March 2011

BASIC held a joint workshop on NATO’s nuclear deterrent and Baltic security with the International Centre for Defence Studies in Tallinn, Estonia on March 15th. Issues ranged from future nuclear deterrence posture and alternative strategic tools, to the variety of threat perceptions and the Alliance’s relationship with Russia. We then published a brief reporting on the views expressed and reflecting on the issues raised. NATO has agreed the terms of reference for the Deterrence and Defence Posture Review, and is set to agree the work plan at next week’s Foreign Ministerial.

United States

Anne Penketh took a day trip to New York in mid-March to follow up with diplomats on her recent Arms Control Today article, “Unrest Complicates 2012 Middle East Meeting.” Gary Samore, President Obama’s WMD coordinator, told Anne and Paul in Washington that it was the “best piece” he had seen on the issue of the 2012 conference on establishing a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. Plans are in place for meetings in the region later in the year to discuss the issues, and Paul Ingram will be presenting a paper in Tehran on the subject. States have yet to agree to the appointment of a coordinator and host government for the 2012 conference.

BASIC, in conjunction with the Verification Research, Training and Information Centre (VERTIC) held a private briefing on Capitol Hill in an effort to raise awareness and interest in the next steps in Russian-U.S. nuclear arms control and the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT).  Pavel Podvig, director of the Russian Strategic Nuclear Forces Project; Edward Ifft, Georgetown professor and former delegate to U.S. arms control negotiations; and Raymond Willemann, director of planning for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology (IRIS), shared their expertise during the March 31st event. The meeting was well-attended by representatives from relevant agencies, and by some staffers even though we were in competition with last-minute hearings on Libya and missile defense.

That same week, Paul, Anne and Chris engaged with experts, officials and funders at the Carnegie International Nuclear Policy Conference on March 28, 29. Over 800 people attended the event, which is held annually in Washington, DC. Anne and Paul also visited the French Embassy for an honest and informative discussion on the prospects for nuclear disarmament and NATO’s Defence and Deterrence Posture review.

United Kingdom

Trevor McCrisken, BASIC’s Chair, hosted Joe Cirincione of Ploughshares Fund at Oxford Analytica’s weekly morning briefing on March 31st, and Paul has also been engaging with technical discussions in London on verification matters surrounding warhead dismantlement, and separately around options for British replacement of Trident.

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