Providing proof: the future of nuclear disarmament?

On 28 April 2016, VERTIC's Executive Director, Andreas Persbo, travelled to Pretoria, South Africa, to present at a roundtable on the future of nuclear disarmament.

The meeting was hosted by the Institute for Security Studies.

The roundtable noted the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, but also heard that this should not prevent us from asking questions that we will have to confront once the process of global disarmament begins.

Questions such as: how do we ensure that nuclear disarmament is enforceable and how do we verify that countries with nuclear weapons have actually disarmed? What are the opportunities and challenges presented by the International Atomic Energy Agency’s participation in nuclear disarmament verification; and how can stakeholders build capacity to engage on this issue? In other words, what are the tools, techniques and procedures for nuclear disarmament verification?

The roundtable heard that verification is a crucial part of nuclear disarmament, and cannot be left to the final stages. Thinking about verification solutions need to be done now, and in parallel to broader efforts to create the conditions for disarmament. It noted a recent report from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, examining US public opinion on disarmament. Based on polling data, it found that any ‘difficulty in verifying disarmament causes a substantial drop in support for multilateral disarmament.’

For the last three years, VERTIC together with the ISS’ WMD Programme, has run a project on the multilateral verification of nuclear disarmament. The idea was to explore ways in which one could build support for organisations such as the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to get more involved in future verification challenges. The project group comprised 52 researchers from eight countries and one intergovernmental organisation. It met six times in various compositions since 2012.

About 40 working papers were drafted and examined at these meetings, some of which focused on nuclear fuel cycle modelling. The team also created a virtual environment onto which verification solutions could be explored and tested.

The project found an essential need for all IAEA member states (irrespective of status under other conventions) to be involved in these debates and to engage practically in developing tools, techniques and procedures for nuclear disarmament verification.

Last changed: May 26 2016 at 4:30 PM