proliferation

The importance of seeing and grasping the opportunities

The annual month-long meeting of the General Assembly’s First Committee, responsible for issues of international peace and security, begins today in New York. Two issues have been on the media’s agenda: disarming Syria of its chemical weapons and the next round of nuclear talks between Iran and the E3+3. Both involve a degree of optimism, perhaps even an excitement around the possibilities, rarely seen in the U.N. corridors in recent years. Perhaps it is because these openings for progress have been so unexpected.

Syria: lessons for the nuclear debate

The threat of military intervention in Syria in response to alleged chemical weapons use by Bashar Al-Assad’s government was put on hold this past week as U.S. and Russian Foreign Ministers, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov, negotiated a deal that would see Syria sign up to the U.N. Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and hand their chemical weapons stockpile over to the international community. As we edge towards a decision, it may be valuable to reflect on the core arguments that have been driving the debate.

Raising our sights in Syria

President Obama’s announcement on Saturday that he stands ready – before UN weapons inspectors report on their findings but contingent on Congressional consultation – to initiate military action against the Syrian regime for its alleged use of chemical weapons in Damascus two weeks ago, has received mixed reactions both in the US and further afield.

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What comes next for U.S. nuclear weapons policy?

Brandenburg Gate

This Wednesday, President Obama is slated to give his next big foreign policy speech at the historically significant Brandenburg Gate in Berlin. It was at this Gate – an enduring symbol of both the division and subsequent unity of East and West Berlin – that Ronald Reagan urged then-General Secretary of the Soviet Union, Mikhail Gorbachev, to “tear down this wall” in 1987, and President Clinton spoke of a free and unified Berlin in 1994, following the end of the Cold War.

Iran at the 2013 NPT PrepCom: a short guide on statements and reports

On April 22nd, delegates from NPT member states gathered in Geneva at the 2nd Preparatory Committee (PrepCom) meeting for the 2015 Nuclear Non-proliferation Review Conference. This PrepCom, spanning two weeks, was set to focus on a variety of nuclear issues, but ongoing international concern over Iran’s nuclear program meant many member states singled out Iran in their statements and reports, specifically narrowing in on issues such as non-compliance with NPT safeguards and the country’s opaque nuclear ambitions.

Op-Ed: David Cameron’s nuclear fantasy land

David Cameron insists we must replace the Trident nuclear weapon system because the future is uncertain. None of us has a crystal ball so we had better keep Trident just in case. He points to the dangerous escalation of tension by the Kim regime in North Korea and Iran’s suspected nuclear weapons programme as justification. All well and good, until you scratch beneath the surface and realise what a highly contingent argument this is for the economic, political, opportunity, and moral costs at stake (yes, moral, because the practice of ‘nuclear deterrence’ rests inescapably on the threat of use – the threat of indiscriminate and catastrophic nuclear violence).

Nuclear Non-proliferation in the Gulf Roundtable Report

This is a themed report arising out of a BASIC roundtable event in Istanbul on March 25th and 26th, a few weeks before the 2013 Preparatory Committee in Geneva. Involving participants from all over the region, including GCC states, Iran, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey, as well as the United States, UK and Germany, this meeting discussed the health of the non-proliferation regime as it affected the Gulf region and placed today’s debates in a longer-term context.

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