Saturday, 14 February 2015

Daily News Mail - News of 14/02/2015

India and the CTBT (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty)

History of Nuclear Ban Treaty

The adoption of a treaty banning all nuclear explosions has been advocated since the early 1950s. The radioactive elements in atmosphere following the nuclear tests and escalating arms race has raised the concern. The first nuclear test was conducted by United States Army in 1945, it was code named as Trinity and was a part of Manhattan project(the project that has produced first atom bomb during world war-2). Since then, over 50 nuclear tests were conducted till 1953.Prime Minister Nehru of India voiced the heightened international concern in 1954, when he proposed the elimination of all nuclear test explosions worldwide. 

Partial Test Ban Treaty :
Limited success was achieved with the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty in 1963, which banned nuclear tests in the atmosphere, underwater and in space, but not underground. Neither France nor China signed the PTBT. However, the treaty was still ratified by the United States. While the PTBT reduced atmospheric fallout, underground nuclear testing can also vent radioactivity into the atmosphere, and radioactivity released underground may seep into the ground water. Moreover, the PTBT had no restraining effects on the further development of nuclear warheads.

Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty :
A major step towards non-proliferation of nuclear weapons came with the signing of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1968. Under the NPT, non-nuclear weapon states were prohibited from, among other things, possessing, manufacturing or acquiring nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices. All signatories, including nuclear weapon states, were committed to the goal of total nuclear disarmament. However, India, Pakistan and Israel have declined to sign the NPT on grounds that such a treaty is fundamentally discriminatory as it places limitations on states that do not have nuclear weapons while making no efforts to curb weapons development by declared nuclear weapons states.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT):

  • Given the political situation prevailing in the subsequent decades, little progress was made in nuclear disarmament until the end of the Cold War in 1991. Parties to the PTBT held an amendment conference that year to discuss a proposal to convert the Treaty into an instrument banning all nuclear-weapon tests; with strong support from the UN General Assembly, negotiations for a comprehensive test-ban treaty began in 1993.
  • The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), which opened for signature in 1996, is intended to prohibit all nuclear weapon test explosions. The CTBT has achieved near universal adherence, however, Article XIV of the Treaty requires ratification by 44 named states, before the Treaty can enter into force.
  • The Treaty establishes a CTBT Organization (CTBTO), located in Vienna, to ensure the implementation of its provisions, including those provisions for international verification measures.
  • Of these 44 states, three - India, Pakistan, and North Korea - have not signed the Treaty. A further five states - China, Egypt, Iran, Israel, and the United States - have signed but not ratified the Treaty.
Monitoring of CTBTO :
  • After each of the North Korean nuclear tests, all CTBT State Signatories received the same high-quality information about the location, magnitude, depth and time of the event within hours of detection by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation’s (CTBTO) system of monitoring stations.
  • CTBTO has evolved from a mere blueprint to the custodian of the world’s largest and most sophisticated multilateral verification system. Over 300 stations in 89 countries have been built to monitor for signs of nuclear explosions around the globe and round the clock. The International Monitoring System (IMS) monitors the Earth’s crust, listens in the atmosphere and in the oceans and sniffs the air for traces of radioactivity. While scanning the globe for signs of a nuclear test, this monitoring system produces data that have many spin-off applications, from disaster early warning to scientific research on the Earth’s inner structures, climate change or meteors, to name just a few of the potential uses.
  • CTBTO is also making contributions to the nuclear safety field. After the March 2011 Fukushima nuclear accident, CTBTO data provided timely information on the radioactive emissions from the crippled plant and their global dispersion.

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