On-Site Inspection Table-Top Exercise

Vienna, 10 November 2017

Under the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), an On-Site Inspection (OSI) 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.

Table-Exercise participants

In anticipation of entry-into-force, the CTBTO maintains a roster of trained on-site inspectors and regularly tests procedures and techniques in field experiments and simulation exercises. From 6 to 10 November 2017, CTBTO conducted a table-top exercise as part of the 2016-2020 OSI Exercise Plan. Exercises play an integral role in efforts to build up the on-site inspection (OSI) element of the verification regime established by the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, as they allow various inspection activities, techniques, processes and procedures to be tested.

This exercise on inspection team functionality (ITF) and field team functionality (FTF) concepts served as a means to test updated procedures taking into account the lessons learned from the Integrated Field Exercise conducted in Jordan in 2014 (IFE14). It was also a rigorous test of the effectiveness, reliability and stability of initial modules of a new system for the management of inspection data: the Geospatial Information Management for OSI system (GIMO). Finally, the table-top exercise served as a training opportunity for selected Third Training Cycle (3TC) surrogate inspectors on both team functionality concepts and GIMO.
This event has served to demonstrate tangibly the substantial efforts made in updating existing concepts and developing an entirely new robust information management system. We are grateful to State Signatories for their continuing support in the development of this complex and critical element of the CTBT verification regime.

The exercise involved 38 participants with broad geographical representation, including 18 surrogate inspectors, numerous national experts and CTBTO staff.
It’s been great to learn about inspection team functionality and have the opportunity to apply it – hands-on – using the new GIMO system. I am eager to see the final version incorporating our feedback, which will be a valuable new tool for the Inspection Team in the field.

GIMO is a map-centric system for field deployment during an OSI that assists and supports the planning of inspection activities, monitoring and managing of data and information flow resulting from inspection activities. The GIMO provides a one-stop, dedicated platform for data and operations related information management in a reliable, secure and efficient manner.
This exercise has allowed us to stress-test the system and generated a number of valuable recommendations on how to improve existing modules and develop future system capabilities.

The exercise was the subject of an external evaluation conducted by State Signatory representatives, aimed at establishing and reporting on the progress made to bridge previously identified operational capability gaps whilst identifying any further areas for improvement, in order to help shape and inform subsequent efforts towards further developing that capability.
Good to see the considerable progress made on implementing the Evaluation Team recommendations from IFE14.

This exercise will be followed by a second table-top exercise in 2018 and a series of three field Build-Up Exercises in 2019-2020 aimed at comprehensively testing both key aspects of an OSI and key products from the OSI Action Plan 2016-2019, substantially contributing to the overall development of OSI operational capability.