Originally published on The Conversation on 13 September 2017, the article highlights the work of CTBTO and its International Monitoring System, in particular concerning the DPRK VI announced nuclear test. Illustrating the capacities of IMS stations and the reliability of CTBT’s Verification Regime, the article stresses out the importance of universal ratification of the Treaty. Read the full article on  The Conversation

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North Korea’s apparent nuclear detonation on September 3 has drawn our attention to a remarkable international organisation that helps detect and identify nuclear tests.

For the Vienna-based Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), the latest North Korean explosion was easy to detect and locate. With a seismic magnitude of 6.1 and a blast yield of 160 kilotons (Hiroshima was around 15), the purported hydrogen bomb test mimicked a major earthquake. It was quickly sourced to North Korea’s nuclear test site.


Nuclear test ban treaty

The CTBTO’s International Monitoring System, which detected the North Korean test, is designed to verify compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans all nuclear tests in all environments for all time.


Currently 183 states have signed, and 162 have ratified. But 8 of the 44 with a nuclear capacity have still not ratified: China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan, North Korea and the United States. China, Egypt, Iran, Israel and the US have at least signed. China says it is awaiting US ratification before it moves.

After a flawed lobbying effort, President Bill Clinton’s administration failed to secure Senate approval for US ratification in 1999. The treaty has not been resubmitted since, despite President Barack Obama’s undertaking that he would try.

Given President Donald Trump’s apparent focus on emphasising American military prowess, it seems unlikely that he will favour ratification of the treaty.

More immediately threatening is the return of periodic Republican attempts to defund the CTBTO. These are usually beaten back on the grounds that the US benefits greatly from the worldwide monitoring that only a global system can provide, notwithstanding impressive US national capabilities.

As it has in the past, the Australian government should make representations in Washington in support of CTBT ratification and preservation of funding for the system.

Paradoxically though, even if the other seven holdouts ratify, the one country that continues to conduct nuclear tests into the 21st century, North Korea, can stymie entry into force forever. Its accession to the CTBT should be part of any negotiation with North Korea on its nuclear program.

The good news is that the global monitoring system continues to go from strength to strength, providing reassurance that all nuclear tests, including those less brazen than North Korea’s, will be caught.

The CTBTO’s verification system provides hope that science can quietly triumph while political solutions elude us.


Read the full article on  The Conversation

Originally published on UN Radio on 5 September 2017, the article and podcast feature an interview with CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, who shares updates on the nature and the magnitude of the DPRK VI announced nuclear tests, as detected by the CTBTO International Monitoring System.

Lassina Zerbo. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

North Korea’s latest nuclear bomb test should be a “last wake-up call” to the international community, on the need to build diplomatic bridges through the test-ban treaty.

That’s the view of the Executive Secretary of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Lassina Zerbo.

He said that the pace of UN Security Council sanctions was not “in sync” with the reality of North Korea – or DPRK’s – nuclear weapons programme, and diplomacy needed to move faster to counter the threat.

Cristina Silveiro asked Mr Zerbo what the CTBTO’s data revealed about Sunday’s underground test in North Korea.

Listen to the full podcast here.

Posted by: ctbtonewsroom | September 4, 2017

Video: Executive Secretary Zerbo live on CNN

Originally aired on CNN International on 4 September 2017, the following video is a recording of the live interview of CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo, where he shared insights on the data gathered through the CTBTO International Monitoring System regarding the DPRK 2017 announced test. Click here for the full video (accessible through Mozilla Firefox or Internet Explorer). 


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