CTBTO Advanced On-Site Inspection Training in South Africa

From 7 to 26 October 2018, the CTBTO On-Site Inspection (OSI) Advanced Course of the Third Training Cycle for surrogate inspectors, and the Ground and Airborne Based Visual Observation Course, were held at the Denel Overberg Test Range in Arniston, Western Cape, South Africa.

Seventy candidates representing 44 Member States from all regions participated. The training extended the expertise and pool of surrogate inspectors.

One third of the 70 trainees were women, increasing the pool of expertise.

The course was hosted by the South African Council for the Non-Proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction and the South African Council for Geoscience.

The goal of Advanced Course was to prepare trainees for on-site inspection activities, developing them into an integrated, harmonious and efficient OSI team grounded on Inspection Team functionality and concepts.

Using a variety of training methodologies with a focus on practical learning such as field training exercises, the trainees demonstrated competence in implementing information-led search logic during the launch, pre-inspection and inspection phases of an OSI.

Participant Ludovic Guillot, from France, receiving his certificate from CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo to mark the successful completion of the course.

Pre-flight planning and execution of helicopter overflight activities were conducted. The objective of the course was to provide hands-on practice in identifying potentially relevant OSI observables acquired through both ground and airborne visual observation techniques.  This included the preparation and planning required by overflight techniques for airborne visual observation.

Simphiwe Hamilton, Member, Council for Non-Proliferation of WMD, Abrie van der Walt, CEO, Denel Overberg Test Range, Vadim Smirnov, OSI Director, attended the closing ceremony where participants received certificates from CTBTO Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo to mark the successful completion of the course.

Participants of the Ground and Airborne Based Visual Observation Course of the Third Training Cycle (GAVOB-3TC) and the trainers.

OSI Director Vadim Smirnov congratulating the participants.

The Advanced Course for surrogate inspectors as part of the Third Training Cycle focused activities and on the scientific and technological aspects of OSI.

The course provided mostly hands-on training, involving out-door Field Training through coaching and close escort of training activities by highly qualified OSI experts in specific techniques.

The advanced course also included soft skills training session providing advanced negotiation skills and insight into cross-cultural communications, decision making mechanisms, leadership styles and team building.

The Ground and Airborne Based Visual Observation Course of the Third Training Cycle took place from 22 to 26 October. It provided participants with training of the use of new and existing equipment used for visual observation and position finding.

Practical training of Initial Over Flight simulating challenging topographies and weather conditions.

Members of the Visual Observation (VOB) Team of the Third Training Cycle

South Africa and the CTBTO

South Africa hosts five CTBTO monitoring facilities, more than any other country in Africa. It was amongst the first countries to sign and ratify the CTBT, on 24 September 1996 and 30 March 1999 respectively.


Under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), On-Site Inspection is the final measure to verify compliance with the Treaty and can be launched to establish whether or not a suspicious event was in fact a nuclear explosion. During an OSI, up to 40 experts are deployed to search on the ground for signs of a fresh nuclear explosion, using up to 17 different OSI techniques. Such an Inspection can be requested by any Member State and will be possible once the CTBT enters into force. In anticipation of entry-into-force, the CTBTO maintains a roster of trained on-site inspectors and techniques in field experiments and simulation exercises.

Surrogate inspectors passing through the decontamination line, upon their return from the inspection activities before they are entering into their Base of Operations (BoO) during AC-3TC training.

Field teams conducting GPR at different search zones as part of the Continuation period of the inspection activities during the Field Training Exercises (FTX).

Noble causes like the #CTBT resolutely strive when carried by a coalition of like-minded States & non-State actors: Not a mere coincidence for the #OSI advance training to take place in #SouthAfrica!/