Author`s name AP ©

Test ban treaty organization faces funding shortfall

An official warned Thursday that the organization overseeing a treaty banning nuclear explosions is facing a funding shortfall of US$24 million (EUR17.9 million) for this year.

"We have a nonpayment challenge," said Tibor Toth, executive secretary of the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty Organization told reporters.

"Around 24 million U.S. dollars are missing compared to where we should be ... and where we will have to be by the end of this year."

The organization has a total budget of roughly US$110 million (EUR82 million), Toth said.

The treaty - which bans all nuclear explosions - is described as a cornerstone of the international regime on the nonproliferation of nuclear weapons and as an essential foundation for the pursuit of nuclear disarmament.

However, it will only come into force once it has been signed and ratified by the 44 states that participated in a 1996 disarmament conference and which, at that time, possessed nuclear power or research reactors.

To date, 34 of the 44 have ratified it, the CTBTO said. Those who have not signed include the United States, China, Iran, North Korea and Israel.

Toth said the shortfall could affect the organization's progress.

In order to monitor compliance with the treaty, the CTBTO is currently setting up a global verification regime that consists of an international monitoring system supported by an international data center.

"Such a system is generating important data ... no single country can have a system like this," he said.

The United States is one of the countries that is not fully paying its share, the CTBTO's Web site shows.

"Each and every country should see the value of what we are doing," Toth said, noting that they also had a "moral obligation" to pay up.