The Path to Zero

Policy Report | August 01, 2013

The EastWest Institute and the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Kazakhstan to the United Nations have released The Path to Zero: Opportunities and Challenges in Disarmament and Nonproliferation.

The Path to Zero: Opportunities and Challenges in Disarmament and Nonproliferation highlights the findings of the second annual Nuclear Discussion Forum (NDF).The report draws on discussions among representatives of 45 UN Member States and surveys key opportunities and obstacles to a world free of nuclear weapons.

As EWI President John Mroz pointed out, "The world can ill afford to stand by idly as thousands of nuclear weapons continue to threaten global peace and security. The Nuclear Discussion Forum goes a long way towards bridging divides, finding common ground and clearing the way for global zero."

Despite renewed interest in a world free of nuclear weapons, progress on nuclear disarmament remains frustratingly slow. In 2011, with that in mind, EWI and the Mission of Kazakhstan launched the NDF, a series of unofficial meetings that brought together UN Permanent Representatives and First Committee experts in New York to cultivate new thinking and approaches to solve these perennial challenges.

The unique setting created by the NDF provides UN representatives with an unofficial "laboratory" to propose creative solutions, interact with innovative experts and facilitate an exchange of ideas rather than an exchange of statements. The 2012 NDF included three sessions that focused on, among other topics, the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines, reducing the operational utility of nuclear weapons and the path to zero. Discussions also touched upon nuclear-weapon-free zones, de-alerting, multilateral arms control and the role and status of arms control treaties.

This report provides a general overview of the topics addressed in the 2012 NDF sessions, along with the highlights and findings from each session. On the basis of suggestions put forth during the NDF, the authors recommend eight actionable measures to advance and reinvigorate the nuclear disarmament agenda.

Ambassador Byrganym Aitimova, Permanent Representative of the Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations noted, "The challenges facing global zero are as pressing as they are substantial. The recommendations contained in this report have the potential to build and sustain the momentum necessary for genuine progress on the path to a nuclear-weapon-free world."