Over 2,000 nuclear tests were conducted during the Cold War. Such tests negatively impact people's health, the environment, global security and the non-proliferation architecture. A comprehensive ban on nuclear explosions makes it considerably more difficult to create new or develop existing nuclear weapons. It is thus an essential part of the global non-proliferation regime.
The aim of the CTBT is the verifiable prohibition of nuclear explosions of any kind – in particular nuclear weapons tests – by means of a global monitoring network. The current monitoring network (International Monitoring System) comprises over 300 monitoring stations, which can detect even the smallest explosion in the atmosphere, under water, on land and underground with pinpoint accuracy. The system proved its effectiveness when it detected several nuclear weapons tests conducted by North Korea. Switzerland has a seismic monitoring station in Davos which is part of the international monitoring system.
The negotiations towards the CTBT created a global norm against nuclear testing. Since 1998, all countries except North Korea have observed a moratorium on nuclear testing. However, the treaty itself will not enter into force until specific countries possessing certain nuclear technologies ratify it. Switzerland regularly calls on these states especially to ratify the treaty so that it can rapidly be put into effect.
The tasks of the planned Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), which will be established when the treaty comes into force, are currently carried out by a Provisional Technical Secretariat based in Vienna.
Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, CTBTO