Discussions about the feasibility and necessity of a legal ban on nuclear weapons took centre stage at the first session of the United Nation’s Open-Ended Working Group (OEWG) on taking forward multilateral nuclear disarmament. The states legally recognized under the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) as nuclear-weapon states (NWS) were nowhere to be seen, leaving their allies to argue the case for pragmatic caution; India, Pakistan, Israel and North Korea were also absent.
This week, BASIC is in Istanbul hosting our second conference on Nuclear Non-Proliferation in the Gulf. Decision shapers--including officials and experts--from the Gulf region, Iran, the UK, and the US are meeting to discuss the current state of global nuclear diplomacy and collective security in the region, the potential for nuclear proliferation in the Gulf and Middle East, the prospects of the establishment of a nuclear and WMD-free zone in the Middle East
NATO proceeded quietly with its Strategic Deterrence and Defense Posture Review, while U.S. and Russian disagreements over missile defense continued. The United States was also conducting a review of nuclear targeting. In the United Kingdom, the “successor” to the Vanguard-class submarine that carries Trident missiles officially entered “Initial Gate,” or the initial design phase.
Russia and the United States have begun the exchange of information on their nuclear arsenals under the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) as they assess next steps on arms control and also try to resolve their differences over missile defense. The Iranian and North Korean nuclear situations showed no signs of resolution, and instead pointed to more difficulties ahead.
BASIC has been engaged with two major developments in nuclear weapons policy: U.S. ratification of the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), and the results of NATO’s summit in Lisbon, including the release of its new Strategic Concept. See below for BASIC’s press releases and for more information on these topics, please scroll down to the sections on Commitments to Arms Control and Disarmament, and Missile Defense.
The Obama Administration was hoping for the U.S. Senate to ratify the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) now that the U.S. mid-term elections are over. If the treaty is not brought to the floor before the end of the year, then prospects for the treaty dim in a Senate where more members will be reluctant to hand the President a foreign policy achievement, and votes in favor of the treaty will be more difficult to muster.
The debate over Trident was heating up with questions about how the United Kingdom will cover costs during a time of tightening defense budgets. In the United States, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee sent the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty to the full Senate, but doubts remained as to whether the Senate would approve the treaty before the end of the year. Thirty-six members of the European Leaders Network called on NATO to increase its role in nuclear arms control just as the Alliance was circulating a draft of its new Strategic Concept, which was last revised in 1999.