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On-Site Inspection Exercises

Exercises play an integral role in efforts to build up the on-site inspection (OSI) element of the verification regime to ensure it will be fully operational upon entry into force of the Treaty, as well as to reinforce its significant role in the international framework of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament. 
Exercises are simulations or in-field activities ‒ or a combination of both ‒ aimed at testing the applicability of concepts and procedures, at training and affording practice to individuals in the performance of activities and functions that are part of their duties and roles and at testing equipment.

Overview

The development of OSI capabilities follows a cyclical approach, as outlined in the OSI Strategic Plan published in 2006. This involves (i) the conduct of development activities and conduct of small-scale field or operational tests, normally outlined in an Action Plan or Programme of Work, (ii) the implementation of a training programme for State Signatory-nominated surrogate inspectors (iii) the conduct of a series of increasing complex exercises designed to progressively test, validate and demonstrate enhanced OSI capabilities normally culminating in a major or integrated field exercise designed to illustrate the application of OSI techniques, mechanisms, systems and procedures in an integrated manner normally outlined in a formal Exercise Programme and (iv) an evaluation and review phase to identify opportunities for further development.

The organization regularly conducts a variety of exercises, the main difference being the objectives, scope and environment in which they take place.  These include:

  • Tabletop exercises used to test specific elements of an OSI, to obtain lessons for the further development of the OSI regime, to train individuals in different task-oriented aspects and surrogate inspectors in aspects such as negotiation techniques. 
  • Directed exercises which are focused on establishing operational capability for one, or a limited set of OSI capabilities - they do not exercise interoperability with other components and are designed to thoroughly develop individual inspection activities or techniques up to the point that they are ready to be tested in an integrated manner with other inspection activities and techniques.
  • Integration exercises use several or all OSI techniques, mechanisms, systems and procedures in an integrated manner and provide a platform to review policy, operational, operations support, logistical and technical capabilities from a holistic, cross-cutting perspective.

The next major Integrated Field Exercise is scheduled to be conducted in 2025 as an unrivalled platform to test various operational, procedural and technical elements of an OSI in an integrated manner.

IFE08-using electrical currents to detect changes in underground geological structures.

Integrated Field Exercise 2014

The largest, most ambitious and technologically advanced simulated OSI ever carried out by the Commission was the Integrated Field Exercise (IFE) in 2014, conducted in Jordan. Over 200 individuals in Jordan and Vienna were engaged in various capacities over the six-week exercise, with approximately 150 tonnes of equipment shipped to Jordan by sea and air. The inspection team conducted a meticulous search of a clearly defined area in response to a technically realistic but fictional scenario, allowing the testing of procedures, equipment and inspection techniques in an integrated manner.

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The Chernobyl exclusion zone in Ukraine was the location for an exercise on radiation measurements in June 2007.

Integrated Field Exercise 2008

The Integrated Field Exercise IFE08 was conducted in September 2008 on the former Soviet nuclear testing ground Semipalatinsk, on today's Kazakhstan. It was the first exercise to comprehensively test all aspects of an on-site inspection.

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Historical OSI Exercises

The table below lists notable OSI exercises. 

 
Description  Year  Location  Objective 
Tabletop Exercise on the Role of PTS Senior Management during an OSI 2022 Vienna, Austria The objective was to familiarise PTS senior management with OSI related procedures, challenges and dilemmas, highlight the strategic importance of the OSI mechanism and to generate further support in building OSI capability. Read more
Tabletop Exercise on OSI Operations in a Mountainous Environment  2022 Vienna, Austria  The objective was to provide input for the revision and development of appropriate procedures on application of inspection techniques and operations and operations support (health and safety, communications and movements) in mountainous areas, as well as define additional training requirements for surrogate inspectors.
Build-Up Exercise Launch Phase 2019 Vienna, Austria  A one-week exercise focusing on the OSI launch phase, with emphasis on testing and validating new methodologies, systems, procedures and infrastructure including the OSC and ESMF.
TTE on Inspection Team Functionality and GIMO 2017  Vienna, Austria  One week table-top exercise to test the updated procedures outlined in the ITF Manual as well as an early version of the GIMO system.
Build-Up Exercise 3 2013 Veszprém, Hungary A two-week exercise testing the continuation period of the inspection phase, including IT functionality and search logic concepts, equipment use, data collection and analysis and preparation of a preliminary findings document.
Build-Up Exercise 2 2012 Bruckneudorf, Austria A one-week exercise testing the OSI pre- and post-inspection phases, including point of entry activities, set-up of a base of operations, review and signing of a preliminary findings document, disassembly, and departure.
Build-Up Exercise 1 2012 Vienna, Austria  A five-day build-up exercise (BUE) testing the OSI launch phase, from submission of an inspection request to departure of the IT.
Directed Exercise on Communications 2010 Dead Sea, Jordan A Directed Exercise to test ground based visual observation techniques and communications infrastructure.
TTE in the Use of VOB Techniques during an OSI 2010 Daejeon, Republic of Korea Testing of and training on procedures for visual observation techniques during an OSI on the basis of case studies, field activities and role plays.
Directed Exercise 2007 2007 Chernobyl, Ukraine  Testing of best practices and operational requirements related to the measurement of radiation levels and identification of radionuclides (GRM, ERA, ENV, RNA) including airborne measurements. The exercise also included the first deployment, set-up and operation of a self-contained OSI field laboratory.
Directed Exercise 2006 2006 Slunj, Croatia  Testing of the methodology of setting up and operating a BOO, covering all related functions of the inspection team including team leadership, management and technical support. Selected inspection activities (PSM, MAG, MAGa, ENV, RNA) were also included in the exercise in order to simulate important BOO functions such as operations control and data integration.
Directed Exercise 2005 2005 Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan  Testing of standard operating procedures for ground based (GRM, ERA, ENV) and airborne (POS, VOB, ERA, MAG) inspection techniques as well as limited BOO activities. The exercise also assessed available equipment in an operational environment with regard to its accuracy, precision, reliability and ease of use and considered a suitable organizational structure for various sub-teams.
Field Exercise  2002 Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan  Testing evolving OSI capabilities at a former nuclear testing area.
Field Experiment  1999 Semipalatinsk, Kazakhstan  First OSI field experiment.

OSI exercises are the subject of independent evaluations using a combination of desk reviews, observations, interviews and questionnaires to evaluate their planning and conduct with a view to identifying operational capability gaps and areas for further improvement. These evaluations help to shape and inform subsequent efforts to further develop operational capability and readiness for entry into force of the Treaty.

 

The installation of the base of operations involves moving tons of scientific and non-scientific equipment.

The inspection team dismantle the base of operations during Build-up Exercise IV.

The OSI Directed Exercise (DE10) was conducted in the Dead Sea area in Jordan.

During on-site inspections, communications are a key factor. This photo shows the setting up of a new type of inflatable satellite antenna.