.

Finally, this issue features Chinese artist Xiaoyu Li and samples from other artists from China, Kazakhstan and the United States inspired by the issue of nuclear testing.



Spectrum 23: April 2015

The 23rd issue of Spectrum contains a number of high-calibre political and verification-related contributions.

Commissioner of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission and former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, Nobuyasu Abe, outlines a range of measures to further consolidate the no-test norm, including completing the establishment of the verification regime while working in parallel on the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Vice Chairman of the Nuclear Threat Initiative and former UK Defence Secretary, Des Browne, points out that: “The CTBTO has fulfilled its task and built a remarkable verification regime. It’s time to be honest about that and remove the word ‘preparatory’ from its name.”

Former UN High Representative for Disarmament Affairs, Sérgio Duarte, highlights the importance of finally turning the de-facto global moratorium on nuclear testing into a firm legal ban by bringing the CTBT into force.

The CTBTO’s first Executive Secretary, Wolfgang Hoffmann, describes the organization’s remarkable evolution from its establishment up until the present day, and outlines ways in which the Group of Eminent Persons is helping to promote the CTBT’s entry into force.

Former Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd argues that “movement by the United States and China is not only central to advancing the CTBT's entry into force, it would also constitute a major confidence and security building measure between Beijing and Washington at a time when U.S.-China relations are entering a new phase.”

This issue of Spectrum has been published to coincide with the 2015 Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), the Treaty which entrenches the promise of a universal nuclear test ban. In her article, President of the NPT Review Conference and Senior Adviser to the Foreign Minister at the Algerian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Taous Feroukhi, explains how the CTBT helps to bridge gaps between the diverging interests of NPT Member States.

Director of the U.S. Department of Energy’s Advanced Research Projects Agency – Energy, Ellen Williams, chaired the Committee of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences in 2012 which reviewed technical issues related to the CTBT. In this interview she reflects on the main issues the report addressed and its significance, three years after its release.

Director of the Acronym Institute for Disarmament Diplomacy, Rebecca Johnson, draws lessons from the CTBT’s negotiations in the mid-1990s and highlights the powerful dynamics of the new humanitarian disarmament discourse.

The Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14) in Jordan in late 2014 was a milestone for the development of the CTBT’s on-site inspection (OSI) regime. This issue features the personal reflections of three of the key protagonists involved in IFE14: Director of the CTBTO’s OSI Division, Oleg Rozhkov; Director, CTBT and nuclear disarmament at the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office, Malcolm Coxhead; and Chief of the Equipment and Implementation Section, OSI Division, Gregor Malich.

With the next CTBT: Science and Technology 2015 Conference (SnT2015) fast approaching, Project Executive of SnT2015 and Director of the CTBTO’s International Data Centre Division, Randy Bell, stresses the importance of continued collaboration with the scientific community.

The CTBTO’s new International Monitoring System (IMS) Director, Nurcan Meral Özel, describes how she envisages the IMS evolving under her leadership and the challenges of maintaining some of the earliest IMS facilities. And IMS Infrasound Engineering Officer, James Robertson, chronicles the extreme weather conditions he and his colleague and staff from the Rabaul Volcanological Observatory encountered during the installation and certification of infrasound station IS40 in Papua New Guinea.

Geophysicist at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Milton Garces, describes how he uses data from CTBTO infrasound stations to study volcanoes and identify early warning signals of hazardous eruptions.

And in a new feature, the ‘People’ page acknowledges members of the international community who have recently received awards for their contributions to nuclear disarmament and international security, and also introduces the Director of the CTBTO’s Administration Division, Thierry Dubourg.

Spectrum 22: August 2014

In the 22nd issue of Spectrum, Prime Minister Abdullah Ensour of Jordan describes his country’s longstanding support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). In particular, he explains the significance of Jordan’s decision to host the Integrated Field Exercise 2014 (IFE14) at the end of the year and its importance for peace and stability in the Middle East. This huge logistical undertaking will be the largest, most realistic and challenging on-site inspection simulation ever conducted by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). It will involve a thorough search of a clearly defined inspection area to determine whether or not a nuclear explosion has been conducted.

On 11 April 2014, the Group of Eminent Persons (GEM) released a joint statement outlining a number of strategic approaches and modes of action designed to promote the CTBT’s entry into force. This group of global leaders and internationally recognized experts in the field of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament was established at the United Nations headquarters in New York on 26 September 2013 at the initiative of CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo.  The GEM statement was issued at the end of a two-day meeting in Stockholm, Sweden, which was hosted by Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt.

Northern Utah Director with the U.S. Senate, Ryan Wilcox, opposed his country’s ratification of the CTBT in 1999. However, he argues that there is now a strong case to justify ratification. He concludes that such a move will ensure “that we can both preserve our nuclear deterrent, and prevent further proliferation both at home and by enemies abroad.”  As one of the eight remaining States that must still ratify the CTBT before it can enter into force, U.S. ratification would be a highly significant move.

Also in this issue, U.S. author and journalist William Lambers provides an analysis on the prospects of ratification of the Treaty by the United States, while Pakistani journalist Rizwan Asghar explores the option of the CTBT’s provisional application and lists some of the many benefits that Pakistan would reap by joining the Treaty.

CTBTO staff members Georgios Haralabus, Lucie Pautet, Jerry Stanley and Mario Zampolli, provide readers with a unique insight into the technical and logistical challenges encountered during the reconstruction of the CTBTO’s hydroacoustic station HA03.  Located on Robinson Crusoe Island in Chile’s Juan Fernandez Archipelago, this remote station is fully operational again after its destruction by a tsunami in 2010.

In addition to listening for underwater sounds generated by nuclear explosions, scientist Mark Prior explains how hydroacoustic technology can increase the understanding of different “soundscapes’ in the underwater world. These ‘soundscapes’ include noises produced by whales, breaking ice, earthquakes and volcanoes.

As the starting date of the organization’s largest ever integrated field exercise approaches, CTBTO staff members Gordon MacLeod and Matjaz Prah compare the elements and techniques for the upcoming exercise in Jordan with those employed in the last full-scale on-site inspection simulation, IFE08, which took place in Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan, in 2008.

Finally, the paintings by Doug Waterfield from the University of Nebraska at Kearney, USA, on the cover and inside Spectrum 22 illustrate the power of art in educating and communicating political messages. The paintings are part of the artist’s ‘Doomtown’ series, which were on display at the Vienna International Centre in an exhibition to mark the International Day against Nuclear Tests on 29 August.

Spectrum 21: September 2013

This 21st issue of Spectrum features an address by the President of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, who became the first head of state to address the CTBTO Preparatory Commission at its 40th Session on 13 June 2013. Compaoré shares his vision for peace and international security in a world without nuclear weapons, calling on those remaining States that have not yet signed or ratified the CTBT to do so in order that the Treaty can become legally binding. He also describes the usefulness of CTBTO monitoring data which “are of great importance in defining effective responses to natural risks and disasters.”

As Co-Presidents of the Conference on Facilitating the Entry into Force of the CTBT at the UN Headquarters in New York on 27 September, Hungary’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, János Martonyi, and Indonesia’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Marty M. Natalegawa, explain why the CTBT’s entry into force is of paramount importance. Outlining their priorities in promoting this objective, Martonyi calls on the remaining Annex 2 States, especially the United States, to ratify. Appealing to the United States as a NATO partner, he states that “ratification by the United States is in no way detrimental to NATO’s nuclear deterrent, but that it would, on the contrary, enhance global security.” Expressing his concern over the nuclear tests announced by North Korea in 2006, 2009 and 2013 which have exacerbated tensions in the region, Natalegawa says: “Such nuclear tests highlight the urgent need for the CTBT’s entry into force “

Iceland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs, Gunnar Bragi Sveinsson, maintains: ‘It is abundantly clear that all non-proliferation efforts are critical in tackling the threat of terrorists acquiring nuclear weapons. A fully ratified and implemented CTBT is an indispensable building block for these efforts.” He also highlights the potential use of CTBT monitoring data in helping to mitigate the effects of natural or man-made disasters, particularly in terms of monitoring volcanic eruptions, which he explains is of great interest to Iceland.  

This issue also features excerpts of keynote addresses made at the CTBT: Science and Technology 2013 Conference in Vienna, Austria, in June 2013. These include: former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Hans Blix; former U.S. Under Secretary of State for Arms Control and International Security Affairs, Ellen Tauscher; former Director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Siegfried Hecker; and Director for Strategic Affairs in the French Ministry of Defence, Michel Miraillet. The keynote speakers present a range of arguments as to why countries that have not yet ratified the CTBT should delay no longer.

Miaki Ishii from Harvard University describes how the CTBTO’s seismic stations “serve unexpectedly well as powerful telescopes to view inside the Earth.”  Detailed knowledge of the internal structure of the Earth is essential, she explains, for unravelling its dynamics and history.

An article on ‘Joining forces to reduce radioxenon emissions’ highlights some of the recent collaboration between the CTBTO and radioisotope producers such as the Belgian-based Institute for Radioelements to achieve this goal.  

With preparations for the next Integrated Field Exercise in Jordan in 2014 well underway, Spectrum 21 features a photo story depicting ‘Build-Up Exercise III’ which took place in Hungary from 26 May to 7 June 2013. This exercise will simulate an on-site inspection almost in its entirety. Also on this theme, an article by the CTBTO’s Aled Rowlands describes the role of airborne imagery in an on-site inspection.



Issue 20: July 2013

In this 20th issue, the Foreign Minister of Iraq, Hoshyar Zebari, reports on the steps taken by the Iraqi parliament towards ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the importance Iraq attaches to promoting the Treaty’s entry into force. Ambassador Thomas Pickering, who helped the Kennedy administration draft the Partial Test Ban Treaty, describes why the case for ratification of the CTBT by the United States is stronger than ever. Zia Mian from Princeton University focuses on the role of civil society in South Asia in advocating nuclear disarmament.

Columbia University’s Paul Richards explains the seismic findings of the nuclear test announced by North Korea on 12 February; we also elaborate on the radionuclide findings almost two months later. Astronomer Margaret Campbell-Brown from the University of Western Ontario explains how CTBTO data have helped us understand the characteristics of the meteor over the Ural mountains on 15 February. Anders Ringbom and Anders Axelsson of the Swedish Defense Research Agency describe the key role played by noble gas detection systems in responding to the Fukushima nuclear accident in March 2011 and some of the lessons learned.

This issue also features an interview with CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth in which he discusses a range of issues related to nuclear non-proliferation, including the main challenges and achievements during his eight years as head of the organization.

Finally, the paintings by Elin O’Hara Slavick from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill on the cover and inside Spectrum 20 illustrate the power of art in educating and communicating political messages.



Issue 19: September 2012

In this 19th issue, the Foreign Ministers of Chile and Finland, Alfredo Moreno and Erkki Toumioja, make a strong political pitch for the Treaty and also highlight the contribution of CTBT verification data for disaster mitigation. They are joined by two prominent South Asian thinkers: former UN Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs Jayantha Dhanapala, and Hindustan Times Foreign Editor Pramit Pal Chaudhuri.

Nuclear physicist Siegfried Hecker explains why nuclear armed States stand to gain more than they lose from CTBT ratification and Tatsujiro Suzuki, Vice Chairman of the Japan Atomic Energy Commission, provides an invaluable insight into the Fukushima accident. Elena Sokova from the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation explains why nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation education should be sustainable and global, with the CTBTO’s Capacity Development Initiative a welcome development in this field.

Ik Bum Kang from the Korea Institute of GeoScience and Mineral Resources outlines some of the challenges of operating and maintaining primary seismic station PS31, one of the CTBTO’s closest station to the North Korean nuclear test site. Former CTBTO staff member Kirsten Haupt describes how practice makes future on-site inspection inspectors perfect, and guest writer Angela Leuker how the perception of nuclear war has changed over recent decades.



Issue 18: March 2012

In this special 15th anniversary issue of Spectrum and video, a number of former and current staff share some of their personal memories of the journey since March 1997 when the CTBTO began its operations in Vienna. In the words of the first Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Wolfgang Hoffmann: “We were a very small group of people with a huge task.”

Although confronted with numerous challenges, many staff refer to the enthusiasm, optimism and team spirit which have made it all worthwhile and have enabled great progress to be made.  Reflecting on the last 15 years, the CTBTO’s Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth concludes: “I think we can be proud that we have managed to deliver on things that were just dreams in March 1997 and to turn them into reality by spring 2012.”