OSI holds 26th Regional Introductory Course in Cairo

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) held the 26th edition of its On-Site Inspection (OSI) Regional Introductory Course (RIC)in Cairo, Egypt from 11 to 18 February 2024. RIC-26 was hosted by Egypt’s  National Research Institute of Astronomy and Geophysics (NRIAG) with generous funding for the course provided by the European Union. RIC-26 is the second OSI Regional Introductory Course to be held on the African continent and the first in North Africa.

New Egyptian National Data Centre hosts RIC-26

The course was open to participants from States Signatories from the Africa geographical region with the goal of providing national technical experts with a comprehensive introduction to on-site inspection concepts, technologies and operations. In addition, RIC-26 served to broaden the pool of specialists for future engagement in relevant OSI training activities and exercises. A total of 50 participants from 26 States Signatories from across the African continent took part in the course.

26th Regional Introductory Course in Cairo, Egypt

Executive Secretary at inauguration of the new Egyptian National Data Centre

The opening ceremony was held on 11 February at the NRIAG main conference hall and was jointly conducted as an inauguration ceremony of the new purpose-built training facility of the Egyptian National Data Centre. The CTBTO had the honour of being hosted as the first international training event at the new facility.

Strong commitment to the CTBT

CTBTO Executive Secretary Robert Floyd addressed course participants and guests of the inauguration ceremony and emphasised the strong representation and commitment of States Signatories from the Africa region by highlighting that “in total, 50 African states have ratified our Treaty, 52 have signed it.” Participants from Benin, Libya, Chad, Malawi and Somalia were further recognised by Floyd as first-time participants in OSI activities from their respective countries. “I’m so pleased that you, and your governments are showing their commitment by putting you forward to be part of our OSI preparations.”

Executive Secretary Robert Floyd speaking during RIC-26 held in Cairo, Egypt

Oleg Rozhkov, Director of On-Site Inspection (OSI) Division speaks at RIC-26

Professor Yasser R. Abdel-Fattah, Deputy Minister of Scientific Research, delivered opening remarks on behalf of Professor Mohamed Ayman Ashour, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and stated that, “As a Centre of Excellence for the CTBT in Africa, this state-of-the-art facility will serve as a beacon of knowledge, expertise, and regional and international capacity-building.”

Professor Gad El-Qady, President of NRIAG further added during his opening address that “hosting RIC-26 as the inaugural international event at the new Egyptian National Data Centre further demonstrates Egypt’s commitment to the CTBT, the development of the OSI regime and further developing regional capacity in support of the nuclear test-ban.”

Professor Gad El-Qady, President of NRIAG at his opening address of RIC-26

RIC-26 participants getting an overview of OSI concepts

A comprehensive introduction to OSI concepts

The first day of the RIC-26 training programme provided foundational sessions on OSI provisions in the CTBT, inspection team and inspected state party rights and obligations, underground nuclear explosion observables and an overview on OSI techniques and equipment among other topics. The following days of the course focused on active, collaborative and hands-on exercises including negotiation role-playing exercises, planning activities for establishing a base of operations, and rotating stations for hands-on training on various inspection techniques.

Trainees in the Field Training Exercise during RIC-26

Mission planning during Field Training Exercise

A field training exercise served as the final component of the course, where attendees were tasked with navigating to different search zones and carrying out OSI field mission procedures in the sweeping valleys and plateaus on the outskirts of Cairo, near the rich banks of the Nile river and in proximity to the Saqqara Necropolis in the Western Desert.

Visual observation at the boundaries of a quarry during the field exercise

Monitoring for contamination during the field training exercise

These activities included pre-mission activities at the base of operations including mission planning, equipment preparation, and deployment procedures. Once in the field, participants performed communications procedures with the base of operations, engaged in field negotiations with a course facilitator acting as a representative of the inspected State Party (ISP), conducted radiation monitoring for health and safety, collected environmental samples, ensured chain of custody, and made visual observations and position finding.

Trainees made visual observations in the field

Participants of RIC-26 performing visual observation during the field training exercise

After completing their field tasks, trainees returned to the base of operations where they underwent decontamination procedures and handed over electronic media, such as flash cards and memory sticks, and environmental samples.

The course concluded on 18 February with a post-mission briefing by each field team, a course de-briefing discussion, course evaluation and post-course assessment.

Future OSI trainings

Upcoming OSI training events will prepare surrogate inspectors on the roster and CTBTO staff for their roles in the upcoming Build-up Exercise which will take place in Hungary in June 2024 and for the Integrated Field Exercise which will be hosted by Sri Lanka in 2025. Learn more about the OSI Exercise Programme here.

(Right to left) CTBTO Executive Secretary Robert Floyd and Franz Ontal, Chief of Training Section address RIC-26 participants

Day one of Regional Introductory Course, Cairo, Egypt

View to Giza Pyramids from the Regional Introductory Course in Cairo, Egypt

Flickr Photo Album

26th OSI Regional Introductory Course / RIC-26