A significant year for the nuclear non-proliferation regime?

12 January, 2011

Mark Smith, Programme Director, Defence and Security writes:

The events of 2010 – the NPT Review, the Nuclear Security Summit, and the US ratification of the New START agreement may make for a significant year for the nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Policymakers and analysts gathered here in December, as they have for the past 15 years, to chew over the implications of recent events. The atmosphere was best described as carefully positive. 

After all, 2010 set goals and posed challenges, rather than resolve issues.  Perhaps, therefore, we will only able to assess how successful a year this has been when the next NPT Review comes round, in 2015. 

Between now and then, much needs to be done. Bottlenecks need to be negotiated, divergent views reconciled, entrenched positions softened. Continuation of the current status quo is likely to pile up real problems that will return to haunt the regime. 

For real success, genuine breakthroughs need to happen. One potentially significant step forward was the NPT Reviews mandate for an international governmental conference on how to implement the 1995 UN Resolution on WMD in the Middle East. 

The Chief Exec of Wilton Park, Richard Burge, discussed this with Maged Abdelaziz (Egyptian Permanent Representative to the UN), Olli Heinonen (late of the IAEA) and Sir Richard Dalton (former British Ambassador to the UN). Their far-reaching conversation is an exclusive Wilton Park podcast.

A second conversation on the events of 2010 is with senior policymakers from the US and UK. Andreas Persbo of the NGO VERTIC and an expert of many years standing, was at the conference and his reflections are available in blog form. 

A full report on the meeting, prepared by the internationally renowned John Simpson, will be available shortly.

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