March 16, 2017
On March 10-11, 2017, the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) hosted its traditional two-day diplomatic workshop in Annecy, France on the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). The workshop was attended by diplomats, senior staff from the UN Office for Disarmament Affairs (UNODA), the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO), and non-governmental analysts. The workshop took the form of panel presentations, informal debate, and breakout sessions, enabling participants to engage with different perspectives on challenges and opportunities at the upcoming 2017 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom). The result was a rich discussion that confirmed the interest of all present in supporting the NPT while acknowledging differing visions of how this could best be achieved.
Following the inability of the 2015 NPT Review Conference to adopt a consensus final document, the first PrepCom of the 2020 review cycle is apt to be especially contentious. Existing schisms related to disarmament may well become wider in light of forthcoming negotiations on a nuclear weapons prohibition treaty, which are scheduled to take place both before and after the PrepCom. While the majority of non-nuclear weapons states view the a legally-binding prohibition as necessary to advance the global disarmament agenda, the nuclear weapons possessors and those under a nuclear umbrella have largely rejected this conclusion. In recognition of this disparity of views, much of the interaction among workshop attendees focused on identifying ways to move the disarmament debate forward at the PrepCom without glossing over the disconnect between these very different perspectives.
In addition to discussions regarding nuclear disarmament, workshop participants also focused on a variety of regional nonproliferation security issues, including with respect to the Middle East and the Northeast Asia, as well as on possible means to strengthen and streamline the NPT review process. They also had the opportunity to hear from PrepCom Chair-designate Ambassador HenkCor van der Kwast of the Netherlands about the consultations he has undertaken to date and his preparations for the upcoming meeting.
After the conclusion of the first day’s deliberations, the Hon. Robert Einhorn, senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, delivered the keynote address over dinner. His remarks followed the outline of his recently-published report, “Non-proliferation challenges facing the Trump administration.” In his presentation, Mr. Einhorn described the challenges posed to US national security by North Korea’s nuclear and missile capabilities, Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, and the breakout potential of other threshold states. Mr. Einhorn then proposed a series of recommendations on how to manage each case, which spurred a lively exchange of views during the subsequent question and answer session. Many of these themes were revisited in the context of the NPT on the final day of the workshop as participants debated the past, present, and future contributions of the NPT in advancing disarmament, nonproliferation, and peaceful nuclear use.