Verification of DPRK Nuclear Disarmament
Special Reports

Verification of DPRK Nuclear Disarmament

PSNA Working Paper Series

Verification of DPRK Nuclear Disarmament: The Pros and Cons of Non-Nuclear-Weapon States (Specifically, the ROK) Participation in This Verification Program

By John Carlson

In the expert and diplomatic communities, it is generally considered that disarmament verification should be undertaken as far as possible on a multilateral basis. Partly this reflects experience with the International Atomic Energy Agency’s safeguards system, and partly it reflects the view of non-nuclear-weapon states that international participation is required to ensure transparency and credibility in the disarmament process. The main argument against this is proliferation risk from the diffusion of proliferation-sensitive information. However, a number of aspects of disarmament verification will not involve sensitive information, and where sensitive information is involved there are ways of enabling effective verification while protecting such information.

As yet no specific details have been negotiated on how nuclear disarmament in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) will proceed, and how this will be verified. Whatever is negotiated, the international community will certainly want assurance of the integrity of the verification process. In particular, the ROK has a very direct interest in what is happening across the DMZ and has every reason to be involved in the disarmament effort. This paper discusses how this can be possible consistent with non-proliferation principles.

About the Author

John Carlson is a former senior Australian government official, and was director general of the Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office from 1989 to 2010. He is currently non-resident senior fellow with the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation, and a member of the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN).


This study is one of three conducted by APLN-member led cooperation between Asia Pacific Leadership Network, Nautilus Institute, and the Research Center for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons at Nagasaki University. The three organizations have co-published this essay. This report is published under a 4.0 International Creative Commons License the terms of which are found here. It is published also by Nautilus Institute here and the Research Center for the Abolition of Nuclear Weapons, Nagasaki University, here.


Image: iStock, Martin Holverda.