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Report: Differentiated Nuclear Responsibilities among Non-Nuclear Possessor States – Perspectives from the Hague

This report arises from a one-day roundtable on ‘nuclear responsibilities’ held on 21 August 2019 that was hosted by the Clingendael Institute in the Hague. Held under the Chatham House Rule, the roundtable was attended by current and former officials from the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and Defence of the Netherlands, think tanks, academia, and civil society, and was facilitated by Sebastian Brixey-Williams (Co-Director, BASIC), Marion Messmer (Co-Director, BASIC) and Alice Spilman, a joint BASIC-ICCS PhD researcher on the Programme on Nuclear Responsibilities.

The purpose of the roundtable was to introduce nuclear weapons experts in the Netherlands to the BASIC-ICCS Programme on Nuclear Responsibilities, and to gather their perspectives on the core responsibilities of nuclear possessor states and non-nuclear possessor states, both towards nuclear disarmament itself and to the wider set of activities around nuclear weapons that can be taken on the path to disarmament.

The Netherlands is one of a small number of non-possessor states that has deep involvement in a nuclear delivery task; advanced civil nuclear science; developed non-proliferation, export control, and nuclear safety and security regimes; and a high GDP-per-capita. These attributes, among others, would arguably imply that the country has greater access to different forms of power than many non-possessor states, and by extension, would bear a broader set of responsibilities to contribute to the reduction of international distrust, which is both a cause and effect of nuclear risks and tensions today, and the longer-term goal of nuclear disarmament. These responsibilities would not necessarily greater than those of other states, but they would be differentiated.

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