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NNSA hosts international CTBT on-site inspection experts at Nevada National Security Site

CTBT surrogate inspectors and other inspection experts visited the Nevada National Security Site, a former nuclear explosive test site. Here they are pictured on the edge of the Sedan Crater.

This month, NNSA hosted a Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) on-site inspection activity at the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS). For the first time, CTBT surrogate inspectors and other inspection experts were able to visit NNSS, a former nuclear explosive test site that now supports a number of scientific and technical operations for NNSA’s science-based Stockpile Stewardship and nuclear nonproliferation missions.

The on-site inspection representatives spent three days observing the indicators caused by past nuclear explosive tests, as well as seeing current field experimental operations at NNSS. The CTBT inspection-familiarization activity was a rare opportunity for experts from more than 30 countries to tour such a test site. This event and others makes CTBT on-site inspection experts better able to do their jobs: detecting nuclear explosions under the treaty’s monitoring and verification requirements.

Participants discussed how NNSS and other former nuclear explosive test sites could improve CTBT on-site inspection training.The group also spent two days in Las Vegas, touring the National Atomic Testing Museum and discussing how NNSS and other former nuclear explosive test sites could improve CTBT on-site inspection training. NNSA and other U.S. agencies will assess the activity’s results to see how best to use NNSS and other unique locations, assets, and capabilities to further contribute to global nuclear security and international cooperation.

“We are proud to be highlighting not only the legacy of the Nevada National Security Site, but also the transformation of the site into an experimental test bed and training ground for critical national security missions including Stockpile Stewardship, homeland security, and nonproliferation and arms control,” said Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation. “Inviting the CTBT on-site inspection experts to NNSS for training allows us to make valuable contributions in strengthening the capabilities to detect and deter nuclear explosive testing around the world.”

This initiative is one of many contributions the United States makes to CTBT on-site inspection efforts. U.S. experts played a significant role in the planning and execution of the large-scale Integrated Field Exercise 2014 in Jordan. In June 2015, at the CTBT Science and Technology 2015 Conference, NNSA Administrator Frank Klotz announced that the agency would “facilitate making NNSS available to future classes of on-site inspectors in order to enrich their training and experience.”

“The U.S. contributions to the (on-site inspection) effort have been substantial, not only by recently hosting us in Nevada. U.S. relevant experience allows U.S. experts to pass along their knowledge to future inspectors who will be ready to find evidence of a nuclear explosion in breach of the CTBT, once the Treaty enters into force. We need to make sure these international experts are as well qualified and trained as possible, and coming to Nevada to see the effects from real nuclear explosions in a variety of geologies has been a tremendous experience for our surrogate inspectors,” said Oleg Rozhkov, On-Side Inspection Division Director at the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization Preparatory Commission.

NNSS staff, along with experts from Los Alamos National Laboratory , Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories all contributed to the success of the activity.

The group also spent two days in Las Vegas, touring the National Atomic Testing Museum.