Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | May 22, 2018

5 Things That Sound, Move, or Smell Like a Nuclear Explosion

This article published by Nautilus explores the variety of uses for CTBTO’s data outside of detecting nuclear tests. After “[wiring] the world with hundreds of seismometers, infrasound detectors, radionuclide sniffers, and underwater microphones,” data received from these technologies not only detect nuclear explosions, but are “sometimes a boon to science.” Covering all four types of stations, as well as the 40 radionuclide stations that have noble gas detection capabilities, the article goes over the civil and scientific uses of data received.

For example, after the Fukushima power melt down, CTBTO collected data on the radioactive plume and while “normally the commission would use atmospheric modeling to track particles back in time and space to find the source; this time, they used the models to project forward, predicting where the particles would go and ultimately reassuring people on the West Coast of the United States and in other countries. If you saw animations of the plume on TV, it was probably from the CTBTO.”

Find out about the other civil and scientific uses of CTBTO data by reading the full article here.


Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | May 22, 2018

Why North Korea is Destroying its Nuclear Test Site

Capture NK

North Korea’s announced that the dismantlement of their nuclear testing site is set to take place this week as Catherine Dill writes on the BBC. However, concerns regarding the State’s true denuclearization are prevalent, as it is still not clear if experts were invited alongside journalists to observe the process. The article further explains that invitation of experts is needed to have full transparency, stating,  “Inviting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) would allow confirmation that the test site is no longer capable of conducting nuclear tests. The organisation, a UN-backed monitoring group that aims to ban nuclear tests worldwide, maintains a network of sensors to ensure that none is being conducted. Its experts would be able to give a technical judgement about the completeness of the test site destruction.”

DPRK’s verification and compliance also requires the remaining nuclear facilities to be continually monitored, as “without continuous intrusive monitoring by international inspectors, North Korea could restart its nuclear weapons programme within a matter of years.”

To read the full article here.

On Tuesday 15 May, North Korea’s ambassador to the UN in Geneva, Han Tae Song, told the Conference on Disarmament that the “Discontinuation of nuclear tests and follow up measures are an important process for global disarmament and DPRK will join international disarmament efforts for a total ban on nuclear tests.”

While Han did not explicitly mention the CTBTO, the organization’s Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo has commended this initial step as an encouraging one. However, with calls for “a permanent and irreversible closure that can be inspected and fully accounted for,” Zerbo points to the CTBTO having “the required expertise, unique verification technology and the much needed international credibility to confirm and monitor the closure of the Punggye-ri nuclear-weapon test site.” Although the CTBTO has not yet received a request to attend the event, the Executive Secretary also made it known that a team for deployment could be put together in a week. In addition, the fact that North Korea has not signed the CTBT “is not an impediment to make our technology available for the international community,” said Zerbo.

In the event that CTBTO is asked to contribute to verifying the dismantlement in the long term, a formal invitation or agreement would be required. The work would then be carried out with CTBTO inspectors in the field in North Korea, but also through the analysis of data received by various measurement stations that the CTBTO has certified around the Korean Peninsula. Verification would take “weeks” and could involve setting up “micro-arrays” of noble gas and spectral imaging equipment within a 50-kilometer (30-mile) radius of the test site, says Zerbo.

Indeed, what is crucial is that “in times of tension and insecurity, what we need is to make full use and promote extensively what we already have. These are – effectively verifiable and credibly enforceable negotiated agreements,” said Zerbo whilst addressing the situation on the Korean Peninsula at a panel on “Effective Multilateralism in a globalized world – The case of Europe and Asia Pacific” on 16 May.

With a lot at stake in light of the recent developments in North Korea’s political decisions, “Let us not reinvent the wheel. We already have the necessary tools. What is needed is the political will of states to use them,” concludes Zerbo in his speech.


Dr. Lassina Zerbo , Executive Secretaty of the Preparatory Commision for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation

For more information, consult the following sources:

Lassina Zerbo OSCE speech



AFP/The Straits Times

La Vanguardia in Spanish


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