Nuclear test ban contributes to protection of environment

By putting a complete stop to nuclear test explosions, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) makes an important contribution to protecting and safeguarding the world's environment. Considering the benefits our planet may enjoy from a comprehensive ban on nuclear testing, the World Environment Day 2008 provides a good occasion to renew the appeal to all those States that need to sign and ratify the Treaty to do so in order for it to enter into force.

Devastating effects of nuclear explosions

History shows that the development and testing of nuclear weapons have had disastrous effects on the environment. Nuclear test explosions were accompanied by devastation, environmental disasters and wide-spread nuclear contamination.

In the 53 years since the first nuclear test in 1945, over 2000 nuclear weapon tests have been carried out all over the world in all environments: in the atmosphere, in the oceans and in the underground.

Atmospheric tests resulted in radioactive fallouts over large areas, causing serious harm to people and tremendous damage to the environment. Underwater tests conducted close to the surface dispersed large amounts of radioactive water and steam, contaminating anything nearby, including people, ships, islands and the surrounding water. Contained underground nuclear explosions did not cause dramatic radioactive fallout but led to the venting of nuclear debris in the form of radioactive gases.

By signing the CTBT, 178 States have decided to support the CTBT as a powerful instrument to protect our planet from the devastating effects of nuclear explosions. Although 144 States have already ratified the Treaty it has not yet entered into force. Nine of the Annex 2 States whose ratification is needed for the CTBT's entry into force have not yet ratified it: China, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Israel, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Pakistan and the United States of America. The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, India and Pakistan have not signed the Treaty.

Scientific application of verification data and technologies

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) develops the tools needed to verify the ban on nuclear testing. It builds a global alarm system to monitor the globe for nuclear explosions, using four technologies - seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide.

Since its inception, this unique system with its cutting-edge technology and scientific methods has attracted the interest of the world of science and technology. Scientists the world over are examining the CTBT verification technologies' potential to contribute to sustainable development, scientific research and human welfare.

Environmental issues have assumed immense importance in recent years. This is also reflected in scientific fields that scientists say could benefit from monitoring data and technologies of the CTBT global alarm system.

The list of possible scientific applications of CTBT data and technologies includes the research of the oceans and their biodiversity; climate change research; meteorology and studies of the atmosphere, in particular research of severe storm systems; research of the break-up of ice-shelves and the creation of icebergs.