Monitoring the world for nuclear explosions and verifying that countries are meeting their nuclear nonproliferation obligations takes global cooperation. One organization that plays a key role in the effort is the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO PrepCom), a major NNSA partner.
The CTBTO PrepCom operates the International Monitoring System (IMS) and International Data Centre (IDC), which are designed to detect nuclear explosions conducted anywhere in the world. The CTBTO PrepCom, headquartered in Vienna, Austria, cannot do its work alone—experts from States Signatories like the United States provide their knowledge and experience to improve capabilities of the IMS and IDC.
Periodic IDC experiments are important elements in commissioning and validating the CTBTO PrepCom’s readiness to detect and analyze suspected nuclear explosions, with the latest experiment conducted in February. Dr. Victoria Oancea of Leidos and Dr. Michael Foxe of Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) participated and helped perform and evaluate the test.
The goal of NNSA experts is to help the IDC refine their ability to focus on suspect events that truly need their attention versus the thousands of daily earthquakes, mining explosions, and harmless radionuclide emissions from civil nuclear facilities.
We are proud of the strong U.S. support provided to the CTBTO PrepCom. I look forward to joining Executive Secretary Dr. Robert Floyd when we visit Los Alamos, Sandia, and the Nevada National Security Site in April to see firsthand how NNSA experts contribute to the international nuclear explosion monitoring and verification effort.
A team from PNNL, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and the Air Force Technical Applications Center recently collaborated on a CTBTO PrepCom-sponsored challenge to understand how emissions from civil nuclear facilities are received at IMS stations and analyzed at the IDC.
Experts from the NNSA national laboratories are also helping to improve the IDC’s ability to investigate seismic and infrasound events as well as potentially use cloud computing to increase capabilities of smaller countries’ data centers. In addition, Sandia National Laboratories recently provided the IDC with the latest release of software in support of the IDC Re-engineering project.
“We are proud of the strong U.S. support provided to the CTBTO PrepCom. I look forward to joining Executive Secretary Dr. Robert Floyd when we visit Los Alamos, Sandia, and the Nevada National Security Site in April to see firsthand how NNSA experts contribute to the international nuclear explosion monitoring and verification effort,” said Corey Hinderstein, Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation.
U.S. support for the CTBTO PrepCom focuses on completing and strengthening the international nuclear explosion monitoring and verification regime.