Some clarity has started to emerge on how important the military and nuclear weapons are to the new administration. On 28th February, Trump announced a ‘historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military,’ and reports talked of a 10% increase. His $603 billion budget is to be funded by cuts to the State Department and US foreign aid. And the White House is expected to publish detailed proposals by the end of March.
When North Korea launched a nuclear teston 9 September - its fifth so far - it was making a clear statement to the international community of its intentions to continue to pursue full nuclear capability.
North Korea's fifth nuclear test indicates that the country has not relented in its march toward greater nuclear capabilities. Citing the ostensible ineffectiveness of current American policy, several figures in Washington are calling for changes in the US's handling of the North Korean nuclear crisis.
Nuclear disarmament has been the most desirable objective of global arms control policies since nuclear weapons were invented, along with general and complete disarmament. But it is also one that has generated most contention and conflict. Scientists involved in developing military applications were quick to call for strict controls and the elimination of all nuclear weapons from states’ military arsenals.
Working with the British American Security Information Council (BASIC), UNA-UK hosted a thought experiment event entitled ‘Surviving Nuclear Zero’ to encourage nuclear experts and students to consider the value states attach to nuclear weapons from a new perspective. The project challenged participants to identify how a post-nuclear UK could protect itself and engage effectively in a world where others still possessed nuclear weapons and where grave threats remained.
The negotiations over Iran’s nuclear activities between Iran and its Western interlocutors – the five permanent members of the UN Security Council plus Germany – on Iran’s nuclear activities are under way in New York again with no one optimistic about the immediate outcome.
The new year will bring with it a host of issues for the international community to contend with. High on the agenda will be implementation of the interim deal over the Iranian nuclear program, which was agreed to in 2013 after intense negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 (the United States, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Russia, and China).