Observations on IFE08

Dr. John Walker with Arms Control and Disarmament Research Unit at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office has written a good article on the main lessons learned from the CTBTO’s Integrated Field Exercise 08. This exercise was observed by several non-governmental organizations, including VERTIC. We hope to come out with an independent report on the CTBT On-Site Inspections later this year. Dr. Walkers main conclusion, however, is very similar to our own.

A key step is to develop a sense of what constitutes an OSI operational capability for the future CTBTO after the Treaty’s entry into force. In this context it is reasonable to note that IFE08 itself represented, for all its limitations, a sort of basic capability, albeit one where much more work is needed to improve the performance of an inspection team.

Even here we should not forget that during IFE08, a surrogate inspection team did work professionally and managed to apply many of the OSI techniques specified in the Treaty in an inspection area of 1,000 km2 in weather and working conditions that at times were harsh.

This was a success in itself and one which bodes well for future work and future such large scale field exercises.

IFE08 was, of course, not a test of a fully developed on-site inspection mechanism. Despite this, our impression was also that most elements for a successful mission were in place. Some procedures and technologies are more developed than others, as was expected, and some aspects (such as drilling) were not rehearsed at all. While more work needs to be done, discussions on the on-site inspection protocol are on track. IFE08, moreover, ensured that the discussions were enriched with ample amounts of hands-on experience.

– Andreas Persbo, London

Source: John R. Walker, ‘Main lessons from the Integrated Field Exercise 2008‘, Spectrum, Issue 14, April 2010.