On 29 and 30 July 2019, the VM Programme hosted a workshop on building capacity for nuclear disarmament verification in Pretoria, South Africa.

Co-hosted with the Centre for Applied Radiation Science and Technology (CARST), the workshop aimed to discuss and debate the potential role of South African scientists and technical experts in the development and strengthening of practical and effective nuclear disarmament verification measures for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.

The workshop was part of a VERTIC project to analyse the potential involvement of Argentina, Brazil, Kazakhstan and South Africa in nuclear disarmament verification activities. It focused mainly on assessing and documenting what capacity South African experts have on termination and dismantling actions, including ways and means to make them verifiable.

Noel Stott and Elena Gai gave presentations on the importance of capacity-building for nuclear disarmament verification and provided an overview of past and present initiatives devoted to nuclear disarmament verification.

Participants were drawn from academia, research institutes, safeguards experts, specialist NGOs and government officials. They discussed how South Africa, and specifically its scientists and technical experts, could support follow-on actions as recommended by the Group of Governmental Experts (GGE) established by UN General Assembly Resolution 71/67.

Resolution 71/67 on nuclear disarmament verification points out that ‘…given the challenges associated with verifying nuclear disarmament, continuous capacity-building and technical development are critical to bridging any shortcomings and establishing effective multilateral nuclear disarmament verification’ (Preambular paragraph 13).

Moreover, the resolution calls upon “… all states to work together to identify and develop practical and effective disarmament verification measures”, and highlights the role of multilateral nuclear disarmament verification capabilities in the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons.