Putting an end to nuclear test explosions

February 27, 2009

In 1996, the United Nations General Assembly finally adopted the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), which bans all nuclear explosions on earth and which is an essential element in the global nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament regime and a step towards the total elimination of nuclear weapons.

The new Springer book Nuclear Test Ban, launched last night at an official ceremony at the Swedish Embassy in Vienna, provides a unique insight into the challenging international work of establishing a complex global verification system to monitor the ban on nuclear testing. The authors, three eminent scientists from Sweden, Norway and The Netherlands, were personally involved in this work for over 25 years. Their book gives a broad presentation in layman's language of the creation and implementation of the treaty prohibiting nuclear test explosions.

To date the treaty has been signed by 180 states and ratified by 148. But it has not yet entered into force. "Time is ripe to get the treaty back on track and we see the urgent need to inject new energy into the process of bringing the CTBT into force. This book is a humble contribution to this process," said Ola Dahlman, also speaking on behalf of co-authors Svein Mykkeltveit and Hein Haak. "Our ambition is to provide a fair and unbiased description of what we have experienced. The comments and reflections are personal, and are colored by our engagement in the CTBT and by our belief in multilateral treaties as an important element to build global security."

The foreign ministers of The Netherlands, Sweden and Norway -countries that strongly support a world free of nuclear weapons - have underlined the importance of this book. They describe it as an excellent overview of the evolution of the CTBT and its verification regime and write in the foreword: "A legally binding nuclear test ban will be an obstacle to nuclear proliferation and the onset of a new nuclear arms race."

Nuclear Test Ban discusses more than fifty years of political efforts in the field of nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation to ban the testing of nuclear weapons, the most deadly weapons ever invented. The book analyzes the negotiations of the CTBT, the treaty itself and the efforts to implement it from three different perspectives: political, scientific and managerial. The main thrust of the book, however, is devoted to more than a decade of efforts by the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization to implement the treaty and its verification system. This is the most comprehensive verification system ever created, with global coverage provided by more than 300 monitoring stations, the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna, and an intrusive onsite inspection regime.

The book is written for professionals in political, diplomatic, and military areas; politicians and their staff; scientists and graduate students in political science; researchers at institutions in security related fields; NGOs; journalists; and laypersons with a background and interest in security politics.
Nuclear Test Ban
Converting Political Visions to Reality
Ola Dahlman, Svein Mykkeltveit, Hein Haak
2009, XVIII, 277 p. 90 illus. in color,
ISBN: 978-1-4020-6883-6; Hardcover. $89.95; €59.95; sFr 99.50, £55.99


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