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:
Discussions about the feasibility and necessity of a legal ban on nuclear weapons took centre stage at the first session of the United Nation’s Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament. The states legally recognized under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear-weapon states (NWS) were nowhere to be seen, leaving their allies to argue the case for pragmatic caution; India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea were also absent.
The debate within expert communities over nuclear deterrence and disarmament can be infuriatingly complex and unrelated to the decisions taken in a political context. Disarmament is often dimsissed by commentators in both arenas as naive and dangerous, yet it is at root about a cooperative search for security.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors will meet this week, starting today in Vienna, and Iran’s nuclear program will be on the agenda. The May 22ndIAEA report concluded that little has changed since previous assessments of the nuclear program – with Iran continuing to enrich nuclear fuel and Tehran and the Agency at loggerheads over what is necessary to show that all of Iran’s nuclear activities are for peaceful purposes.
This background briefing gives context, recent history, and key issues affecting the 'P5' meeting of the NPT nuclear weapon states in Geneva this week (April 18th-19th) and speculates as to what is likely to be on the agenda.
The United Nations General Assembly First Committee opens today in New York, the UN forum for disarmament and international security affairs. Its month-long session contains an ambitious program of work, including discussion on nuclear weapons and other WMDs, in the weaponisation of space, conventional weapons, regional disarmament and security, and disarmament machinery (conventions and treaties).
NATO proceeded quietly with its Strategic Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, while U.S. and Russian disagreements over missile defense continued. The United States was also conducting a review of nuclear targeting. In the United Kingdom, the “successor” to the Vanguard-class submarine that carries Trident missiles officially entered “Initial Gate,” or the initial design phase.
The debate over Trident was heating up with questions about how the United Kingdom will cover costs during a time of tightening defense budgets. In the United States, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to the full Senate, but doubts remained as to whether the Senate would approve the treaty before the end of the year. Thirty-six members of the European Leaders Network called on NATO to increase its role in nuclear arms control just as the Alliance was circulating a draft of its new Strategic Concept, which was last revised in 1999.