BASIC News: March – April 2012

BASIC made headlines this spring at a two-day conference in Doha on Nuclear Non-Proliferation in the Gulf and from the second BASIC Trident Commission report on the defense-industrial issues of the UK Trident nuclear weapons system. BASIC also continued engaging with officials on NATO’s nuclear posture and research on Iran’s nuclear weapons program.  In Washington, BASIC pulled together a discussion session with the facilitator for the 2012 Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and All Other Weapons of Mass Destruction, Undersecretary Jaakko Laajava.  Also in Washington, BASIC is gearing up for a big NATO Shadow Summit, and the launch of the first in a series of “Strategic Dialogue” breakfasts in the next month.


University of Warwick, ESRC, DTC Collaborative Studentship with BASIC

In partnership with the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) funded Doctoral Training Centre (DTC), the University of Warwick Politics and International Studies (PAIS) department is offering a studentship in collaboration with BASIC beginning in October 2012.

Applications are due April 30, 2012. For more information on the program, including eligibility and how to apply, visit the University of Warwick PAIS website.


WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East

Conference in Doha—Nuclear Non-Proliferation in the Gulf
Principal funders: UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, Qatar Ministry of Foreign Affairs

On March 21-22, BASIC organized a conference at the Georgetown University School of Foreign Service in Qatar, aimed at raising the profile of the Gulf States in nuclear non-proliferation efforts.  The conference brought together almost 50 experts, analysts, diplomats, and officials from the region, the United States, and Europe for a valuable exchange of views on the issue of nuclear proliferation, only weeks before the next PrepCom of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. Luckily a sandstorm swirling around the Gulf did not disrupt proceedings. The conference included panel discussions on ways to reinforce the NPT and the 2010 Action Plan – addressing Iran’s nuclear program and a WMD-free zone in the Middle East; and peaceful uses of nuclear energy. The Undersecretary of the Bahrain foreign ministry enjoyed the discussions so much that he extended his stay to remain for the full two days.
Hans Blix, the former U.N. chief weapons inspector for Iraq who was previously Director-General of the IAEA, was keynote speaker at the opening session which was held in the main auditorium of the School of Foreign Service to allow staff and students to attend. Other speakers at the event included Qatar government officials from the National Committee for the Prohibition of Weapons, a senior British government official, and a number of American and European experts who were much in demand from the media (in particular Al Jazeera) during their stay. It was particularly interesting to hear the views of regional experts, who spoke of frustration with the big powers for neglecting the Gulf in negotiations with Iran, and who continue to see Israel as the regional aggressor.

Presentations, speeches, and media coverage from the Doha conference are available on BASIC’s website:


Dinner Discussion with Undersecretary Jaakko Laajava in
Principal funder: Prospect Hill Foundation

In coordination with the Finnish Embassy in Washington, DC, BASIC organized a dinner discussion on April 16th with Washington-based representatives of think tanks and NGOs and Jaakko Laajava, the Facilitator for the 2012 Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and All Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. The aim of this dinner was to discuss progress in Undersecretary Laajava’s engagement with regional governments over the past few months and share views on ways to address the challenges that threaten the success of this Conference, due to take place at the end of 2012. The event highlighted the prevailing skepticism in Washington about the 2012 conference.


London, Washington
Principal funder:  Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

BASIC continues to keep its finger on the pulse of Iran’s nuclear program because of the mounting drumbeats of war in the Middle East and concern over nuclear proliferation in the region.  BASIC’s new report by Nikita Shah examines the strategies of Iran, Israel and the P5+1 ahead of upcoming negotiations and the 2012 Conference on the Establishment of a Middle East Zone Free of Nuclear Weapons and All Other Weapons of Mass Destruction. Emphasizing the risks of military action and the limitations of economic pressure, it urges the restoration of dialogue as the principal method of dealing with Iran, and recommends the WMDFZ conference as a distinctive opportunity from which a process for regional nuclear stability can emerge.


BASIC Trident Commission
Principal funders: Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust, Polden Puckham Foundation, Ploughshares Fund, Nuclear Education Trust and the Mulberry Trust

The Trident Commission released a second report in March.  This discussion paper by Professor Keith Hartley focuses on issues around jobs, the maintenance of skills and technology and the regional economic concerns that will inevitably have an impact on political decisions. It analyzes the impacts arising from possible options, including maintenance and time, job loss, and costs. Hartley concludes that cancellation of the Trident renewal program could produce substantial cost savings of up to £83.5 billion over the period 2016 to 2062, equivalent to an annual average saving of £1.86 billion.

In the upcoming months, the Trident Commission will release more discussion papers on budgetary aspects, the UK-French-U.S. nuclear relationship, and geopolitical proliferation issues. The Trident Commission is still accepting evidence from interested parties to help with the Commission’s assessment of the complex debate.


NATO’s Nuclear Posture
Principal Funders: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

With the NATO Summit approaching in May, BASIC continues to concentrate on its work in Europe, engaging with policy makers on NATO’s nuclear posture. In early March, Paul traveled to Paris for BASIC’s jointly-sponsored roundtable event with the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy at the University of Hamburg (IFSH), the Arms Control Association (ACA), and the Institute de Relations Internationales et Strategiques (IRIS).  With a focus on NATO’s future deterrence posture, this roundtable workshop discussed critical strategic issues with top level French and European officials.
Principal Funders: William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

In mid-March, Paul traveled to Moscow for a roundtable workshop organized by BASIC, the ACA, IFSH, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO).  This event helped open up discussion with senior Russian officials with its focus on tactical nuclear weapons and the NATO-Russia dialogue.  It discussed ways to break the stalemate on bringing tactical nuclear weapons onto the nuclear arms control agenda, and identified the barriers in doing so.


Looking Ahead


NATO Shadow Summit III
Principal funders: Marmot Trust, NATO, William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

A week prior to the NATO Chicago summit in May, BASIC, NATO Watch, the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Strategy International, will hold a “shadow summit” on May 14th and 15th. It is the third such event organized by BASIC and NATO Watch and aims to give civil society a voice in dealing with the major challenges confronted by the alliance.  Speakers are to include NATO and U.S. administration officials, and experts from around the world, before an invited audience of about 100. The Shadow Summit will focus on a variety of crucial issues, including: the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) and the presence of tactical nuclear weapons in Europe; the transition in Afghanistan, the lessons from the Libya intervention, current and emerging security threats, and NATO reform.  BASIC will launch an alternative DDPR at a reception ending the first day of discussions.

Strategic Dialogues
Principal Funder: Prospect Hill Foundation

BASIC, in association with the Hudson Institute, will hold on May 8th  the first in our planned series of “Strategic Dialogue” breakfasts on Capitol Hill, in which two debaters – Christopher Ford of the Hudson Institute and Janne Nolan of Georgetown University – will engage with  staffers on the big picture issues around nuclear deterrence.  We are partnering with the Hudson Institute on this project in order to attract a broad spectrum of guests, and we are sprinkling bipartisan experts on the tables to ensure a good discussion.

Share This

Copy Link to Clipboard