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Hiroshima for Global Peace

Hiroshima Report 2019Column

Column 1

Towards the 2020 NPT Review Conference

Evaluation of Progress of the Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons, 2017 (TPNW)

Tim Caughley

“The [2010 NPT Review] Conference resolves to seek a safer world for all and to achieve the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons, in accordance with the objectives of the Treaty.” (First principle and objective of the NPT Action Plan agreed by all NPT Parties, 2010: NPT/CONF.2010/50 (Vol. I))

This column has two themes: (a) progress towards bringing the TPNW into force; and (b) possible impacts of the TPNW on the 2020 NPT Review Conference.

(a) The TPNW was adopted by 122 Member States of the United Nations on 7 July 2017 at the end of a United Nations Conference that was open to all 193 UN Members. By the end of 2018, the TPNW had attracted 19 contracting States. This represents steady progress to the target of 50 parties to make the treaty legally effective. Of course, in terms of its normative impact, the TPNW is already widely seen as emulating the prohibitions on both the other classes of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)—biological and toxin weapons (BTWC) and chemical weapons (CWC). It meshes too with one of the three priorities of the UN Secretary-General’s new disarmament agenda—saving humanity by eliminating WMD.

(b) Pending the TPNW’s entry into force, measuring its influence as a driver for achieving the elimination of nuclear armaments is necessarily speculative. For the meantime, the debate on the TPNW’s effectiveness is a highly charged one (although it needs to be remembered that the negotiation of the TPNW was a symptom, not a cause, of this long-standing deadlock). Its impact is seen by possessors of nuclear weapons and many of their military allies as calling into question the legitimacy they attach to this sole remaining category of WMD, one which, in their eyes, underpins global security through its capacity to deter aggression by enemy States. They didn’t participate in the TPNW negotiations for that reason.

On the other hand, a large number of States that committed themselves under the NPT never to possess nuclear weapons reject the notion that global security depends on the existence of such inhumane weapons. These States see the TPNW as reinforcing the NPT’s atrophying nuclear disarmament arm. They argue that:

(i) in recent years, the modernisation of nuclear arsenals has raised the possibility that these weapons would actually be used in conflict, unleasing catastrophic humanitarian consequences. Any repeat of the scale of loss of human life and ongoing health and environmental effects of radiation contamination as suffered through the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is regarded as unconscionable. Moreover, current nuclear posturing is widely viewed as endangering global security rather than guaranteeing it;

(ii) progress towards nuclear disarmament by nuclear-armed States nearly 50 years since the NPT entered into force has been slow and at times grudging;

(iii) continued reliance on nuclear weapons for security purposes by nuclear[1]armed States and their allies perpetuates a fundamental tension between those that choose to rely on nuclear weapons for their security and those that, under the NPT, have foresworn those weapons.

These divergent viewpoints are bitterly contested. This will remain the case at the NPTRC in 2020 even if the TPNW has entered into force by then. Progress will not be easy. But given that the previous review of the NPT in 2015 ended in failure, all parties to the NPT, whether nuclear-armed or not, should at least agree that continued stand-off at the 2020 Review is in no-one’s interest. Openness to rational, restrained debate will be key to finding a solution. Possible groundwork that could be laid in the Review includes:

  • bringing greater understanding of nuclear doctrines,
  • taking nuclear weapons off hair-trigger alert,
  • exploring other means for reducing nuclear risks, and
  • seeking security at lower levels of nuclear arms.

It is inconsequential whether nuclear-armed States continue to spurn the carefully constructed mechanisms in the TPNW for their eventual adherence to that Treaty. What is important is that the 2020 Review recognises the urgency of revitalising the NPT and stimulates nuclear disarmament, at the same time preventing the spread of nuclear weapons in the spirit of the 2010 NPT Action Plan as cited at the beginning of this column.

Mr. Tim Caughley

Senior Fellow, United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research (UNIDIR)

Column 2

The TPNW and the Challenges of Nuclear Disarmament Verification

Tytti Erästö

One of the main criticisms of the 2017 Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) has been its vagueness regarding disarmament verification. The treaty leaves crucial questions regarding the scope of prohibited activities, materials and facilities, as well as the methods of verification, largely unaddressed. At the same time, this lack of specificity has allowed for a more flexible approach to verification, meaning that important decisions on complex verification solutions can be deferred until a time when nuclear-armed states are ready to engage in the discussion.

Indeed, an enormous amount of work lies ahead in tackling the technical, political and institutional challenges related to nuclear disarmament verification. This work—as well as decisions on how to integrate the existing verification tools and solutions into one comprehensive framework—must eventually include both nuclear-armed states and non-nuclear weapon states. With the prospect of the entry into force of the TPNW as a real possibility in the near or medium-term, there is an increasing need to bridge the current divide among the members of the 1968 Treaty on the Non-proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) to allow for serious thinking on how such a comprehensive nuclear disarmament verification regime might look.1

Verification provisions in the TPNW

The TPNW, which was negotiated with the purpose of strengthening the disarmament pillar of the NPT, is the first legally binding agreement to prohibit the development, deployment, possession, use and the threat of use of nuclear weapons. Its core prohibitions also include the stationing of nuclear weapons on states parties’ territory, as well as the assistance, encouragement or inducement of any activity prohibited by the treaty.

The TPNW does not create a new verification regime. Instead, it stipulates that non-nuclear weapon states maintain their existing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards obligations ‘without prejudice to any additional relevant instruments’. Nuclear-armed states joining the TPNW are to cooperate with what the treaty calls a ‘competent international authority or authorities’ to enable the verified and irreversible elimination of their nuclear[1]weapon programmes. After verified disarmament, they must also conclude a safeguards agreement with the IAEA ‘sufficient to provide credible assurance of the non-diversion of declared nuclear material from peaceful nuclear activities and of the absence of undeclared nuclear material or activities in that State Party as a whole’.

How a comprehensive nuclear disarmament verification regime might look

The task of preventing re-armament by former nuclear-armed states would be similar to the existing non-proliferation safeguards. It is, therefore, not surprising that the TPNW assigns a central role in maintaining a nuclear-free world for the IAEA. Given the IAEA’s robust experience in monitoring and inspections, the organization would, in principle, be capable of performing much of the work required for comprehensive nuclear disarmament verification.

However, verifying compliance with the TPNW would mean a significant expansion of the IAEA’s mission. In working towards a nuclear-free world, the scope of the IAEA’s activities would be extended and maximum performance in the detection of critical materials and undeclared facilities would be required. The need for timely detection would also be heightened, given the former nuclear-armed states’ previous experience on weaponization.

At the same time, the TPNW points to the need for another, yet unidentified international authority to verify the elimination of existing arsenals. This reflects the special challenges related to the secrecy and controversy around nuclear weapons, which the IAEA alone might not be able to address. The new authority would thus be mainly needed to verify the dismantlement of nuclear warheads, as well the elimination or conversion of nuclear-weapon related infrastructure.2

One key task—presumably shared by the new authority and the IAEA—would be controlling fissile materials, including the highly enriched uranium (HEU) and plutonium from dismantled nuclear warheads, as well as the materials in peaceful use. The unsafeguarded production of weapon-usable fissile materials must be capped and, in order to minimize the risk of hidden material, the past production of such materials must be scrutinized. Attention should also be paid to the former weapon designers, whose know-how could facilitate the rebuilding of nuclear arsenals.3

In addition to the division of work between the IAEA and the new international verification authority, a comprehensive disarmament verification regime will need to ensure coordination with other relevant institutions and arrangements, notably the proposed fissile material cut[1]off treaty (FMCT), the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) or the Preparatory Commission for the CTBT Organization (CTBTO), and relevant bilateral treaties.

Unresolved political questions

The technical and institutional challenges of establishing a functioning nuclear disarmament verification regime are enormous. However, there is general agreement that the considerable work already done to address them provides a promising basis for building such a regime.

The most crucial challenges are more of a political nature. After all, a nuclear-free world—in which the former nuclear-armed states submit to an intrusive verification regime, trusting both each other and the effectiveness of that regime in detecting cheating—implies a profound transformation towards a more cooperative international society.

It also implies a credible enforcement mechanism. Indeed, the question as to how to respond to violations of the TPNW points to the need to reconsider the privileged role of the five nuclear[1]armed United Nations Security Council permanent members as the principal enforcers of international norms. This, in turn, suggests a fundamental restructuring of power relations within the UN.

Deep reservations about such far-reaching background assumptions arguably constitute one of the main sources of scepticism towards the TPNW. However, it should be noted that the same assumptions are built into the almost universally accepted goal of the complete elimination of nuclear weapons, also endorsed in Article VI of the NPT.


Much work has been done in recent years to address the technical challenges related to nuclear disarmament verification. Together with past arms control and non-proliferation verification experience, such work provides a vast pool of knowledge that could be used as the basis of a comprehensive verification system complementing the TPNW. At the same time, much work remains, particularly in terms of operationalizing existing verification solutions and initiatives to serve the common purpose of comprehensive nuclear disarmament.

Regardless of divergent views on the merits of the TPNW, the pace of nuclear disarmament, and the likelihood of achieving the political conditions for a complete abolition of nuclear weapons—the process of developing a comprehensive disarmament regime must be a joint effort by both the nuclear ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’. In this context, clarifying and supplementing the TPNW’s verification provisions can help to make the complete elimination of nuclear weapons a more realistic long-term goal.

Dr. Tytti Erästö

Researcher, Nuclear Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI)

[1]     The TPNW will enter into force 90 days after 50 states have either ratified or acceded to it. As of March 2019, the treaty had been signed by 70 states and ratified by 22.

[2] Shea, T., Verifying Nuclear Disarmament (Routledge: New York, 2018), p. 9-12.

[3]     Scheffran, J., ‘Verification and security in a nuclear-weapon free world: elements and framework of a nuclear weapons convention’, UNIDIR Disarmament Forum 2010, p. 54.

Column 3

A Possible Demise of the INF Treaty and Japan’s Security

Masahiko Asada

It is not too much to say that “shocking” decisions by President Donald J. Trump are no longer unusual. Seen from this standpoint, the statement of his intention to withdraw from the INF Treaty may not be so “shocking.” Still, the developing news over the withdrawal from the Treaty, a symbol of the end of the long-lasting Cold War, has come as a shock to quite a few people. Soon after the statement by President Trump, National Security Advisor John R. Bolton in October 2018 visited Russia to deliver the U.S. policy of withdrawal from the INF Treaty, accusing Russia of noncompliance with it. Then in December, it was reported that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had given Russia an “ultimatum” on the Treaty: that the United States would “suspend [its] obligations as a remedy effective in 60 days unless Russia returns to full and verifiable compliance.” Numerous experts are concerned that such a U.S. policy would “run counter to disarmament processes.” However, things are not so simple.

The INF Treaty, signed by the United States and the Soviet Union in December 1987, obliges both parties to eliminate land-based ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of 500 to 5,500 kilometers. The Treaty entered into force in June 1988, and the elimination of those missiles was completed in May 1991. Being a U.S.-Soviet bilateral treaty, its main arena of application was the European theater.

In the 1970s, the Soviet Union started to deploy the SS-20 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBMs). The deployment of these nuclear missiles, which “can reach Europe but not the United States,” raised the fear among European States over the credibility of the U.S. extended deterrence, or a decoupling of the transatlantic alliance. In other words, the European NATO countries were concerned about the uncertainty over whether the United States would retaliate on the Soviet Union with nuclear weapons, with the risk to be struck by them, when Europe received Soviet limited nuclear attacks with SS-20s. To respond to the deployment of the SS[1]20s, the NATO adopted the “Double-Track Decision” in December 1979: that is, that NATO offered the Soviet Union a commencement of negotiations on mutual disarmament of the INF, but that the United States would deploy Pershing II IRBMs and ground launched cruise missiles (GLCMs) in Western Europe if Moscow rejected NATO’s offer. The Soviet Union in the end accepted to hold negotiations, resulting in the conclusion of the INF Treaty.

In this connection, it is the relation between the INF Treaty and Japan that we should never forget. During the U.S.-Soviet negotiations, the Japanese government was concerned that they would conclude a regional treaty which covered their INF only in the European theater, and that the INF deployed there would be moved to the Asia region. Therefore, Tokyo urged Washington to pursue a so-called “global zero option,” that is, the global elimination of the U.S./Soviet INF. Japan played a crucial role in their establishment of the existing INF Treaty.

The situation surrounding the INF today is completely different from the one in the 1970s-80s, especially in Asia. As the result of the proliferation of missile technologies after the Cold War, many States in this region, including North Korea, South Korea, India, Pakistan, Iran and Syria have acquired intermediate-range missiles, let alone China, which allegedly has hundreds of the INF.

The real reason behind the U.S. intention of withdrawing from the INF Treaty undoubtedly concerns China’s INF, although Washington officially has explained it on the grounds of Russia’s non-compliance. Russia also should have concerns over China. That is why Moscow has urged China to join in a new framework of nuclear arms control that will take the place of the INF Treaty.

Since disarmament and security are intertwined with each other, it is essential to approach disarmament issues with multi-faceted thinking. Being strongly aware of the INF Treaty negotiations in the 1980s, it should not be forgotten that disarmament talks between nuclear powers may well be directly linked to Japanese security. This certainly applies to the denuclearization talks between the United States and the DPRK.

Postscript: On 2 February 2019, the United States government provided Russia and other Treaty Parties (some of the former Soviet republics) with formal notice that the United States will withdraw from the INF Treaty in six months, pursuant to Article XV of the Treaty.

Dr. Masahiko Asada

Professor, Graduate School of Law, Kyoto University

Column 4

Different Perspectives in Examining Nuclear Deterrence in the 21st Century

Beyza Unal

1. Introduction

Nuclear deterrence has been at the centre of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament discussion for several decades and appears set to retain this position for many decades more. What is it about nuclear deterrence that policymakers and experts cannot agree upon? Is it possible to consider nuclear deterrence in the 21st century in a similar fashion to how it was during the Cold War?

There is a growing danger in considering nuclear deterrence as if it is an extension of politics[1]as-usual. There exist different perspectives in examining nuclear deterrence in the 21st century, especially opposing views on the role of nuclear deterrence; whether it promotes or impedes security? At the Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Committee and Preparatory Committee meetings, deterrence remains the unspoken elephant in the room. So, what are the issues within the deterrence debate that require careful consideration in the 21st century?

2. Underlying assumptions of deterrence theory

The masterminds behind deterrence (such as Thomas Schelling, Bernard Brodie, Albert Wohlshetter) conceptualised deterrence theory based on Cold War parameters. The assumptions at the time were shaped by the bipolar world structure. Rationality for instance was regarded as the backbone of decision-making and that reducing the incentives to strike first would assure strategic stability. Although some of these assumptions may still hold true, taking them for granted and not questioning their value at present times would limit our understanding of international security and how states may behave in times of crisis.

Today, nuclear deterrence does not rest on crisis stability. In fact, there have been decades of peace among major powers; yet, such peace has been eroding gradually as states challenge each other in conventional, nuclear and emerging technology domains. Technological advancements caused a reconsideration of deterrence and at times states might be more prone to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons in case of crisis. In fact, such considerations of nuclear weapons use have become the new normal, contrary to the established taboo; as evidenced by the United States incorporation of cyber elements into their new nuclear posture review.

Deterrence theory also assumes that states are rational actors and that decision-makers make optimal choices based on calculated benefits and costs; and that as the costs of a first-strike would be higher than the benefits for a country, they should rationally choose to maintain the status-quo. We now know that the decision-making process is guided by personal values. The decision to use or threaten to use nuclear weapons is a calculation based on the value that decision-makers attribute to nuclear weapons, and that such calculations vary based on the benefits or the value that a leader views by keeping or using nuclear weapons. Prior to the talks with the United States, Kim Jong-un for instance, was viewed as one of the leaders that could potentially take the world into a catastrophe.1 To date, there is scepticism between the US-North Korean relations among the American public.2

3. Extended deterrence

Extended deterrence today is also different than what had been envisioned during the Cold War. It takes different forms in every region. The U.S. nuclear umbrella that protects the Republic of Korea and Japan, for instance, is often referred to as a symbolic one that cannot be put into practice in times of conflict. The ongoing dialogue between Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, although positive, has potential unintended ramifications for the security of the Republic of Korea; and it could tip the power dynamics and create new security concerns in the region.

Similarly, uncertainty over the U.S. commitments to NATO and to other security and economic alliances has raised questions among the nuclear Allied countries. The level of trust within alliances is eroding at a time when Russia has been testing the limits of NATO and the United States, by following activities below the conflict threshold (e.g. cyber-attacks, chemical agents used for assassination purposes in the UK etc.) Worse of all, both the United States and Russia are acquiring each other of lowering the nuclear threshold.3

4. Emerging Technologies

Current and future technological developments (e.g. unmanned vehicles, cyber-attacks, anti[1]satellite weapons, hypersonic glide vehicles etc) pose both risks and opportunities to the nuclear realm. Whereas some experts may claim that emerging technologies reaffirm existing deterrence perspectives; others believe that emerging technologies may impede deterrence.4 Studies have been published on increased automation and the use of artificial intelligence in the nuclear sector, and the effects that these have upon decision-making processes.5

There is an ongoing arms race – notably between China, Russia and the United States – over acquiring hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles capability. Hypersonic missiles travel at extreme speeds that current missile defence systems are incapable of intercepting. There is also a growing interest amongst other countries to acquire this technology. When operationalized, hypersonic glide vehicles and hypersonic cruise missiles will tip the deterrence logic, making escalation more likely, since it is hard to detect them when launched, hard to assess their trajectories in flight, hard to determine the target in order to intercept, and hard to stop via existing missile defence systems.6

5. Conclusion

This article outlined three areas that require additional thinking when considering deterrence in the 21st century. It is relatively easy to apply old strategies, such as deterrence, to explain new issues. It is harder to assume that deterrence may fail one day and that it is time to think about what type of mitigation measures are necessary to prevent conflict escalation when and if deterrence fails. This does not mean that states who believe in the value of deterrence should change their nuclear postures and policies entirely. It means, initially, that states can explore alternative measures that are complementary to deterrence; so that they could initiate resilience in their nuclear policy.

Today’s debate on deterrence lacks the shared understanding that none of the parties would deliberately aim to start conflict or go to war with each other. That shared understanding should be the baseline of every discussion. It might be worthwhile to explore how to create a secure world without nuclear weapons and what would that world look alike. Yet, if that world would be one that replaces deterrence with another policy that is equally problematic as deterrence, then this would not assure peace and stability in the world. Similarly, if underlying assumptions of deterrence or the role of emerging technologies in deterrence policies are not examined carefully, decision-makers will be blindsided by historical analogies and by cases that no longer correspond to present realities. In such scenario, crisis escalation and conflict would become inevitable.

Dr. Beyza Unal

Senior research fellow, Chatham House

[1]     Friedhoff, K., “The American Public Remains Committed to Defending South Korea,” The Chicago Council on Global Affairs, October 2018, files/brief_north_korea_ccs18_181001.pdf.

[2] Rasmussen Reports, “Nuclear Fear Falls, But Democrats More Scared of North Korean Threat,” June 1, 2018, korea/nuclear_fears_fall_but_democrats_more_scared_of_north_korean_threat; Friedhoff, “The American Public Remains Committed to Defending South Korea.”

[3]     Bruusgaard K., “The Myth of Russia’s Lowered Nuclear Threshold,” War on the Rocks, September 22, 2017,

[4]     See Unal B., Lewis P., Cybersecurity of Nuclear Weapons Systems, Chatham House, January 2018; see also, Bidwell C., MacDonald B., “Emerging Disruptive Technologies and their Potential Threat to Strategic Stability and National Security,” Federation of American Scientists, September 2018.

[5] Sharre P., Army of None: Autonomous Weapons and the Future of War, W. W. Norton & Company, 2018.

[6]     For more information on hypersonic glide vehicles, see, Speier R.,. Nacouzi G., Lee C., Moore R., Hypersonic Missile Nonproliferation: Hindering the Spread of a New Class of Weapons, RAND Corporation, 2017.

Column 5

Toward the 2020 NPT Review Conference and Beyond

Joan Rohlfing

Next year, at the 2020 Review Conference of the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), the world will mark the Treaty’s 50th Anniversary – a major milestone in the history of one of the world’s most successful and universal accords. However, instead of a celebratory atmosphere as we approach 2020, there is growing frustration, friction and even alarm among states about the potential collapse of the nuclear order so painstakingly cultivated by the Treaty and its signatories over decades. How did we reach this precarious position and how can we move to safer ground?

Two significant drivers have contributed to the current negative political context: a growing divide between nuclear weapon states (NWS) and non-nuclear weapon states (NNWS) over the slow pace of progress on nuclear disarmament; and, relatedly, a dangerously deteriorated political relationship among the nuclear weapon states. Of these two trends, the US-Russia relationship is increasingly threatening the success of the Treaty. Both countries have ended the 50-year dialogue on arms control treaties and procedures for managing nuclear risks. Even more troubling, the US and Russia have both signaled their intent to end participation in the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) Treaty, and to date, they have not agreed to extend or replace the last remaining nuclear Treaty between them: the New START Treaty. If no action is taken by February 2021, the US and Russia will return to the unregulated nuclear arms competition of the 1950’s and 60’s.

Against this troubling backdrop, what can be done?

As the 2020 NPT Review Conference approaches, a joint effort among nations can strengthen and revitalize the Treaty and the essential bargain at its core. Work on two fronts is needed: a recommitment from the US and Russia to the process of reducing nuclear weapons and the risks they pose; and demonstrable progress by all states on concrete measures toward disarmament.

The United States and Russia must reaffirm their commitment to all three of the NPT’s goals, in particular, disarmament. Announcing the extension of the New START Treaty, as well as the resumption of negotiations for a successor agreement would be an important first step. Both states also should declare that “a nuclear war can never be won, and must never be fought”—echoing the Cold War statement from President Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev. These actions together would send an important signal of their commitment to the NPT at a critical moment and would begin to rebuild important communication channels.

Second, all states must work toward achieving demonstrable progress on steps toward disarmament. It’s time for actions, not just words. There are several areas where joint work among states can move us closer to the ultimate goals of the NPT:

  • No First Use: The NWS should work to reduce the role of nuclear weapons in their security policies by adopting “No First Use” policies. The ongoing dialogue among P-5 states should explore this issue jointly. In addition, the P-5 should engage in a regular dialogue with NNWS to facilitate better understanding about their nuclear use policies.
  • Moving toward “basecamp”: NPT states should create a process for defining a roadmap to “basecamp” – an achievable and safer staging ground from which the final steps to disarmament can be reached. Basecamp could consist of a set of agreed principles that all nuclear-armed states would implement, including minimum deterrence, no-first-use policies, and force postures and readiness levels that allow for more decision time for leaders.
  • Verification: Progress on developing verification procedures for a disarmed world is continuing through both the International Partnership for Nuclear Disarmament Verification (IPNDV) and the UN Group of Government Experts (GGE). The work of these two groups has been a bright spot on an otherwise clouded horizon. States should redouble their efforts on both fronts and should begin thinking about how to institutionalize disarmament verification over time.
  • Strengthening Control of Fissile Materials: In order to achieve a disarmed world, it will be necessary to count, track, and secure all fissile materials in a way that creates confidence that none of it can be diverted to a weapons program. This will require more transparency, safeguards, and verification than currently exists, as well as, inevitably, a stronger legal structure — including a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT). As a next step, states should set up subsidiary bodies within the Conference on Disarmament to continue to find a path forward on FMCT negotiations and to explore what actions can be taken on a voluntary basis by states to improve transparency, safeguards, and security of these materials in the interim.
  • Finally, all states should seek to create more mechanisms for regular engagement and interactive dialogue between NWS and NNWS. Sharing perspectives and information is key for rebuilding a sense of shared understanding and purpose.

Actions across each of these fronts would help rebuild a sense of momentum, as well as trust and confidence between NPT states–in turn helping to create the positive political context essential for progress. As we approach the NPT’s 50th anniversary, let’s work together to ensure that the Treaty can see us through the next half century. Our collective security demands no less.

Ms. Joan Rohlfing

President and Chief Operating Officer, Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI)

Column 6

Towards the 2020 NPT review conference

Anton Khlopkov

It has been nearly a year since my last column for The Hiroshima Report. The state of nuclear nonproliferation regime has deteriorated further over that period. In May 2018, Washington announced its pullout from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) on resolving the situation over the Iranian nuclear program. The so called Iran deal was the greatest nuclear nonproliferation regime achievement in the past more than 20 years. Then in February 2019, the United States also announced its withdrawal from the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty – which, along with the New START Treaty, is a central element of the entire arms control architecture.

Meanwhile, Washington continues to evade dialogue on the future of the New START Treaty, which expires on February 5, 2021. Suffice is to say that the latest Russian-US meeting of the Strategic Stability Talks took place almost 18 months ago, in September 2017. At a meeting of the P5 nations’ deputy foreign ministers held in late January 2019 in Beijing, the parties failed to agree a joint statement, demonstrating how great their differences have become. All of this makes the nuclear nonproliferation regime all the more vulnerable to the challenges it has been facing in recent years.

In these circumstances, it will clearly take a special effort to make sure that the results of the upcoming 2020 NPT Review Conference, to be held in April-May 2020 in New York, can slow down – and ideally reverse – the negative nuclear nonproliferation trends, and strengthen the nonproliferation regime. What exactly should be done?

First, all the steps being taken by the parties involved should be based on the principle of “do no harm”; in other words, we need to preserve and safeguard the arrangements that are already in place. Otherwise, there can be no sustainable positive dynamics in this area. One of the top priorities in that context will be to extend the New START Treaty for another five years; the text of the treaty itself specifically provides for such an option.

Second, we need to make use of the new opportunities to make progress on regional nonproliferation issues. The second summit between President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong Un, scheduled for February 2019, can lay the ground for further progress in de-escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula, and thereby make another step towards an eventual denuclearization. Obviously, there is no quick fix to this problem – but it will be important to leverage the opportunities that will hopefully be opened up by the USA-DPRK summit in Vietnam.

In November 2019, a Conference on Establishing the Middle East weapons of mass destruction[1]free zone will be held in New York. The event will generate a momentum for progress on the Middle East, which has been one of the most complex NPT issues since the treaty’s indefinite extension in 1995. To that end, it will be important to ensure the participation of all Middle Eastern states, including those that remain outside the NPT, as well as of the P5 states (which should make their own contribution to the success of the conference).

Third, regular dialogue should resume between the P5 nations to lay the ground for renewed joint efforts ahead of the 2020 NPT Review Conference. Such joint efforts were taken for granted for many decades – and incidentally, they were instrumental for the indefinite extension of the NPT in 1995. But they ground to a halt in 2015, when the United States and the UK blocked the adoption of the Final Document.

Fourth, the nations that remain outside the NPT must demonstrate a responsible policy and avoid inflicting any damage on the existing nuclear nonproliferation mechanisms and arrangements. They should also send their delegations to take part in the 2020 NPT Review Conference as observers. Only Israel made use of such an option in 2015.

Fifth and final, all the nations that will send their delegations to New York in April-May 2020 must desist from using the NPT Review Conference as a venue for settling political scores. Only a pragmatic a depoliticized joint diplomatic effort involving all states will enable them to achieve the desired result: namely, to slow down or reverse the negative trends in the nuclear nonproliferation regime, which is the cornerstone of the international security system. A collapse of that regime would bring our entire civilization to the brink of a nuclear catastrophe.

Mr. Anton Khlopkov

Director, Center for Energy and Security Studies (CENESS), Moscow, Russia

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