On 16 and 17 September 2021, the Radiation and Health Physics Unit, University of the Witwatersrand and VERTIC hosted another African regional workshop to further discuss the establishment of an African Nuclear Disarmament Verification hub.

The workshop was the sixth of a series of regional workshops.

Three commissioned papers were presented on:

  • African networks available to assist in strengthening participation of African States in nuclear disarmament verification activities.
  • Retaining and transferring expert knowledge of nuclear disarmament verification.
  • The development of an African course on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, including the applicability of Systems Engineering Management methodology to nuclear disarmament.

Participants included South African students; academics and government entities and participants from Kenya, Ghana, Namibia and Zimbabwe as well as representatives from the International Science and Technology Center (ISTC) based in Kazakhstan and the Quad Nuclear Verification Partnership also attended.

Prof. André Buys provide the meeting with a detailed overview of Systems Engineering Management methodology and applied the methodology to an international nuclear disarmament and verification programme. He made use of South Africa’s disarmament as an example. He stated that: the current international nuclear non-proliferation and arms control regime is a complex and extensive international system with a large variety of role players; the global nuclear military-industrial complex is an even larger system; a systems hierarchy model can be used to describe this system in terms of its subsystems and interactions; nuclear disarmament is not only aimed at eliminating nuclear warheads, but rather the closure or conversion of the nuclear military-industrial system, including the weapons systems capable of carrying nuclear warheads; systems engineering is not only applicable to the design, realization and operation of systems, but also for the retirement of a system; systems engineering can be of particular value in nuclear disarmament and verification programmes.

He argued that systems engineering should therefore be included in the curriculum of an academic course on Nuclear Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

The meeting also discussed a Green Paper which summarized the discussions in previous meetings about how best to establish of an African Nuclear Disarmament Verification hub and what its functions could be.

The meeting concluded with a roadmap / process to establish the hub. The hub would aim to enhance the involvement of Africans in the development and strengthening of practical and effective nuclear disarmament verification measures. It would complement the efforts of UN member states in their quest to achieve and maintain a world without nuclear weapons.