Nuclear risks are rising – we are working to reduce them
States have employed risk reduction strategies in order to manage some of the unintended consequences of tensions between nuclear armed states since the Cold War. While states focused mostly on reducing risks related to proliferation of nuclear materials, nuclear terrorism and nuclear accidents throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, strategic risk reduction has returned as a topic of global importance in the 2020 NPT review cycle. Risks faced and actors involved vary by geographic region, but the overarching consensus is that the risks of nuclear escalation have increased globally. Experts share the concern that while risks have increased, the risk management tools of the Cold War have fallen in disuse since the late 1980s.
In the tense 2020 NPT review cycle, risk reduction can also serve as a political tool. It has the potential to provide a common foundation for collaboration even under challenging conditions in a polarised system. However, relying on risk reduction as a unifier does not come without problems. There is no consensus on risk definitions and best practice when it comes to approaches to risk reduction. That carries its own risks of potentially exacerbating polarisations between nuclear possessor and non-nuclear possessor states.
BASIC monitors and analyses strategic relationships among the P5 and between nuclear possessor states and non-nuclear possessor states to assess how shifts in the relationship impact upon strategic nuclear risks. We provide timely and practical recommendations for how to reduce these risks and maintain stability, so that states can focus on building trust and working on disarmament.
In 2019-2020, we delivered a project on “Reducing Nuclear Risks in Europe”, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs. This project analysed the biggest nuclear risks in Europe and developed a range of pragmatic policy recommendations on how to reduce some of these risks. We are grateful for the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ generous support.
Programme Director: Marion Messmer
With thanks to our funders at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands.
Analysis and Publications for this Programme
Video: Risk Reduction in the Arctic
On Thursday 10th of November, BASIC organised an online conference on Risk Reduction in the Arctic. Watch the recording here.
Report: Clashes of Perceptions: Bridging Perspectives on Security in Europe
Over the past 18 months, BASIC has undertaken in collaboration with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands, Phase 2 Applying as Systematic Approach to NATO-Russia Risk Reduction that aimed at advancing the understanding of workable options for risk reduction and fostering new relationships between NATO and Russia.
Report: Risks and Risk Reduction: A View from the South-eastern Flank
In September 2022, BASIC held a track 1.5 workshop in Sofia to discuss risk and threat assessments in South-eastern and Northern Europe. The workshop is part of the two-year project ‘Phase 2: Applying a Systematic Approach to NATO-Russia Risk Reduction’ that BASIC is undertaking in collaboration with the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Report: Canadian Submarine Recapitalization in the Context of Climate Change
This report argues that climate change will exacerbate the challenges Canada faces in the recapitalisation of the Victoria-class submarine fleet.
Report: Managing Resources and Sea Routes in the Arctic
In this report, Dr Gry Thomasen argues that avoiding or mitigating conflict over resources and the sea routes in the Arctic is crucial for a peaceful Arctic in the future.
Report: Prioritising People in the Arctic
In this report, Dr Chiara Cervasio and Eva-Nour Repussard address existing and emerging threats to human security in the Arctic and investigate the utility of different risk reduction measures in mitigating such risks.
Event: Risk Reduction in the Arctic
BASIC is organising an online conference on Risk Reduction in the Arctic, on Thursday 10th November 2022.
Report: NATO-Russia Relationship: Perspectives from Russia
This report is the second in a series of four reports that address the current threat assessments and perceptions of nuclear and conventional escalation risks in Eastern Europe and Russia.
BASIC believes in making progress on nuclear disarmament, arms control, and non-proliferation through multiple complementary approaches. We continuously develop our programmes – streams of research – through sustained engagement with a wide range of stakeholders, collectively searching for the art of the possible.
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