VERTIC presents on nuclear disarmament work at NPT RevCon

Last week, VERTIC Executive Director Andreas Persbo and Acting Programme Director Larry MacFaul presented on VERTIC's work on nuclear disarmament verification at a side-event at the NPT Review Conference at UN Headquarters in New York.
The event, held on Friday 15 May and chaired by VERTIC Legal Officer Sonia Drobysz, began with remarks from Mr Persbo addressing the overall work of VERTIC's project (which has now been running since 2011) and the wider political context surrounding it. In particular he drew attention the landmark inclusion of disarmament-related language in the operative section of the 2014 safeguards resolution passed at the General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency—the organisation VERTIC's project is principally focused on.
He made the case that involving the IAEA in disarmament verification 'makes sound economic sense'. Despite its flaws and criticisms of it, Mr Persbo said, the agency 'represents a natural centre of excellence in most things nuclear, and the only multilateral arms control organisation with more than 200 staff that deals with nuclear verification on a day-to-day basis.'
Mr Persbo's remarks in full can be found here.
In his part of the event, Mr MacFaul took attendees through the findings to date of a survey of IAEA member states that VERTIC has been running since July 2014 to learn what we can about their attitudes to an agency role in disarmament verification. The results so far, along with country statements and other documentation, indicate a strong level of support for such a role. Drilling down into the details, the survey results suggest that a large proportion of member states may feel that the agency should have a wide portfolio of roles in verifying nuclear disarmament, including the verification of warhead dismantlement and the cessation of nuclear weaponisation research.
Mr MacFaul also highlighted a unanimous level of support among responding countries when asked whether they considered it to be important to be involved in discussions on the IAEA's role in disarmament verification—but far less uniformity of response in terms of how to take such discussions forward. 
There was unanimous agreement that it is an important goal to carry out investigations (such as practical analysis, exercises, development of technical procedures and engagement with member states) into the potential roles of the IAEA. In addition, the majority of respondents said that they would be interested in participating in capacity building and development activities. This would help to increase the number of countries with the ability to engage more fully in disarmament verification—a key aim of VERTIC’s project.
Mr MacFaul's remarks in full can be found here.
The final third of the event saw Mr Persbo discuss the other practical work streams ongoing under VERTIC's project: nuclear fuel cycle modelling; scenario development; verification solutions; and equipment. A significant amount of work has gone into modelling the nuclear fuel cycle and weapons history of a notional nuclear-armed state, Mr Persbo explained, in order 'to create a virtual environment onto which verification solutions could be examined and tested.'
Around this, work has been undertaken in developing a suitable scenario—with all associated political considerations and agreements—that is to be teamed with the fuel cycle model and the two explored jointly by a 'verification solutions working group' tabletop exercise to be held later in 2015. This first exercise is to be focused on negotiating a verification agreement with participants taking the role of negotiators from states and as envoys from the IAEA.
Lastly, Mr Persbo addressed VERTIC's work on identifying 'specific design requirements for equipment to be used in multilateral verification of disarmament', taking into account the array of challenges this presents. 'Our goal', he explained, 'is to analyse and consolidate this broad range of constraints and requirements, and use it to guide research in future verification instruments.'
These remarks by Mr Persbo can be found in full here.


Last changed: May 21 2015 at 10:54 AM