The inspection team has the right to conduct an initial overflight of the inspection area as soon as possible. The purpose of this overflight is to help the team get oriented in the area. It helps to narrow down the number of locations on the ground that need further inspection and to facilitate the collection of factual evidence. The initial overflight is limited to a maximum of 12 hours. The Treaty identifies the equipment that can be used during the initial overflight including field glasses, passive location-finding equipment (f.i. maps and theodolites), video cameras and hand-held digital photo cameras.
The initial overflight helps the inspection team get oriented in the inspection area and identify locations on the ground that need further inspection. Additional overflights can only be conducted with the inspected State Party’s approval.
Additional overflights can only be conducted with the inspected State Party’s approval. The inspected State Party has the right to impose restrictions on the parameters of an overflight, such as flight altitude, in-flight procedures like circling and hovering, the number of inspectors on board or the type of measurements and observations. Subject to approval by the State Party, the inspection team may perform different activities during the additional overflights, including multi-spectral imaging, gamma spectroscopy and magnetic field mapping.
To attentively observe the natural environment in the inspection area with one’s own eyes is the starting point for visual observation. A skilled observer can detect anomalies in geological features or disturbances of vegetation that may point to a possible nuclear explosion in the underground. Visual observation can help the inspection team narrow down the inspection area or identify specific inspection activities that may be warranted.
Visual observation detects anomalies in the geology and the surface, and helps the inspection team narrow down the inspection area or identify techniques necessary for the inspection.
The inspection team can use digital still and video photography to record their observations and findings. Ground based visual observation should be carried out in close coordination with overflights and should start immediately at the beginning of an on-site inspection. Visual observation and photographic recording will continue throughout the entire inspection.
There are very strict procedures for securing photographic evidence and records. Both the inspection team and the inspected State Party are responsible for meeting these requirements. All related information - such as date, time, location and subject of each photograph or video recording - needs to be recorded in logs Any further handling of images, including their processing and examination, is also strictly regulated.
In case additional overflights are agreed upon, the inspection team can proceed to perform multi-spectral imaging including infrared measurements and gamma spectroscopy.