Chathams to Help Monitor Test Ban Treaty

  • Don McKinnon
Disarmament and Arms Control

The Chatham Islands is to host two monitoring stations for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), the Minister for Disarmament and Arms Control, Rt Hon Don McKinnon, announced today.

A scientist from the CTBT's headquarters is visiting the Chathams this week, along with officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and the National Radiation Laboratory, to discuss the planned stations and to conduct a site survey.

Mr McKinnon said the Chatham Islands would host a radionuclide station, to pick up signs of radiation in the atmosphere, and an infrasound station, which measures low-frequency sound waves in the air.

"The Chathams site survey is the first the CTBT secretariat have done for a radionuclide station, and one of the few they have carried out to date. It puts New Zealand at the forefront of international efforts to verify the test ban," he said.

Mr McKinnon said the Chathams stations would provide a vital link in the international monitoring of the nuclear test ban because of their geographical position.

"In addition to the two stations in the Chathams, New Zealand will host another radionuclide station and three auxiliary seismic stations."

Seismic stations measure shockwaves in the earth. Hydroacoustic monitoring stations will also be used to measure soundwaves travelling through water.

"While the test ban treaty is not yet in force, establishing a monitoring network over the next two years will ensure that states stick to their commitment to halt all nuclear testing anywhere for all time. They know that if they cheat, it will be detected," Mr McKinnon added.