CTBTO Order of Malta - Permanent Observer Mission


The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is an international organization that will be established upon the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a Convention that outlaws nuclear test explosions. Its seat will be Vienna, Austria. The organization will be tasked with verifying the ban on nuclear tests and will operate therefore a worldwide monitoring system and may conduct on site inspections.

The Preparatory Commission, and its Provisional Technical Secretariat, were established in 1997 and is tasked with making preparations for effective implementation of the Treaty, in particular by establishing its verification regime. The main task is establishing and provisionally operating the 337 facility International Monitoring System (IMS), including its International Data Centre (IDC) and Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI). The Commission is tasked also with the development of operational manuals, including a manual to guide conduct of on-site inspections.

On Site Inspection (OSI)

If an event detected by the IMS (or by other means) raises concerns about compliance with the basic obligations of the CTBT, an OSI may be conducted to clarify whether a nuclear explosion has taken place. Such an inspection could take place only after entry into force of the Treaty, and would require agreement by at least 30 of the 51 members of the CTBTO’s Executive Council. An inspection area of up to 1000 square kilometres would be searched by a team of inspectors (up to 40).

When conducting an On-Site Inspection (OSI), a number of detection techniques can be used. These techniques include passive, resonance and active seismic measurements as well as gravity, electric and magnetic field mappings. Further, noble gas such as Xenon and Argon will be measured on-site. Argon-37 measurement is a unique technology. Data collected from various methods have to be fused and interpreted for decision making purposes. An important task is to explore how recent scientific and technical advances in these technologies can be applied to an OSI.

For further information, please visit the website of the CTBTO:   www.ctbto.org