Interview: Ola Dahlman, chairman, CTBTO working group on verification (WGB), 1996-2006

Dahlman 1

Chairman of Working Group B (1996-2006)

Ola Dahlman has been engaged in arms control negotiations for over thirty years. He chaired the Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) before and during the negotiations of the CTBT from 1982-96. He headed the Working Group on verification issues (WGB) at the Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization  (CTBTO) from 1996-2006.

Dr. Dahlman spent his entire professional career at the Swedish Research Defense Institute (SRDI or FOI) in Stockholm, ending in 2000 as the Deputy Director General. He headed the Institute’s Laboratory for Information Technology and the Laboratory of Weapons and Weapon Systems, which includes research on protection against nuclear weapons. He also directed a broad project on anti-submarine warfare. His own research is on Nuclear Test Ban verification.

Q: Dr Dahlman, you have served for years as Adviser to the Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) was crucial in preparing the technical and scientific ground for the CTBT negotiations. How did you come to be associated with the GSE and in what capacity?

Creating a Group of Scientific Experts (GSE) was actually an idea put forth by myself and another colleague at the SDRI during the early1970s. We had been holding experts meeting on an ad hoc basis for some time in Geneva, but we were just talking to each other and came to realize that “this was leading nowhere”. So we decided to start a group to keep the process going. We had just published a book on monitoring nuclear explosions so we felt we knew the issue. This proposal was put forward in 1976 and the political environment in Sweden was favourable for such an initiative.