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Negotiated in Geneva during the Conference on Disarmament between 1994 and 1996, the Comprehensive Nuclear- Test -Ban Treaty (CTBT) was adopted by the United Nations General Assembly on 10 September 1996 (A/RES/50/245) and opened for signature on 24 September 1996. To date 185 states have signed the Treaty and 170 of these have also ratified it. However, as stated in Article XIV, the Treaty’s entry into force is subject to its being ratified by all states listed in Annex II to the Treaty, eight of which (China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and USA) have not done so yet.

The Treaty states the obligation not to carry out any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion (art. 1.1) and to refrain from causing, encouraging, or in any way participating in the carrying out of any nuclear weapon test explosion or any other nuclear explosion (art. 1.2). To this end the Treaty (art. 4) provides for the establishment of a capillary verification regime to make sure that that no nuclear explosion goes undetected. The CTBT therefore makes a fundamental contribution to nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation, by making it difficult for states to develop nuclear weapons or upgrade them for the countries that already have them. Moreover, the Treaty plays an essential role in the prevention of the serious damages which can be caused to people, animals and plants by the radiations produced by nuclear explosions.

To guarantee its own implementation, the Treaty provides for the creation of a specific “Comprehensive Nuclear –Test - Ban Treaty Organization” (CTBTO) upon its entry into force. Pending the missing ratifications, a Preparatory Commission with headquarters in Vienna was established in November 1996 with the purpose of facilitating the entry into force of the Treaty and of establishing the global verification regime, in order to ensure that the regime is operative when the Treaty comes into force. Lassina Zerbo is the Executive Secretary currently chairing the Commission.


11063711 10153722825304047 1168348663456983735 nThe verification regime, which is the core element of the Treaty, is based on the International Monitoring System (IMS) and on On-Site Inspections. The IMS consists of 337 monitoring stations aimed at detecting every possible indicator of nuclear explosions. Over 90 % of these stations have already been created. The stations of the network are of four types: seismic, hydroacoustic, infrasound and radionuclide. The information collected through the IMS is then forwarded to the International Data Centre Vienna, which processes and redistributes it to the CTBTO Member States. If from the gathered information it results that nuclear explosions have occurred in a certain area, On-Site Inspections can then be carried out so that the inspectors can collect evidence in the suspected area. However, such inspections can be requested and approved by Member States only after the Treaty has come into force. Meanwhile, important exercises for On-Site Inspections were carried out in Kazakhstan in 2008 and in Jordan in 2014.


Italy ratified the Treaty with Law No 484 dated 15 December 1998, subsequently amended by Law No 197 dated 24 July 2003. To implement the Treaty, the National Authority responsible for the Treaty's implementation, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, has established the National Data Centre, which is able to receive the data coming from the IMS and the International Data Centre. This Centre is run by the National Authority with the scientific-technical support of the National Institue for Geophysics and Volcanology (Istituto Nazionale di Geofisica e Vulcanologia - INGV) and of the National Agency for New Technologies, Energy and Sustainable Economic Development (Agenzia Nazionale per le Nuove Tecnologie, l’Energia e lo Sviluppo Economico Sostenibile - ENEA). Furthermore, Italy, besides taking part in the activities of the Preparatory Commission, directly contributes to the International Monitoring System. Two national structures are included in this system: the seismological station in Enna, which forwards data to the International Data Centre, and the laboratory for radionuclide detection of the National Inspectorate for Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection (Ispettorato nazionale per la sicurezza nucleare e la radioprotezione - ISIN), which analyzes the samples of interest for the CTBTO.


Further information on the Treaty and on the role of Italy within the CTBTO Preparatory Commission can be found in the latest Report to the Parliament on the state of implementation of the Treaty.


Last update: February 2021