Emphasizing past nuclear disarmament accomplishments misses the point when the real issue is the persistent risk of nuclear weapon use, whether deliberately or inadvertently caused.
By John Borrie
Last month, the latest five-yearly Review Conference of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) failed to achieve any result—except perhaps to exasperate multilateral diplomats, and further underline how serious the current lack of progress on achieving a nuclear-weapon-free world has become. Ostensibly, Middle East-related issues derailed consensus on the final outcome document, although widely perceived lack of nuclear disarmament progress was a major bone of contention. At the Review Conference, the New Agenda Coalition countries and other states as varied as Austria and Thailand tried to focus discussion on possible further ‘effective measures’ on nuclear disarmament. The line the five NPT nuclear-weapon states took is that they are doing enough on nuclear disarmament and that, despite their vaunted step-by-step approach being stalled, it remains the only viable option. In light of the unpropitious disarmament environment right now—as underlined by the Review Conference’s failure—it raises the question: why pursue effective measures at all?
NNWS should stop begging NAS for negative security assurances and instead focus on measures that will actually have an effect on disarmament.
By Torbjørn Graff Hugo
Towards the end of the second week of the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the issue of negative security assurances (NSAs) came up in Main Committee I—again. These curious ‘guarantees’ have been on the NPT agenda since before the text of the Treaty was even finalized. During the negotiations in the Eighteen Nation Disarmament Committee (ENDC) between 1965 and 1968, a number of the non-nuclear-weapon states demanded that NSAs be included in the treaty text. And India, for one, signaled early on that it would not sign a treaty that did not include adequate security guarantees.
The party politics of British nuclear electioneering and the diplomatic stratagems of global nuclear order seem to operate in entirely different worlds.
By Nick Ritchie
May 2015 saw the election of a Conservative majority government in the United Kingdom for the first time in 17 years and a fractious NPT Review Conference in New York that resulted in stalemate and recrimination over nuclear disarmament, and also on next steps towards a zone free of nuclear weapons and other WMD in the Middle East. The latter issue prevented the Review Conference reaching an outcome. What have these two developments—the Review Conference, and the British election—got to do with one another? Unfortunately, very little.