Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg sign Memorandum of Understanding on scientific cooperation in the framework of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

More than 20 years ago, the world took a decisive step to ban nuclear tests forever: the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) was opened for signature. Today, the world is still waiting for eight States to join the Treaty so it can enter into force. Despite the delay, the CTBT remains an irreplaceable instrument for the international non-proliferation regime. Nuclear tests are considered illegal worldwide and only one country, North Korea, has violated this international standard during the 21st century.

No nuclear test, whether on the earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater or underground, should go undetected, this is what the CTBT aims for. Therefore, an International Monitoring System has been rolled out, which uses state-of-the-art technology to detect nuclear tests worldwide. Member States can help by analyzing the monitoring data and examining all suspicious events, which is usually performed through national data centers.

The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg have decided to reinforce the transnational scientific cooperation in this domain. The Memorandum of Understanding they sign today will stimulate the pooling of expertise and the conduct of joint analyses. This common endeavor will lead to a more thorough and complete examination of suspicious events and thus contribute to the strengthening of the verification regime of the CTBT. Beyond verification, the exchanges between the scientists in our three countries can also result in joined scientific studies and research.

This transnational cooperation of the CTBT national data centers and scientists of the BENELUX is the first of its kind. The Ministers of Foreign Affairs of Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg express the hope that this partnership will serve as inspiration for regional cooperation initiatives in other regions.