Q. What is CTBT?
A. The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) is the Treaty banning all nuclear explosions everywhere, by everyone. The Treaty was negotiated at the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and adopted by the United Nations General Assembly. It opened for signature on 24 September 1996.
The Treaty will enter into force after all 44 States listed in Annex 2 to the Treaty will ratify it. These States had nuclear facilities at the time the Treaty was negotiated and adopted.
Q. What is current status?
A. 36 of these States have ratified the Treaty. Eight States still need to do so: China, North Korea, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States. India, North Korea and Pakistan have not even signed the Treaty yet.
All three have also undertaken tests after 1996; India and Pakistan in May 1998 and North Korea six times between 2006 and 2017. The CTBT has therefore not entered into force and lacks legal authority.
Q. What is a “Zero yield” in this regard?
A. A comprehensive test ban has been defined as a “Zero yield” test ban that would prohibit supercritical hydro-nuclear tests but not sub-critical hydrodynamic nuclear tests.
Q. Why is the CTBT so important?
A. The CTBT is the last barrier on the way to develop nuclear weapons. It curbs the development of new nuclear weapons and the improvement of existing nuclear weapon designs. The Treaty provides a legally binding norm against nuclear testing. The Treaty also helps prevent human suffering and environmental damages caused by nuclear testing.
Q. What isComprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO)?
A. The organisation promotes the Treaty so that it can enter into force.
It establishes a verification regime to monitor adherence to the Treaty. The verification system is built around a network of over 325 seismic, radionuclide, infrasound and hydroacoustic (underwater) monitoring stations.
The organization was founded in 1996. It is headquartered in Vienna.