VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Canada and Denmark and a policy paper from Uganda, related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
Yasemin Balci, Legal Officer, gave VERTIC's statement to the 2012 Meeting of the States Parties to the BWC today.
In this week's blog post, Lasha Tvaliashvili looks at regional trends in the adoption of implementing legislation for the CWC.
The Marshall Islands deposited its instrument of accession in Washington DC on 15 November 2012, becoming a State Party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and bringing the membership of the BWC to 166.
In this week's blog post, Scott Spence provides his thoughts on how civil society actors, such as VERTIC, can contribute to the operation of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
On 19-20 November 2012, Andreas Persbo travelled to Vienna, Austria, to participate in a two-day discussion of a nuclear weapon free world.
Today, Andreas Persbo moderated a panel on the Nexus between Science and Verification at the CTBTO Advance Science Course ‘Around the Globe and Around the Clock: The Science and Technology of the CTBT.’
What to do with radioactive waste? Many countries around the world, developed countries in particular, rely heavily on nuclear power, and all face the dilemma of what to do with all the radioactive waste generated.
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of States Parties will convene in Geneva in one month’s time. Amongst other items the meeting will discuss “Strengthening national implementation”, which is a standing item for each meeting in the 2012-15 intersessional period. What is the current status of BWC States Parties’ national implementation, at least in terms of their national regulatory frameworks? Angela Woodward takes you through some interesting statistics drawn from VERTIC’s BW legislation surveys.
Today, the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has published the first round of an exchange of views on the legality of IAEA inspections in Iran. The exchange is between Dan Joyner, Professor of Law at the University of Alabama, Christopher Ford, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, and Andreas Persbo, VERTIC’s Executive Director.
Follow the debate on ‘Iran and the bomb: The legal standards of the IAEA’ on the Bulletin website.
Two new appointments were made today at VERTIC.
Rocío Escauriaza Leal, VERTIC’s Legal Officer co-authors a publication on the BWC with Rafael Perez Mellado, Scientific Adviser on non-proliferation of biological weapons at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Cooperation of Spain.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Niue related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
The plenary body of the Preparatory Commission of the CTBTO will meet next week, on 22-24 October 2012, to consider, amongst other things, the bids to take over after Ambassador Tibor Toth. Who might be elected?
Read the full post here.
In this week's blog post, Yasemin Balci discusses the biological weapons case of US v Bachner and highlights the recent review of the US control list for certain biological agents and toxins.
VERTIC's Senior Legal Officer, Scott Spence, attended the International Nuclear Law Association Inter Jura Congress in Manchester, UK during 8-10 October.
On 8 August, Scott Spence, VERTIC's Senior Legal Officer, blogged on the topic of Syria’s declared chemical weapons stockpiles and the questions they raise under international law. He now turns to their biological weapons stockpiles and the related but different questions under international law.
It is with much sadness that VERTIC has today learned of the passing of the long-time arms control practitioner and former VERTIC consultant Dr Jozef Goldblat.
In this issue, the NIM team discusses legislative measures related to proliferation concerns surrounding H5N1 research. Plus, as usual: Verification Watch, Science & Technology Scan, Verification Quotes, Programme News, and reflections by the director. Plus: Verification Watch, Science & Technology Scan, Verification Quotes, Programme News, and reflections by the director.
The safeguards resolution of the IAEA General Conference has, for many years, been one of the highlights and great dreads of the conference. Member states anxieties and excessive wrangling over its text tends to ensure that the final day of the conference ends around midnight. While this adds to the excitement of the conference, it is also a very costly undertaking. Sitting in the conference hall in the middle of the night surely raises questions as to whether it is all worth it.
Read the full post here.
Since the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power plant disaster in 2011, there have been calls for increasing safety levels in nuclear plants worldwide. The incident in Japan was the fourth significant accident in the 55-year history of nuclear reactor operation. The first occurred in 1957 at the Windscale reactor in the UK. Two decades later, in 1979, a reactor at Three Mile Island in the USA was severely damaged, though radioactive material releases were slight. The third incident is well-known: the 1986 disaster at Chernobyl, Ukraine, where the destruction of a reactor by steam explosion, fire and core disruption had significant health and environmental consequences, mainly due to fission product release and dispersion, as well as a human death toll at the site itself.
Ten years ago the United Nations Secretary-General released the “United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education” (A/57/124, 30 August 2002). The study was prepared over two years by an eminent group of experts drawn from Egypt, Hungary, India, Japan, Mexico, New Zealand, Nigeria, Peru, Poland and Sweden and informed by wide-ranging consultations with civil society. Its findings highlighted the importance of empowering individuals, through such education, to contribute to achieving disarmament and non-proliferation measures and, ultimately, general and complete disarmament under effective international control.
VERTIC's NIM Programme has published two new fact sheets on national implementation measures for the international instruments to control and secure nuclear and other radioactive material. These are Fact sheet 11 on the 2005 International Convention for the Suppression of Acts of Nuclear Terrorism (ICSANT) and Fact sheet 12 on the IAEA Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources.
Aside from the mounting casualty figures and daily reports of violence in the streets of Aleppo and Damascus and elsewhere, media coverage of the ongoing Syrian conflict has directed a lot of attention in recent weeks to the potential use of chemical weapons by the Assad regime against his own people – and to what kind of response that might provoke from the West. A quieter development has been the decision to end the United Nations observer mission in the country, set up in April as part of a six-point peace plan brokered by the ex-UN Secretary-General and soon-to-be-ex-envoy of the UN and Arab League to Syria, Kofi Annan.
VERTIC's Senior Legal Officer, Scott Spence, participated in a workshop on 'Implementation of Nuclear Security Legal Instruments' during 28-29 August in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
In this week's blog post, Andreas Persbo examines the responsibility to protect inspectors deployed in nuclear facilities from physical harm.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Timor-Leste related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
VERTIC has published a 'Guide to National Implementation of UN Security Council Resolution 1540'.
In this week's blog post, Edward Perello examines the recent outbreak of Ebola in Uganda and the national measures taken to stop its spread.
This week, Scott Spence and Meghan Brown highlight the international law implications of Syria's recent confirmation of its chemical weapons stockpiles.
The Meeting of Experts (MX) for the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) took place in Geneva from 16 to 20 July.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Samoa related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
The 1540 Compass published the article ‘VERTIC: Legal and Regulatory Assisance’ written by Rocío Escauriaza Leal, VERTIC Legal Officer.
The Arms Trade Treaty is being negotiated this month under the auspices of the United Nations in New York.
Scott Spence, VERTIC's Senior Legal Officer, went through an avian influenza virus (H5N1) case study today as a Guest of the Meeting to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of Experts. The Meeting is being held at the Palais des Nations in Geneva (16-20 July).
On Wednesday 18 July 2012, VERTIC's Executive Director, Andreas Persbo, delivered a presentation on the verification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty in Vienna.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Nepal related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
The Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) Meeting of Experts will convene next week in Geneva. National implementation is on the agenda, as a standing item for this inter-sessional process, and VERTIC will give a presentation on this topic as an invited Guest of the meeting.
Today, VERTIC has released a brief discussing the issue of illegal, unreported and unregulated (IUU) fishing.
This blog post discusses a recent nuclear warhead dismantlement exercise held in Norway, involving students from the University of Hamburg, and also some of the key requirements for a successful verification mission of this kind.
In this issue Tamara Patton looks at using 3D modeling for Verification Design and Sonia Drobysz examines safeguards following the NPT PrepCom.
VERTIC co-organised with UNLirec, the UN Disarmament Branch for Latin America and the Caribbean, a seminar on the implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) and UNSCR 1540 related obligations.
Last month, the case United States v Bond reached its final stage. Following a decision last year by the US Supreme Court which allowed Ms Carol Anne Bond to challenge her conviction under the ‘Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) Implementation Act of 1998’, the US Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit has now reviewed her case and upheld her conviction.
Last week, VERTIC and Wilton Park held their second conference on verification, this time focusing on arms control and disarmament verification.
One of the main characters in Tony Scott’s 1998 film ‘Enemy of the State’, Edward Lyle, at one point exclaims, ‘you know the Hubble Telescope that looks up to the stars? They've got over a hundred spy satellites looking down at us’. He then adds, as an afterthought, ‘that's classified’. Well, not any more.
Inadequate biological waste management constitutes a risk that could lead to proliferation of infectious material and accidental outbreaks. International instruments exist to counter these dangers.
VERTIC participated in meetings convened by the Government of Madagascar on the implementation of UNSCR 1540, at the occasion of the UNSCR 1540 Committee’s in-country visit, which took place in Antananarivo and Toamasina, from 22 to 24 May.
VERTIC Senior Researcher, Larry MacFaul, presented to the Wilton Park conference 'Confidence building measures in cyber space: lessons from multilateral security regimes, held between Monday 28 - Wednesday 30 May 2012.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Kuwait related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
Yesterday, Andreas Persbo travelled to Edinburgh, Scotland, to participate in a United Nations Association Scotland and Edinburgh conference on the Middle East.
On 10 May 2012, VERTIC Researcher David Cliff presented to the UK Project on Nuclear Issues annual conference in central London.
As previously highlighted on the VERTIC blog, there has been a storm of controversy surrounding the inclusion of aviation greenhouse gas emissions from flights into and out of the EU in the European Union’s Emissions Trading Scheme (EU ETS)—the EU-wide carbon market. A so-called ‘Coalition of the Unwilling’ was formed by 23 non-EU countries including the US, Russia, India and China.
In today's blog post, Angela Woodward, Programme Director of VERTIC's National Implementation Measures Programme, looks at digital documents relating to the 1925 Geneva Protocol that were recently made available online.
On 8 May 2012, VERTIC’s Executive Director, Andreas Persbo, launched our new project on the Additional Protocol before a packed conference room in the Vienna International Centre. The meeting, chaired by Ambassador Susan Burk, US Special Representative of the President for nuclear non-proliferation, also featured presentations by other governments or entities offering assistance on the Additional Protocol.
Tuesday 8 May 2012 saw VERTIC host a side-event at the NPT PrepCom meeting in Vienna on the issue of multilateral nuclear disarmament verification. This event – hosted together with ISS Africa and with input from the New Agenda Coalition – included three presentations: one by VERTIC Researcher David Cliff; one by Michiel Combrink, representing the New Agenda Coalition; and one by VERTIC Senior Researcher David Keir.
VERTIC has released a timely report analysing the legal instruments that currently underpin efforts to tackle the illicit trafficking of nuclear and other radioactive material.
In today’s blog post, Andreas Persbo highlights changes to the VERTIC blog, thanks the outgoing editor, and also gives a preview of what’s in store for next week's NPT PrepCom.
Read the full post here.
Registration is now open for the upcoming VERTIC-Wilton Park conference ‘Verification in the 21st century – technological, political and institutional challenges and opportunities’, to be held from Sunday 17 June to Wednesday 20 June 2012.
Monday 16 April 2012 saw VERTIC Researcher David Cliff appear on a Voice of Russia radio panel discussion to discuss the Iranian nuclear crisis in the wake of recent talks held between Iran and the ‘P5+1’ group of countries in Istanbul.
The US Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs held a hearing on 26 April to discuss "Biological Security: The Risk of Dual-Use Research". VERTIC's NIM Programme work was raised by Dr Daniel Gerstein, Deputy Under Secretary for Science and Technology, US Department of Homeland Security.
This week in the VERTIC blog, Hugh Chalmers looks back at the progress made at the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit and wonders if there is any way to clear the fog surrounding national nuclear security practices.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Belarus, Liberia, Oman and Serbia related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
Yesterday, VERTIC researcher David Cliff appeared on Voice of America, giving commentary on the up-coming talks with Iran.
On 30 March, Andreas Persbo participated in the second meeting of the International Law Association’s Committee on Nuclear weapons, non proliferation & contemporary international law. He delivered a short presentation on some of the legal issues surrounding Iran’s nuclear programme. The same session also heard a presentation on the latest IAEA report on Iran by Professor Daniel Joyner of the University of Alabama School of Law.
In this issue Gregory Briner looks at the implications for climate change monitoring after the 'COP17' conference in Durban, David Keir ponders the use of robotics in nuclear warhead dismantlement verification, and Scott Spence addresses the evolution of the VERTIC National Implementation Measures programme.
This week in the VERTIC blog Andreas Persbo celebrates the public release of a number of documents from the International Atomic Energy Agency’s Department of Safeguards.
VERTIC is very pleased to welcome Dr. Neil Selby to the International Verification Consultants Network. This exclusive network of prominent arms control and environment experts assists the Executive Director in his strategic planning, and also gives advice on VERTIC publications.
As the Netherlands inform scientists that research into avian flu will need an export permit before publication, Yasemin Balci examines the legal basis of such a measure in both national and European legislation.
Between 7-8 March 2012, VERTIC, working alongside the African Institute for Security Studies (ISS), convened a meeting in South Africa to discuss issues surrounding the potential role of relevant intergovernmental organizations in nuclear disarmament verification. The meeting, held near Johannesburg, was well-attended by representatives from a number of non-nuclear-weapon states and an intergovernmental organization. VERTIC is grateful to the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs for their financial support for this meeting, and the project under which it was held, as well as to all who participated. More details about this project can be found here, and in VERTIC’s Brief No. 17: ‘Multilateral verification: Exploring new ideas’. A second meeting is to be held in London in August 2012.
Can the verification regime of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) detect illicit nuclear testing with a high degree of confidence? This question was the topic of conversation on March 2, 2012, when the EastWest Institute, in partnership with London-based VERTIC, hosted a seminar on the verification capabilities of the current Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty. Moderated by EWI’s Jacqueline Miller and Andreas Persbo, Executive Director of VERTIC, the seminar featured presentations by experts Jenifer Mackby and Edward Ifft on technical advancements that have direct bearing on the CTBT’s robust and multifaceted verification regime.
Last year China announced that it was taking preliminary steps towards implementing a nation-wide greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions cap-and-trade scheme. As trial projects begin in seven cities and provinces, it seems the world’s largest emitter of GHGs may soon join the EU as the second global actor to implement cap-and-trade. Following in the EU’s steps has given China the benefit of hindsight, and the nation is under no illusions as to the volatility and complexity of carbon trading. Such schemes require firm control and robust monitoring, reporting and verification (MRV), as the EU discovered when the value of their carbon credits plummeted to a four-year low in January. Is the current Chinese MRV infrastructure up to the task?
An RSS feed has been added to the VERTIC website, which is accessible through the RSS button on the bottom right of the home page. Our visitors with RSS readers will get automatic updates on the latest VERTIC news and blog postings.
North Korea and the US announced recently that they have reached an agreement whereby North Korea undertakes to stop conducting nuclear and long-range missile tests, and to halt nuclear activities at the Yongbyon facility. Importantly, the DPRK has also announced it shall allow International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors back to Yongbyon to confirm aspects of this suspension. The UN nuclear watchdog has stated that its inspectors are ready to monitor the key site. Given the fractious relationship the DPRK has had with Agency inspectors, how might this long-awaited return play out, and where might the limits of North Korean cooperation lie?
Short-lived pollutants such as black carbon do not typically enjoy the same attention given to greenhouse gases in multilateral climate change negotiations, despite making a significant contribution to global warming. But recent news suggests that when nations focus on these pollutants, they can agree to powerful mitigation measures in a relatively short time. With financial support from a small number of nations, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) will soon implement a programme aimed at tackling these pollutants at their source; the inefficient burning of fuels. According to UNEP, if implemented widely enough this programme alone could halve the global temperature rise projected for 2050. Despite this potential, all financial support for this ‘second front in the fight against global warming’ has come from outside the dominant multilateral climate change negotiating forum. Is there a way to monitor the global levels of black carbon, and if there is how might it widen and improve the support for this new front?
Today, VERTIC hosted the launch of the latest book by Dr John R. Walker, entitled Britain and Disarmament: The UK and Nuclear, Biological and Chemical Weapons Arms Control and Programmes 1956-1975.
As of 1 January 2012 aircraft operators with flights originating or terminating at airports within the European Community must participate in the European Greenhouse Gas Emission Allowance Trading Scheme (EU ETS). The EU ETS has been in place for energy intensive industrial installations since 2005, and is now the first market-based trading scheme to include emissions from aviation activities. As the expansion covers all incoming and outgoing flights, non-EU states have begun questioning its international legitimacy. Do the monitoring, reporting and verification procedures for the expanded emissions trading scheme shed any light on their concerns?
VERTIC’s Board of Trustees is pleased to announce that Dr Edwina Moreton will assume the chairmanship of the Board, effective today. The Board has also selected General Hugh Beach as President of the VERTIC Charity.
For those attempting to detect sensitive fissile materials, the nature of their quarry creates significant obstacles to their hunt. Issues relating to safety, security, secrecy and size all work against nuclear inspectors, and are all unavoidably the result of the items of concern. The radiation produced by some materials, and the potentially devastating uses of others, requires such a high level of material isolation that direct interaction by nuclear inspectors is highly unlikely. This makes finding these materials somewhat like looking for a needle in a haystack, without the ability to search through the haystack. And the consequences of missing the needle can be huge. This problem was not over-stated by the former International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) chief Mohamed ElBaradei when he said: ‘Either we begin finding creative, outside-the-box solutions or the international nuclear safeguards regime will become obsolete.’ Thankfully, recent advances in radiation detection technology show that this call has not gone unanswered.
The National Implementation Measures team has created a new version of the ‘Sample Act for National Implementation of the 1972 Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and Related Requirements of UN Security Council Resolution 1540’ for countries with a civil law system.
The civil law version of the Sample Act is available in French and Spanish.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Djibouti related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
Although its demise is often foretold, the nuclear non- proliferation regime remains an essential part of the overall international security architecture. It is important that it remains so given the projected rise in the number of countries investing in nuclear power programmes. With this possible increase of states with nuclear power, and the associated extra facilities that would need to be safeguarded, the need for a robust and efficient International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards system is becoming an increasing imperative.
Late January 2012 saw a high-level International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) delegation – led by the Agency’s head of safeguards, Herman Nackaerts – travel to Iran with the goal of resolving ‘all outstanding substantive issues’ relating to the country’s controversial nuclear activities. The visit came amidst an upswing in tension between Iran and Western countries over an EU ban on Iranian oil imports, and just a few months after the IAEA issued a 12-page summary of ‘Possible Military Dimensions to Iran’s Nuclear Programme’. In his November 2011 report on Iran to the IAEA Board of Governors (to which the 12-page summary was annexed), the IAEA’s Director general, Yukiya Amano, noted the Agency’s ‘serious concerns’ that Iran's nuclear programme was not of an entirely peaceful nature. Having ‘carefully and critically’ assessed the ‘extensive information available to it’ – and having found that information ‘to be, overall, credible’ – Mr Amano’s report stated that Iran appears to have carried out ‘activities relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.’ Prior to the end of 2003, the report said, these activities seemed to have taken place under a ‘structured programme’. According to indications in the information available to the Agency, some activities relevant to weapons development continued after 2003, and it was judged that some activities may still be ongoing.
Today, VERTIC released a briefing paper on the subject of ‘Multilateral verification: Exploring new ideas’. This paper, by David Cliff and David Keir, outlines new thinking in the realm of multilateral disarmament verification and considers the arguments for incorporating multilateralism into future verified disarmament processes.
Scientists in the Netherlands and the United States may have changed avian flu into a superflu virus. With a human mortality rate of 60%, avian flu was already a highly dangerous disease. But the new version is also highly contagious, potentially spreading from human to human as easily as the seasonal flu. Although the scientists were eager to publish their results, security experts doubted whether the findings should be disclosed, stating that publication of the study could serve as a recipe for biological weapons. What does the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BWC) say on the silencing or sharing of scientific developments?
Following the conclusion of the Seventh Review Conference of the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), it is clear there has been no significant progress towards formally verifying compliance to the convention. Considering the impact of what little progress that was made at the conference, and what steps can be taken to improve confidence in the convention, is therefore all the more important.
VERTIC's NIM Team has added legislation from Chad, Eritrea, Mauritania and Namibia related to national implementation of the Biological Weapons Convention, to VERTIC's BWC Legislation Database.
Collecting sufficient quantities of fissile material is often considered the most challenging step towards acquiring nuclear weapons. As such, controlling the techniques used for accumulating highly-enriched uranium is a crucial aspect of nuclear non-proliferation. Laser enrichment, a third-generation technology offering a cheap and efficient route to enriched uranium, has recently moved one step closer to becoming a commercially-viable reality. Provided this technological development reaches a successful conclusion, it is worth considering the potential proliferation risks involved. What could both national and international authorities put in place, in terms of verification and safeguarding, to mitigate the risks posed?