At the end of an initial two-year phase to study prospects for effective monitoring of nuclear weapons dismantlement, countries participating in the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) have concluded that although tough challenges remain, multilaterally monitored nuclear warhead dismantlement should be possible while at the same time successfully managing safety, security, nonproliferation, and classification concerns.
During its fifth plenary meeting—hosted by the Argentine Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Worship in Buenos Aires from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1—the Partnership also defined a Phase II program of work to expand the scope of its activities. The work of Phase II will amplify the importance of verification in the run-up to the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference. The Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) helped create the partnership and provides ongoing substantive and logistical support.
In opening remarks, Argentine Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Raimondi noted that “by addressing the technical aspects involved in nuclear disarmament verification, this initiative constitutes an important step in the fulfillment of the primary obligations of nuclear weapon states that exist under Article 6 of the NPT… We also believe that we need to foster dialogue and confidence-building measures between nuclear and non-nuclear weapon countries. In this context, this initiative constitutes a clear example in different fora of how we could work together in reaching common understandings.”
The IPNDV was established in 2014 to address technical challenges in nuclear disarmament verification. From the beginning, participants identified key questions about the dismantlement of nuclear weapons, one of the major challenges at the core of global nuclear disarmament efforts. Among them: How can all countries, those with and without nuclear weapons, have confidence that nuclear weapons have been dismantled? How can countries with these weapons share enough information about the process to provide confidence—but not spread sensitive information that could contribute to proliferation? Are the tools to do this even available?
The decision to address nuclear weapon dismantlement in Phase I was based on the recognition that dismantlement is one of the most important, complex, and technically challenging tasks of nuclear disarmament verification. The outcome of Phase I—illustrated in a comprehensive dismantlement interactive infographic on a new IPNDV website, as well as in a series of reports and papers—is essentially a tool kit outlining technologies and procedures that could provide confidence in a future monitored dismantlement process.
“Engaging countries with nuclear weapons and those without has made IPNDV a unique and innovative resource,” said Joan Rohlfing, NTI President. “Verification is in every country’s national security interest. All countries need to understand each other’s concerns and determine what level of visibility into a verification process is needed for everyone to have confidence in disarmament.”
Multiple Analyses Released on New Website
- Phase I Summary Report: Creating the Verification Building Blocks for Future Nuclear Disarmament—with an
executive summary and working group reports
- Walkthrough Exercise Summary—a step-by-step description of essential multilateral
monitoring and inspection tasks of a basic dismantlement scenario.
Also available on the website are in-depth papers or “deliverables” from the three Phase I working groups. The working groups addressed monitoring and verification objectives (co-chaired by the Netherlands and the United Kingdom); on-site inspections (co-chaired by Australia and Poland); and technical challenges and solutions (co-chaired by Sweden and the United States). Papers include a detailed assessment of potential monitoring and verification requirements as well as an assessment of countries’ existing capacity in this arena.
New Infographic: How to Verify Dismantlement of a Nuclear Weapon
The new website also features an interactive infographic that allows visitors to walk, step-by-step, through a notional nuclear weapon dismantlement process. Visitors can review the objectives of the host country and inspectors, understand goals and required tasks, and then assess different options for technologies and procedures to accomplish the task. This infographic integrates the work of all three IPNDV working groups.
Looking to Phase II
At the Buenos Aires plenary meeting, IPNDV participants developed an initial program of work for Phase II, which will continue to concentrate on multilateral verification measures. The two-year phase will deepen understanding of and develop effective and practical verification approaches to support future nuclear disarmament. Specifically, working groups will address verification related to declarations and inventories; nuclear arms reductions; and technologies for verification. The first meeting of Phase II will take place in Sweden in March of 2018.
The IPNDV, through a unique public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State and NTI, brings together more than 25 countries, including countries with and without nuclear weapons.
Representatives from the following have attended various activities of the Partnership during Phase I: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Brazil, Canada, Chile, the European Union, Finland, France, Germany, Holy See, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Norway, the Philippines, Poland, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom, and the United States. China and the Russian Federation participated in Phase I as observers.
IPNDV thanks the Government of Canada for funding the development of the website, interactive infographic and other outreach tools.