In wake of the fifth announced nuclear test by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea on 9 September 2016, Executive Secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban-Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) Lassina Zerbo gave a live interview with South Korean broadcaster Arirang News with details as they arrived.
From its headquarters in Vienna, the CTBTO monitors data from the International Monitoring System – a world-wide network of more than 300 stations designed to detect signs of possible nuclear tests. The initial seismic wave of the North Korean test was picked up by 25 of these stations, with many more contributing readings in the hours that followed to give a detailed scientific picture of the event.
Dr Zerbo outlined the role of the CTBTO in processing all of this information. “What we do; we combine and correlate seismic signals together with potential emission of gas or radioisotopes that would give an indication of the nuclear nature of the event.”
He went on to recall to mind the fact the North Korea’s nuclear programme is “a breach of the already universally accepted norm against nuclear testing”, and stressed the “urgency and necessity” to bring the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) into force in order to enact a legally-binding and total cessation of nuclear explosions.
Dr Zerbo concluded by highlighting that positive actions taken by individual or groups of governments are always welcome, but no substitute for the binding framework the CTBT offers the international community.