Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection


Seventy years after their development and their first use in war, nuclear weapons continue to be the basis for a number of states' national security policies. The Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) prohibits its non-nuclear weapon state parties from developing nuclear weapons. The treaty, however, exempts five de jure nuclear weapon states (NWS) (France, the People's Republic of China, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States) from this ban. These five states had tested nuclear weapons before the treaty was negotiated in 1968. This "exemption" is, however, countered with a legal obligation in Article VI of the treaty for the five nuclear weapon states to eventually disarm. Three other nuclear armed states—India, Israel, and Pakistan—have not joined the NPT, but are commonly considered as de facto nuclear weapon states. North Korea withdrew from the NPT in 2003, and tested nuclear devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013. [1]

More than two decades after the end of the Cold War, approximately 15,700 nuclear warheads remain in the arsenals of eight states (China, France, Israel, India, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom, and the United States) of which approximately 4,100 are actively deployed. [2] A large amount of fissile material, including directly weapons-useable highly enriched uranium and separated plutonium, still exists in the world today. [3]

In addition to the nuclear warheads on the territories of the NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states, and non-NPT members (Israel, India, Pakistan, and North Korea), five European NATO countries (Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey) may have approximately 180 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons deployed on their territories in accordance with NATO nuclear deterrence policies. [4] Some states believe that the U.S. deployments of nuclear weapons in Europe are contrary to Article I of the NPT, which requires that NWS not "transfer to any recipient whatsoever nuclear weapons or other nuclear explosive devices or control over such weapons or explosive devices directly." [5] Previously, the United States deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea and Greece, but it withdrew these weapons in 1991 and 2001, after 33 and 40 years respectively. Credible open source evidence suggests that an estimated 130 U.S. nuclear weapons at the Ramstein Air Base in Germany appear to have been removed in 2005, which reportedly reduced the number of U.S. nuclear weapons in Germany to only 20. [6] Most recently, several sources suggest that 110 U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons were removed from the RAF Lakenheath air base in the United Kingdom, marking the complete withdrawal of U.S. nuclear weapons from the UK. [7]

However, given the Russian intervention in Ukraine and Russia's apparent violations of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, withdrawing the remaining U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in Europe has become far less likely to occur in the near-term. [8]

In sharp contrast to the large number of nuclear weapons in the arsenals or on the territories of a handful of countries, the majority of countries in the world—the non-nuclear-weapon states (NNWS) —are committed to remaining free of nuclear weapons. South Africa, long suspected of having developed a clandestine nuclear weapons program, announced in July 1993 that it had developed a small arsenal before destroying it in 1991 in order to join the NPT as an NNWS. Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine returned large arsenals of nuclear warheads and associated delivery systems inherited from the former Soviet Union to Russia in the mid-1990s, subsequently joining the NPT as NNWS.

Other countries, including Brazil and Argentina, considered acquiring nuclear weapons, but abandoned their programs before accepting binding restraints on nuclear weapons development. Brazil and Argentina decided to join the NPT in 1994 and 1995, respectively, as NNWS. In further support of their legal obligations under the NPT, a large number of NNWS are parties to nuclear weapon-free zones (NWFZs), and have thereby accepted additional legal obligations not to develop, manufacture, stockpile, acquire, possess, or control any nuclear explosive devices on their territories. Today, more than 110 countries belong to NWFZ treaties. [9] Nuclear weapon-free zones are in force in South America and the Caribbean, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, Africa, and Central Asia. [10]

Nuclear Disarmament and the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT)

The NPT prohibits nuclear weapon states from transferring nuclear weapons to, or assisting NNWS in the development of nuclear weapons. At the same time, NNWS are legally required not to receive, manufacture, or acquire nuclear weapons, and to place all their peaceful use nuclear materials and facilities under IAEA safeguards. [11]

The NPT not only prohibits the manufacture, acquisition, and transfer of nuclear weapons, but Article VI of the treaty also requires all of its state parties to "pursue negotiations in good faith on effective measures relating to cessation of the nuclear arms race at an early date and to nuclear disarmament, and on a treaty on general and complete disarmament under strict and effective international control." [12] The article does not specify a time frame, in which nuclear disarmament should occur, nor does it provide a verification mechanism to monitor disarmament, but it places a legal obligation on states with nuclear weapons to stop the nuclear arms race and to eventually disarm. As such, this obligation is one of the three main "pillars" of the treaty, the other two being nuclear nonproliferation and the right to use nuclear technology for peaceful purposes.

At the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, state parties agreed to indefinitely extend the treaty based on a package of decisions that included Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament, which called for a Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT), negotiations on a verifiable treaty banning the production of fissile material for nuclear weapons, and for "systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally." The package also included the Resolution on the Middle East, which calls for all states in the Middle East to accede to the NPT (i.e., Israel) and for action to be taken towards the "establishment of an effectively verifiable Middle East zone free of weapons of mass destruction." [13] It is widely understood that it would not have been possible to indefinitely extend the NPT without the concurrent commitment to this program of action. The president of that historic conference, Ambassador Jayantha Dhanapala, pointed out in his concluding remarks at the meeting, that "permanence of the treaty does not represent a permanence of unbalanced obligations, nor does it represent the permanence of nuclear apartheid between nuclear haves and have nots." [14]

Further building on this action plan, the 2000 NPT Review Conference, in its consensus final document, laid out 13 practical steps towards nuclear disarmament, including an "unequivocal undertaking by the nuclear weapons states to accomplish the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals." [15] This "unequivocal undertaking" was significant in that it re-committed NWS to their Article VI obligations, and for the first time in the NPT's history the NWS agreed to "the total elimination of their nuclear arsenals."

The successes of the 1995 and 2000 NPT Review Conferences were not repeated in 2005. State parties could not agree upon an agenda until the second week, and failed to adopt further substantive recommendations to build upon those adopted in 1995 and 2000. [16] Failure at the 2005 NPT Review Conference epitomized what proved to be, at best, an idle decade for progress in nuclear nonproliferation and disarmament. However, the election of Barack Obama as President of the United States heralded a new era for U.S. engagement in multilateral disarmament diplomacy. In the lead-up to the 2010 NPT Review Conference, the United States signed the New START Treaty with Russia, diminished the role of its nuclear arsenal in its new Nuclear Posture Review, and held the first in a scheduled series of Nuclear Security Summits. The second summit was convened in Seoul in 2012, and the third summit was held in the Netherlands in 2014. The next summit is scheduled to be held in the United States in 2016. Although these initiatives will not result in near-term nuclear disarmament, they demonstrated a commitment by the United States to make progress toward the ultimate goal of a "world free of nuclear weapons" as stated in President Obama’s April 2009 Prague Speech. [17]

Widely considered a success, the 2010 NPT Review Conference's final outcome document included a 64-item action plan covering the NPT's three pillars and a commitment to implement the 1995 Resolution on the Middle East. While the review conference indicated clear divergences continue to exist between the priorities of the NWS and the NNWS, state parties were able to compromise and generate the political will necessary to produce a successful outcome. [18] Many NNWS, and mainly the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) countries, strongly supported the idea of negotiating a nuclear weapons convention that would delegitimize nuclear weapons and eliminate them within a clear timeframe. Although these ideas were opposed by the NWS, the final document noted the Secretary General's five-point proposal for nuclear disarmament, including consideration of negotiations on a nuclear weapons convention. [19] The forward-looking action plan sets clear benchmarks for the implementation of Article VI by the NWS.

Reflecting the lack of progress in nuclear disarmament leading up to the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the RevCon was unsuccessful in producing a final outcome document. The most contentious issues were nuclear disarmament and discussions of a Middle East WMD-Free Zone. The Review Conference highlighted deep divisions between the NWS and NNWS. The discussion on the humanitarian approach to nuclear disarmament drew a wide range of support, but was also a source of tension and disagreement. While disarmament issues prompted the most contentious debates among states parties, in the end, the disagreement over convening a conference on a Middle East WMD-Free Zone prevented the Review Conference from adopting a final document. [20]

Has Any Progress Been Made Towards Disarmament?

Gauging progress towards nuclear disarmament is complicated, because both shifts in numbers of weapons and in the overarching policies governing these weapons are relevant. In terms of quantitative reductions, measurable steps have been undertaken by key NWS both unilaterally and bilaterally. The NWS collectively reduced the size of their nuclear arsenals from over 70,000 warheads at the height of the Cold War to approximately 15,700 by 2015. [21] These reductions have been carried out unilaterally by at least four NWS, as well as through bilateral legally binding arrangements between the United States and the Soviet Union/Russian Federation.

The United States has reduced its stockpile by 84% from a Cold War peak of 31,255 warheads in 1967, to the current stockpile of approximately 5,000 operational and reserved warheads. [22] While France has reduced its arsenal unilaterally, and the United Kingdom announced ambitious reductions to its arsenal in 2010, both states plan to maintain a credible nuclear deterrent for the foreseeable future. [23] In contrast to the unilateral reduction measures taken by the NWS, India and Pakistan are believed to be rapidly expanding their nuclear arsenals. [24]

Bilateral Efforts

There is an extensive precedent for bilateral U.S.-USSR/Russia arms control. Since 1969, the United States and Russia have been limiting/reducing their strategic nuclear arsenals through bilateral treaties. These arrangements began modestly with SALT I, which only limited the number of ICBMs and SLBMs, leaving both nations to increase numbers of both bombers and warheads. SALT I also produced the ABM treaty in 1972, which banned nationwide strategic missile defenses (the U.S. withdrew from the ABM treaty in 2002). [25] Following the Cold War, START I (enacted in 1994), placed limitations on the numbers of deployed launchers, and for the first time warheads. While both START II and III failed to materialize, the United States and Russia negotiated the Strategic Offensive Reductions Treaty (SORT) in 2002. SORT provided for a significant reduction of deployed strategic nuclear warheads in each arsenal to 1,700 - 2,200. However, SORT was often criticized for having a weak verification regime that relied on the START I regime. Fears that this treaty and the START agreement would expire without anything to fill the void were allayed with the signing of the New START Treaty in April 2010, and its subsequent entry into force in February 2011. New START limits the United States and Russia to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 launchers by 2018. [26]

On 19 June 2013, four years after the groundbreaking Prague speech, President Barack Obama again presented his administration's plan for a world free of nuclear weapons in Berlin, calling for further negotiated nuclear reductions to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures. He stated that his administration will pursue "up to a one-third reduction" in deployed strategic warheads permitted under the New START treaty, reducing those stockpiles to about 1,000 warheads. In addition, President Obama called for a reduction in U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Europe (yet to be addressed in any arms control treaty). [27] Furthermore, President Obama stated that the United States will host a nuclear security summit in 2016 to continue to advance efforts to secure nuclear materials around the world. Russia has expressed unwillingness to pursue bilateral nuclear cuts with the United States until other nuclear powers join negotiations. [28]

Multilateral Efforts

Attempts at negotiating legally binding multilateral nuclear disarmament treaties have proven challenging. The United Nations established the Conference on Disarmament (CD) as the sole multilateral disarmament-negotiating forum in 1979. The 65-member, consensus-ruled body has only negotiated one treaty related to nuclear disarmament over the past 30 years, the Comprehensive Nuclear Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT) in 1996. Widely considered to be a milestone towards nuclear disarmament, the CTBT would prohibit all nuclear testing. Nineteen years after it opened for signature the CTBT has yet to enter into force. Entry into force of the CTBT requires ratification by all states with nuclear power reactors and/or research reactors (in 1996), known as Annex II states. As of November 2014, eight of these countries, including the United States and China, have yet to ratify. [29]

Since the conclusion of CTBT negotiations in 1996, the CD has been locked in a perpetual stalemate. Negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty (FMCT) have not commenced even 18 years after agreement on the Shannon Mandate (a mandate adopted by the CD in 1995 that proposed the negotiation of a treaty banning the production of fissile material [30]). Many consider an FMCT ripe for negotiation and the next logical step toward nuclear disarmament. In 2009, CD member states agreed upon a program of work, CD/1864, but were unable to implement it due to procedural blockages. [31] Over the past three years Pakistan has emerged as the single detractor, objecting on the basis of national security and substance. Pakistan fears its national security will be at risk if its rival and neighbor, India, is left with a larger existing fissile material stockpile, and therefore has the capability to continue to produce nuclear weapons after the implementation of the treaty. [32] Pakistan argues that an FMCT would not address existing stockpiles of fissile materials, and would therefore further nonproliferation but not disarmament. [33]

Pakistan's conceptual argument taps into the longstanding confrontation between the nuclear weapon "haves and have nots." Paradoxically, as Non-Aligned Movement (NAM) members, Pakistan and India vocally support nuclear disarmament while simultaneously increasing their nuclear arsenals and delivery systems. Many NAM members and other NNWS believe that the NWS are not fully meeting their Article VI obligation to pursue in good faith negotiations leading to nuclear disarmament. [34] Apart from the bilateral negotiations by Russia and the United States on New START in 2009, there have been no negotiations or efforts on disarmament measures since the conclusion of the CTBT negotiations. Moreover, unilateral and U.S.-Russia reductions have been perceived by many NNWS as nothing more than efforts to streamline existing nuclear arsenals, rather than steps towards complete nuclear disarmament. Perhaps most notably, all nuclear weapon states (both de jure and de facto) are pursuing some degree of modernization of their nuclear arsenals to increase the weapons' lifetimes, and sometimes to enhance other characteristics (including safety, security, and/or militarily significant characteristics). [35]

To circumvent a stalemate in the CD, UN General Assembly Resolution A/RES/67/56 established an open-ended working group (OEWG) in December 2012. This UNGA Resolution authorized the OEWG "to develop proposals to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations for the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons." [36] The United States, United Kingdom, France, and Russia voted against A/RES/67/56 while China India, Pakistan and Israel abstained. [37] In their joint explanation of vote, the United States, United Kingdom, and France stated that organizing another process to discuss nuclear disarmament undermined established fora, such as the UNDC and the CD. Furthermore, these states expressed concerns that this new forum did not fit clearly into the NPT framework and focused solely on nuclear disarmament, while the 2010 NPT action plan covered all three pillars of the NPT equally. [38]

Other Significant Efforts to Promote Nuclear Disarmament

Certain national governments and members of civil society have cooperated on initiatives to promote progress towards a world free of nuclear weapons. A progressive approach to promote nuclear disarmament was taken by the New Agenda Coalition (NAC). In June 1998, foreign ministers from Brazil, Egypt, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, Slovenia (which later withdrew from the NAC), South Africa, and Sweden (which withdrew in May 2013), issued a statement calling for a new nuclear disarmament agenda, "Toward a Nuclear-Weapons-Free World: Time for a New Agenda." The aim of these like-minded countries is to increase political momentum towards a world free of nuclear weapons. The NAC have proposed that the five NWS and the three non-NPT nuclear weapon possessors take a number of concrete steps. The NAC played an instrumental role in convincing the NWS to agree to the thirteen practical steps towards nuclear disarmament in the final document of the 2000 NPT Review Conference. Since its establishment in 1998, the NAC has consistently submitted to the United Nations General Assembly resolutions calling for a world free of nuclear weapons. [39]

Around the same time, the Middle Powers Initiative was established in support of non-nuclear weapon states' efforts to reduce and eliminate worldwide nuclear weapons arsenals. The Middle Powers Initiative, in cooperation with middle power governments, works as a catalyst in promoting practical steps toward the elimination of nuclear weapons, and to encourage and educate nuclear weapon states to be more attentive to their disarmament obligations. Following the failure of the 2005 NPT Review Conference, the Middle Powers Initiative launched the "Article VI Forum" in October 2005 to examine the legal, technical, and political requirements to fulfill nonproliferation and disarmament commitments for a nuclear weapon-free world. [40]

Several independent international commissions have played an important role by providing expert recommendations in the form of nuclear disarmament action plans. These commissions include the 1996 Canberra Commission on the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons sponsored by the Australian Government, the 1998 Tokyo Forum for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament sponsored by the Japanese government, and the Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) Commission.

The Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission was established in 2003 amidst stagnation on nuclear disarmament and serious challenges facing the nuclear nonproliferation regime. Its report concluded that stagnation in global arms control and disarmament forums could be attributed to the fact "that the nuclear weapon states no longer seem to take their commitment to nuclear disarmament seriously-even though this was an essential part of the NPT bargain, both at the treaty's birth in 1968 and when it was extended indefinitely in 1995." [41] Based on this observation, the Blix Report offered several recommendations for furthering nuclear disarmament through multilateral cooperative actions.

Significant among these recommendations was the call on all NPT nuclear weapon states to take steps toward nuclear disarmament as required by the NPT, and the commitments made in connection with the treaty's indefinite extension. [42] Other important recommendations included the early entry-into-force of the CTBT; the immediate commencement of negotiations on a Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty without preconditions; the revision by all nuclear possessor states of their nuclear defense doctrines and their use policies; an agreement between Russia and the United States to de-alert their nuclear weapons; and the withdrawal of all non-strategic nuclear weapons to central storage on national territories pending eventual elimination. The commission also encouraged all states possessing nuclear weapons to "start preparing for the outlawing of nuclear weapons through joint practical and incremental measures that include definitions, benchmarks and transparency requirements for nuclear disarmament." [43]

An initiative undertaken by four former high- ranking U.S. officials — George Shultz, William Perry, Henry Kissinger, and Sam Nunn — created significant momentum for a world free of nuclear weapons. The four statesmen originally published their proposals in a January 4, 2007 Wall Street Journal op-ed, "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons," followed a year later by another op-ed, "Toward a Nuclear Weapon Free World." This initiative came at a critical juncture, with the international community facing new and ongoing nuclear threats, when no new significant arms control reductions between the United States and Russia were being pursued. [44] In addressing the "tremendous dangers" presented by nuclear weapons, the four statesmen argued that "U.S. leadership will be required to take the world to the next stage - to a solid consensus for reversing reliance on nuclear weapons globally as a vital contribution to preventing their proliferation into potentially dangerous hands, and ultimately ending them as a threat to the world." They called on the leaders of the countries in possession of nuclear weapons "to turn the goal of a world without nuclear weapons into a joint enterprise." Such a joint enterprise, they considered, "would lend additional weight to efforts already underway to avoid the emergence of a nuclear-armed North Korea and Iran."

In 2008, Japan and Australia established the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (ICNND), an independent commission co-chaired by Yoriko Kawaguchi, former Foreign Minister of Japan, and Gareth Evans, former Foreign Minister of Australia, to reinvigorate international nonproliferation and disarmament efforts, and to help shape a consensus at the then-upcoming 2010 NPT Review Conference. The ICNND's final report, containing 76 recommendations, was issued in December 2009, advocating a phased approach toward a nuclear weapons free world. [45] Japan and Australia joined together again in September 2010 to create the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI). The group originally consisted of ten countries (Australia, Canada, Chile, Germany, Japan, Mexico, the Netherlands, Poland, Turkey and the United Arab Emirates) that aim to facilitate the implementation of the measures from the consensus document of the 2010 NPT Review Conference. [46] Two more countries, Nigeria and the Philippines, joined the NPDI at its seventh ministerial-level meeting, held on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly on September 24, 2013. [47] At its eighth ministerial-level meeting in Hiroshima in April 2014, the NPDI adopted the Hiroshima Declaration that contains concrete proposals for both disarmament and nonproliferation. [48] The NPDI strives to support efforts to negotiate the FMCT, increase nuclear safety and safeguards, encourage the entry into force of the CTBT, and increase transparency in disarmament reporting. [49] At the same time, the NPDI insists that it is more effective to take realistic and practical measures in a progressive manner while engaging nuclear weapons states in order to achieve the goal of a world without nuclear weapons, calling this approach, "building blocks approach." [50] However, consisting mainly of the U.S. allies that are protected by the U.S. extended nuclear deterrence, their disarmament approach toward a world free of nuclear weapons are often considered more moderate than the ones of the NAC or NAM that call for delegitimizing nuclear weapons.

The Humanitarian Initiative for Nuclear Disarmament

The humanitarian impact of nuclear weapons has increasingly drawn attention as a fundamental global concern posed by nuclear weapons. Since the 2010 NPT Review Conference final document expressed deep concern about the catastrophic humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, civil society, international organizations, and several state parties (championed by Norway, Switzerland, Austria, Mexico, and New Zealand) have repeatedly highlighted this issue. [51] 

At the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the humanitarian initiative was the center of disarmament discussions. Over the past five years, this issue has gained significant momentum. The Austria-led Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Consequences of Nuclear Weapons delivered by H.E Sebastian Kurz was sponsored by 159 countries. This is the largest number since a statement was first delivered at the 2012 NPT PrepCom. The statement emphasized that nuclear weapons should never be used again "under any circumstances." [52]

Australia and Japan, with over 20 other countries, issued a similar humanitarian statement. The supporters of this statement are mainly NNWS that rely on U.S. extended nuclear deterrence. This version of the humanitarian statement does not include the wording of "under any circumstance," and highlights the importance of engaging NWS in the process of nuclear disarmament. [53]

While NWS remain reluctant to support the humanitarian initiative and there are some different perspectives among NNWS, the humanitarian initiative has become an undeniable component of NPT debates over the past five years.

The increasing sponsorship of the humanitarian initiative statements demonstrates that the issue continues to gain momentum. At the 69th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee session in October 2014, 155 member states, led by New Zealand, co-sponsored the joint statement on the Humanitarian Impact on Consequences of Nuclear Weapons, an increase from 125 countries that co-sponsored a similar statement at the 68th UNGA, 80 countries that did so at the 2013 NPT Preparatory Committee meeting (PrepCom), 35 countries at the 67th UNGA, and 16 countries at the 2012 NPT PrepCom. [54]

Furthermore, the International Conferences on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons have convened three times. In March 2013, Norway hosted the first conference in Oslo on the humanitarian and developmental impact of nuclear weapons. Attended by representatives from 127 countries as well as UN agencies, international organizations, and civil society, the Oslo conference addressed the international community's inability to address the humanitarian consequences of any nuclear detonation. Indicating the growing importance of humanitarian concerns in disarmament debates, many states indicated they wished to further explore these issues.

Following the Oslo conference, the Government of Mexico hosted the Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Nayarit in February 2014, where 146 states and civil society gathered. [55] The Chair’s Summary called for the development of new international standards on nuclear weapons, including a legally binding instrument. [56]

The five NPT-recognized nuclear weapon states boycotted both the Oslo Conference and the Nayarit Conference, arguing that a "comprehensive" approach to nuclear disarmament is impossible, and that initiatives other than those in the 2010 NPT Action Plan undermine established disarmament mechanisms. [57]

The Austrian government hosted the Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons in Vienna in December 2014, where 158 states and members of civil society gathered. [58] The conference addressed the humanitarian consequences of any use of nuclear weapons, including: human health, the environment, agriculture and food security, migration, and the economy. The Chair's Summary also reflected the threat posed by authorized, unauthorized, and accidental nuclear weapons use. [59] A majority of delegations emphasized that complete elimination should come in the form of a new legally binding framework; including a nuclear weapons convention. However, Austrian organizers made clear that this conference was not a forum to negotiate a prohibition against nuclear weapons. [60]

Among the 158 participating states, the conference was attended for the first time by the United States and the United Kingdom. China also sent an unofficial representative to the conference. The participation of these nuclear weapon states was the result of extensive discussions with the conference host government of Austria, careful review of the conference agenda, and great pressure from civil society. Both the United States and the United Kingdom, however, explicitly stated that their participation would not result in their support for negotiating a new treaty to ban nuclear weapons, and that humanitarian initiatives should not distract from established disarmament fora. The two countries, nevertheless, acknowledged the humanitarian consequences of nuclear weapons use and spoke in support of pursuing the goal of a world free of nuclear weapons. [61]

At the closing of the third conference, Austria delivered the "Austrian Pledge." With this pledge, the country committed to work to "fill the legal gap for the prohibition and elimination of nuclear weapons," pledged "to cooperate with all stakeholders to achieve this goal," and invited all the states to do the same. At the 2015 NPT Review Conference, the Austrian delegation announced that the pledge will be renamed as the "Humanitarian Pledge" due to increasing support As of July 2015, 113 states have endorsed the pledge. [62]

To some extent countering the humanitarian initiative, the five NPT-recognized NWS have taken a so-called "P5 step," affirming that they intend to continue to seek progress on the step-by-step approach to nuclear disarmament as opposed to aiming to eliminate nuclear weapons within a specific timeframe. [63] The P-5 states have held seven conferences to increase dialogue and transparency in disarmament progress. For that purpose, at the 2015 Review Conference each of the P5 states submitted its national report, and completed a first edition of a glossary of key nuclear terms. However, most of the NNWS, especially NAM countries and civil society members, are critical about the P5 process since it is generally perceived that this process has not contributed to the actual reduction of nuclear weapons. [64]

Since the CD remains stalemated and the five NPT-recognized NWS have continually refused to participate in other multilateral negotiations on nuclear disarmament, the international community's ability to advance nuclear disarmament is highly limited. [65]

The important role of disarmament and nonproliferation education in promoting and facilitating nuclear disarmament must also be recognized, as evinced by the adoption of UN General Assembly Resolution 57/60 in November 2002, which reaffirms the need to support education in the field and include the topic in future meetings. [66] Education and training will remain vital to the success of future disarmament initiatives.

[1] See "Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility," 26 May 2015, 
[2] "Status of World Nuclear Forces," Federation of American Scientists,
[3] International Panel on Fissile Material, "Global Fissile Material Report: 2011: Nuclear Weapon and Fissile Material Stockpiles and Production," The estimated global stockpile of HEU is 1440 ± 125 tons, enough to produce 60,000 simple implosion type nuclear devices, and an additional 495 ± 10 tons of weapons-grade plutonium exists in the world today.
[4] Robert S. Norris and Hans Kristensen, "US Nuclear Forces, 2015," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, January 2014, pp. 107-119,
[5] Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): Text of the Treaty, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs,
[6] Hans M Kristensen, "United States Removes Nuclear Weapons from German Base, Documents Indicate," Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, 9 July 2007,; Hans M. Kristensen, "Germany and NATOs Nuclear Dilemma," Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, 29 October 2009,
[7] Hans M. Kristensen, "U.S. Nuclear Forces Withdrawn from the United Kingdom," Federation of American Scientists Strategic Security Blog, 26 June 2008,
[8] Nikolai Sokov and Miles Pomper, "NATO's Post-Ukraine Policy-The NATO Summit," 4 September 2014,
[9] "Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Clearinghouse," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 28 April 2010,
[10] "Nuclear Weapon Free Zone Clearinghouse," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 28 April 2010,
[11] Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): Text of the Treaty, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs,
[12] Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT): Text of the Treaty, United Nations Office for Disarmament Affairs,
[13] Resolution on the Middle East NPT/CONF.1995/32, 1995 NPT Review Conference, Reaching Critical Will,
[14] Statement by the President of the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, NPT/CONF. 1995/PV.19, 13 May 1995,
[15] 2000 NPT Review Conference Final Document, NPT/CONF.2000/28,
[16] Rebecca Johnson, "Politics and Protection: Why the 2005 NPT Review Conference Failed," Disarmament Diplomacy 80 (Autumn 2005),
[17] "Remarks by President Barack Obama," The White House Office of the Press Secretary, 5 April 2009,
[18] William Potter, Patricia Lewis, Gaukhar Mukhatzhanova, and Miles Pomper, "The 2010 NPT Review Conference: Deconstructing Consensus," James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, 17 June 2010,
[19] 2010 NPT Review Conference Final Document, NPT/CONF.2010/50,
[20] Ray Achelson, "Uprising," NPT News in Review, Vol. 13 No. 17, Reaching Critical Will, May 25, 2015,
[21] "Status of World Nuclear Forces," Federation of American Scientists, April 2015,
[22] Fact Sheet Increasing Transparency in the U.S. Nuclear Weapons Stockpile, U.S. Department of Defense,; Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris, "US Nuclear Forces, 2012," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Volume 68 (3), 1 May 2012,
[23] "Securing Britain in an Age of Uncertainty: The Strategic Defence and Security Review," Prime Minister of the United Kingdom by Command of Her Majesty (London: Crown Copyright, 2010); "The French White Paper on Defence and National Security," Presidency of the Republic of France, 5 December 2008,
[24] "World Nuclear Forces," in SIPRI Yearbook 2011: Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security, Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), pp. 320-359.
[25] "U.S.-Soviet/Russian Nuclear Arms Control," Arms Control Today 32 (June 2002),; Daryl Kimball and Tom Collina, "The Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty at a Glance," Arms Control Association, updated January 2003,
[26] Amy F. Woolf, "The New START Treaty: Central Limits and Key Provisions," Congressional Research Service, 18 June 2010,
[27] Obama, Barack Hussein, Jr. "Remarks by President Obama at the Brandenburg Gate." Speech, Berlin, Germany, 19 June 2013, The White House, Office of the Press Secretary,
[28] "Russia Calls for Multilateral Nuclear Cuts," Rianovosti, 28 May 2013,
[29] The other six states that have yet to ratify the CTBT include the DPRK, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Iran and Israel. The latest to ratify was Indonesia in February 2012. "Status of Signature and Ratification: Annex II States Only," Preparatory Commission for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, updated February 2012,
[30] Paul Meyer, "Is There Any Fizz Left in the Fissban? Prospects for a Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty," Arms Control Today, December 2007,
[31] Ray Acheson, "The Conference on Disarmament in 2009: Could do Better," Disarmament Diplomacy 91 (Summer 2009),
[32] Paul Meyer, "Free the Fissile Material Cut-Off Treaty: Functionality over Forum," Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Web Edition, 19 September 2011,; A.H Nayyar and Zia Mian, "Pakistan," in the publication Reducing and Eliminating Nuclear Weapons: Country Perspectives on the Challenges to Nuclear Disarmament, International Panel on Fissile Materials, May 2010,
[33] The Shannon Mandate, as contained in CD/1299, was agreed upon in March 1995 as the basis for negotiations of a FMCT. Document text,
[34] John Burroughs, "Reaching Nuclear Disarmament," in Beyond arms control: challenges and choices for nuclear disarmament, ed. Ray Acheson (New York: Reaching Critical Will, 2010), pp. 161-162.
[35] Ray Acheson, "Introduction" in the publication Assuring Destruction Forever, Reaching Critical Will, March 2012,
[36] Resolution Adopted by the General Assembly, A/RES/67/56, 3 December 2012,
[37] Voting result in the First Committee, A/RES/67/56, 6 November 2012,
[38] Explanation of vote by Mr. Guy Pollard to the Conference on Disarmament on behalf of France, the United Kingdom and the United States, 6 November 2012,
[39] The most recent resolution A/RES/65/59 was entitled "Towards a nuclear-weapon-free world: accelerating the implementation of nuclear disarmament commitments,"
[40] "About MPI," Middle Powers Initiative, 8 August 2011,
[41] Hans Blix, "Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Arms," Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (Stockholm), 1 June 2006,
[42] At the 1995 NPT Review and Extension Conference, the state parties agreed to extend the treaty indefinitely as part of a package of decisions that included the Principles and Objectives for Nuclear Nonproliferation and Disarmament and the program of action on nuclear disarmament contained therein. The program of action included the conclusion and early entry into force of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test ban Treaty (CTBT); the immediate commencement and early conclusion of negotiations of a Fissile Material Cut-off Treaty (FMCT); and the determined pursuit by the NWS of systematic and progressive efforts to reduce nuclear weapons globally with the ultimate goal of eliminating those weapons.
[43] Hans Blix, "Weapons of Terror: Freeing the World of Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Arms," Weapons of Mass Destruction Commission (Stockholm), 1 June 2006,
[44] "Toward a World Free of Nuclear Weapons," Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, George P Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn, 15 January 2008; "A World Free of Nuclear Weapons" Wall Street Journal Op-Ed, George P Shultz, William J. Perry, Henry A. Kissinger and Sam Nunn, 4 January 2007.
[45] "Eliminating Nuclear Threats: A Practical Agenda for Global Policy Makers," ICNND Final Report,
[46] Tom Bayur of Turkey on behalf of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), The NPDI Joint Statement to the NPT PrepCom, 30 April 2012,
[47] H.E. Frans Timmermans, Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Kingdom of the Netherlands on behalf of the Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative (NPDI), The NPDI Joint Statement to High-Level Meeting on Nuclear Disarmament, 26 September 2013,
[48] "Nonproliferation and Disarmament Initiative, 8th Ministerial Meeting in Hiroshima, April 12, 2014," Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affars,
[49] Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, "Non-Proliferation and Disarmament Initiative," Australian Government,
[50] Statement on behalf of the NPDI by Ambassador Toshiro Sano at the First Committee for the 69th session of the United Nations General Assembly, October 20, 2014,
[51] 2010 NPT Review Conference Final Document, NPT/CONF.2010/50 (Vol. I), May 2010,
[52] Sebastian Kurz, Joint Statement on Behalf of the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, April 28, 2015,
[53] Statement by H.E Gillian Bird, Ambassador and Permanent Member of Australia to the United Nations at the 2015 NPT Review Conference, April 30, 2015,
[54] Joint Statement on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, 2014 United Nations General Assembly First Committee, 20 October 2014, Reaching Critical Will,
[55] Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Mexican Foreign Ministry, February 2014,
[56] Second Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons Chair's Summary,
[57] P5 Announcement Not to Attend the Oslo Conference, Reaching Critical Will,
[58] Third Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Vienna 2014, December 2014,
[59] Report and Summary of Findings of the Conference, Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, December 8-9, 2015,
[60] Report and Summary of Findings of the Conference, Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, December 8-9, 2015,
[61] Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, Website of the Europe Integration, Foreign Affairs Federal Ministry, Republic of Austria, 8-9, December 2014,; UK Intervention at Vienna Conference on the Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons, December 8-9, 2014,; Ambassador Adam Scheinman, U.S. Statement during Discussion/General Debate at the Vienna Humanitarian Impact of Nuclear Weapons Conference, December 9, 2014,
[62] International Campaign tor Abolishing Nuclear Weapons,
[63] Joint Statement on the P5 Beijing Conference: Enhancing Strategic Confidence and Working Together to Implement the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Review Outcomes, US Department of State, 15 April 2014,
[64] Statement by the People's Republic of China, France, the Russian Federation, the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, and the United States of America to the 2015 Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons Review Conference, April 30, 2015,
[65] Ray Acheson, "NWS labelled 'persistent underachievers' in the NPT yearbook," Reaching Critical Will, 26 April 2013,
[66] "United Nations Study on Disarmament and Non-Proliferation Education," United Nations General Assembly Resolution A/RES/57/60, 30 December 2002,

August 14, 2015
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The Nuclear Disarmament Resource Collection contains information and analysis of nuclear weapons disarmament proposals and progress worldwide, including detailed coverage of disarmament progress in countries who either possess or host other countries' nuclear weapons on their territories.

This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2016.