The Partnership’s work in verification and monitoring of nuclear disarmament helps lay a foundation for future reductions in nuclear weapons and advances the nuclear disarmament goals under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
The inclusive approach of the IPNDV–involving countries with and without nuclear weapons—also helps to build international capacity for monitoring and verifying nuclear disarmament. This is important because despite decades of nuclear verification activities, primarily between the United States and Russia, the global expert base is limited. Effective verification approaches require a diverse set of expertise and perspectives. All countries, both with and without nuclear weapons, need to understand each other’s concerns and determine what level of visibility into a verification process is needed for others to have confidence in the process.
What are the main challenges the IPNDV is working to address?
Arms control treaties and agreements have generated an extensive set of procedures to monitor and verify limits on nuclear weapons and delivery systems. However, there are no defined international procedures to verify and monitor nuclear weapon dismantlement or destruction of weapons components. Such verification procedures are crucial to managing risks and mitigating threats. Going forward, countries will need the ability to monitor and detect quantities of nuclear material and items smaller than nuclear weapon delivery systems.
The IPNDV is addressing this critical gap and working to overcome technical challenges to develop new practical procedures and concepts to monitor and verify nuclear disarmament. The procedures and concepts developed by the Partnership could be used to support an effective verification system for a future international treaty or arms control agreement.
Who is involved?
As partners, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and the U.S. Department of State have brought together more than 25 countries to participate in various International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification activities.
Are there similar initiatives working on these issues?
Yes. The IPNDV recognizes and builds off of the important contributions of previous verification initiatives, such as the U.S.-Russia Monitoring and Verification Experience, the U.S.-UK Program on Nonproliferation and Arms Control Technology, and the UK-Norway Initiative on Nuclear Warhead Dismantlement Verification. NTI also led a study with its Verification Pilot Project, which, in 2014, recommended that countries should come together to begin an international process to assess verification gaps, develop collaborative technical work streams, and contribute to overall global nuclear threat reduction. This recommendation helped set the IPNDV into motion.
How long will the IPNDV’s work continue?
The IPNDV is an ongoing effort. The Partnership completed its first two-year phase and began its second multi-year phase in November 2017, at the Fifth Plenary Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Verification is not as straightforward as it sounds. It is a system requiring a set of tools and multiple approaches, such as on-site inspections, satellite imagery, data collection, and remote monitoring.