News | November 03, 2010

Promoting International Security and Stability through Disarmament

On October 22, 2010 the EastWest Institute, in partnership with the Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations, hosted a consultation on Promoting International Security and Stability through Disarmament at the United Nations New York.

The consultation brought together leading experts and diplomats to discuss how best to implement Action Point Five of the 2010 Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference Final Document. Panelists and participants identified opportunities for cooperative action to promote “international stability, peace, and undiminished and increased security” and facilitate further progress towards disarmament. 

The consultation was the second in a series focused on implementing the action plan of the Final Document. On 9 September 2010, the EastWest Institute and Mission of Kazakhstan convened a high-level consultation to prioritize this ambitious action plan.  During that consultation, implementing Action Point Five emerged as the highest priority.

The October 22 session was chaired by Mr. Sergio Duarte, the United Nations High Representative for Disarmament. The panel of experts included:

  • Her Excellency Byrganym Aitimova, Ambassador E. and P. and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of Kazakhstan to the United Nations
  • His Excellency Jim McLay, Ambassador E. and P. and Permanent Representative, Permanent Mission of New Zealand to the United Nations (speech)
  • Ambassador Thomas Graham, Jr., Former Special Representative of the President for Arms Control, Nonproliferation and Disarmament; Executive Chairman, Board of Directors, Lightbridge Corporation (speech)
  • Ambassador Christian Strohal, Permanent Representative of Austria to the United Nations in Geneva (speech)

The panel addressed the following questions:

  • What are the next steps to further reduce the global stockpile of nuclear weapons? How can ongoing disarmament efforts be designed to ensure, rather than undermine, strategic stability at lower nuclear numbers?
  • How can nuclear and non-nuclear weapon states work together to decrease the role of nuclear weapons in security doctrines while balancing national security interests?
  • What role can non-nuclear weapon states play in building transparency and promoting confidence-building measures in ongoing disarmament discussions?

All panelists agreed that the successfully concluded 2010 NPT Review Conference, and the unanimous adoption of the Final Document, created unprecedented opportunities to accelerate progress on nuclear disarmament. The panelists also broadly concurred that future progress on disarmament depends upon operationalizing the outcomes of the Final Document in the near future. 

Recommendations from the session include:

  • Decreasing the operational readiness of nuclear weapon systems is a necessary step to facilitate future disarmament efforts. It would not only reduce the likelihood of an unauthorized or accidental launch, but also build confidence between nuclear weapon states and facilitate a reduced reliance on nuclear weapons in state and international security doctrines.
  • Greater transparency must be achieved in future disarmament efforts and will help operationalize action point five. Nuclear weapon states and non-nuclear weapon states can work together to standardize reporting structures, and thus build the much needed confidence for significant reductions in nuclear arsenals. 
  • Reducing numbers in an agreed and verifiable way is possible, but to achieve future progress on disarmament the United States must make progress now.  The U.S. Senate must ratify New START, and the U.S. and Russia must successfully negotiate a follow-on agreement that addresses tactical and conventional weapons.  After this process, and when the U.S. and Russian arsenals are decreased to a threshold where multilateral discussions can begin, negotiations can start that involve all nuclear weapon states.
  • Recent successes in the international agenda towards disarmament and nonproliferation have created the momentum necessary to delegitimize nuclear weapons and decrease their role in state and internationals security doctrines. Nuclear weapons have no inherent military role; rather, it is their political saliency that is important.  The political saliency of nuclear weapons must be reevaluated and both non-nuclear weapon states and civil society have an important role to play in delegitimizing nuclear weapons.
  • All non-nuclear weapon states should sign the Comprehensive Safeguards Agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), including the additional protocols. This requires full transparency of all stages of the nuclear fuel cycle. A multilateral framework to monitor the fuel cycle would help ensure the comprehensive implementation of Article IV of the NPT Treaty.
  • Maintaining strategic stability in a post-nuclear weapons-free world must be addressed as disarmament progress is made. How will strategic stability be maintained as significant reductions are made, nuclear weapons are delegitimized, and new security threats emerge? Discussions on disarmament, nonproliferation, and maintaining strategic stability should be held in tandem.

In May 2010 the signatories of the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty unanimously adopted the Final Document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. The document outlines a 64-point action plan on nuclear disarmament that includes concrete steps towards a nuclear weapons-free world.