CTBTO's Executive Secretary visits Indonesia where tsunami warning arrangement has just been approved by UNESCO

Indonesia tsunami early warning system among topics discussed at National Development Workshop in Jakarta, 5-6 June 2008

UNESCO approves tsunami warning arrangement with Indonesia

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) approved a tsunami warning arrangement with Indonesia in early June, which is now subject to approval by the next session of the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) on 23-27 June 2008. The arrangement is of great importance to the region, especially after the 2004 tsunami which was triggered by a 9.3 magnitude earthquake off the coast of Sumatra, Indonesia, and killed over 240,000 people in the coastal areas of the Indian Ocean.

Indonesia’s tsunami registered by CTBT’s global monitoring system

The earthquake was registered within minutes at seismic and hydroacoustic monitoring stations of the CTBTO International Monitoring System (IMS) throughout the world. Data about the catastrophe were sent to States Signatories by the International Data Centre (IDC) in Vienna within two hours of the data being recorded. Although the networks of many institutions registered the earthquake, no adequate warning could be issued by the relevant authorities to the population at risk because of the lack of an integrated and coherent early warning system in the region. There is little doubt that thousands of lives could have been saved if an effective alert system had been in place.

The IDC Reviewed Event Bulletins of 26 and 27 December 2004 include 1137 events (main map) of which 1054 events (inset) were aftershocks of the Sumatra tsunamigenic earthquake.

CTBTO cooperates with UNESCO to assist tsunami warning centres

In March 2005, the CTBTO decided to explore options for releasing data from the IMS to tsunami warning centres. The goal of this exercise was to identify how the CTBTO might best contribute to a tsunami warning system in the Indian Ocean. Together with UNESCO, the CTBTO is now providing real-time and continuous data to five tsunami warning centres: the North-West Pacific Tsunami Information Centre in Japan, the Pacific Tsunami Warning Centre in Hawaii, the Joint Australian Tsunami Warning Centre (JATWC), and two in Malaysia – the Malaysian Meteorological Department and the Malaysian National Tsunami Early Warning System. These centres now receive data directly from 30 monitoring stations worldwide. As the provider of the fastest seismic and hydroacoustic data, this system enhances the ability of tsunami warning centres to issue timely and reliable tsunami alerts. A tsunami alert system for Indonesia will be inaugurated on 11 November 2008.

National Data Centre Development Workshop

The National Data Centre (NDC) Development Workshop for members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), took place in Jakarta, Indonesia from 5 – 6 June 2008. An NDC is operated and maintained by a Member State and functions may include sending IMS data to the IDC in Vienna and receiving data and products from the IDC. One of the aims of the workshop was to promote the application of verification data for civil and scientific purposes, especially for tsunami warning. Other objectives included promoting greater understanding of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) and the work of the CTBTO, and enhancing national capabilities of ASEAN States Signatories in the implementation of the Treaty. The workshop facilitated greater exchange of experience and expertise among ASEAN States Signatories in the establishment, operation and management of NDCs.

Auxiliary seismic station AS040, Lembang, Jawa Barat, Indonesia. Certified on 12 September 2007.

Nine States participate

Representatives from nine States participated in the workshop, including five from the ASEAN region: Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Thailand and Viet Nam. Scientists and experts from Australia, Japan, Republic of Korea and Germany also participated. The CTBTO was represented by the Executive Secretary, Tibor Tóth, and several senior members of staff from the IDC, including the Director, Lassina Zerbo.

IMS facilities in Indonesia important for the CTBT’s verification regime

Indonesia currently hosts four auxiliary seismic stations, which are used to locate seismic events and to distinguish between an underground nuclear explosion and the numerous earthquakes that occur around the globe. Negotiations are taking place for the installation of another two auxiliary seismic stations. 

Importance of National Data Centres

Topics covered at the workshop included the significance of the CTBT in the context of the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime, establishing and managing an NDC, the support provided by the CTBTO to NDCs, access to IMS and IDC raw data and data analyses. The Indonesia tsunami early warning system was discussed and the application of IMS data for the service of the North West Pacific Tsunami Advisory Centre.

Political significance of the CTBT

A total of 144 States have so far ratified the Treaty. In ASEAN, six of the 10 countries in the region, Cambodia, the Lao People's Democratic Republic, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam, have ratified the CTBT, whereas Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Myanmar and Thailand have not yet done so. Indonesia is also one of 44 States listed in Annex 2 of the Treaty. Ratification is required by all Annex 2 States before the Treaty can enter into force. Annex 2 States formally participated in the Treaty negotiations in1996 and possess either nuclear power or research reactors. To date, 35 of the Annex 2 States have ratified the CTBT. In the international and regional context, non-Annex 2 state Malaysia’s ratification in January 2008 was heralded as a very positive development.

ASEAN monitoring network supporting tsunami early warning systems
Participants made recommendations on ways that the CTBTO and the ASEAN Secretariat could collaborate in establishing a monitoring network to support tsunami early warning systems in ASEAN countries. Cooperation between NDCs and tsunami centres and more capacity building activities for ASEAN countries were also encouraged. The Director of the IDC, Lassina Zerbo, and the Chief of the Monitoring and Data Analysis Section at the IDC, Robert Pearce, visited the ASEAN Secretariat whilst in Indonesia to discuss possible future collaboration in the area of capacity building.

Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Noer Hassan Wirajuda (left) meets with the Executive Secretary of the CTBTO, Tibor Tóth.

Executive Secretary’s official visits to Indonesia
and Brunei Darussalam

Tibor Tóth met with Indonesia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs, Noer Hassan Wirajuda and the Minister for Research and Technology, Dr. Kusmayanto Kadiman during his recent trip to Indonesia. While in Indonesia, Tóth visited the new tsunami warning system at the Indonesia Bureau of Meteorology and Geophysics where he saw IMS seismic data arriving in real time. Tóth also travelled to Brunei Darussalam where he met with the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Dato Paduka Shofry Abdul Ghafor and the Deputy Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Defence, Dr. Haji Emran Bahar. While in Brunei Darussalam, Tóth made a briefing to several agencies interested in the activities of the CTBTO. These included representatives from the Attorney General’s Chambers, the Prime Minister’s Office, the Ministry of Defence, the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Communications, the Ministry of Home Affairs, and the Ministry of Development.