Verification and monitoring of nuclear materials

The Verification and Monitoring Programme will continue to put emphasis on the monitoring and verification of the use of nuclear material. During 2016-2018, the programme will conduct its activities within this priority area in three sectors: non-proliferation, disarmament and nuclear testing.

Non-proliferation

A principal objective of the international non-proliferation regime is to ensure that material and technology enabling a weapons programme does not spread to more countries than the present nine. Efforts to reduce national stockpiles of arms, as well as initiatives to comprehensively ban their testing, will be undermined by the absence of a rigid non-proliferation framework.

The programme will continue to work practically to shore up the existing regime. In particular, it will continue to provide training on comprehensive safeguards, as well as the so-called Additional Protocol, to partner governments. The intention is to support intergovernmental organisations in achieving near-universal safeguards application and to help ensure that the states have proper and individually tailored safeguards coverage.

Moreover, the programme will focus on ways to continue to verify that fissionable material in non-nuclear weapon states remains in peaceful use. It will do so by obtaining information and conducting research on the operation and future development of nuclear safeguards. The work will focus on ways in which the system can be made more sensitive to possible violations, but also on how it can be made more cost-effective without jeopardising its integrity. It will place particular emphasis on areas where there is potential to improve the present system: in particular uranium extraction (such as mining and milling), weaponisation of materials, and enhancing capabilities to detect clandestine stocks or facilities.

Disarmament

The verification and monitoring of possible new agreements on nuclear disarmament should remain a priority area for the programme. The underlying assumption of our work is that safeguards are an essential element of any disarmament regime.

The programme will remain focused on verification arrangements for general and complete disarmament. Subject to this, it will also examine verification arrangements for the limitation and reduction of nuclear forces. The programme will pay particular attention to the role of the accountability of special nuclear materials in nuclear disarmament verification. Establishing sound methodologies for the detection of clandestine materials and capabilities will be progressively more important if the number of weapons in the nuclear weapon states continues to fall. The consequences of failing to detect hidden capabilities or fissionable material are likely to become magnified as disarmament proceeds.

There are presently no internationally developed procedures on how to verify dismantlement. Neither are there any procedures for verifying fissionable material in non-explosive military use. Therefore, the programme will continue to examine verification measures for these processes, as they go beyond present safeguards application. It will aim to do so through simulations and other exercises.

The programme will orient its work towards establishing clear, and to the greatest degree validated, verification measures applicable to both present (such as the DPRK) and future disarmament verification cases.

Nuclear testing

The programme will continue to obtain information and conduct research on the use of nuclear material in explosives testing. In particular, programmatic activities will be geared towards supplying accurate information on the state of preparation for entry-into-force of the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty.

The programme will pay particular attention to the treaty's on-site inspection mechanism, which is still under development but nearing readiness. It will also stand ready to provide training on test ban implementation matters, and actively support the treaty's entry-into-force where appropriate.