governance

Nuclear disarmament approaches after the Ban Treaty: a personal view

The Ban Treaty is now open for signature, and over 50 states were reported to have signed on its first day. It is one of the few points of bright optimism in an otherwise very dark sky overshadowing global nuclear diplomacy, though equally it has its downsides and risks. There will now be a concerted effort by campaigners to achieve the 50 ratifications necessary for entry into force. But this effort may not be the most important dimension of the issue in the near future.

Report: Meaningful Multilateralism: 30 Nuclear Disarmament Proposals for the Next UK Government

The need for nuclear disarmament through multilateral diplomacy is greater now than it has been at any stage since the end of the Cold War. Trust and confidence in the existing nuclear non-proliferation regime is fraying, tensions are high, goals are misaligned, and dialogue is irregular. 

In Meaningful Multilateralism, BASIC and UNA–UK offer 30 multilateral disarmament proposals for the incoming UK Government after the General Election on the 8th June, themed according to three types of leadership the UK has previously shown in disarmament:

Voting for Trident before the Scotland question is settled is illogical

Vanguard at Faslane

The UK Parliament will be voting tonight on the principle of replacing Trident nuclear weapons system. It is a symbolic commitment, unconnected to any contracts or procurement timetable. Meanwhile, the government commitment to leave the EU is stoking calls for a second Scottish referendum. As the UK’s nuclear weapons submarines have their only base in Scotland, voting for Trident before coming to an agreement about the UK’s future makes no sense.

NATO’s 2016 Warsaw Summit: symbolism of a mature alliance?

When NATO heads of state and government enter the halls of the National Stadium in  Warsaw for their Summit meeting on Friday, July 8th they will do so with mixed anxieties. They will review the successful implementation of their 2014 Wales Summit commitments, in particular the NATO Readiness Action Plan and the partial reversal of the trend of declining defence budgets.

Commons Vote on Trident Imminent?

House of Commons

Whilst the UK media is relishing the drama over Britain’s leaving the EU, speculation this week suggests the Conservative government may rush a Trident vote through the Commons in July. It would do this to move on from a damaged referendum debate, and divert attention to a deeply divided Labour Party. This is clearly a temptation, but if they do go down this route it would represent an infantile inability to delay gratification for much greater political return later. Trident is a goose that just keeps laying the golden eggs for the Conservatives. An early slaughter would be the height of madness. The clever money is on a vote rather closer to or after the end of the year.

What’s next for the nuclear ban treaty?

Ban coming

The official draft text of a treaty to ban nuclear weapons is likely to be published in the next two weeks (15-26 May). This timing has been determined by the intention to avoid distracting from the NPT PrepCom, drawing to a close on 11 May. Written by the Chair of the process, the draft will be considered by states at the next round of negotiations to be held at the UN headquarters in New York from 15 June-7 July. That leaves ban treaty proponents two weeks to lobby governments around the world and get their support.

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The Implications of the Trident Test Failure

Executive Director of BASIC, Paul Ingram, recently authored a piece in the Huffington Post in response to the late surfacing of the June Trident test failure. Paul explores the inescapable truth that human and technological errors could occur at any time and heavily questions the governments attempts to conceal this latest failing, which in a real-life situation could have been catastrophic.

Blog: The Impact of Emerging Technologies on the Future of SSBNs

On the 13th September, BASIC, British Pugwash and the University of Leicester hosted a conference at the National Liberal Club, London on emerging undersea technologies and how they could affect the operation of ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). Experts from science and technology, the defence and security community, think tanks, civil society and the media were all invited to contribute to discussions about how the latest advances in acoustic and non-acoustic detection and unmanned vehicle technology could affect sea-based deterrence strategies.

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