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Monday, 29 August 2011

CTBTO Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth, reflects on the significance of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests

CTBTO - Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization

This day is a reminder to us all that a world free of both nuclear tests and nuclear weapons is urgent, necessary and achievable. Here, CTBTO Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth, reflects on the significance of the International Day Against Nuclear Tests and how the test ban treaty will help shape mankind's future.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans nuclear explosions by everyone, everywhere: on the Earth's surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground. It makes it extremely difficult for countries to develop nuclear bombs for the first time, or for countries that already have them, to make more powerful bombs. It also prevents the huge damage caused by radioactivity from nuclear explosions to humans, animals and plants.

One hundred and eighty-two countries have signed the Treaty, of which 154 have also ratified it. Of the 44 countries that have to ratify the Treaty for entry into force, 35 have already done so. The remaining nine are: China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States. On 3 May 2010, Indonesia stated it had initiated the CTBT ratification process.

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 CTBTO is building a verification regime to monitor the planet for compliance with the Treaty. When complete, 337 facilities worldwide will monitor underground, the oceans and the atmosphere for any sign of a nuclear explosion. To date, 80 percent of the monitoring facilities send data to the CTBTO's headquarters in Vienna, Austria, where the data are processed and analyzed and then transmitted to the 182 Member States.

On-site inspections to collect information on the ground in the case of a suspected nuclear explosion complement the verification regime.

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