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Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO)

What is the CTBTO and its Preparatory Commission (PrepCom)?

The CTBT was adopted by the UN General Assembly on 10 September 1996, and will enter into force after 44 States under Annex II to the Treaty have ratified. These include the five Nuclear Weapon States (NWS).  South Africa is one of the 44 designated States whose ratification is necessary for the Treaty to enter into force.  In this connection, the South African Government ratified the Treaty on 30 March 1999.

South Africa became the Chair of the first session of the PrepCom in 1996.  In 2001, South Africa was elected to represent the African region as one of the five Vice-Presidents of the second Article XIV Conference on Facilitating the Entry Into Force of the CTBT.

The PrepCom was established for the purpose of carrying out the necessary preparations for the effective implementation of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). A major element of these preparations is the construction of an elaborate verification system, which includes a worldwide network to verify that no nuclear weapon explosions tests are conducted.

South Africa and the CTBTO:

Peace, Security and Stability

South Africa remains firm in its commitment that the ultimate objective of the efforts of States in the disarmament process is complete, irreversible and verifiable disarmament under strict and effective international control. South Africa shares the view that the cessation of all nuclear weapon test explosions and all other nuclear explosions, by constraining the development and qualitative improvement of nuclear weapons and ending the development of advanced new types of nuclear weapons, constitutes an effective measure of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation in all its aspects. The end to all nuclear weapons testing is, thus, a meaningful step in the realization of a systematic process to achieve nuclear disarmament. The argument does not in any way preclude utilization of nuclear materials for peaceful purposes.

Protecting the Environment

Nuclear explosive tests release damaging radioactive materials into the environment. Putting an end to such tests will prevent further environmental degradation.
South Africa hosts six (6) monitoring facilities:

  • Two (2) seismic stations equipped with sensors for detecting seismic waves generated by underground nuclear explosions, located at Boshoff and Sutherland. South Africa also co-hosts a seismic station with Germany at the SANAE base, Antarctica.
  • An Infrasound station, located at Boshof is equipped with acoustic sensors for detecting the low frequency waves generated by atmospheric nuclear explosions.
  • One radionuclide station, to be located at Cape Town will be equipped with sensors for capturing and measuring radioactive particles released into the atmosphere by nuclear tests.
  • A radionuclide laboratory is located at Pelindaba.
  • A Noble Gas System is planned to be located at Cape Town

Website: www.ctbto.org

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