After two years of postponement, the Tenth Review Conference of the Parties to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (Tenth RevCon) is finally happening, from the 1st to the 26th August 2022. Over the Tenth Review Cycle (2015-2022), BASIC has made a number of recommendations to ensure a successful Review Conference. Below are eight reports, with key recommendations for the Tenth NPT RevCon.
In Meaningful Multilateralism: 30 Nuclear Disarmament Proposals for the Next UK Government (2017), Sebastian Brixey-Williams, Paul Ingram and Nina Sofie Pedersen make 30 proposals for the United Kingdom to advance multilateral nuclear disarmament. These include:
- Breathe new life into the NPT 2020 Review Cycle
- Reform the ‘P5 Process’
- Buttress existing US-Russia disarmament and arms control treaties
- Require a special conference following any state’s announced intention to withdraw from the NPT
- Revive the process to establish a Weapons of Mass Destruction Free Zone in the Middle East
- Publicly and diplomatically defend the Iran Deal
- Widen the development of verification and monitoring technologies
- Adopt No First Use policy
- Strengthen negative security assurances to states without nuclear weapons
- Reduce stockpiles of fissile materials
- Explore further reductions in warhead numbers
- Pledge not to increase warhead numbers and cap their yield
In Leading by Example: Reforming UK Nuclear Declaratory Policy (2018), Sebastian Brixey-Williams and Maxwell Downman offer a number of suggestions for the UK to demonstrate leadership by example on nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation. They argue that the UK should:
- Strengthen Negative Security Assurances
- Adopt Nuclear No First Use (NFU)
- Issue Sole Purpose Declaration
- Clarify Nuclear Weapons are only a Weapon of Last Resort
In Negative Security Assurances: The Test of Commitment to Multilateral Nuclear Disarmament? (2018), Paul Ingram recommends that NWS consider NSAs in a broader declaratory policy context, and to be more systematic and transparent in comprehensively explaining their nuclear postures. This would notably involve NWS positive explanations for:
- The purpose of their nuclear arsenal
- How these are weapons of last resort and what that means
- The legal limits to the threat of nuclear use
- Their exceptions to NSAs (with regards to Biological and Chemical Weapons)
In Stepping Stones to Disarmament: Making Progress in a Polarised International Climate (2019), Paul Ingram and Maxwell Downman argue that the Stepping Stones Approach (SSA) seeks to achieve disarmament through incremental steps that would move Nuclear-Weapon States (NWS) away from their current arms race dynamics to a more positive dynamic, with the intention of reducing the salience of nuclear weapons in postures. They argue that NWS should:
- Reduce the Salience of Nuclear Weapons, notably through NSAs and Sole Purpose policy
- Rebuild habits of cooperation, notably through more transparency with NNWS
- Reduce Nuclear Risks
- Enhance transparency and controls
In Reporting on Nuclear Disarmament: Success and Failure in 25 Years of Disarmament Diplomacy (2019), Sebastian Brixey-Williams provides the history of the nuclear disarmament regime over the last quarter century to help contextualise the events of the present day. The report draws on the expertise of 25 disarmament experts and officials and offers some recommendations on the key failures in nuclear disarmament, such as:
- Senior and former officials should walk in the footsteps of Cold War veteran policymakers by unequivocally reaffirming that disarmament is a desirable and achievable goal.
- NWS to release a joint-statement agreeing to honour existing commitments agreed at previous RevCons. They could also issue a point-by-point breakdown of the 64-Point Action Plan outlining their approach to realising the aims laid out within the plan.
- The international nuclear weapons policy community needs to consider the next generation of arms control measures and what end it is designed to achieve. It is likely that the bilateral US-Russia model is becoming less effective as other nuclear-armed states develop advanced technologies. It may rely in the first instance on non-binding measures like codes of conduct.
- All states should exercise restraint adding new military capabilities and demonstrate sensibility to the security dilemmas that they can cause.
In Strategic Risk Reduction in the European Context: Risk Assessment and Policy Recommendations (2020), Marion Messmer sets out to examine what factors contributed to nuclear risks increasing in Europe, and what steps could be taken in order to reduce them. She presents a range of policy options to counteract the the risk of nuclear escalation increasing in Europe, which include:
- Monitoring and reducing threats: the United States, France and the UK could compare their threat assessments and strategic readiness in order to establish best practice.
- Cooperating through institutions, notably through formal and informal conversations in NATO can be used for advocacy of certain risk reduction measures but can also be a basis for European NNWS to drive forward the risk reduction agenda.
- Improving communication effort, notably through military-to-military contacts and intelligence sharing, which build confidence and reduce mistrust in the longer term by allowing for greater understanding of the others’ posture and risk assessment, as well as by seeing the types and quality of information the ‘other’ has access to.
In Nuclear Responsibilities: A New Approach for Thinking and Talking about Nuclear Weapons (2020), Sebastian Brixey-Williams and Professor Nicholas J. Wheeler outline that the Nuclear Responsibilities Method comprises a facilitated two-stage process to support officials, non-governmental experts, and publics in thinking and talking about their responsibilities, and the responsibilities of others, in relation to nuclear weapons. In their report, they outline an approach for engagement.
- They advocate a broad shift in focus away from asking who or what is ‘responsible’ or ‘irresponsible’, and instead towards asking what a given stakeholder’s ‘responsibilities’ are.
- They take the perspective that any stakeholder with the capacity to influence nuclear weapons futures has responsibilities around nuclear weapons and is therefore important to engage.
- They set out the approach in two stages: Critical Introspection and Empathetic Dialogue.
In Contemporary Opportunities for the NPT: Perspectives from the Emerging Voices Network (2021), the Emerging Voices Network were tasked with articulating a specific set of policy challenges within their area of expertise, and developing an innovative, ambitious and implementable agenda for resolving them. Read below their recommendations for a successful NPT review process:
- The P5 to return to regular, constructive dialogue on arms control, including to conclude a follow-on treaty to New START.
- Enhanced efforts on non-proliferation education in the general public to raise awareness about the risks posed by nuclear weapons and the need to mitigate those risks through diplomacy.
- State Parties to set concrete, feasible goals with measurable deliverables rather than vague political commitments in order to improve accountability in the NPT review process.
- A joint P5 statement on pragmatic steps to ensure the future health and vitality of the NPT regime to be a helpful measure to ease tensions between NWS and NNWS.
- States Parties consider use of the “gift basket” diplomacy model that was utilised at the Nuclear Security Summits. Gift basket diplomacy seeks to create collective action within smaller groups of countries rather than seeking to achieve consensus.