CTBTO PrepCom two years old

Two years ago, on 17 March 1997, the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom) started operations at the Vienna International Centre. With a staff of 184 from 58 States signatories - compared with an initial staff of nine in March 1997 - CTBTO PrepCom has made steady progress in setting up the verification regime to monitor compliance with the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The collection rate of assessed financial contributions to the organization´s budget is also commendable: 97 per cent, 90 per cent and 46 per cent of the contributions for 1997, 1998 and 1999, respectively, have been paid. The budget for 1999 is US$ 74.7 million; for 1998 it was US$ 58.4 million and for 1997 it was US$ 27.7 million. The Treaty, which bans all nuclear weapon test explosions and any other nuclear explosion anywhere in the world, has so far been signed by 152 States and ratified by 29. Fifteen of those that have ratified (Argentina, Australia, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Peru, Slovakia, Spain, Sweden, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland), as well as 29 other nuclear-capable States, are listed in the Treaty as countries whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to enter into force. Since its inception, CTBTO PrepCom has concentrated on setting up the global verification regime envisaged in the Treaty. The regime - to be operational by the time the Treaty enters into force - will consist of an International Monitoring System (IMS) of 170 seismological, 60 infrasound, 11 hydroacoustic and 80 radionuclide stations (supported by 16 radionuclide laboratories) to be upgraded or newly established in some 90 countries around the world. The purpose of the four networks of monitoring stations is to detect and locate possible nuclear explosions, prohibited under article l of the Treaty, and supply a continuous stream of data - generated by the four technologies - to the International Data Centre (IDC) at CTBTO PrepCom, Vienna. Here the data will be processed and made available to States signatories for their review and final analysis. Ambiguous events will be subject to consultation and clarification. As a final verification measure, an on-site inspection may be requested. International Monitoring System Seismology is the maturest IMS technology, with about half the stations already existing. Site surveys - to determine the suitability of sites as well as the technical specifications for their construction and for the purchase of the equipment they need - have been completed or are under way for 11 seismological stations. The installation of equipment has been initiated, completed or is under way at 14 seismological stations. In the case of 57 existing seismological stations where a full site survey was not required, the network operators have been contracted to assess the status of the stations themselves. Only one infrasound station existed in 1997. None of the infrasound stations have been installed yet, but equipment for five stations is being delivered; in addition two other stations are being installed by the host country under the reduced assessment scheme (a reduction in its assessed financial contribution to the organization). Site surveys have been completed or are under way for 14 infrasound stations. Three hydroacoustic stations are currently sending data to the IDC, although they will require significant upgrades to meet IMS specifications. Site surveys have been completed or are under way for four hydroacoustic stations. None of the hydroacoustic stations have been installed, but a cost proposal for equipping one station is being evaluated. Although there are many radionuclide stations monitoring atmospheric radioactivity, few meet IMS specifications. Site surveys have been completed or are under way for 27 radionuclide stations. And contracts are being finalized to install equipment at six radionuclide stations. About 60 stations, in all four technologies, are contributing data on a voluntary basis to the IDC. The capital investment in monitoring stations for 1997, 1998 and 1999 of US$ 57.5 million is approximately 40 per cent of the total investment required to complete the four International Monitoring System networks. The first technical training programme, to familiarize operators with a specific verification technology and the use of instruments, was held at Vienna in October, followed by in-depth training at facilities in Argentina, Norway and the United States. International Data Centre The IDC is being progressively commissioned at CTBTO PrepCom at Vienna. After the successful installation and testing of the first of four releases of application software in 1998, the IDC is awaiting the delivery of the second release, which will be capable of distributing IDC products to States signatories. Currently, the initial staff of analysts are processing one day´s worth of data a week. The resources for the IDC in 1999 amount to about US$ 11.9 million. The first training course to be held at the IDC at Vienna began in November; the two previous courses were held at the prototype data centre in Arlington, Virginia, United States of America. The satellite-based global communications infrastructure (GCI), to transport data between the monitoring facilities, the IDC and the States signatories, is also being progressively established. Five very small aperture terminals (VSATs) have been installed and become operational at facilities in Austria, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, in addition to three VSATs in a test laboratory at the IDC. Over the next three months, the entire backbone of the GCI should be in place, including four satellite hubs in Germany, Italy and the United States and the high-speed terrestrial links between the hubs and IDC in Vienna. A management system to monitor the network is being put in place. Resources for GCI in 1999 amount to about US$ 9.9 million. On-site inspections Foundations are being laid for on-site inspection (OSI) procedures, provided for in the Treaty after its entry into force should the Executive Council consider that further clarification of an ambiguous event is necessary. International experts have assisted in developing a concept of operations for an OSI operational manual, in identifying elements of OSI infrastructure including an Operations Support Centre, an information data bank, and an equipment storage and maintenance facility, as well as in drawing up a list of basic equipment for field use and testing and training exercises. The first introductory training course on-site inspections was held in December, and the third workshop was held in November. Legal and external relations Since starting operations, CTBTO PrepCom has exchanged 44 letters of agreement with 31 States hosting monitoring facilities to enable work to proceed, pending the conclusion of formal bilateral agreements. Formal bilateral agreements have been concluded with two States signatories, Canada and New Zealand. An International Cooperation Workshop was held at Vienna in November at which States signatories discussed the advantages of participating in the Treaty´s global verification regime and recommended cooperative measures to maximize such benefits.

For further information on the CTBTO, please see www.ctbto.org or contact:
Annika Thunborg, Chief, Public Information  
T    +43 1 26030-6375  
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