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NRL certified by test ban treaty organisation

24 June 2003 Media Statement

NRL certified by test ban treaty organisation

Disarmament Minister Marian Hobbs has welcomed the news that the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organisation has certified the National Radiation Laboratory in Christchurch.

Associate Health Minister Tariana Turia said the NRL laboratory is only the second laboratory in the world (after the Austrian Research Centre in Seibersdorf) to meet the stringent requirements for CTBT certification.

The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) bans all nuclear explosions for military and civilian purposes. It also establishes a global verification regime, known as the International Monitoring System (IMS), which will monitor compliance with Treaty provisions once the Treaty enters into force.

The IMS comprises a network of facilities that detect, locate and identify the signals generated by a nuclear explosion, and an International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna. Once completed, the IMS will include 321 certified monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide laboratories located in 90 countries. The system is estimated to be already 80 per cent complete.

"During my visit to the CTBT secretariat in Vienna in late April, I had an opportunity to see the operation of the International Data Centre and the valuable contribution New Zealand is making," Marian Hobbs said.

"New Zealand has a right to be proud of the NRL team. Through their work, we have the first line of defence right here in New Zealand against the resumption of nuclear testing anywhere in the world."

New Zealand scientists already play an integral part in the monitoring system with six monitoring stations already in operation. Staff from the National Radiation Laboratory (NRL) have set up, and are running, monitoring facilities in Kaitaia, the Chatham Islands and Rarotonga, with a further facility in development on the Chatham Islands.

New Zealand's Institute of Geological and Nuclear Sciences operates auxiliary stations at Erewhon and Urewera, and on Raoul Island. The NRL laboratory is one of the 16 intended radionuclide laboratories in the IMS.

"Now that it is certified, NRL's laboratory will work in support of the IMS’s radionuclide stations," Tariana Turia said. "These stations are designed to identify radioactive particles released during a nuclear explosion. The NRL laboratory will be able to analyse filters from the stations and assist with on-site inspection samples.

"Laboratory staff will work in tandem with technical experts at the IDC in Vienna to ensure that any nuclear activity does not go undetected. "


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