Project News

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 4

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is a program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 4: Thursday, June 29, 2017

Day 4 of the conference began to focus on the intersection between science and policy, and the importance of translating complicated science into simplified language for diplomats and policymakers. Jonathan Forman, senior advisor to the scientific advisory board of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (OPCW), took the stage to share advice of how the OPCW tries to convey the science behind the convention to lawmakers, using tools such as using wasabi to metaphorically show the effects of tear gas and how it makes the eyes water, to going back to old-fashioned molecule models to explain stereochemical configurations.

"Disarmament requires scientist-policymaker collaboration," Forman noted. As scientists tend to think in terms of technical insight and analytical thinking, and policymakers tend to think of the broader global communication, it is particularly important that these groups retain good communication between them, he said.

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 3

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 3: Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Educational initiatives remained at the forefront of the conference’s third day with the panel discussion “Training Education and Public Advocacy for the CTBT: The Role of Academia in Securing the Treaty’s Entry into Force and Universalization.”

Professors Matthew Yedlin and Allen Sens from the University of British Columbia announced their project to launch a massive online open course on nuclear weapons and arms control, including the CTBT. Bronwyn McCarter, a student enrolled in his course, spoke to how the materials introduced her to the treaty and led to her advocating with the CTBTO Youth Group. The University of British Columbia program is currently seeking collaboration with other institutions and NGO's in the hopes to expand their program to civil society globally.

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 2

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 2: Tuesday, June 27, 2017

The CTBTO Science and Technology 2017 kicked off on Tuesday, June 26, 2017 with a High Level Opening panel moderated by Sanam Shantyaei from the France24 news television network, that stressed the critical juncture faced by the disarmament community in the year 2017. With North Korea conducting nuclear tests, diplomats negotiating for a ban on nuclear weapons at the United Nations, and the Doomsday Clock sitting at two and a half minutes to midnight, keynote speakers urged that the time for progress on the CTBT is now.

Challenging gender disparities in STEM careers and the nonproliferation field, the High Level Opening of the CTBT featured three female keynote speakers: President of the Royal Scientific Society of Jordan Princess Sumaya of Jordan, Angolan Minister for Science and Technology, and Pascale Ultré Guérard, from the National Centre for Space Studies in France. Executive Secretary Dr. Zerbo applauded the women of the CTBTO and discussed the importance of more representation within the nonproliferation community.

The CTBTO 2017 Science and Technology Conference: Day 1

Brenna Gautam is a CTBTO Youth Group Member who will be working with the Project to post brief daily updates about the on-goings at the conference as it relates to the CTBTO Youth Group, civil society, and capacity building. She is a student at Georgetown Law School. Shervin Taheran is the program and policy associate at the Arms Control Association.

Day 1: Monday, June 26, 2017

The CTBTO Science and Technology 2017 began with introductory remarks from Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Dr. Lassina Zerbo at the specifically designated morning-long CTBTO Youth Group Orientation Session. The CTBTO Youth Group is a group launched at the 2015 Science and Technology conference which aims to increase the awarenss of, and support for, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), not only in the 8 remaining Annex 2 states whose ratifications are necessary for entry into force, but also in the countries who have ratified to help stave off treaty fatigue as well as encouraging general international support for the treaty. Dr. Zerbo's overarching message for conference participants is that the 2017 conference seeks to enhance the synergy between the fields of science and diplomacy, highlighting how scientific advancements and technological innovations can unite countries in their shared goal of entering the CTBT into force.

This goal of global cooperation is reflected in the diversity of the CTBTO Youth Group: seventy members are present at the conference, representing 54 different countries. CTBTO Policy and Strategy Officer Diana Ballestas de Dietrich challenged Youth Group members to find creative ways to make the technical treaty accessible and relatable for ordinary citizens. “How can we personalize the CTBT in a way that engages people in their daily lives?” she asked.

CTBTO Certifies Final Hydroacoustic Station

By Samantha Pitz

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization released a press release today stating that the CTBTO has successfully certified its eleventh, and final, hydroacoustic station June 19, 2017 on the Crozet Islands (France). The station was installed in December 2016 after many obstacles as part of the International Monitoring System (IMS) network, which monitors 24/7 for nuclear explosions. The relatively low frequency underwater sound produced by a nuclear test can be detected a great distance from their source, requiring only a few hydroacoustic stations around the world. The certification of the Crozet Islands hydroacoustic station brought the IMS network of 337 projected monitoring stations to 90% complete.

DOE's Report Claims "Revolutions" in CTBT-Related Science

By Samantha Pitz

Earlier this week the Los Alamos National Laboratory released a report, “Trends in Nuclear Explosion Monitoring Research and Development -- A Physics Perspective,” assessing current literature relating to explosion monitoring and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) for the years 1993 to 2016. The LANL report claims that "there have been significant technological and scientific revolutions in the fields of seismology, acoustics, and radionuclide sciences as they relate to nuclear explosion monitoring" and the CTBT, and also highlights how the CTBT was necessary to universalize monitoring to more than just nuclear states like the United States and diversify the monitoring capacity and abilities.

CTBTO Funding Included in State FY 2018 Budget Request

By Daryl G. Kimball

The Trump administration's State Department budget request for fiscal year 2018 includes full funding for the United States assessed contribution to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which operates the global monitoring system to detect and deter nuclear explosions and verify compliance with the 1996 Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT):

"Contributions to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization’s Preparatory Commission (PrepCom) ($31.0 million): PrepCom assistance helps to fund the fielding, operation, and maintenance of the state-of-the-art International Monitoring System (IMS), a global network of 321 seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound, and radionuclide sensing stations designed and optimized to detect nuclear explosions worldwide. The U.S. receives the data the IMS provides, which is an important supplement to U.S. National Technical Means to monitor for nuclear explosions (a mission carried out by the U.S. Air Force). A reduction in IMS capability could deprive the U.S. of an irreplaceable source of nuclear explosion monitoring data. [emphasis added] This amount includes funding for projects to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of the Treaty’s verification regime, and also funds a tax reimbursement agreement that facilitates the hiring of Americans by the PrepCom.” (pg. 338)

Japan's Special $2.43 million USD Contribution to the CTBTO

By Samantha Pitz

Japan announced its largest, voluntary contribution of $2.43 million (USD) to the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) Feb. 23 to improve the organizaiton's verification capabilities to detect nuclear explosions around the world. CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo praised the act, telling Permanent Representative of Japan, Ambassador Mitsuru Kitano, “This generous contribution will further build-up the International Monitoring System’s capacity to improve our radionuclide monitoring technology, which can conclusively establish whether a nuclear test explosion has occurred.”

In a May 2 joint appeal by the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida, the Minister for Foreign Affairs of Kazakhstan Kairat Abdrakhmanov, and CTBTO Executive Secretary Dr. Lassina Zerbo, Kishida noted that the contribution provided by Japan increases the capabilities of the International Monitoring System (IMS) that was able to detect all five of the North Korean nuclear explosion tests, but in the last two tests, was unable to confirm radionuclide detection, and furthers Japan's desire to universalize the IMS in order to augment detection capabilities all over the world.