Deep Cuts Working Paper #4 The Trilateral Initiative


In 1996, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the United States and the Russian Federation entered into a cooperative effort – the Trilateral Initiative – aimed at investigating the feasibility and requirements for a verification system under which the IAEA could accept and monitor nuclear warheads or nuclear warhead components pursuant to the NPT Article VI commitments of both States. Although the Initiative ended in 2002, the Model Verification Agreement produced could still serve as the basis for bilateral or multilateral agreements between the IAEA and nuclear-weapon States.

In this paper, Thomas E. Shea and Laura Rockwood examine the potential role for international verification of fissile material in relation to nuclear disarmament, what was accomplished under the Trilateral Initiative and, more importantly, what should be done now to preserve its legacy and take concrete steps towards such verification.

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About the Authors

Thomas E. Shea served for 24 years in the IAEA Department of Safeguards and headed the IAEA Trilateral Initiative Office from its creation until his departure from the IAEA at the end of 2003. Shea also headed the IAEA FMCT working group, and headed a study group that analyzed the CTBT before it was completed.

Laura Rockwood was Section Head for Non-Proliferation and Policy Making in the Office of Legal Affairs of the International Atomic Energy Agency until 2013. She was involved in all aspects of the negotiation, interpretation and implementation of IAEA safeguards, and was the principal author of the document that became the Model Additional Protocol.