The Partnership’s first phase of work addressed the most important, complex, and challenging topic related to future arms control reductions: monitoring and verifying the physical dismantlement of a nuclear weapon, which is just one element of a broader disarmament process. By focusing initially on nuclear warhead dismantlement, participating countries were able to deepen their understanding of the challenges and potential solutions associated with this complex process. During this phase, experts discussed the respective roles of countries both with and without nuclear weapons during the dismantlement phase, and characterized the level of confidence that each require to provide assurance that nuclear weapons are actually dismantled.
The Partnership identified 14 key steps in the nuclear weapons dismantlement lifecycle, beginning when a nuclear weapon is removed from a delivery vehicle (step 1), until final disposition of the components resulting from the physical dismantlement of a nuclear weapon (step 14). Given that monitoring nuclear warhead dismantlement is an essential element of the disarmament process, the IPNDV initially focused on steps 6 to 10, associated with monitoring the nuclear warhead physical dismantlement process.
The Partnership’s second multi-year phase of work was launched at the November 2017 Plenary Meeting in Buenos Aires, Argentina. The Phase II working groups focused on verification of nuclear weapons declarations, verification of reductions, and technologies for verification. During the course of Phase II, the Partnership facilitated interaction with the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Nuclear Disarmament Verification (U.N. GGE), and ensured that outputs from this Phase are finalized and to be shared ahead of the 2020 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference (NPT RevCon). Phase II concluded at the Plenary meeting in Ottawa, Canada in December 2019.
During Phase III, Partners will build on current working methods and engage in further hands-on activities, including scenario-based discussions, practical exercises, and technology demonstrations. The work of two Task Groups and a “Technology Track” will use a scenario-based approach based on case study of a notional nuclear weapon possessing state (Country X), and its nuclear enterprise to demonstrate how concepts and other elements of the overall verification “tool-kit” developed in Phases I and II can be implemented. Experts will also continue deeper exploration of issues related to the design of verification, such as irreversibility, transparency, and the non-production of nuclear weapons, among others, to build confidence over time. They will also continue to address gap areas identified through Phases I and II and conduct outreach activities to engage senior political leaders, and the nuclear disarmament verification expert community.