BASIC News: update on activities January-February 2012

BASIC kicked off 2012 by engaging experts, elites, journalists and students in Egypt. BASIC continued its work for the Trident Commission, and engaged with Track II participants on Iran’s nuclear program, in separate meetings in the United Kingdom. Major activities are also coming up in France, Russia, Qatar, and the United States.

WMD-Free Zone in the Middle East

Events in Cairo

Principal funder: Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK

  • In late January, BASIC held a series of events in Cairo to reach out to members of the new Egyptian elite, including a seminar focusing on preparations for the planned 2012 conference on a WMD-free zone in the Middle East. About 40 Egyptians attended the conference on which BASIC partnered with the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Council and flew in a number of distinguished foreign speakers, including Joseph Cirincione, President of the Ploughshares Fund.
  • The following day we organized a press conference, coinciding with the return of the IAEA inspectors to Iran, which was attended by about a dozen Egyptian diplomatic specialists. BASIC Executive Director Paul Ingram and Joe Cirincione then went to the main international school in Cairo where they spoke to sixth form students about nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation issues. They were impressed by the fierce questioning from the students. Meanwhile BASIC Program Director Anne Penketh hooked up with the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) to hold a workshop for journalists covering nuclear issues.
  • Also in Cairo, we had a private dinner during which we were addressed by the political adviser to Amre Moussa, the former foreign minister who is the front-runner in the Egyptian presidential elections. Paul and Joe had another taste of local politics when they went to see Mohamed ElBaradei, the former head of the IAEA who had just withdrawn from the election contest. And Anne talked to Egyptian “revolutionaries” who had camped out on Tahrir Square.


London, Washington

Principal funder: Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

  • With the drums of war beating harder than ever amid mounting fears of possible Israeli strikes on Iranian nuclear facilities, Paul has been engaged in Track II conversations, in particular a two and a half day event organized by the Oxford Research Group which focused on possible diplomatic solutions.
  • Anne meanwhile attended an afternoon session on the same issues organized by Pugwash conferences in Washington, with U.S.-based experts. While there is a consensus that military action would be counterproductive in terms of the stated aim of delaying Iran’s nuclear program, participants disagreed on whether it was going to be possible to reach a diplomatic settlement with Iran during a U.S. election year.

BASIC Trident Commission


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

  • The Trident Commissioners met for four days from February 27–March 1 for a series of closed evidence sessions with invited witnesses and a private meeting with government officials. The discussions and evidence collected will be taken into consideration upon drafting of the final report, due for publication in early 2013. The Commissioners’ thorough discussion highlighted their awareness of the importance of future relationships with the United Kingdom’s allies, especially the United States, France, and NATO.
  • As well as its main final report, the Commission plans to publish a number of briefings. Its first, titled, ‘Beyond the UK: Trends in the Other Nuclear Armed States’, was published in October. The second will be on ‘Defence-Industrial Issues: Employment, Skills, Technology and Regional Impacts’, by Professor Keith Hartley from the University of York in March.
  • In order to address all important aspects of the debate on Trident, the Commission has four other publications in train: Paul Ingram is writing on the budgetary considerations of Trident; Sir Jeremy Greenstock, a Trident Commissioner and former UK Ambassador to the United Nations, will write on geopolitical factors in a strategic context for the future; Bruno Tertrais, Senior Research Fellow at the Fondation pour la Recherche Strategique, will write about UK and French defence cooperation; and Professor John Simpson, of the University of Southampton, will write about global proliferation aspects.

Looking Ahead

Paris and Moscow

NATO review of deterrence and defense

  • The role of nuclear weapons and NATO’s contribution to arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament are among key issues for the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review (DDPR) in the run-up to the May 2012 summit in Chicago. On March 5 and 6, BASIC is jointly sponsoring a roundtable event in Paris 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). This roundtable is focusing on NATO’s future deterrence posture and the role of nuclear weapons.
  • BASIC, the ACA, IFSH, and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation, and the Institute of World Economy and International Relations (IMEMO) have organized a roundtable in Moscow for March 12. This event will focus on tactical nuclear weapons and the NATO-Russia dialogue by discussing ways to break the stalemate on bringing tactical nuclear weapons onto the nuclear arms control agenda, and identifying the barriers in doing so.


NPT and Gulf Cooperation Council states

  • During February, the Washington office stepped up preparations for our next big conference in Doha, Qatar, which is co-sponsored by the UK Foreign Office (the funder of BASIC’s Cairo activities) and by the Qatar Foreign Ministry. The conference is being held at Georgetown University Doha and aims to raise the profile of the Gulf Cooperation Council states before the Vienna PrepCom in May and to review progress on the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Action Plan adopted at the last NPT Review Conference in 2010. Our conference will have a panel on the WMD-free zone in the Middle East, the issue which was critical to the success of the 2010 Review Conference, as well as discussions on the peaceful uses of nuclear energy. We have invited senior GCC and Qatari officials to address the conference which will include panelists such as Dr. Hans Blix, Amb. Tom Pickering, Dr. Jim Walsh of MIT, Mark Fitzpatrick of the IISS, and senior UK and U.S. officials. But we are also inviting Gulf experts and diplomats, and members of civil society as audience members in hopes of having productive discussions.

Washington, DC

NATO Shadow Summit

  • BASIC will also be working on the next NATO Shadow Summit with NATO Watch, the Elliott School of International Affairs at the George Washington University, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, and Strategy International to discuss a variety of NATO issues, including the Deterrence and Defense Posture Review. The Shadow Summit will be in held in Washington, DC on May 14-15.

Strategic Dialogues

  • After receiving funding from The Prospect Hill Foundation, we have also begun work on the first in our planned series of “Strategic Dialogues” breakfasts on the Hill, to educate 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.

We would like to welcome Stuart Warner to BASIC’s Board!

Stuart Warner is a director at Financial Fluency, Ltd. He teaches financial management and has almost 20 years of experience in the financial sector, including having worked with major international corporations. Stuart will also serve as UK Treasurer for BASIC.

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