Challenges afoot for the NPT

With the next round of discussions of the open-ended working group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament imminent, it may seem premature to look ahead twelve months to the first preparatory meeting for the new review cycle of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). But a thoughtful article just published by Robert Einhorn, suggesting some improvements to NPT procedures, provides good cause to do so.

By Tim Caughley

Describing the current review process of the NPT as unsatisfactory, Einhorn writes that it ‘produces high drama and intense diplomatic activity, but rarely contributes to the strengthening of the NPT regime. All NPT parties are frustrated with it’. It is time, he believes, to try something new.

The year ahead

As a new year gets underway, this ‘state of play’ report comments briefly on multilateral nuclear disarmament developments in 2015 and sets the scene for discussions in 2016.  It also reflects on possible trends and outcomes. 

By Tim Caughley

Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT): The five-yearly Review Conference in May 2015 ended after four weeks without any agreed result. The rate of progress on nuclear disarmament remains a hot issue in the NPT. A new five-year review cycle has begun, but its first meeting will not place until 2017. For the NPT, 2016 is thus a ‘gap’ year, leaving space for other forums such as the Open-ended Working Group (discussed below). Incidentally, the 2020 NPT Review Conference will coincide with the 50th anniversary of the Treaty’s entry into force.

Open-ended stalling tactics

The nuclear-armed states stand to benefit the most from a second open-ended working group on nuclear disarmament. 

By Magnus Løvold

As disarmament diplomats are scratching their heads trying to figure out what to make of the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in October, the Genevois rumour mill reports that certain states are planning to table a resolution establishing an open-ended working group (OEWG) on nuclear disarmament.

Hiroshima and Nagasaki: an unfulfilled legacy

Seventy years ago the Japanese city of Hiroshima was devastated by an atomic bomb causing huge loss of life and suffering that continues to this day. The same fate befell Nagasaki three days later.

By John Borrie, Tim Caughley and Magnus Løvold

Many cities were heavily bombed during the Second World War, not only in Japan, but Hiroshima and Nagasaki were alone in being the targets of single weapons of mass destruction—atomic, i.e., nuclear bombs.

Another Gap

The parties to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT) were unable to reach any agreement at their month-long 2015 Review Conference ostensibly because of Middle-East politics. The parties were also far apart on how to deal with nuclear disarmament.  In the Humanitarian Pledge, a new dynamic has emerged.

By Tim Caughley

‘The whole plan to have the non-nuclear-weapons powers accept responsibility for preventing the destruction of mankind by renouncing nuclear arms is in disarray’. So said Alva Myrdal (Swedish minister for disarmament during the NPT negotiations and former Nobel Peace Prize winner) in 1976. The recent five-year review of that treaty has done little to dispel that conclusion.