CTBTO Executive Secretary visits AFTAC

  • Published
  • By Susan A. Romano
  • AFTAC Public Affairs

PATRICK SPACE FORCE BASE, Fla. -- The executive secretary of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization visited the Air Force Technical Applications Center Oct. 25 to learn more about the intricate and important partnership the two agencies share.
Dr. Robert Floyd took over as CTBTO’s top leader in August 2021 and in that role, he is responsible for promoting universal recognition of the CTBT, while simultaneously building up the verification regime to ensure no nuclear explosion can go undetected.
Accompanying the secretary were Sabine Bauer, Floyd’s Special Assistant, and Megan Slinkard, Chief of Software Applications at the International Data Centre.
The distinguished visitors were provided an in-depth overview of the center’s treaty monitoring mission, as well as a briefing on current global operations.
Since 1996, AFTAC and CTBTO’s Preparatory Commission have shared a long-term working relationship with the same vital goal in mind:  global nuclear nonproliferation.  The center has a long history as the United States’ premier organization devoted to nuclear treaty monitoring using national technical means, while the commission is tasked with developing a global network to detect nuclear explosions in any environment worldwide.
In addition to receiving updates on current events and background on AFTAC’s overseas detachments, Floyd and his team toured the Maintenance Operations Control Center to understand how AFTAC monitors and restores mission status and functionality of its 3,600+ sensors worldwide, and how it interfaces and partners with the IDC to resolve data outages.
The secretary also visited the 709th Support Squadron’s Component Repair Facility to speak with maintenance technicians about their precision seismic equipment that contributes to the International Monitoring System.
“This has been an absolutely fascinating opportunity,” Floyd said.  “It’s wonderful to meet the experts who perform such a critical role in nuclear nonproliferation.  I am so impressed with the team here and they should know how valuable their contributions are to global security.”

While the U.S. has yet to officially enter the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty into force, Floyd stressed the significance of the support countries like the U.S. give to the program.
“I hold nothing but hope that someday all nations will recognize the influence they’ve had in reducing the number of nuclear tests that have been performed,” he said.  “Think about it – before the CTBT was signed in 1996, there were more than 2,000 nuclear tests conducted around the world.  But after the treaty was drafted, less than a dozen were carried out, and only one – one! – has taken place this century.  I consider that an outstanding success.”
The last stop on his tour was to the Ciambrone Radiochemistry Lab, the only radiochemistry lab of its kind operated by the United States Air Force.  Here the secretary was shown how lab personnel identify, analyze, and assess radiological or nuclear debris at the 38,000 square-foot facility in support of the center’s Nuclear Debris Collection and Analysis program.
“Our journey here was nothing short of amazing,” Floyd said.  “We as a global society are facing some grave concerns – the threat and potential for nuclear conflict exists, and those are significant challenges.  But the world is looking to us for leadership and direction on these sensitive issues, which is why it’s so important to strengthen the bonds like the ones we have with AFTAC to make the world a safer place for the good of humanity.”

To date, 186 nations have signed and 176 have ratified the treaty to ban nuclear explosions everywhere: on the earth’s surface, in the atmosphere, underwater, and underground, whether for peaceful or military purposes.
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 U.S. Atomic Energy Detection System, AFTAC contributes six of its U.S.-based USAEDS seismic monitoring stations to the IMS to strive for a safer and more secure world.
“I am so deeply appreciative of the generous support and partnership with AFTAC,” Floyd said.  “The CTBTO and the IDC would not be where it is today without the contributions of AFTAC.”