The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP
The Hon. Alexander Downer, MP

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Media Release

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alexander Downer
12 January 2001

Stations Approved for Nuclear Test Monitoring

I am pleased to announce that three Australian monitoring stations to detect nuclear testing have been declared fully ready to carry out their task.

Australia will have 20 such stations as part of the world-wide network of more than 300 being established to verify compliance with  the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) .

The CTBT, which bans nuclear testing for all time, was opened for signature in 1996.  So far, 160 countries have signed the treaty and 67 countries have ratified.   While further ratifications are needed for entry into force, the treaty is regarded as a near-universal commitment against further nuclear tests.

Work on the International Monitoring System began in 1997, and more stations are expected to come online in the coming year.  Australia will host the third largest number of stations of any country after the United States and Russia and will use seismic, radionuclide, infrasound and hydracoustic technologies.

Certification of the Warramunga seismic array in northern Australia and two radionuclide monitoring stations in Melbourne and Perth means Australia now has the most certified stations of any treaty signatory.  The stations were certified by the CTBT Organisation's Provisional Technical Secretariat in Vienna which also funds the stations and facilitates their testing and evaluation.

The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency designed and built the radionuclide stations.  The Research School of Earth Sciences at the Australian National University upgraded and will maintain the Warramunga seismic operation.

Certification represents the formal acceptance of Australian technology and expertise as part of the global network of verification facilities. It demonstrates Australia's leadership in the extensive technical work on CTBT verification, as well as the Australian Government's excellent cooperation with the CTBTO-PTS.

Australia attaches a high priority to the Test Ban Treaty's early entry into force and to a fully operational International Monitoring System to verify compliance.

 Media Contacts:
Matt Francis (Ministerial) 02 6277 7500 /
Nicole Guihot (Departmental) 02 6261 1555

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