French-German Exercise for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (27 September 2019)


A key component of nuclear disarmament treaties consists in verifying the obligations these treaties create. Only verifiable disarmament will generate a relationship of confidence between States Parties in terms of their obligations.

Yet such verification is complex and technical and needs to taken into consideration the significant nuclear weapon constraints regarding safety, national security and non-proliferation. In ratifying the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the nuclear-weapon States, including France, undertook not to disclose information that could enable other States to manufacture such weapons. In return, the non-nuclear-weapon States also undertook not to receive proliferation-prone information.

French-German nuclear disarmament verification exercise with Yann Hwang, the Permanent Representative of France to the Conference on Disarmament in Geneva and his German counterpart, Peter Andreas Beerwerth.

To meet the challenge of nuclear disarmament, France has been part of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) since 2015.This partnership provides the opportunity to share questions and expertise concerning verification, in order to identify concepts that could be useful for building future disarmament treaties, which, in turn, will be required to create their own verification regimes.

Two years ago, France and Germany jointly committed to organizing a practical exercise to illustrate the most sensitive verification stage: the dismantling of a nuclear weapon. In order to safeguard sensitive and proliferation-prone information, the dismantling of the nuclear portion of a weapon cannot take place in the presence of external observers. However, the credibility of this dismantling should not be affected by this. So what mechanisms could be established to address these two concerns?

This is the question France and Germany would like to address with this practical exercise, which is an example of dialogue between nuclear-weapon States and non-nuclear-weapon States. The French and German Foreign Ministers, and the French Minister for the Armed Forces, the University of Hamburg and Forschungszentrum Jülich, have jointly designed and developed the “NuDiVe” exercise (Nuclear Disarmament Verification). From 23 to 27 September 2019, experts from 11 IPNDV [1] member countries participated in the exercise representing the inspected State and inspectors in two teams. A third team of observers was in charge of evaluating the exercise.

The results will be submitted in early 2020 to the Chair of the next NPT Review Conference in a French-German working document. This exercise is a practical and pragmatic contri-bution to progressive nuclear disarmament, which is the only pathway to a world without nuclear weapons.

[1International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification