ASTANA – Canada and Kazakhstan signed on Wednesday a Memorandum of Understanding for a project to provide the Central Asian nation with a radionuclide and noble gas detection station, a facility that will help strengthen the verification regime of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT).
“The station is a laboratory complex that will help monitor noble gases in the atmosphere. By analyzing those gases, we’ll be able to identify the cause and nature of any explosion,” Kazakh Deputy Energy Minister Bakhytzhan Dzhaksaliyev said after the signing ceremony in Astana.
“This is the first station of its kind in not only Kazakhstan but also the entire Central Asian region, with a monitoring range of 5,000 kilometers (3,105 miles),” he added.
The station will either be located near the National Nuclear Center’s laboratory complex in the city of Kurchatov, or at the Semipalatinsk nuclear testing site, Dzhaksaliyev said.
“We plan to open this station by the end of next year. Now that the memorandum has been signed, we must transfer all the documents and train our specialists to manage the station. We need time for this,” the Kazakh deputy minister said.
Canada’s ambassador to Kazakhstan, Nicholas Brousseau, said the station would contribute to the CTBT’s International Monitoring System (IMS) by detecting radioactive emissions resulting from nuclear testing.
The station will help eliminate the gap in the IMS’s coverage of Central Asia, he added.
The IMS, a key element in the CTBT’s verification regime, consists of 321 monitoring stations and 16 laboratories that monitor the planet for indications of a nuclear explosion.
The facility in Kazakhstan will be publicly funded and operated by the National Nuclear Center.