Scientists get ready for mock on-site nuclear inspection

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Washington
Washington, Sep 2: Some 40 scientists and technicians from around the world will descend on Jordan in November to take part in a simulated on-site inspection of a suspected nuclear test site on the banks of the Dead Sea.

Playing the part of inspectors, the experts will have access to a wide range of sensor technologies to look for signs of whether a nuclear explosion has taken place.

At the same time, other role players representing the state under inspection will try to put them off their scent.

"The aim of this elaborate exercise is to prepare for the on-site inspections foreseen under the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)," explained science writer Edwin Cartlidge.

This 1996 agreement bans all signatory nations from carrying out nuclear tests anywhere on Earth or in space.

But to become legally binding all 44 countries that possessed nuclear technology in 1996 must sign it and then ratify it.

However, eight of those countries, including North Korea and the US, have still to do so.

Until the CTBT gets the backing of all the relevant nations, scientists cannot perform the on-site inspection specified in the treaty

"While the treaty remains on hold, CTBTO (Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation) scientists will continue to refine and test their monitoring techniques, ensuring that they are as ready as they can be should they finally be called upon to investigate what could be the explosion of a real nuclear weapon," Cartlidge noted.

"The exercise in Jordan should provide a stern test of that preparedness," Cartlidge said in the article that appeared in the monthly magazine Physics World.

IANS

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