Opening Statement at IPNDV Plenary Meeting

Oslo, 16 November 2015

Minister of Foreign Affairs, Børge Brende's opening statement at International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) 2nd Plenary Meeting - in Oslo 16 November.

Good morning,

In 2015, (issues relating to) nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation have yet again taken centre stage in international relations.

The agreement reached between the P5+1 countries and Iran on Iran's nuclear programme is nothing less than historic.

If Iran complies fully with the agreement, this will make the international non-proliferation regime more credible and robust.

It will also give reason for renewed optimism when it comes to reaching the goal of a world without nuclear weapons.

Our plenary session here today takes place against the backdrop of continued international tensions, - making the issues of disarmament and non-proliferation all the more pressing, and at the same time all the more difficult.

We were all disappointed that the Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) was not able to agree on a final document.

Moreover, frustrations over the lack of progress on nuclear disarmament and a growing polarisation in the international community were clearly evident in the recent debates in the UN's First Committee.

I think we all share the view that progress is often too slow on these very complex matters.

We must ask ourselves how we can make progress, and how we can engage in this work in an effective and constructive manner.

To reach our common goal of a world free of nuclear weapons, we need both processes and initiatives:

  • that unite rather than divide us;
  • that bring nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states closer, rather than driving them further apart; and
  • that lead to effective steps towards achieving genuine disarmament rather than a fight for the moral high ground.

One approach that meets all these criteria is the development of tools for disarmament verification.

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It therefore gives me great pleasure to be able to welcome you all to Oslo and to address this second plenary meeting of the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV).

I am delighted to see so many representatives of partnership states and international organisations here today.

Let me also take the opportunity to thank the US Government, and Assistant Secretary of State Frank Rose in particular, for leading this partnership together with the Nuclear Threat Initiative.

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The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) remains the foundation of the international non-proliferation regime.

Verification of disarmament is an area where we can achieve concrete progress on disarmament, as envisaged in article six of the NPT.

Norway has a history of looking for effective, fact-based measures in the field of disarmament. Verification of disarmament, as developed by the UK–Norway Initiative (UKNI) is one example of this.

By exploring the technical and procedural challenges relating to nuclear disarmament verification, our aim is to demonstrate that collaboration between nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states in this area is both possible, and necessary.

There are three key requirements if we are to succeed in building an international nuclear verification regime:

  • Credibility;
  • Confidence; and
  • Capacity-building.

A credible verification regime requires the participation of nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states.

Nuclear disarmament verification means establishing sufficient confidence in disarmament declarations and agreements.

This is crucial, not only for the credibility of declarations and agreements but also for the strategic stability and security that such declarations and agreements can provide. It is vital for confidence.

A credible verification regime builds confidence, and can help restore confidence when necessary

However, building trust and confidence takes time.

The UKNI experience shows that there is a need for capacity-building in this area.

Designing verification systems and methods properly is difficult, and it is politically sensitive.

Verification measures need to be based on sophisticated technology and years of research and development work.

Moreover, international cooperation is needed.

A credible international verification regime needs to have multilateral components and solutions.

I am therefore pleased that the OPCW and the CTBT are here to present their regimes, and that Vertic will share their research.

We look forward to sharing our experience with you.

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The International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) aims to cover the full scope of the disarmament process.

It involves non-nuclear and nuclear-weapon states alike; it is based on voluntary commitments; and it builds on concepts and tools we have developed by drawing on decades of experience of bilateral, regional and multilateral arrangements.

Under the skilful guidance of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification IPNDV has all the attributes needed to become a truly powerful partnership in the future.

I would like to thank you all once again for coming to Oslo.

I wish you every success with your discussions here over the next days.