The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted on September 10, 1996 by United Nations General Assembly Resolution 50/245 and was opened for signature by all states on September 24, 1996. The main objective of the CTBT is to ban all nuclear testing everywhere on planet - surface, atmosphere, underwater and underground. The state-parties to the Treaty undertook legal commitments not to carry out any nuclear explosion and to refrain from causing, encouraging, or in any way participating in the carrying out of any nuclear explosion. As the Treaty is indefinite in its duration the above prohibition has no time limits.
The CTBT contributes to the course of general nuclear disarmament. By prohibiting nuclear tests it makes it almost impossible to develop further nuclear weapons as well as to make their qualitative improvement. It also helps prevent damage caused by nuclear testing to humans and the environment. Between 1945 and 1996 over 2000 nuclear tests were conducted on planet: by the United States (1000+) Soviet Union (700+), France (200+), United Kingdom and China (45 each). In 1996 nuclear states agreed to launch a moratorium on nuclear testing. But few states have broken the de-facto moratorium and tested nuclear weapons since 1996: India and Pakistan in 1998 and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in 2006.
The CTBT was negotiated between 1994 and 1996 and after long deliberations the Treaty had been agreed. The Treaty today constitutes the main international legal instrument of universal character in the sphere of limitation and prohibition of nuclear tests. It goes in line with such important international instruments as the 1961 Antarctic Treaty (AT), 1963 Partial Test Ban Treaty (PTBT), 1968 Non Prolifiration Treaty (NPT), 1974 US-USSR Threshold Test Ban Treaty (TTBT) and 1976 US-USSR Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty (PNET).
Under the Treaty the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) has to be created to control the implementation of the CTBT.
Since the Treaty is not yet in force, on November 19, 1996 the state-parties to the CTBT have agreed to establish the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (PC CTBTO) to serve as a temporary organization. By the relevant decision the PC CTBTO got a status of international organization and capability to negotiate and conclude necessary agreements. The Preparatory Commission started functioning on March 17, 1997. It consists of all state-parties to the CTBT. The PC CTBTO’s main executive body is the Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS), with 260 international staff. It is headed by the Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth (Hungary). Vienna is the headquarters for the PC CTBTO.
To ensure compliance with the CTBT, a verification system is currently being constructed. At the heart of the verification regime is the International Monitoring System (IMS), which consists of 321 monitoring stations (170 seismic stations, 11 hydrophone stations, 60 infrasound stations and 80 radionuclide stations located in 90 countries) as well as 16 radionuclide laboratories capable to detect possible nuclear explosions and to send data continuously and in real time to the International Data Center (IDC) located in Vienna. Suspicious events registered by the IDC are subject to consultations among the state-parties to the Treaty and further investigation. If necessary On-Site Inspection regime (OSI) can be applied to verify the data received. The PC CTBTO’s main task today is to build-up the CTBT verification regime including OSI so that it is operational when the Treaty enters into force.
As of February 2010 the IMS network includes 254 certified and operational monitoring stations. 23 stations are under testing and 27 facilities are in the process of construction.
The IMS data received through the IDC is disseminated freely among all state-parties to the CTBT. The important element of the work of the Preparatory Commission is the application of information received for other, than test-ban verification, civil and scientific purposes such as tsunami-warning, research on the Earth’s core, monitoring of earthquakes and volcanoes, researches on the oceans, climate change researches.
The 2010 budget of the PC CTBTO is around US$120,000,000.
According to Article XIV of the CTBT the Treaty will enter into force 180 days after all 44 states mentioned in Annex II to the Treaty ratify it. To date, only 35 states from this list have ratified the Treaty. China, DPRK, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the US did not ratify the CTBT while DPRK, India and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty. As of today 182 states signed the CTBT and 151 states ratified it. Among the retifyers are three nuclear states – the Russian Federation, France and the United Kingdom.
To facilitate the entry into force of the CTBT the state-parties to the Treaty conduct high level international conferences (so called “Article XIV process”). At such events necessary steps and measures are being agreed, on global and regional levels, to promote universalization of this important international instrument. Five such conferences have already taken place.
For more information about the PC CTBTO please visit its website or contact its Secretariat:
CTBTO Preparatory Commission,
Vienna International Centre,
P.O. Box 1200, A-1400 Vienna, Austria
Web site: www.ctbto.org
1.Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (eng) (rus)
2.Resolution establishing the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization (eng)