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  • Author: George Perkovich
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
  • Abstract: For decades, policy debates in nuclear-armed states and alliances have centered on the question, “How much is enough?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are enough to credibly deter given adversaries? This paper argues that the more urgent question today is, “How much is too much?” What size and type of arsenal, and what doctrine, are too likely to produce humanitarian and environmental catastrophe that would be strategically and legally indefensible? Two international initiatives could help answer this question. One would involve nuclear-armed states, perhaps with others, commissioning suitable scientific experts to conduct new studies on the probable climatic and environmental consequences of nuclear war. Such studies would benefit from recent advances in modeling, data, and computing power. They should explore what changes in numbers, yields, and targets of nuclear weapons would significantly reduce the probability of nuclear winter. If some nuclear arsenals and operational plans are especially likely to threaten the global environment and food supply, nuclear-armed states as well as non-nuclear-weapon states would benefit from actions to physically reduce such risks. The paper suggests possible modalities for international debate on these issues. The second initiative would query all nuclear-armed states whether they plan to adhere to international humanitarian law in deciding if and when to detonate nuclear weapons, and if so, how their arsenals and operational plans affirm their intentions (or not). The United Kingdom and the United States have committed, in the words of the 2018 U.S. Nuclear Posture Review, to “adhere to the law of armed conflict” in any “initiation and conduct of nuclear operations.” But other nuclear-armed states have been more reticent, and the practical meaning of such declarations needs to be clarified through international discussion. The two proposed initiatives would help states and civil society experts to better reconcile the (perceived) need for nuclear deterrence with the strategic, legal, and physical imperatives of reducing the probability that a war escalates to catastrophic proportions. The concern is not only for the well-being of belligerent populations, but also for those in nations not involved in the posited conflict. Traditional security studies and the policies of some nuclear-armed states have ignored these imperatives. Accountable deterrents—in terms of international law and human survival—would be those that met the security and moral needs of all nations, not just one or two. These purposes may be too modest for states and activists that prefer the immediate prohibition and abolition of nuclear weapons. Conversely, advocates of escalation dominance in the United States and Russia—and perhaps in Pakistan and India—will find the force reductions and doctrinal changes implied by them too demanding. Yet, the positions of both of these polarized groups are unrealistic and/or unacceptable to a plurality of attentive states and experts. To blunt efforts to stifle further analysis and debate of these issues, the appendix of this paper heuristically rebuts leading arguments against accountable deterrents. Middle powers and civil society have successfully put new issues on the global agenda and created political pressure on major powers to change policies. Yet, cooperation from at least one major nuclear power is necessary to achieve the changes in nuclear deterrent postures and policies explored here. In today’s circumstances, China may be the pivotal player. The conclusion suggests ways in which China could extend the traditional restraint in its nuclear force posture and doctrine into a new approach to nuclear arms control and disarmament with the United States and Russia that could win the support of middle powers and international civil society. If the looming breakdown in the global nuclear order is to be averted, and the dangers of nuclear war to be lessened, new ideas and political coalitions need to gain ascendance. The initiatives proposed here intended to stimulate the sort of analysis and debate from which such ideas and coalitions can emerge.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Environment, Nuclear Power, Weapons , Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Pakistan, Russia, China, India, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Angela Kane, Noah Mayhew
  • Publication Date: 01-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute for Development and Peace
  • Abstract: Many consider the Reagan-Gorbachev prin- ciple that “nuclear war cannot be won and must never be fought” (Joint Soviet-United States Statement 1985) to be the clarion call for arms control. With this, US and Soviet leaders put words to the fundamental under- standing that arms control was sacrosanct in the context of other, unrelated issues in inter- national security. In 2020, we live in a different reality where arms control by some experts has been reduced to “nuclear identity politics” (Ford 2020) while others claim that it is “practical- ly exhausted” (Yermakov 2020). Disconcert- ing as these sentiments may be, they contain a kernel of truth. Arms control in 2020 is still oriented to realities of the past. But if the arms race spirals into full force, it is humans who will be the losers. Hence, it is unhelp- ful to dismiss arms control as an obsolete manifestation of Cold War nightmares. But it is time for an update to address new global challenges, in particular quickly evolving geo- political realities and emerging technologies. Furthermore, the silos in the debate on arms control need to be overcome.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Nuclear Weapons, Military Strategy, Military Affairs
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Miroslav Tuma
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Institute of International Relations Prague
  • Abstract: The political declaration with an annex entitled Advancing Nuclear Disarmament, Securing Our Future was adopted on 25 February 2020 in Berlin by the Foreign Ministers of the fifteen countries associated in the prestigious Stockholm Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament. They call on all NPT participating countries to discuss and adopt the proposed stepping stones. According to the authors of the declaration, the implementation could contribute to averting the dangerous development of the security situation and to the gradual realization of the generally supported vision of creating a world without nuclear weapons. Due to the global pandemic caused by COVID-19, the 10th NPT Review Conference was postponed indefinitely.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Henry Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: In the next decade, it is all too likely that the past success of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons among the world’s nations will be reversed. Three trends make more proliferation likely. First is the decay of nuclear taboos. Second, and arguably worse, is renewed vertical proliferation—the increase in size and sophistication of nuclear arsenals by states that already have them. Third, the technical information to fuel nuclear breakouts and ramp-ups is more available now than in the past. These trends toward increased proliferation are not yet facts. The author describes three steps the international community could take to save the NPT: making further withdrawals from the NPT unattractive; clamping down on the uneconomical stockpiling and civilian use of nuclear weapons materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium); and giving real meaning to efforts to limit the threats that existing nuclear weapons pose.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Disarmament, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, North Korea, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Tobias Vestner
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: The Geneva Centre for Security Policy
  • Abstract: This Geneva Paper shows that ATT states parties generally implement the ATT’s prohibitions set forth in Article 6 through national laws and policies. This paper also demonstrates that exporting states implement the ATT’s obligations regarding export assessment contained in Article 7 in many different ways. While the spectrum of how exporting states parties consider an arms exports’ potential effect on peace and security is very broad, their national frameworks contain similar or nearly identical export criteria on assessing the risk of arms being used for serious violations of international humanitarian law and international human rights law. Few states parties have national export criteria regarding terrorism, transnational organized crime and gender-based violence. States also consider national criteria other than those specified in Article 7 before authorizing arms exports, including positive consequences of arms exports. Finally, states parties’ national frameworks mostly do not define clear thresholds for denying arms exports. Given this divergence in states party implementation, in addition to a remaining lack of clarity on how states apply the ATT provisions in practice, this paper recommends reinforcing dialogue on ATT implementation. This could lead to better understanding and implementation guidance that strengthens the emergence of common standards and improves the quality of national export assessments. To increase states parties’ knowledge on risks to be avoided, institutionalizing cooperation with human rights bodies and establishing an ATT internal information exchange mechanism is also recommended.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Treaties and Agreements, United Nations, Arms Trade
  • Political Geography: United Nations, Global Focus