International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) -- Working Group 2: On-Site Inspections (OSI) Terms of Reference

Bureau of Arms Control, Verification, and Compliance
November 18, 2015


On-site inspections are a powerful tool to ensure that states are complying with the terms of a given treaty or agreement. Successful OSI relies on detailed and agreed-upon objectives and procedures, as outlined in specific treaty provisions.

The Working Group on On-Site Inspection (WG2) will explore the lessons learned from various on-site inspection regimes and identify fundamental OSI principles common across various of those regimes. WG2 will assess the applicability and utility of these principles to potential future nuclear arms control agreements, and identify potential new inspection activities and techniques that could effectively verify compliance with future agreements.

Key Questions and Assessments

Consistent with the objectives of assessing monitoring and verification issues: (i) across nuclear weapons lifecycle; and (ii) focusing on nuclear warhead dismantlement and the disposition of the resulting nuclear material to ensure irreversibility of the dismantlement process, Working Group 2 will identify:

  • The roles and objectives of OSI in verifying future nuclear disarmament undertakings, including by identifying parts of the lifecycle where OSI will be of value;
  • The lessons learned from existing regimes related to conventional and non-conventional weapons and their non-proliferation, wherever OSI is used as a verification mechanism. A list of options will be compiled for comparison and contrast by the Group with the needs of nuclear disarmament verification. Relevant options will serve as a “pool,” or set of activities and tools related to the different types of facilities, which could be included in future OSI templates/proposals;
  • Ways in which verification objectives can be achieved notwithstanding limitations related to safety, security, national interests and non-proliferation inherent in the operations of different types of military, nuclear, and explosive facilities, including through the application of managed access; and
  • Desirable knowledge and skills for inspectors, escorts, and support staff at facilities and sites where inspection and/or monitoring activities occur, as well as considerations relevant to the capability and composition of inspection teams.

Expected Activities and Output

  • A document outlining: the key elements of OSI for verification of nuclear disarmament undertakings, potential new inspection activities and techniques that could effectively verify compliance with future agreements as well as options for managed access and their applicability at different types of facilities and sites;
  • A “best practices” document highlighting skills, training requirements, and lessons learned from inspectors and facility operators who have OSI experience in diverse environments as well as objectives and broad outline for an inspector training course that would serve as a basis of future capacity building; and
  • Proposed approaches and topics for future development of OSI for verification of nuclear disarmament.
  • Outcomes from the foregoing could be examined through a tabletop exercise if time permits. During the course of its work, WG2, as it deems necessary, may expand on the tasks listed above. Close cooperation with WG1 and WG3 is required, in order to avoid duplication and secure cohesion.


Poland and Australia will serve as co-chairs for WG2.


The initial program of work will take place over the course of approximately 18 months. Completed work will be briefed to the IPNDV Plenary in late 2017.