1994-96: Creating the organization

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Organization

It was generally accepted that the technical complexity of a verification regime warranted a permanent CTBT organization (CTBTO) which would oversee the construction and operation of the International Monitoring System (IMS)and the International Data Centre (IDC). This organization would serve as the mechanism under which the implementation of Treaty provisions could take place. States Parties could also use the organization as a forum for consultations, including decisions over on-site inspections.

The IAEA monitors the “upstream” dimension of nuclear weapons development while the CTBT is intended to monitor the “downstream” final proof of a State’s intention to develop nuclear weapons—that is, the actual nuclear test explosion.

Some delegations believed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna was an ideal candidate organization to implement the CTBT's provisions, including administration of the verification regime. The draft Treaty text put forth by Sweden called for this arrangement. However, India and Pakistan, both outside the NPT regime, were concerned that information could be leaked between the IAEA and the CTBT because membership of the two bodies was different. Moreover, Israel and the United States believed that the IAEA lacked the necessary expertise for verifying and monitoring nuclear explosions.

While the IAEA, with the NPT as its legal basis, monitors the “upstream” dimension of nuclear weapons development (i.e., uranium enrichment, plutonium reprocessing and fuel fabrication), the CTBT would monitor the “downstream” final proof of a State’s intention to develop nuclear weapons; the nuclear test explosion. As such, although sharing the goal of preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, the CTBTO mandate would differ from that of the IAEA.

Finally, the negotiators decided that the UN Centre in Vienna was an appropriate venue to house the CTBTO. There were no substantial savings to be realized from merging the organization with the IAEA, and the city of Vienna could offer the proper accommodation required for the organization.

Characteristics of the Executive Council

Given the responsibility to carry out the powers and functions of the Treaty, the composition and nature of the CTBTO Executive Council was debated at considerable length. There was great diversity of thought over the geographic distribution of Council membership, as well as whether there should be permanent members on the Council.

Early in the negotiations, the NWS felt they should have permanent membership in the Council. The NNWS, in particular the G-21 countries, strongly objected to what they viewed as the creation of another exclusive entity, resembling the United Nations Security Council. Canada suggested the Council should include the NWS and representatives of regional groups, while the Islamic Republic of Iran along with other G-21 countries opposed the Executive Council altogether.

Determining membership of the Executive Council

As the negotiations continued, France and the United Kingdom once again expressed their support for permanent membership for NWS, claiming that the NWS had the most at stake. Pakistan in turn argued that the NNWS were the ones with the most at stake, and voiced its opposition to permanent membership.

The United States envisioned a small Executive Council resembling the United Nations Security Council, with China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States retaining permanent membership and ten additional rotating members chosen by regional grouping. The United States also considered allocating permanent seats according to financial contributions and the number of IMS stations operating within a State’s borders. Although Argentina, Australia, Canada and Germany found this proposal appealing, China did not agree with using financial contributions as a criterion for membership and Nigeria rejected the idea of basing membership on nuclear capability or modeling the Council after the Security Council.

The delegations decided that the Executive Council would comprise 51 members from six geographical regions. The Conference of States Parties would elect members to the Council from candidates designated by States in each geographical region.

No less than one third of seats shall be determined on the following basis; financial contribution, number of IMS stations, expertise in monitoring technology. While the rest of the seats shall be designated by election or rotation, one of the seats from each regional group shall be filled on a rotational basis by alphabetical order of the States in each region that have not served as members of the Executive Council. This method ensured that all States Parties to the Treaty would have an opportunity to serve on the Council.