Wilton Park non-proliferation conference ends

Dec 15 2011
VERTIC Blog >> Arms Control and Disarmament
Andreas Persbo, Wilton Park
This year's Wilton Park Conference on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is now officially over. All that remains is the carol service and the formal dinner. Yesterday, I had the opportunity to chair a break-out group on verification and today, my rapporteur, Ms Meena Singelee, gave a short overview of the outcome of our discussions.

The group, which comprised representatives from both nuclear and non-nuclear-weapon states, had a positive outlook on the health of the IAEA safeguards regime. It noted that the system is well developed, that it sports a high detection and low false alarm rate, and that it is supported by a competent secretariat. The group emphasized the need to continue to work to better the working climate in both the IAEA Board of Governors and the General Conference, but noted that this should not be to the detriment of the well-being of the system itself.

In addition, the group felt that it could be argued that the IAEA could take credit for a large number of 'special inspections' which it has conducted as ‘visits’ to military facilities. On that note, the group felt that the Agency’s role in monitoring and investigating weaponization activities ought to be strengthened. It also held, unanimously, that the secretariat should aim to intensify the development and the implementation of 'integrated safeguards'.
On a very positive note, the group noted and welcomed the ever-deepening relationship between the IAEA and the CTBTO. It felt that there were many things the two organizations could learn from each other in the coming years. It also noted the positive involvement of organizations in functionally different fields, such as the OPCW.
The group did not come to any firm conclusions as to the verifiability of a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty, other than to say that the IAEA safeguards system is a good foundation. It noted difficulties in differentiating between past and present production of fissile materials, as well as significant challenges in verifying fissile material stockpiles.
The group strongly endorsed the work of the CTBTO. It emphasized the need to intensify discussions on the On-Site Inspection Manual, and bring that matter to its conclusion. In addition, it highlighted the need to think about the envisioned consultation and clarification procedure. It noted the technological foresight of the CTBTO and encouraged the organization to think about ways to perhaps bring their scientific conference closer to the IAEA Safeguards Symposium, or perhaps to outright collaborate with the IAEA on a conference on verification technology.
The meeting did not come to any firm conclusions on the verifiability of nuclear disarmament. It noted the work of the UK-Norway Initiative and welcomed bilateral agreements between the United States and Russia. The meeting emphasized the need for long term planning to involve all states, nuclear as well as non-nuclear, that may have an interest in disarmament verification in any future endeavors.

Last changed: Dec 21 2011 at 9:29 PM