Edge Exclusive -- Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty in Crisis
July 18, 2004

Have we forgotten what's at stake?
(July 15, 2004) -- The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty is on the verge of collapse according to confidential sources who reveal a history of internal mismanagement and inaction attributable to the leadership of its Executive Secretary Dr. Wolfgang Hoffman, and obstructionism by the Bush administration.

* The authors are accredited diplomats who work inside the CTBTO organization. They aspire to see the CTBTO “fulfill its mandate under a new and effective leadership." These confidential sources include staff members as well as Vienna-based diplomats. They have requested anonymity.

The Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBTO PrepCom) -- the Vienna, Austria-based United Nations organization set up to implement the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) -- has been in crisis since January 2002 due to the shutting off of a monitoring station by the Islamic Republic of Iran and a damning report on the human resources problems within its Provisional Technical Secretariat (PTS).

More than two years later, these matters have not been resolved. Since then, the PTS has been beset by a series of internal and external crises.

The Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission (www.ctbto.org), Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann (68) of Germany, has so far failed to resolve the Iran non-supply of data issue or increase the number of CTBT signatures and ratifications (especially of the nuclear-capable 44 states listed in Annex 2 of the CTBT).

India, Pakistan and North Korea (DPRK) are part of this group that has not yet signed the Treaty, while China, Colombia, DRC (Zaire), Egypt, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, USA and Viet Nam are yet to ratify it. In fact, Colombia has not yet even paid a cent in dues to the Preparatory Commission.

The Republican-controlled US Senate rejected the CTBT in October 1999. Dr. Hoffmann has failed his staff in more ways than one can imagine due to his complete lack of emotional intelligence.

Embattled CTBTO Chief Dr. Wolfgang Hoffman
A Lack of Momentum
The CTBT was opened for signature on 24 September 1996 and was to have entered into force three years later. The International Monitoring System (IMS) consisting of 321 stations and 16 radionuclide labs were to be ready in 1999, however, this system may not be read till 2007. The United States, United Kingdom and other states are getting frustrated with Dr. Hoffmann's foot-dragging in this and other areas.

Dr. Hoffmann who is a career diplomat and the former German Ambassador to the Conference for Disarmament in Geneva (where the CTBT was negotiated) is 68-years-old and suffers from high-blood-pressure and heart problems due to his short stature and obesity. He eats noting but pork and drinks beer all day long. He is playing the fiddle while Rome is burning. While Iran has shut down its [monitoring] station, it continues to receive data from other member states including the US. Is this fair?

The current internal and external challenges faced by the CTBTO PrepCom are a win-win situation for Dr. Hoffmann. If the CTBT were to enter into force in the near future, then many member-states would be fighting to have their candidate become the Director-General (DG) of the fully-fledged CTBTO. This means that Dr. Hoffmann would have to be removed.

As you are well aware, this is what happened at the OPCW (www.opcw.org) in 1997 when the CWC entered into force. It was built-up under one man and run by another. The US fired the second OPCW DG [Director General] in 2002.

Money Talks: Ratification Walks
Dr. Hoffmann has successfully portrayed to the world that he is the courageous captain of a ship on an uncertain course. His position on the US is: "Money talks and ratification walks."

A future US president will have to give serious attention on the resumption of nuclear testing due the aging stockpile and the external dangers posed by rogue states and non-state suicidal actors. The Bush Administration would like to resume nuclear testing in 2007 and has already taken several steps in this direction, including preparing the Nevada Test Site and the research on mini-nukes.

If the US stops funding [CTBT] in 2006, then other states are unlikely to pickup the tab as this means the US has withdrawn both its political and financial support to the CTBT. The CTBT is, after all, a compromise of the five declared nuclear powers. The PTS has a staff of 300 from 69 member-states. More than 60 percent of the staff members are of European origin. The CTBT has been signed by 172 states and ratified by 115.

Also India, Pakistan and North Korea have not even signed the CTBT and are unlikely to do so in the near future. In fact, they are not even part of the NPT and the CTBT is likely to be the big topic of discussion at the NPT Review Conference in 2005. North Korea may conduct a nuclear test in the future and Iran may withdraw from the NPT and the CTBT in the future as well. Israel may be forced to bomb Iran's nuclear plants before the come online in 2005. Think of Osirak, Iraq [which Israel destroyed in a bombing raid] in June 1981.

The other nuclear powers are also watching the US sub-critical tests that allow the US to undertake qualitative improvements to its nuclear arsenal.

The IMS is a useful tool, however, with current monitoring systems (such as AFTAC), clandestine nuclear tests can be detected so it will have to be put to better use for the benefit of the international community. Is it a giant spying system like Echelon [A top-secret US-UK communications-spying network]?

The CTBTO: A New League of Nations?
We see the CTBTO PrepCom as the new League of Nations, however, it is unlikely to last that long. In a related and long-running dispute, the Middle East and South Asia (MESA) regional Group of the CTBT has been in a mess since its start as the Islamic/Arab states will not allow for the election of a Vice-Chair from this Group as this would acknowledge that they have accepted Israel as part of this Group as stated in the CTBT.

Since the problem within the MESA group has not been resolved, it has been unable to elect a Chair of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission as is required by the Treaty. The Chair rotates annually according to the regional groups. The international community tried to put Israel in its correct geographical region for the first time with the CTBT but to no success. In most United Nations organizations, Israel is part of the North America and West European Group (NAWEG). The US is the only state in NAWEG that has not ratified the CTBT.

The Chief of the CTBTO's Public Information Section is very familiar with the problem as she was the second Chair of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission when she was the first-ever Slovak Ambassador in Vienna (1993-1997). She tried hard to resolve this but to no success. She now does public relations instead of public information. News is something somebody wants suppressed -- everything else is pubic relations.

The CTBTO Preparatory Commission lost its second case at the ILO Administrative Tribunal in Geneva in 2003. The ILO Administrative Tribunal has jurisdiction over most UN agencies. An ex-employee from the United Kingdom filed a case of unfair dismissal. The CTBT Secretariat had to pay a substantial compensation in back wages and perks to him. This money could have been used to build the IMS but was wasted due to Dr. Hoffmann's dictatorial management style.

The ex-employee worked for Dr. Hoffmann's protégé and former Chief of the Personal Section. Hoffman fired his protégé (also from Germany) after the damaging Cedar Human Resources report in January 2002. He was made the fall guy for faithfully following Dr. Hoffmann's orders.

Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann should have left on 16 March 2004 when he completed his seven-year tenure, however, he has obtained an extension till July 2005. The CTBTO management received a body-blow on February 4 when a lawsuit by a current staff member was won at the International Labor Organization (ILO) Administrative Tribunal.

Bush Cuts Funds to CTBT Monitors
In 2001, the Bush Administration cut funding ($800,000) to the On-Site Inspections (OSI) Division of the CTBT, saying that this could only be used after Entry Into Force of the CTBT. This was an indication that the Administration did not want to seek the ratification of the CTBT and thereby bring its Entry Into Force closer.

The OSI Division is still in operation, although it does nothing useful rather than providing employment and other benefits to a group of aging bureaucrats who spend most of their office time smoking and drinking coffee on the 4th and 7th floors bars of the C Building of the Vienna International Center (VIC) (www.unvienna.org). The CTBTO Secretariat is based in the VIC along with several other UN agencies such as the IAEA.

In fact, most of the Chiefs of the Sections of the PTS (including one officer of the P5 rank from the office of Dr. Hoffmann) can be seen spending his working day at the VIC coffee bars chatting up pretty secretaries. Since there is no time-registering system for Professional staff, they are free even not to come to office. In fact, most senior Professional staff come to office only to check email and surf the Internet.

Most of them earn in excess of $100,000 annually and this income is tax-free. Dr. Hoffmann earns over $140,000 yearly. If fact, most of the senior management comprise Dollar-millionaires thanks to the American taxpayer. Who wants to be a millionaire? Join the PTS at a P5 or above grade. This is how they abuse the money of US taxpayers. All fun and no work.

Bush Ignores WMD-control Conferences
The Bush Administration did not attend the Entry Into Force Conference held at the UN in New York in November 2001 and did not attend the one in September 2003 (3-5) in Vienna. Also the US reduced its contribution to the overall budget from 25 to 22 percent. This has sent a negative message to other states.

China (the other declared nuclear power that is therefore not ratifying) and Iran took advantage of this situation to shut off its station. This is a violation of the CTBT. About 80 states never pay at all. From the major states, Italy is a persistent defaulter.

The Executive Secretary of the CTBTO Preparatory Commission, Dr. Wolfgang Hoffmann has successfully abused his position and has offered the maximum number of posts in the Secretariat to German nationals and nationals of the 25 European Union states. In fact, the Organization is international only in name but essentially a smaller version of the European Union.

If Dr. Hoffmann had his way, he would employ all the 4.5 million unemployed persons of his native Germany. The Secretariat suffers from the Irish Coffee Problem: No matter how you make the coffee, the white will rise to the top and the black will head to the bottom.

Dr. Hoffmann's lifelong insecurity and greed for power and food can be attributed to his childhood when he and his family had to flee the former East Germany and had to live for many years as refugees in West Germany. Therefore, he needs to compensate by making all the money and eating all the food he can. He still feels like an outsider in Germany. His biography can be found at: www.ctbto.org

See: A List of Questions for the CTBTO Prepcom Leaders

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