CTBTO claims it will detect North Korea nuclear test

Tuesday, February 05, 2013
CTBTO's Control Room [PHOTO: UNifeed]
Vienna: The International Monitoring System of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBO) is positioned to quickly and reliably detect signs of a nuclear test, CTBTO Spokesperson Annika Thunborg said in Austria’s capital on Monday.

Thunborg's comments came amid renewed threats by North Korea that it will conduct a third nuclear test. 
"The CTBTO monitoring system scans the world for any sign of a nuclear explosion 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We detected the nuclear tests in North Korea in 2006 and 2009 confidently, and reliably, and swiftly,” CTBO Spokesperson Thunborg said.

Currently some 275 CTBTO stations (seismic, infrasound, hydro acoustic, radionuclide and noble gas) are up and running to scan the earth for any sign of a nuclear explosion.

"We have 150 seismic stations that are monitoring the underground for any sign of an underground nuclear test, and the seismic system is very sensitive and it acts very fast – seismic waves propagate very fast through the earth – so within a couple of minutes stations all over the world can detect signs of a nuclear explosion,” she added.

The system is designed to detect violations of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test- Ban Treaty (CTBT) which bans nuclear explosions everywhere on the Earth's surface, in the atmosphere, in outer space, underwater and underground. The treaty was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly in 1996.

"Part of our monitoring system detects radioactivity, it sniffs the air for any sign of radioactivity,” she informed.

"In 2006 and 2009 when North Korea tested the Security Council looked at this issue immediately on the same day, and all of the member-states that were also members of the UN Security Council had first-hand information about the magnitude, time, location and depth of the nuclear test,” Thunborg explained.

One hundred and eighty-three countries have signed the CTBT, of which 157 have also ratified it.  Eight remaining countries must ratify the Treaty for it to enter into force.  They are China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the USA.

A global verification regime which will comprise over 330 sensors when complete monitors the globe around the clock for nuclear explosions to detect any violations of the Treaty. The system reliably detected the nuclear test explosions by North Korea in 2006 and 2009.
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