International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification Roundtable

Frank A. Rose
Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Arms Control, Verification and Compliance
Washington, DC
March 21, 2016

As prepared

Thank you all for joining us today to discuss the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV).

I want to start by giving you some brief background on the Partnership, and some thoughts on where the Partnership goes from here.

Just over a year ago, Under Secretary Rose Gottemoeller announced the establishment of the IPNDV, to be implemented in collaboration with the non-governmental organization Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

The Partnership’s purpose is to bring together expertise from states that possess nuclear weapons, and states that do not, to work together to better understand and overcome the technical challenges of verifying nuclear disarmament.

U.S. support for the Partnership builds on the U.K.-Norway Initiative, which began in 2007 seeking practical solutions to future arms control and disarmament technical challenges.

The Partnership is focused on three broad objectives.

First, we want to work together to build capacity among states with nuclear weapons and states without nuclear weapons in the field of nuclear disarmament verification.

Second, the Partnership aims to improve and broaden understanding of the challenges inherent in nuclear disarmament verification and monitoring. Under New START, the United States and Russia monitor delivery vehicles. In a future agreement, though, we are likely to be monitoring nuclear warheads, which is a new and difficult challenge.

Finally, the Partnership will provide international leadership by facilitating technical progress to address the challenges of nuclear disarmament verification.

In its first year, the Partnership has made significant progress.

Twenty-nine countries plus the European Union have participated so far, bringing to bear a wide range of expertise working to create an effective foundation for nuclear disarmament verification.

At the first IPNDV plenary in March 2015, Partners agreed to establish three working groups: one on monitoring and verification objectives; one on on-site inspections; and one examining technical challenges and solutions associated with verification.

To build on this work, the Partners met in Oslo from November 16-18 for our second Plenary. We heard from leading experts from all over the world on different arms control inspection regimes, the latest research on monitoring and verification, and the technical challenges associated with the verification of nuclear disarmament.

The key results from the Oslo plenary were threefold:

First, we agreed on the near-term scope of work for IPNDV. While there was discussion about the entire lifecycle of nuclear weapons, the Partnership will focus in the near term on monitoring and verification issues associated with warhead dismantlement.

Second, we reached agreement on the Terms of Reference for the three Working Groups.

Third, Partners agreed to hold the third IPNDV Plenary in Japan in June 2016.

The Partnership is not fundamentally about policy; it is about finding technical solutions to the practical challenges associated with monitoring and verifying nuclear disarmament. The agreed Terms of Reference, which are posted in their entirety on the State Department’s and NTI’s websites, provide the framework for these groups to begin their technical discussions and work.

The three working groups met last month in Geneva, and further refined the scope and process of their work.

I will let Andrew and Kurt brief you in more detail on the Working Groups’ Terms of Reference and their work so far, but we look forward to having the Working Groups provide Partners with an update on their work at the June plenary in Tokyo. I am very pleased that Japan has graciously volunteered to host this event.

I’d like to close by reiterating that, despite today’s difficult security environment, there is still important, practical work to be done to lay the foundation and create the conditions for further progress on practical issues like verification.

By focusing on the technical challenges, we can make real and important progress toward our shared disarmament goals, independent of the ebbs and flows of the political environment, and open new lanes of multilateral cooperation to achieve those goals.

Thank you again for coming today, and I look forward to your questions and thoughts.