International, technical partnership continues to flourish

  • Published
  • By Susan A. Romano
  • Air Force Technical Applications Center Public Affairs

Since 1996, the Air Force Technical Applications Center and the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission in Vienna have shared a long-term working relationship with the same vital goal in mind: global nuclear nonproliferation.

It is through that collaborative partnership that the two organizations have been able to capitalize on employing emerging technologies and breakthroughs in nuclear monitoring innovations to help them execute their respective missions.

CTBTO Preparatory Commission executive secretary, Dr. Lassina Zerbo, traveled from his headquarters in Vienna to meet with AFTAC commander, Col. Chad Hartman, in Florida July 25 to discuss modernization of the National Data Center and how AFTAC’s support to the International Data Center is fundamental to their re-engineering efforts.

AFTAC has a significant history as the United States’ premier organization devoted to nuclear treaty monitoring using national technical means, while the CTBTO Preparatory Commission is tasked with developing a global network to detect nuclear explosions in any environment worldwide.

“Our ties are stronger than ever,” Zerbo said. “Fifteen years ago, AFTAC was a far more independent organization with fewer ties to our other partners in the IDC. But today, AFTAC is a vital participant and contributor, and their technical data is critical to our international community and our efforts.”

Zerbo traveled with his IDC director, Dr. Tammy Taylor, and the duo met with numerous AFTAC experts at the treaty monitoring center and held discussions about opportunities to illustrate to other international participants how best to conduct scientific and technical exchanges to achieve common goals.

“It is always inspiring to have discussions with AFTAC on the sustainability of the International Monitoring System and the value of the IDC to deliver essential, evidence-based products for policy makers,” Zerbo said. “Colonel Hartman and his team are essential partners for CTBT verification.”

Zerbo and Taylor were also given a tour of the heartbeat of the treaty monitoring headquarters – the AFTAC Operations Center, where Airmen work around-the-clock, 365 days a year, monitoring its 3,600 sensors across the globe.

“AFTAC is in the business of ensuring no nuclear surprises for our nation, our allies and our international partners,” Hartman said. “And teaming with the International Monitoring System on scientific and technical exchanges lets us do just that.”

“The two words that define our relationship best are sustainability and cooperation. As technologies continue to grow and improve, so does our strong partnership,” Zerbo added. “AFTAC has a deep, deep knowledge of the technical aspects of our charter, and their contributions are invaluable to the international community. Since I took over as executive secretary, I haven’t had the opportunity to participate directly in these technical data meetings. That’s why I’m glad I had the chance to travel to the United States to meet with AFTAC’s team of experts. It is always beneficial.”

Today, AFTAC continues to improve the U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System, the global network of sensors that detect potential nuclear detonations underground, underwater, in the atmosphere and in space. As the nation’s caretaker of USAEDS, AFTAC contributes six of its U.S.-based USAEDS seismic monitoring stations to the IMS to strive for a safer and more secure world.