Project News

CTBTO Says it Can Detect Nuclear Test by N. Korea "Within Minutes"

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) announced this week that the organization is able to detect seismological activity in North Korea "within minutes" of an explosion. Following North Korea's previous nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, the CTBTO was able to determine "within a couple of hours" of each event that they were explosions, not earthquakes. 

Sandia Designs UAV to Monitor Nuclear Test Explosions

Sandia National Laboratories recently tested an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), nicknamed "Harvester," for use in detecting nuclear test explosions. The UAV's airborne pods are equipped with radiation sensors and debris samplers, which can track radiation to its source and use particulates and gases to identify the location of a nuclear test explosion, according to a press release from Sandia.

Harvester differs from traditional nuclear test monitoring technology in that it actively investigates sources of radiation, as opposed to the immobile monitoring stations used by the United States and CTBTO, while avoiding the health risks involved with sending a manned aircraft to investigate a radioactive plume.


North Korea Announces Intention to Test Nuclear Weapon

Today, North Korea’s National Defence Commission released a statement ramping up the rhetoric towards the United States. Pyongyang announced its intention to conduct a nuclear explosion of a higher yield than its previous tests in 2006 and 2009. The country also announced that it plans to continue to launch satellites and long-range rockets in direct violation of several UN Security Council resolutions.

Pyongyang stated that its “upcoming all-out action” would target the United States and that “settling accounts with the U.S. needs to be one with force, not with words.”

United States Observes National Downwinders Day, January 27

In 2011, the U.S. Senate voted unanimously to designate January 27 as a "national day of remembrance for Americans who, during the Cold War, worked and lived downwind from nuclear testing sites and were adversely affected by the radiation exposure generated by the above ground nuclear weapons testing."

UN Secretary-General Urges U.S. Action on CTBT

In a major speech on Jan. 18, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon spoke on a range of nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation issues at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California. He touched on the international community's achievements on nuclear disarmament and nonproliferation, outlined the the challenges that lay ahead, and called for renewed action on key priorities including the CTBT:

France Agrees to Declassify Radiation Data on Pacific Nuclear Tests

The Advisory Committee of the Confidentiality of National Defense has approved the declassification of 58 documents related to radiation levels in French Polynesia during and after French nuclear test explosions. 

France conducted 4 atmospheric and 13 underground nuclear tests in Algeria and 46 atmospheric and 147 underground nuclear tests at the Mururoa and Fangataufa Atolls in the Pacific.

North Korea Vows "Physical" Response to UNSC Resolution

Today, the North Korean government released a statement through the Korean Central News Agency condemning the most recent UN Security Council resolution (S/RES/2087) directed at Pyongyang. The UNSC resolution expands the list of sanctioned entities in response to the most recent North Korean satellite launch, which occurred on Dec. 12, 2012.

Although the resolution did not authorize a new round of sanctions, it demanded that Pyongyang refrain from conducting subsequent launches "using ballistic missile technology." It also instructed the country to comply with previous council resolutions directing it to suspend all activities related to its ballistic missile program and to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

Madeleine Albright and Igor Ivanov, "A New Agenda for U.S.-Russia Cooperation," in the New York Times, Dec. 30, 2012

In an opinion editorial on U.S.-Russian relations, which touches on further bilateral nuclear reductions, cooperation on missile defense, the drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan, and increased trade between the two countries, former Secretary of State Albright calls for the United States Senate to ratify the CTBT. She and Ivanov write:

"Next year will mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Limited Test Ban Treaty, the first nuclear arms control agreement. It would be an appropriate year for the U.S. Senate to consent to ratification of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which has been languishing for 13 years. The United States could then join Russia among the countries that have ratified, thus bringing the treaty closer to entry into force."