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Event | 17 March 2015

The Nuclear State of Play: 2015 and beyond

The European Leadership Network and the Top Level Group organised a parliamentary briefing on the 2015 Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty (NPT) Review Conference on Tuesday 17 March 2015. The Review Conference will take place at a period of heightened international tensions and in the context of renewed focus on humanitarian consequences of possible use of nuclear weapons.

Professor Ramesh Thakur, of Australian National University and Dr Patricia Lewis, Research Director, International Security at Chatham House will discuss the prospects and challenges to a successful NPT Review Conference as well as the latest report released by the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (CNND) “Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015”.

Five years ago hopes were high that the world was at last seriously headed towards nuclear disarmament. By the end of 2012, however, as reported in the inaugural State of Play report, much of this sense of optimism had evaporated. By the end of 2014, the fading optimism had given way to pessimism. New START was signed and ratified, but the treaty left stockpiles intact and disagreements about missile defence and conventional-arms imbalances unresolved. Nuclear weapons numbers have decreased overall but increased in Asia; nuclear-weapons programs in India, Pakistan and China have accelerated; North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests and the CTBT is yet to enter into force; and fissile material production is not yet banned. A comprehensive agreement on Iran eluded negotiators by the extended deadline of 24 November 2014 and the push for talks on a nuclear-weapon-free zone in the Middle East has stalled. Cyber-threats to nuclear weapons systems have intensified, outer space remains at risk of nuclearization, and the upsurge of geopolitical tensions over the crisis in Ukraine produced flawed conclusions about the folly of giving up nuclear weapons on the one hand, and open reminders about Russia’s substantial nuclear arsenal, on the other. Against this sombre backdrop, Nuclear Weapons: The State of Play 2015 by Gareth Evans, Tanya Ogilvie-White and Ramesh Thakur, provides an authoritative advocacy tool for governments, organizations and individuals committed to achieving a safer and saner nuclear-weapon-free world in the lead-up to the Ninth NPT Review Conference in New York in April–May 2015.

Professor Ramesh Thakur is Director of the Centre for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, Australian National University. He is a former United Nations Assistant Secretary-General, International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty Commissioner and co-author of The Responsibility to Protect doctrine (2001).

Dr Patricia Lewis is the Research Director at the International Security department at Chatham House. Her former posts include Deputy Director and Scientist-in-Residence at the Center for Non-proliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies; Director of UNIDIR; and Director of VERTIC in London. Dr Lewis served on the 2004-6 WMD Commission chaired by Dr Hans Blix; the 2010-2011 Advisory Panel on Future Priorities of the OPCW chaired by Ambassador Rolf Ekeus; and was an adviser to the 2008-10 International Commission on Nuclear Non-proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND) chaired by Gareth Evans and Yoriko Kawaguchi.