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Arms Control and International Security: Remarks at the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification Event

As prepared

Thank you all for joining us today for an update on the progress of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV). The time is right, as we approach the end of the Partnership’s initial phase to begin to look forward to the start of Phase Two.

We created the Partnership three years ago as a unique public-private partnership between the U.S. Department of State and the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI), to collaboratively engage more than 25 countries both with, and without, nuclear weapons. The cooperative goals of the Partnership are essential ones to nuclear disarmament, namely identifying the complex technical challenges required for verification, and developing potential technologies and procedures to address them.

The Partnership has very successfully shared knowledge and advanced thinking on nuclear disarmament verification among its participants through this collaboration. All participating States have gained insights from each other, and together we have gained a better understanding of the verification challenges ahead – and have begun to chart a potential path forward for addressing them.

The primary focus of Phase One, which concludes in December 2017, has been on the monitoring and inspection of a notional nuclear weapon dismantlement process. This focus was chosen because dismantlement is one of the most important, complex, and technically challenging tasks of nuclear disarmament verification. At the same time, the ability to know with confidence that nuclear weapons have been dismantled as agreed is essential to the success of negotiated nuclear disarmament.

Specifically, the Partnership’s key judgment is that while tough challenges remain, potentially applicable technologies, information barriers, and inspection procedures provide a path forward that should make multilaterally monitored nuclear warhead dismantlement possible, while successfully managing safety, security, non-proliferation, and classification concerns in a future nuclear disarmament agreement. This very judgment – the result of multilateral collaboration among a diverse group of States – is itself a major Partnership accomplishment.

Since our activities have included experts from the policy, verification, and scientific communities, the Partnership has also strengthened and diversified national and international capacity on nuclear disarmament verification more generally. Shortly you will hear more about the results of the Partnership’s three Working Groups. Their efforts provide a strong analytic foundation upon which to build the needed tool-kit of future nuclear disarmament verification concepts and capabilities. I want to thank the co-chairs of these groups: The Netherlands and the United Kingdom for chairing the Working Group on “Monitoring and Verification Objectives;” Australia and Poland for chairing the Working Group on “On-Site Inspections;” and Sweden for chairing, along with the United States, the Working Group on “Technical Challenges and Solutions.” Everyone deserves tremendous credit for harnessing the diverse expertise and differing viewpoints of their members.

Phase Two of the Partnership will launch with the conclusion of the upcoming plenary in Buenos Aires, Argentina this November, and will build on and deepen the results from Phase One. Looking ahead, the Partners agree on the importance of building out from the initial focus on dismantlement to address verification issues across the wider nuclear disarmament process. Specifically, the Partnership identified a number of specific verification areas for additional analysis: declarations; data handling requirements across the inspection process; information barrier technologies; technologies enabling measurements of Special Nuclear Material (SNM) and high explosives (HE), as well as the development of nuclear weapon templates; and the testing and exercising of potentially promising technologies and procedures. Taken together, these form a roadmap of the Partnership’s next steps.

Confidence in verification will be essential to future nuclear disarmament. In order to provide that confidence, it is necessary to identify, understand, and address the many challenges of verification. Thanks to the IPNDV, we have moved closer to meeting this objective.

Thank you again for coming today, and I would like to introduce Andrew Bieniawski from the Nuclear Threat Initiative to speak to you in more detail about the accomplishments of Phase One and the direction the Partnership may take in Phase Two.

Distribution channels: Military Industry