Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission
Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization

CTBTO Preparatory Commission logo

Member States (        )
(States Signatories of the CTBT)
Formation 19 November 1996[1]
Headquarters Austria Vienna International Centre, Austria
48°14′05″N 16°25′01″E / 48.23472°N 16.41694°E / 48.23472; 16.41694Coordinates: 48°14′05″N 16°25′01″E / 48.23472°N 16.41694°E / 48.23472; 16.41694
Membership 182 member states
All states signatories to the CTBT are automatically members.
Executive Secretary Hungary Tibor Tóth[2]
Chairperson Namibia Selma Ashipala-Musavyi[2]
Budget $46+€56 million (2010)[2]
Staff around 250[2]

The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, CTBTO Preparatory Commission or CTBTO Prep Com is an international organization based in Vienna, Austria that is tasked with preparing the activities of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). The organization was established by the states that signed the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996 and will cease to exist upon the entry into force of the CTBT. It builds, certifies and operates the infrastructure for detection of Nuclear Tests, prepares regulations for the CTBTO and stimulates entry into force of the CTBT.



The Preparatory Commission has a Plenary Body (sometimes called the Preparatory Commission as well) which meets twice a year and is composed of the countries that signed the CTBT.[3] Its current chairperson is Ambassador Selma Ashipala-Musavyi of Namibia. The commission has two working groups working on financial (Working Group A) and verification matters (Working Group B). Its main activities are performed by the Provisional Technical Secretariat. This organization is led by the Executive Secretary. An overview of Executive Secretaries is shown below:

Tibor Tóth, Executive Secretary of the Provisional Secretariat
Country Name Start of Term
 Germany Wolfgang Hoffmann 3 March 1997[4]
 Hungary Tibor Tóth 1 August 2005

Entry into force of the CTBT will result in the dissolution of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission and establishment of the CTBTO at the end of the first Conference of States Parties of the CTBT after entry into force. In that event all assets of the Commission will be transferred to the CTBTO. Entry into force requires ratification by China, Egypt, Indonesia, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States and takes place 180 days after all these ratifications are received.

Monitoring Systems and Communication systems

The Preparatory Commission has started building the global systems for the detection of nuclear tests. The system consists of an International Monitoring System (IMS), a Global Communications Infrastructure as well as an International Data Center. The systems are not complete but for a large part operational.

International Monitoring System (IMS)

Infrasound arrays at IMS infrasound station IS18, Qaanaaq, Greenland.
IMS Radionuclide station RN20, Beijing, China. The station is also equipped for noble gas monitoring.

The IMS, when completed, will consist of:

  • 50 primary and 120 auxiliary seismic monitoring stations. Primary stations deliver data online in real time, whereas auxiliary stations provide data upon request. Seismic data is used to locate seismic events and to distinguish between an underground nuclear explosion and the numerous earthquakes that occur around the globe.
  • 11 hydroacoustic stations detecting acoustic waves in the oceans. Six of these are hydrophone stations that use underwater microphones that transmit signals via cable to a shore station. Hydrophone stations are extremely sensitive and pick up acoustic waves from underwater events, including explosions, occurring very far away. The other five are seismic stations located on islands (T-phase stations) that use seismometers to detect acoustic waves converted to seismic waves when they hit the island.
  • 60 infrasound stations using microbarographs (acoustic pressure sensors) to detect very low-frequency sound waves in the atmosphere produced by natural and man-made events. These stations are arrays of four to eight sensors which are located one to three kilometers apart. The data are used to locate and to distinguish between atmospheric explosions and natural phenomena such as meteorites, explosive volcanoes and meteorological events as well as man-made phenomena such as re-entering space debris, rocket launches and supersonic aircraft.
  • 80 radionuclide stations using air samplers to detect radioactive particles released from atmospheric explosions and/or vented from underground or under-water explosions. The presence of specific radionuclides provides unambiguous evidence of a nuclear explosion. Forty of the stations will be equipped with noble gas detection. There are several activities sponsored by the IMS, one of which is the International Noble Gas Experiment.

As of April 2011, over 80% of the system had been certified.

Station type[5] Planned Under Construction Testing Certified Total
Primary Seismic 2 1 4 43 50
Auxiliary Seismic 4 6 8 104 120
Infrasound 10 7 0 43 60
Hydroacoustic 0 1 0 10 11
Radionuclide 5 12 3 60 80

Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI) and International Data Centre (IDC)

Communication systems at hydroacoustic station HA08 at British Indian Ocean Territory

Data from all stations are transmitted to the CTBTO International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna through a global private data network known as GCI, which is largely based on satellite (VSAT) links. As of mid-2005, more than half of the planned IMS stations were providing data.

At the IDC, IMS data collected through GCI - approximately 16 gigabytes per day - is stored and correlated using custom software to generate reports of significant events, which are subsequently reviewed by specially trained analysts in order to prepare quality-controlled event bulletins. The IDC operates a large redundant database of events and a 125 terabyte mass storage facility that provides archiving capacity for more than ten years of verification data.


External links

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