On-Site Inspection Workshop-24: OSI in different environments and events other than underground

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, an inspection team with up to 40 experts is deployed to search for signs of a fresh nuclear explosion, using up to 17 different OSI techniques and equipment. 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 regularly tests procedures and techniques in field experiments and simulation exercises.

But what are the challenges faced if the location of a suspicious event was other than underground, underwater in shallow or deep inland seas, on the high seas, in territorial seas and in areas beyond the jurisdiction or control of any state?

OSI Director Vadim Smirnov delivering ES's message to Workshop-24

Workshop-24 Plenary Session

Discussions on legal aspects at Workshop-24

Participants at Workshop-24 Plenary Session on legal aspects

This was the theme of OSI Workshop-24 held from 12 to 16 November 2018. Hosted by the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Southampton, UK, ‘On-Site Inspection in Different Environments and Events Other Than Underground’, marked new directions for developing of OSI capabilities since the CTBT opened for signature in 1996.

Workshop-24 provided a unique forum for in-depth discussions among OSI experts and generated a number of valuable findings, observations and recommendations on OSIs in different climates or geophysical environments and events other than underground nuclear explosions.

Discussions at Workshop-24 Expert Group A

Discussions at Workshop-24 Expert Group B

Workshop-24 participants visiting the Marine Robotics Innovation Centre

Seventy-four participants from 29 CTBT Member States and the PTS attended the workshop. OSI Director, Vadim Smirnov delivered Executive Secretary Lassina Zerbo’s welcoming message to the workshop. It highlighted the importance of OSIs as the final CTBT tool and in-field capabilities from building-up OSI operational capabilities which can contribute to proof checking a nuclear test site closure, as well as verifying complete denuclearization.

Workshop-24 participants at UK's national marine sediment core repository

Discussions in the workshop were broken up into two expert groups, one examining OSIs on or above the high seas, including scientific and legal dimensions, as well as technical and operational implications for observables, search logic and equipment, and the other, considering inspections in challenging environments.

The National Oceanography Centre’s expertise, including legal aspects and its marine equipment contributed to the dynamic discussions taking place. Workshop participants had opportunities to tour facilities related to marine robotics, drilling for sediment core samples and the UK’s national marine sediment core repository, as well as networking with experts in these fields.

Workshop-24 Closing Session

Participants at Workshop-24 Closing Session

The workshop was organized in close collaboration with the Government of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, Foreign & Commonwealth Office, in particular the National Oceanography Centre (NOC). It is a further example of the UK’s commitment to ending nuclear testing and its continued support and readiness to provide very practical support to achieving this goal.