Media release from the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

11 July 2001

Australian Communications Hub to Support Nuclear Test Ban

Data from nuclear test-ban monitoring stations in the Pacific region will be handled through a Sydney-based communications hub under a contract signed today.

Cable & Wireless Optus has signed a seven-year contract to operate one of five communications hubs around the world handling data from monitoring stations supporting the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).

The Pacific region hub will service more than 60 of the 321 monitoring stations being established worldwide to verify CTBT compliance.  Currently, 12 monitoring stations are operating in the Pacific region, mainly in Australia and New Zealand.

The new hub will be an important link in the Global Communications Infrastructure (GCI) being established by the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization and UK-based HOT Telecommunications.  Stations monitoring underground and underwater environments and the atmosphere for evidence of nuclear testing transmit their data via the GCI to a data centre in Vienna.  Data and analysis products are carried also by the GCI from Vienna to CTBT member states.

The Pacific hub will eventually handle information from stations as far afield as Attu Island in Alaska, the Galapagos Islands, Macquarie Island and Jawa Barat in Indonesia.

The communication hub's location further underlines Australia's commitment to the CTBT.  Australia made a strong contribution to negotiation of the treaty.  When its adoption was blocked in the Conference on Disarmament in 1996, Australia initiated action to take it to the UN General Assembly in New York where it was adopted by an overwhelming majority of countries.

Our priority now is to see the treaty enter into force.  The Minister for Foreign Affairs Alexander Downer plans to lead the Australian delegation to the second CTBT Article XIV Conference in New York in September to promote entry into force.  Australia is making diplomatic representations in the lead-up to the Conference urging signature and ratification of the treaty. 

During the recent visit to Australia by US envoy James Kelly, Mr Downer again called on the United States to ratify the CTBT.

Further inquiries:        Malcolm Coxhead (ASNO) 02 6261 1913

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