In November 2022, BASIC and the Institute for Conflict, Cooperation and Security at the University of Birmingham (ICCS) organised the ‘Nuclear Responsibilities at Sea: Exploring Policy Proposals for Maritime Risk Reduction in the Asia Pacific’ Dialogue. The purpose of this Track 2 dialogue was to explore how nuclear-armed and non-nuclear-armed states in the Asia-Pacific can best implement their responsibilities in relation to nuclear weapons, radioactive materials and/or conflict prevention in the maritime domain. The dialogue was attended by experts and government officials participating in an unofficial capacity, from a number of states (Australia, India, Pakistan, and the United Kingdom) and from states of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore).
Two key takeaways emerged from the dialogue. First, risks of accidents or incidents at sea in the Asia-Pacific are currently greater than risks of intentional conflicts at sea. As the type and number of vessels within the Indian Ocean continue to grow, considerations for safety at sea should be prioritised when advancing policy proposals. Second, there is a gap between the nuclear and maritime domains that needs to be bridged. Currently, both domains are siloed from each other, meaning few conversations take place both at the official and civil society levels between nuclear and maritime experts. Therefore, risks arising from the nuclear-maritime nexus are less likely to be addressed nationally, regionally or internationally.
Amongst the policy proposed, participants noted that a new ‘Asian Nuclear-Maritime’ forum specifically dealing with issues arising from the maritime-nuclear nexus was needed in the region. Furthermore, participants proposed policies relating to good order at sea, such as strengthening current code of conducts at sea ; supporting cooperation and capacity-building and encouraging declaratory policies.
Read the report and the policy proposals below: