EU contributes EUR 5 million to strengthen CTBTO verification readiness

Vienna, 27 July 2010

On 26 July 2010 the European Union (EU) provided a contribution of €5,280,000 to the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) for the purpose of strengthening the CTBTO’s monitoring and verification capabilities.

The financial contribution is the largest ever voluntary donation by the EU to the CTBTO. “At a time when governments are tightening their belts and implementing difficult austerity measures, the EU’s decision is a strong manifestation of its unwavering political support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and its verification regime,” said Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the CTBTO.

The contribution is a part of the EU Strategy against Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction.  As such it is a means of advancing the EU’s fight against the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The buildup of the CTBTO’s verification regime, which will make sure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected, is a crucial element of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. The EU stated in their decision that “The nuclear tests announced by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in October 2006 and May 2009 not only demonstrated the importance of a universal ban of nuclear tests, they also underscored the need for an effective verification regime… A fully operational and credible CTBT verification regime will provide the international community with reliable, independent means to ensure that this norm is respected.”

Projects to be funded directly through the EU contribution are those specifically related to 1) improving the CTBTO’s auxiliary seismic station network, 2) strengthening on-site inspection verification and noble gas monitoring, and 3) providing technical assistance to countries in Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean region, allowing them to fully participate and contribute to the CTBTO’s verification regime.

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions.  182 countries have signed the Treaty and 153 have also ratified it. A verification regime is being built to monitor compliance with the Treaty.  Upon completion, the 321 stations in the International Monitoring System (IMS) will monitor underground, the oceans and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion. The IMS uses four complementary verification  methods - seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide monitoring. Primary and auxiliary seismic stations are used to detect underground nuclear explosions and radionuclide stations are used to detect particulates and noble gases in the atmosphere as a confirmation of a nuclear explosion. In an on-site inspection the suspected site of a nuclear explosion is searched for evidence of a nuclear explosion by a team of 40 inspectors.

The CTBTO is funded through scaled annual dues, in accordance with the United Nations system of payment. The CTBTO budget is US$ $115,579,600 (€92,001,361) for the year 2010. The EU’s voluntary donation of over €5 million is in excess of its Member States’ assessed annual contributions, which represent approximately 40 percent of the CTBTO’s overall budget.

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