An activist with a mask of Kim Jong-un marches with a model of a nuclear rocket Adam Berry/Getty Images

A Verifiable Path to Nuclear Disarmament

The on-again, off-again summit between the United States and North Korea is on again. But even if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to denuclearization, the international community has no standard set of procedures to guarantee that a country claiming to disarm is actually doing so.

WASHINGTON, DC – As officials from the United States and North Korea prepare for the June 12 summit meeting between Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un, nuclear experts must come to terms with a significant question: If Kim commits to dismantling his nuclear stockpile, how can the world be sure that he is following through?

There is no question that North Korea poses a unique challenge to the nuclear nonproliferation regime; the political context for advancing disarmament globally is very different. Still, the technical aspects of verifying that a nuclear warhead has been dismantled are the same everywhere. Although a consensus on how to reduce global stockpiles of nuclear weapons may be a long way off, it is not too soon to begin preparing for the day when disarmament – in North Korea or elsewhere – is on the agenda.

For nearly four years, the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification has been working to improve the weapons dismantlement process. As co-chairs of an IPNDV working group, we are collaborating with experts from more than 25 nuclear- and non-nuclear-armed countries to develop formulas, technologies, and expertise that will help in the implementation of future disarmament agreements.

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