Australia and New Zealand aim for permanent ban on nuclear weapon tests

Media release

5 October 2012

Foreign Minister Bob Carr has welcomed a new framework to support the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

Senator Carr said the framework involves scientific and technical cooperation between Australia and New Zealand to promote a permanent and effective ban on nuclear weapon tests.

"International cooperation enhances the ability of scientific experts to provide advice to their governments on whether a nuclear test has occurred," Senator Carr said.

"Cooperation between Australia and New Zealand can serve as a model for others around the world and will strengthen the CTBT.

"Australia strongly advocates the earliest possible entry into force of the CTBT, so we are taking technical steps to prepare for that time."

In the 16 years since the CTBT opened for signature, the CTBT Organization has largely completed work on a global network of over 300 facilities to monitor the environment for acoustic waves and radionuclide particulates and gases from a possible nuclear explosion.

Data collected by these facilities is made available to CTBT parties, who have the final responsibility in determining which events – about 30,000 per year - could be a nuclear explosion.

Although the CTBT has not yet entered into force, its monitoring system has already shown its potential by readily detecting nuclear tests conducted by North Korea in 2006 and 2009.

Technical agencies in Australia monitoring for nuclear explosions are Geoscience Australia and the Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency.

The framework for bilateral cooperation is set out in a memorandum of understanding between the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office and the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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