Exercise to Inspect a Simulated Nuclear Test Site - Jordan, 1 to 12 November 2010

Jordan, 1 November 2010

An exercise to inspect a simulated nuclear test site is to be conducted from 1 to 12 November 2010, beside the Dead Sea in Jordan. A team of more than 35 international experts has been assembled by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). They will determine whether a nuclear test explosion was conducted by a fictitious country in violation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) that outlaws all nuclear explosions.

Jordan is hosting the exercise, to be played within a 1000 square km zone beside the Dead Sea. It is located about 50 km south of Amman and extends to Karak.

On-site inspections can be requested only after the Treaty enters into force.

CTBTO Executive Secretary Tibor Tóth said that on-site inspections were the final layer in the Treaty’s verification regime to make sure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected.  “Facts gathered directly on the ground during an inspection help States to establish whether or not a nuclear explosion did indeed take place,” Tóth said.

Director of the Exercise, Matjaž Prah, said that the focus of the simulation is to “test ground visual observation techniques and communications, to help prepare inspectors and fine tune inspection methodology.”

The team of surrogate inspectors comes from 20 different countries.  Prah said they will look for observable signatures which could be connected to a possible nuclear explosion. “There are very specific observable geophysical features that can be linked to a possible nuclear explosion: landslides, depressions, craters and faults, for example,” he said.

Jordan offered to host the exercise and was selected due to comparable natural geological features within the inspection area that could be found, if in fact, there had been a nuclear test. “The area around the Dead Sea is quite interesting because of very specific geological features, like sinkholes for example, which can look similar to the depressions that are formed after a nuclear test,” Prah said.

PRESS ARRANGEMENTS.  Accredited media are invited to attend:

1 November 2010: Opening of the On-Site Inspection Exercise: The exercise will be officially opened at the Dead Sea Spa Hotel, Jordan.

9.00 am, opening address by CTBTO Executive Secretary, Ambassador Tibor Tóth.

10.30 am
, Press Briefing.

8 November 2010: Visit to the On-Site Inspection Zone:

Photo-Op of the surrogate inspectors at work as they inspect sinkholes and other potential equivalent indicators of a nuclear explosion in the field. Interviews will be possible with experts in English and Arabic on site.

The convoy of surrogate inspectors and media to depart from the Dead Sea Spa Hotel at 9.00 am sharp to travel to the inspection area.

For media travelling from Amman, a bus will leave from Le Meridien, Queen Noor Street, Shemeisani, 11195, Amman at 8.00 am sharp on 1 and 8 November 2010.  It will return at 1.30 pm. Lunch is provided.

Journalists wishing to cover the event must email Pablo Mehlhorn or call +43 1 26030 6451 before 29 October 2010 stating which day(s) they will attend, and if transport from Amman is required.

Media Contact:
Kirstie Gregorich Hansen
T  + 43 1 26030 6470
E   [email protected]
M +43 (0) 699 145 965 72

Background on the CTBT and its verification regime

The CTBT bans all nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. One hundred and eighty-two countries have signed the Treaty, of which 153 have also ratified it. Of the 44 countries that have to ratify the Treaty for entry into force, 35 have already done so. The remaining nine are: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. On 3 May 2010, Indonesia stated it had initiated the CTBT ratification process.

The CTBTO is building a verification regime to monitor the planet for compliance with the Treaty. When complete, 337 facilities worldwide will monitor underground, the oceans and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion. To date, 80 per cent of the monitoring facilities send data to the CTBTO’s headquarters in Vienna, Austria, where the data are processed and analyzed and then transmitted to the 182 Member States.

On-site inspections can be dispatched to the area of a suspicious nuclear explosion if the data indicates that a nuclear test has taken place there.  Inspectors will collect evidence on the ground at the suspected site. Such an inspection can only be requested and approved by Member States once the CTBT has entered into force.

For further information on the CTBT, please see www.ctbto.org – your resource on ending nuclear testing,
or contact: Annika Thunborg, Spokesperson and Chief, Public Information  
T    +43 1 26030-6375 
E    [email protected]
M    +43 699 1459 6375      
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