IND does not exist in a vacuum. It is necessary to contextualise irreversibility in nuclear disarmament as part of broader institutional architectures and historical dynamics. Irreversibility in nuclear disarmament must be considered a piece fitting into a broader set of existing instruments and historical bilateral and multilateral commitments promoting non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament.
Analysts and policymakers could propose more creative ways of promoting IND grounded in the broader international non-proliferation and disarmament regime if they think about IND as a process with ends in view and not a potential result in the long term. IND proponents need to design policies and mechanisms that would make rearmament complicated. At the same time, these policies and mechanisms should be embedded in the broader components of arms control agreements and the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Following these two requirements would guarantee that IND becomes a new tool that reiterates commitments and maintains, sustains, and strengthens the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime with its very different components.
Past experiences building arms control agreements and the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime could either help or question IND. Analysts and policymakers must trace the historical origins and development of IND to prevent challenges. Historicizing IND would also help them be mindful of the compromises actors and states have made when crafting the international non-proliferation and disarmament regime. Analysts and policymakers need to pay attention to 1) the efforts of non-nuclear-weapon states to promote disarmament and 2) why and how the 2010 NPT Review Conference action plan established irreversibility as a fundamental principle of disarmament, together with transparency and verification. As Williams and Link remind us in Irreversibility in Nuclear Disarmament, this notion is not new in the history of the NPT process. Thus, it is imperative to historically ground current efforts to conceptualise and operationalise IND to prevent alienating actors and audiences.