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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 18, September 1997

Anniversary of CTBT Signing;
CTBTO Progress Report

'First Anniversary of opening for signature of Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty marked on 24 September,' United Nations Information Service Press Release, DCF/316, Vienna, 23 September 1997

Extracts

"'Thanks in particular to the support of the Austrian authorities and the international organizations in Vienna and elsewhere, we have got off to a flying start in fulfilling the tasks entrusted to us', said Wolfgang Hoffmann, Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom). Mr. Hoffmann was speaking on the eve of the first anniversary of the signing of the Treaty, which was opened for signature at United Nations Headquarters a year ago, on 24 September 1996.

Since starting work on 17 March 1997, the Preparatory Commission has initiated activities to establish the global verification regime foreseen in the Treaty so that it will be operational by the time the Treaty enters into force. Last Friday, 19 September, the Commission concluded its third meeting, at which it had reviewed progress since its last meeting in May and discussed the draft programme and budget for next year. The budget for 1998 will be decided at the Commission's fourth meeting, in December. ...

Global Verification Regime

To monitor compliance, the Treaty envisages a global verification regime including a worldwide network of monitoring stations, an international data centre, and on-site inspections. Over the next years, the worldwide network of 321 seismic, infrasound, hydroacoustic and radionuclide stations - the International Monitoring System - will be progressively built up.

Supported by 16 radionuclide laboratories, the International Monitoring System will be capable of registering vibrations underground, in the seas and in the air, as well as detecting tell-tale traces of radionuclides released in the atmosphere during a nuclear explosion. A stream of data generated by the four complementary technologies will be transmitted via a global communications system to the International Data Centre in Vienna. The data will then be combined and made available to the States Signatories. Ambiguous events will be subject to consultation and clarification. As a final verification measure, an on-site inspection may be requested.

Activities

During the first six months, the subsidiary bodies of the Commission - Working Group A (administrative and budgetary matters) and Working Group B (verification issues) - formulated proposals on the budget and verification issues, while the Advisory Group discussed financial regulations and other organizational matters. In addition, an on-site inspection workshop discussed the methodology for conducting inspections, phenomena associated with nuclear explosions and radiation measurement.

Workshops were also hosted by State signatories on various aspects of the verification regime, and others are foreseen. The Commission's programme of work for this year calls for the survey of 55 sites for stations and the establishment or upgrading of l8 seismological stations and one hydroacoustic station.

Organization

The Preparatory Commission was established at a meeting of States signatories on 19 November 1996. The budget for 1997 is $US 27.4 million. The staff currently numbers 80 persons from 38 countries.

Synergy

Building on the support it has received from the host country, the CTBTO PrepCom is working in conjunction with the other organizations based at the Vienna International Centre to benefit from their experience and develop maximum synergies. For example, while the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has experience in conducting on-site inspections and, says Mr. Hoffmann, 'getting people on the ground fast', it could be that 'our organization might eventually, if requested, be able to provide support to the other organizations'. ..."

© 1998 The Acronym Institute.

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