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"For me, it’s a sense of injustice. Nine countries have nuclear arms and threaten the rest of us every single day. I think we can do something. The alternative is saying it’s all too big, it’s all too complicated, so we might as well not even try."
– Ray Acheson,
Project Director, Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom
Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty

The P5+1 And Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, March 10

IAEA Board Meets, Discusses Iran Iran’s nuclear program was a topic at this week’s International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Board of Governors meeting in Vienna. The 35-member board met March 6-10 to discuss a range of topics including the IAEA’s monitoring of Iran’s nuclear program under the July 2015 deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Andrew Schofer, charge d’ affaires at the U.S. mission to international organizations in Vienna, delivered Washington’s statement at the meeting. The statement referenced the “essential” role of the IAEA’s monitoring activities in...

The P5+1 And Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, February 17

Israel and EU Talk Iran During Washington Visits Neither U.S. President Donald Trump nor Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu advocated for abandoning the nuclear deal with Iran during a Feb. 15 joint news conference in Washington, DC. But both leaders called for additional sanctions on Tehran and Netanyahu said he welcomed Trump’s “challenging Iran on its violations of ballistic missiles.” There are no prohibitions on ballistic missile activity in the July 2015 nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), but continued testing of certain ballistic missile...

The P5+1 And Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, January 17

Iran Deal Hits One Year Milestone Jan. 16 marked one year of full implementation of the Iranian nuclear deal. Around the anniversary, key U.S. and Iranian figures issued contrasting comments about the future of the deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). On ABC News’ This Week program, President-elect Donald Trump’s incoming White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus did not directly answer a question about whether Trump was still committed to tearing up the deal. Priebus said the deal is on “life support,” but that he is “not here to declare one way or the other...

The Government of the Marshall Islands and former Foreign Minister Tony de Brum Voted "2016 Arms Control Persons of the Year"

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The winner of the 2016 Arms Control Person(s) of the Year

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For Immediate Release: January 9, 2017

Media Contact: Tony Fleming, communications director, (202) 463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, D.C.)—The Republic of the Marshall Islands and its former Foreign Minister Tony de Brum, garnered the highest number of votes in an online poll to determine the "2016 Arms Control Person of the Year." Over 1,850 individuals from 63 countries participated in the selection.
 
The Marshall Islands and Ambassador de Brum were nominated for pursuing a formal legal case against the world's nuclear-armed states for failing to meet their obligations under the NPT. Ten individuals and groups were nominated by the staff of the Arms Control Association for their leadership in advancing effective arms control, nonproliferation, and disarmament solutions or for raising awareness of the threats posed by mass casualty weapons during the past year.
 
The government of the Marshall Islands and Ambassador de Brum were nominated for pursuing a formal legal case in the International Court of Justice in The Hague against the world's nuclear-armed states for their failure to initiate nuclear disarmament negotiations in violation of Article VI of the 1968 nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) and customary international law.
 
"The nomination of the Marshall Islands and Ambassador de Brum and the many votes they received reflects the concern and frustration expressed by many non-nuclear weapon states about the unacceptable consequences of nuclear weapons use, the slow pace of nuclear disarmament, and the growing risks of renewed global nuclear competition" noted Kingston Reif, director of disarmament and threat reduction at the Arms Control Association.
 
In October, the 16-member court issued their rulings which upheld the arguments of the nuclear states that the Court lacked jurisdiction in two 9-7 votes in the cases of India and Pakistan and in an 8-8 vote in the case of the UK.
 
The people of the Marshall Islands were subjected to 67 U.S. atmospheric nuclear tests explosions from 1946 to 1958. India, Pakistan, and the UK were the only states to participate in the lawsuits because the others do not recognize the court’s compulsory jurisdiction to mediate disputes between states.
 
Despite the court decisions, representatives of the Marshall Islands said the cases brought the frustratingly slow pace of disarmament negotiations to the world’s attention.
 
“The Marshall Islands’ bringing of these cases in and of itself is significant because it squarely challenged the nine nuclear states to comply with the legal obligation to pursue and conclude negotiations on nuclear disarmament,” John Burroughs, a member of the Marshall Islands’ legal team and the executive director of the Lawyers Committee on Nuclear Policy, told Arms Control Today in a phone interview Oct. 12. 
 
The runner-up in the vote for the 2016 Arms Control Persons of the Year were the foreign ministers of Austria, Brazil, Ireland, Mexico, Nigeria, and South Africa. They had jointly secured adoption of UN Security Council resolution L.41 “to convene in 2017 a United Nations conference to negotiate a legally binding instrument to prohibit nuclear weapons, leading towards their total elimination.”
 
The second runner up was former U.S. Secretary of Defense William J. Perry for his continuing efforts to raise attention to the risk of renewed nuclear weapons competition and calling for restraint. Secretary Perry had launched in 2016 a new online course on nuclear weapons and authored a new book, My Journey at the Nuclear Brink.
 
Online voting was open from December 8, 2016 until January 5, 2017. A list of all 2016 nominees is available at https://armscontrol.org/acpoy/2016
 
Previous winners of the "Arms Control Person of the Year" include: Setsuko Thurlow and the Hibakusha of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, (2015); Austria's Director for Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Ambassador Alexander Kmentt (2014), Executive-Secretary of the CTBTO Lassina Zerbo (2013)Gen. James Cartwright (2012); reporter and activist Kathi Lynn Austin (2011), Kazakhstan's Deputy Foreign Minister Kairat Umarov and Thomas D'Agostino, U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration Administrator (2010);Senator Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) (2009), Norway's Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre and his ministry's Director-General for Security Policy and the High North Steffen Kongstad (2008), and U.S. Congressmen Peter Visclosky (D-Ind.) and David Hobson (R-Ohio) (2007).

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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The P5+1 And Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, December 22

The Iran Deal Under Trump President-elect Donald Trump has yet to clarify his administration’s policy toward Iran and the July 2015 multilateral nuclear deal known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). But he will need to move quickly as Iranian news outlets are reporting that the spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran said a meeting of the nuclear deal's Joint Commission will take place in early January and include members of the Trump team. Trump’s advisors, however, have voiced conflicting views about the agreement. The presumptive National Security Advisor,...

Mapping Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation Efforts

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This new resource aims to inform policymakers, scholars, and the general public on the role that overlapping multilateral initiatives play in nonproliferation efforts.

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New Online Resource Maps Efforts to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and Curb the Spread of Nuclear Weapons

For Immediate Release: December 6, 2016

Media Contacts: Tony Fleming, director of communications, 202-463-8270 ext. 110

(Washington, DC)—The Arms Control Association today launched a new online resource in mapping and tracking the objectives and key activities of five major nuclear nonproliferation regimes.

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Initiatives Mapping Project aims to inform and update nuclear policy experts, scholars, students, and the general public, on the role that overlapping multilateral initiatives play in bolstering the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) by securing weapons-usable materials, regulating the spread of dual-use nuclear ballistic missile technologies, and blocking the illicit transfer of weapons-related items.

The Arms Control Association is launching a New Online Resource Maps Efforts to Combat Nuclear Terrorism and Curb the Spread of Nuclear WeaponsProject information and resources are available online at NuclearNonProMap.org
 
The five initiatives examined in this project include

  • the Global Initiative to Combat Nuclear Terrorism,
  • the Missile Technology Control Regime,
  • the Nuclear Suppliers Group,
  • the Proliferation Security Initiative, and
  • the G7 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

"Each of these initiatives plays a critical role in reinforcing governments' efforts under the NPT, which entered into force in 1970, to combat the threat of nuclear terrorism, prevent the rise of new nuclear-armed actors, and strengthening the global nuclear security architecture," noted Kelsey Davenport, director of non-proliferation policy, who developed the site. 

In addition to displaying the geographic scope and providing a brief background of each initiative, this project provides general recommendations that could improve the effectiveness of each in the years ahead. These recommendations are based on open source information about the work of each initiative.

The project also presents options for collaboration amongst these voluntary groups to amplify impacts and results. These recommendations are meant to spur creative thinking about how these voluntary initiatives can adapt and evolve to better address future threats and challenges.
 
By consolidating references and recommendations, the project serves as a resource to better understand the role that voluntary intergovernmental initiatives play in bolstering nonproliferation and nuclear security efforts. The project was made possible by the generous support of the MacArthur Foundation.

The site will be updated periodically to reflect the changing membership and priorities of each initiative, developments related to the challenges they address, as well as additional recommendations for strengthening multilateral efforts to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons and combat nuclear terrorism.

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The Arms Control Association is an independent, membership-based organization dedicated to providing authoritative information and practical policy solutions to address the threats posed by the world's most dangerous weapons.

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Nuclear Suppliers Discuss Membership

Representatives from the 48 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met in Vienna last month to discuss possible common membership.

December 2016

By Daryl G. Kimball

Representatives from the 48 member states of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) met in Vienna last month to discuss possible common membership criteria for countries that have not joined the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

The meeting on Nov. 11 was the first since the NSG’s June plenary meeting in Seoul, where states considered but did not agree to separate membership bids from India and Pakistan, neither of which is a member of the NPT. (See ACT, July/August 2016.)

South Korean Ambassador Song Young-wan, chair of the Nuclear Suppliers Group, speaks at an event in Vienna on May 6. (Photo credit: Kresimir Nikolic/IAEA)

In 2008, after a long and contentious debate, the group exempted India from the NSG’s long-standing full-scope safeguards requirement for nuclear trade with non-nuclear-weapon states on the basis of political commitments made by India, including a commitment to abide by its unilateral nuclear testing moratorium. 

Earlier this year, Washington and New Delhi launched a diplomatic push for full Indian membership in the NSG. Pakistan submitted a separate membership bid. But at the group’s meeting in June, China and several other states insisted that NPT membership must be one of the key criteria.

At the Nov. 11 meeting, which was convened by the current chair of the NSG, South Korean Ambassador Song Young-wan, the delegates continued to exchange views on the “two-step” process on non-NPT states’ participation begun at their Seoul meeting. 

Since the June plenary, Song, with the assistance of outgoing NSG chair Rafael Mariano Grossi of Argentina, have consulted states on possible criteria for membership. According to senior diplomats involved in the confidential consultations, NSG states have begun to seriously engage on potential options, but the discussion has not yet reached the point at which a consensus decision might be achieved.

Several states involved in the consultations have suggested that signing the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) should be included as one of the common criteria for NSG membership, according to diplomats who spoke with Arms Control Today

In September, the UN Security Council approved a resolution reaffirming the importance of the CTBT. (See ACT, October 2016.) Last month, India, which has not signed the nuclear test ban accord, concluded a civil nuclear cooperation agreement with Japan that would be terminated if India conducts a nuclear test.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry issued a statement Nov. 11 saying that “China maintains that any formula worked out should be non-discriminatory and applicable to all non-NPT states; without prejudice to the core value of the NSG and the effectiveness, authority and integrity of the international non-proliferation regime with the NPT as its cornerstone; and without contradicting the customary international law in the field of non-proliferation.”

The Nuclear Nonproliferation Initiatives Mapping Project

Visit the full Project site at NuclearNonProMap.org

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The Strengthened Review Process for the Nonproliferation Treaty

Tariq Rauf argues that the perceived shortcomings of the treaty’s review efforts stem not from the process itself but from deficient implementation by states-parties.

October 2016

By Tariq Rauf

In his article (“The NPT Review Process: The Need for a More Productive Approach,” September 2016), Robert Einhorn proposes that states-parties to the nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) desist from striving to achieve a “comprehensive, consensus final document” at the 2020 NPT Review Conference. Rather, he calls for the conference to produce an accurate summary report that assesses NPT implementation, reflecting differences in the views among participating nations, and a forward-looking section on strengthening the NPT that includes both agreed proposals and those not agreed. He bases these and other recommendations on the grounds that the treaty itself does not provide specific guidance on the conduct and outcome of review conferences. 

While several of his proposed solutions to a seemingly dysfunctional NPT review process might appear attractive, none are really new. All have been tried in one way or another in the 1995-2000 and 2000-2005 review periods, including reports reflecting areas of agreement and disagreement, but all efforts failed due to the stubborn inflexibility of the participating nations. 

As someone who was closely involved with the development of the NPT “strengthened review process” in 1995 and 2000, I feel obligated to point out that the perceived shortcomings lie not in the process itself but in its deficient implementation by the states-parties.

The 179 NPT states-parties decided without a vote at the historic 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference to extend the treaty indefinitely. In doing so, they called for “strengthening the review process” and provided specific guidance on the future conduct and output of review conferences and the preparatory committees. As the 1995 guidance was not adequately implemented, states-parties by consensus in 2000 not only reaffirmed the 1995 provisions but also agreed that specific time be allocated at sessions of the preparatory committee to consider specific relevant issues and the consideration of issues at each session of the preparatory committee be factually summarized and transmitted to the next session for further discussion. Further, they directed that the preparatory committee should make every effort to produce a consensus report containing recommendations to the review conference. 

Contrary to Einhorn’s assertion, elaborate agreed guidance exists for the conduct of the review process—it is uncomplicated, easy to understand, and not difficult to implement given good faith, political will, and adequate advance preparations by states-parties. But it has not been implemented in good faith. 

Unfortunately, differences between nuclear-weapon states and non-nuclear-weapon states and among the non-nuclear-weapon states, especially on nuclear disarmament and the establishment of a Middle Eastern zone free of weapons of mass destruction, have been growing unchecked. The resulting rancour, opprobrium, and nonfulfillment of agreed decisions and recommendations led to a collapse of the review process in the 1995-2000, 2000-2005, 2005-2010, and 2010-2015 preparatory committee sessions and to the failure of the 2005 and 2015 review conferences (with a partial success in 2010). Practical ideas to produce better outcomes all were rejected by different groupings of states-parties largely on flimsy grounds. 

Unwilling to place the blame for these failures where it correctly belongs, many delegates and observers have taken the easy road of blaming the review process.

The “strengthened review process” was envisioned to preserve and enhance the authority and integrity of the NPT across all its principal provisions, based on three underlying principles: (1) permanence with accountability, (2) a qualitatively strengthened, on-going review process that evaluates and is forward looking, and (3) pragmatism and dynamism on an evolving basis. In this regard, the strengthened review process aims to be a “living process” responsive to developments affecting the objectives of the NPT and “product oriented” in line with the provisions established in 1995, that is to produce a final document agreed by consensus to give it requisite authority. 


Tariq Rauf is director of the Disarmament, Arms Control and Non-proliferation Programme at the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. He was senior adviser to the chair of main committee I (nuclear disarmament) at the 2015 NPT Review Conference and senior adviser to the chair of the 2014 NPT preparatory committee. 

The P5+1 and Iran Nuclear Deal Alert, September 30

Ministers Meet to Review Iran Deal Iran and the P5+1 (China, France, Germany, Russia, the United Kingdom, and the United States) met at the ministerial level to review implementation of the nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action. The September 22 meeting in New York was the first ministerial-level meeting on the nuclear agreement since the ministers gathered to announce implementation of the deal in January. Iran requested that the meeting take place to review progress on the deal and to raise concerns over the slow pace of sanctions relief. European Union foreign...

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