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Verification, Compliance, Enforcement

Verification is a critical aspect of arms control and disarmament. Verification measures guarantee that treaty obligations are met in party states by deterring cheating through the risk of detection. Accurate and effective international verification is crucial in order to ensure compliance and build confidence among states. Confidence in compliance will lead to cooperation and further reduction of weapons of mass destruction, so the world can benefit from their elimination as soon as possible.

Different international arms control and disarmament agreements contain different verification mechanisms, ranging from robust and reliable to non-existent. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is responsible for verifying compliance with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). Non-nuclear weapon states party to the NPT must sign comprehensive safeguards agreements with the IAEA. Many states have also implemented the Additional Protocol, which grants the IAEA greater authority to ensure NPT compliance. The IAEA uses its technical expertise to verify compliance with the nonproliferation obligations of the NPT by ensuring non-nuclear weapon states do not divert nuclear material to weapons purposes. However, there is no verification mechanism or institution that verifies compliance with the disarmament obligations of the NPT.

The Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) has a vigorous International Monitoring System (IMS). The Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) administers this system even though the Treaty has not yet entered into force. The monitoring system covers the globe and listens for evidence of nuclear explosions in all environments. 217 of 321 monitoring stations have been built, and 100 of them are already transmitting data. The monitoring system is also capable of detecting tsunamis.

Although there is not currently a treaty banning the production of fissile materials for nuclear weapons, verification of such a treaty is currently being explored. The International Panel on Fissile Materials and nearly all world governments believe such a treaty is verifiable and must be verified in order to be credible. The United States does not believe a fissile material treaty is verifiable and opposes any reference to verification in this context.

The Chemical Weapons Convention is verified by the Organization on the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). The OPCW is made up about 5,000 staff that monitors the destruction of chemical weapons and of chemical weapons production facilities. The staff also implements the complex declaration and short notice challenge inspections under the verification procedures, undertakes routine inspections and trains inspectors.

Verification measures are lacking in other critical treaty regimes. Unlike the Chemical Weapons Convention, which has an unprecedented on-site inspection provision, the Biological Weapons Convention has no verification mechanism. None of the control regimes for delivery systems are legally binding, and none have verification provisions, therefore their implementation is dependent on the resolve and individual initiative of member states.

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Verification, Compliance, Enforcement Resources Page