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The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) is an international organisation that will be established upon the entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, a Convention that outlaws nuclear test explosions. Its seat will be Vienna, Austria. The organization will be tasked with verifying the ban on nuclear tests and will operate therefore a worldwide monitoring system and may conduct on site inspections. The Preparatory Commission for the CTBTO, and its Provisional Technical Secretariat, were established in 1997 and are headquartered in Vienna, Austria.


In November 2009, the Minisiter for Foreign Affairs, Micheál Martin, TD, agreed to the establishment of The National Data Centre (NDC) for the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) within the Geophysics Section of DIAS.

The designation by the Minister for Foreign Affairs of the School of Cosmic Physics as the National Data Centre is another indication by Ireland of our strong commitment to the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. It also provides an important opportunity for strengthening cooperation by Irish scientists and academics with the wider international scientific community through the development of the CTBTO’s international monitoring system and the mutual sharing of its data products for scientific research.

Ireland’s National Data Centre (NDC) for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) hosted by the Geophysics Section of DIAS, was officially opened on Friday 22 June 2012, by the Tánaiste and Minister for  Foreign Affairs and Trade, Eamon Gilmore, T.D., and Dr Lassina Zerbo, Director of the International Data Division, CTBTO, Vienna.

The NDC receives data from the seismic stations that support the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT). The treaty is administered by a Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS) located in Vienna, Austria. The PTS oversees both the International Monitoring System (IMS) and an International Data Center (IDC). The IMS is composed of networks of seismic (primary and auxiliary), infrasound, hydroacoustic, and radionuclide sensors and the Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI).

The IDC is responsible for receiving data from the IMS and making data products available to the States Parties. The IMS is composed of a worldwide network of monitoring stations that feed data to the IDC. These stations are owned, controlled, and operated by the states hosting or otherwise taking responsibility for the stations in accordance with the treaty protocol. The PTS is responsible for supervising and coordinating the operations of the stations, according to a series of internationally approved operations manuals for each technique.

Nuclear event in North Korea – 6 January 2016

On 6th January 2016 at 01:41:55 the Irish National Seismic Network (INSN) recorded an unusual seismic event located in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). The recordings are consistant with the announcement by the DPRK that it has conducted a nuclear test, their fourth since 2006.

N Korea map

Initial estimates for the size of this event indicate it to be equivalent to an earthquake of magnitude 5.1.

The seismogram below, shows the signal for this event arriving at DIAS seismic stations in Wexford (IWEX), Galway (IGLA) and Donegal (IDGL).