India an observer in CTBTO

  • Category
    International Relations
  • Published
    31st May, 2019


The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) has invited India to become an "Observer" with access to International Monitoring System data, so it can take an informed decision on ratifying a much-debated nuclear disarmament treaty.


  • Stating its reservations with the treaty, India has not signed CTBT till date.
  • With changing nature of the organization, renewed efforts are made to get India onboard.

Benefits of being an observer:

  • Informed decision: It will allow India to attend CTBTO meeting, observe how the organization works, and accordingly take the time needed to make the decision.
  • Access to information: The CTBTO runs the International Monitoring System (IMS), which can detect nuclear tests anywhere across the world. Being an observer, India would get access to data from the IMS. When complete,
  • IMS will consist of 337 facilities (321 monitoring stations and 16 radionuclide labs) located in 89 countries.
  • It can detect even small nuclear explosions using seismology, hydroacoustics, infrasound and radionuclide technology.
  • The IMS also helps in warning of earthquakes, tsunamis and volcanic ash, and identifies plane crash sites.
  • Symbolism: Being an observer will not change India‘s status with respect to the CTBT. It only gives the advantage of following what’s happening, learning what China is doing in the organization, and where the US comes in. Among the non-signatory, Pakistan too is an observer.

India’s apprehensions with CTBT

  • Discrimination: India claims that the CTBT is discriminatory because it favours "five nuclear weapon states"- the United States, United Kingdom, China, France and Russia - when it comes to fulfilling obligations for eliminating nuclear weapons.
  • India wants the CTBT to have a clause on complete nuclear disarmament in a time-bound manner because there are technological differences between the 'have' and 'have not' countries.
  • India is concerned about the likelihood of those already possessing nuclear weapons upgrading their arsenals through sub-critical and laboratory simulated testing.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT)

  • It is a global treaty that aims to ban all nuclear explosions across the world. Upon entering into force, it provides a legally binding norm against nuclear testing.
  •  The Treaty’s entry into force depends on 44 specific States that must have signed and ratified the Treaty. These States had nuclear facilities at the time the Treaty was negotiated and adopted. 35 of these States have ratified the Treaty.
  • Nine States still need to do so: China, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, Pakistan and the United States.  India, North Korea and Pakistan have not yet signed the Treaty.
  • Between 1945 and 1996, over 2,000 nuclear tests were carried out all over the world. Ten nuclear tests have been conducted ever since the CTBT opened for signature in 1996.
  • The signature to a treaty indicates that the country accepts the treaty and is signed by a senior representative of a country such as the president or the foreign minister.
  • The ratification of a treaty may require the adjustment of a country’s legislation, reflecting its commitments under the treaty.

Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization(CTBTO)

  • It was founded in 1996 to promote the Treaty so that it can enter into force. 
  • It also establishes a verification regime to monitor adherence to the Treaty.
  • The CTBT verification includes
    • International Monitoring System (IMS), 
    • International Data Centre (IDC)
    • On-site inspections (OSI).
  • It constantly monitors the planet for nuclear explosions and shares its findings with Member States.

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