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CTBT: Ending Nuclear Explosions

WHAT IS THE CTBT? The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground.

WHY IS THE CTBT IMPORTANT? It makes it very difficult for countries to develop nuclear bombs for the first time, or for countries that already have them, to make bombs more powerful. It also prevents the huge damage caused by radioactivity from nuclear explosions to humans, animals and plants.

MORE THAN 2000 NUCLEAR EXPLOSIONS BETWEEN 1945 AND 1996 Over 2000 nuclear tests were carried out between 1945 and 1996, when the CTBT opened for signature: by the United States (1000+), the Soviet Union (700+), France (200+), the United Kingdom and China (45 each). Three countries 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 (DPRK) in 2006 and 2009.

THE TREATY IS ALMOST UNIVERSAL BUT HAS YET TO BECOME LAW Many attempts were made during the Cold War to negotiate a comprehensive test ban, but it was only in the 1990s that the Treaty became a reality. The CTBT was negotiated in Geneva between 1994 and 1996.

182 countries have signed the Treaty, of which 155 have also ratified it (as of Sept. 2011), including three of the nuclear weapon States: France, the Russian Federation and the United Kingdom. But 44 specific nuclear technology holder countries must sign and ratify before the CTBT can enter into force. Of these, nine are still missing: China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA. India, North Korea and Pakistan have yet to sign the CTBT. Indonesia announced that it had initiated the ratification process in May 2010.

HEADQUARTERS IN VIENNA Since the Treaty is not yet in force, the organization is called the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Organization (CTBTO). It was founded in 1996, has over 260 staff from over 70 countries, and is based in Vienna. It is headed by the Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth from Hungary. The CTBTO’s main tasks are the promotion of the Treaty and the build-up of the verification regime so that it is operational when the Treaty enters into force. The annual budget is around US$120,000,000 or 82,000,000.

VERIFICATION REGIME TO MAKE SURE THAT NO NUCLEAR EXPLOSION GOES UNDETECTED The Treaty has a unique and comprehensive verification regime to make sure that no nuclear explosion goes undetected. This regime consists of three pillars:

1. The International Monitoring System (IMS) will, when complete, consist of 337 facilities worldwide to monitor the planet for signs of nuclear explosions. Around 85% - or 285 - of the facilities are already up and running.

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